Heavy Petting

As most of my regular readers know, we own a small ranch. So far, it has just been “hobby” ranching. (Translation, all of our money that doesn’t go to the oil companies goes to maintaining the ranch and animals.)

However, we have now decided to start a small business to help offset some of the ranching costs. So, we will soon be starting up a petting zoo. This will be a traveling operation where we will setup a petting zoo at birthday parties, etc. We have successfully done volunteer petting zoos through our 4-H club. However, we are seeing an unmet demand for petting zoos for hire.

We already have pygmy goats and plan to add rabbits, chickens, and a miniature horse. We may add other animals if this thing takes off.

This week, we actually picked up a couple of rabbits that we found through the classifieds. They are 5-week-old Lionhead rabbits. Take a look.

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Finally, a Change

So I’ve been complaining about the cloudy, rainy weather all this week during our stay in Portland. Well, I finally got my wish–a change! Yesterday, there was this bright, glowing ball that appeared in the sky for a few short minutes. I feared that it was a nuclear explosion or an alien invasion. However, apparently the locals call this thing the sun. And get this: we are lucky enough to be here for its semi-annual appearance. How sweet is that?

Furthermore, we awoke to snow on the ground on the ground this morning. It quickly melted. Now we are in a vicious cycle of clouds, hail, rain, clear, sun, repeat. Now that’s change I can believe in.

Hold on, it looks like I’ve got some moss starting to form on my back from all the rain. I’d better take care of this. Signing out for now.

Hit or Miss

Despite being on vacation, there are a few things I miss about being home. Let’s take a look at what I miss and don’t miss. That way, we can determine if a prefer vacation or the daily grind.

What I Miss

  • Easy access to a computer: I mean, it’s right here in the spare bedroom and they have high speed Internet access. But they don’t leave it on all the time, so I have to wait like 5 minutes for it to boot up. Plus I feel guilty about hiding away.
  • Our best friends: We hang out with our best friends just about every weekend, and so we probably won’t see them for a couple weeks now.
  • Traffic: It may sound strange, but it’s true. We live in the country, so there is no traffic compared to Portland. A traffic jam in the country is getting caught behind some slow-moving farm equipment.
  • The Older Daughter: She went to Disneyland with her best friend and her family. I’m jealous, but miss her just the same.
  • TiVo: I’ve come to a point where I don’t watch anything live. I record it with TiVo and watch it later so that I can skip past the commercials. Plus it’s nice to be able to skip back a few seconds to catch the dialogue I missed when all the dogs bark their heads off.

What I Don’t Miss

  • Work
  • The alarm clock
  • Worry about looking for a new job
  • The daily routine
  • Having absolutely no free time
  • Getting up early: I’m a night owl and love to stay up ridiculously late and sleep in
  • Brown: I do love the green of western Oregon over the brown of southwestern Idaho.

So there we have it: I have 7 things I don’t miss and 5 that I do. So I think that I should just stay on vacation forever. What do you think?

Blazers & Sonics: The End of a Rivalry?

As the only NBA teams in the Pacific Northwest, the Portland Trailblazers and Seattle Supersonics have enjoyed a good-natured, yet intense, rivalry over the last 38 years. With only 170 miles separating the two cities, there has always been a large contingency of visiting fans at any game to make it even more exciting.

Tonight’s game in Seattle may very well be the concluding game of this incredible rivalry. The Sonics have been threatening to move the team for quite some time. Oklahoma City has come up with an attractive package of arena improvements and tax breaks that the City of Seattle is apparently not going to match. The NBA Board of Governors is widely expected to approve the move next month.

My first real recognition of this rivalry was during the 1978 playoffs. The Blazers had won the NBA Championship in 1977, which is what drew me in as a fan for the first time. The injury-plagued Blazers lost a heart-breaking series to the Sonics–who then went on to win the 1978 Championship. From then on, it was war every time these two teams got together. It was truly exciting to watch or listen to.

We can hope that some last-minute deal with keep the Sonics in Seattle, but it doesn’t look very promising. I’m sure that Seattle will get a new NBA franchise one day–the city is simply too big not to have one. But it will never be the same as the Blazer/Sonic rivalry. As original Blazer radio play-by-play Bill Schonely announcer said “It’s just a crying shame.”

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I was reading through the Portland newspaper yesterday. When I got to the weather, here is the forecast I found for our week here:

  • Sunday: Rain
  • Monday: A little rain
  • Tuesday: A little rain
  • Wednesday: Rain
  • Thursday: Rain possible
  • Friday: Showers around
  • Saturday: A few showers

It’s spring in Portland, Oregon and it’s going to rain every day? Inconceivable.

Where am I Anyway?

I mentioned that I am on vacation in Portland, Oregon this week. Well, that not quite correct. I’m actually in Vancouver, Washington. The people of Vancouver probably don’t like that I am saying Portland. However, it’s just easier than trying to explain where Vancouver is. Plus, if it weren’t for the Columbia River, this would be Portland. So there.

However, this got me thinking about all the places I’ve lived that have an identity crisis. I’m afraid it’s running rampant. Let’s take a look at them:

  • I was born in Lebanon–no, not the Middle Eastern country: Lebanon, Oregon
  • I then moved to Ontario–no, not California or Canada: Ontario, Oregon
  • My wife is from Vancouver–no, not Canada: Vancouver, Washington

What Day is it Anyway?

DITH will be reporting to you for the next week from our branch in sunny rainy Hawaii Portland. Most often, I’ll typing my posts while sipping margaritas Diet Mountain Dew from the beach a cramped spare room. My nerves will be soothed frayed by waves crashing gently on the shore screaming kids and barking dogs.

Having said all that, I am actually having a wonderfully relaxing time so far. We arrived on Saturday. So far, we have mostly visited with family, watched TV, slept in, and eaten. The most exciting thing we have done so far is visit the IKEA store this afternoon–yes that legendary vacation destination.

I’m seriously not complaining though. I woke up this morning and didn’t even really know what day it was. That’s a fantastic feeling. I’m also not wearing a watch and don’t know or care what time it is.

The past few months have been tough and the remainder of this year could prove even more interesting. So I’m really looking forward to just unplugging from all the negative stuff going on–just for a few days. However, I’ll try not to disappoint my devoted followers. I plan on checking in with any interesting things that happen. Stay tuned.

Blogger’s Block

I think that it takes several things for a blogger to develop a devoted following. Foremost is probably the ability to write in an intelligent, interesting, and entertaining manner. Creativity is also key. I mean a really (yawn) enjoy those blogs that simply directly copy stuff from other sites, but I think the most interesting bloggers generate their own material and/or provide an interesting new take on something they have come across. Finally, regular posting absolutely key. If I happen to hit a blog and see that they only post once a month, I’m not going to be inclined to return–regardless of how good the material is.

So this is where I’m headed with all this: I’m experiencing a serious case of blogger’s block right now. It’s really similar to writer’s block except that…well ok, it’s exactly like writer’s block. I’ve really had a tough time the last couple of weeks. Fellow bloggers, what do you do to combat such slumps? Can you point me to the Blogger’s Ex-Lax…please? Which aisle is it on?

I came up with a couple ideas that I hope to implement:

  •  I know it’s so 20th century, but I need to carry a small notebook with me everywhere I go. I do come up with good ideas frequently. Unfortunately, I’m not generally in front of a computer or I’m at work. Those great ideas quickly drain out of my brain if I don’t act on them. I need to be able to quickly jot down ideas so that I can work on a post in the evening when I have some time.
  • My “creativity” often happens in bursts. I’ll sometimes come up with a good post and find that the ideas just keep coming. I’ll end with 3 or 4 posts in a single day during these brief moments of creative genius (snickers). What I really should do during these bursts is make 1 post and save off the other 3 (as long as they are not time sensitive) for dry periods such as I’m experiencing now.

Tomorrow we are headed out for a week-long spring break vacation. (Hold on for a moment while I do the Snoopy dance.) I’m hoping that things will happen on this trip to get some creative juices flowing again. Stay tuned.

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Well, I’ve doing this crazy blogging thing for almost 4 months now. It was an early New Year’s resolution that I have actually kept. I am really enjoying it. I have met new friends and become more connected with existing friends. There is also something very rewarding about taking the time to put together a good post and watching the numbers come in. There’s just something kind of cool about somehow impacting where web surfing traffic goes. Anyway, I was taking a moment to reflect and wanted to share with you my top 10 posts as well as the lonely 10 that barely received a glance.

 First off, here are your 10 favorite posts all time. If you have missed out on some of these, now is your chance to catch up.

  1. About   59
  2. Am I Deaf?   43

Ah yes, and the shameful 10. Perhaps there’s a gem in there that most everyone missed. Most likely though, they just suck and you’ll waste your time reading them. Your choice.

Most of my personal favorites appear in the top 10 list. However, a couple did not:

Her Place Is in the Kitchen

I Want To Be Mr. Potato Head

1968 Retrospect: Credit Cards

According to the 1968 The World Book Year Book, “Bank Credit Card programs, despite a faltering start 10 years earlier, were flourishing in 1968.” Several new card programs joined the great credit race in 1968–most notably the Interbank Card group (later to become MasterCard). These new cards were introduced to compete with the successful Bank Americard (later to become Visa). In 1970, MasterCard was the industry leader. They remained in this position for about a decade until Visa’s innovative and aggressive marketing finally earned it the industry’s top spot.

In 1968, US credit card debt totalled $8 billion (in current dollars). As of January 2008, that total had ballooned to  $947 billion. For perspective, that is $8,094 per household. There’s nothing more American than crushing debt, right? Well, gotta run. I’m just about up to the pay window at McDonalds and I need to find my Visa card.

8 Things About Me I’m Pretty Sure You Don’t Care About

Okay, my posting rate has been a little slow over the last few days. So I’m lifting a meme from John to get things moving along again. With this meme, you basically tell 8 facts about yourself and then tag someone else. I’m not going to officially tag anyone, but be a good sport and play along okay?

1. Both of my grandpas were named after famous people: Jesse James and Benjamin Franklin. Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure meeting either one (neither the grandpas nor the actual famous people).

2. I have ridden in the back of a police car and briefly checked out the county jail. You see, back in junior high, we had a zero-tolerance policy for fighting. If you were caught, you automatically got to ride to the county jail–about 13 miles away. They scared the hell out of you by showing you some cells, then your parents got to come pick you up. The fight was so minor that it was not worth it. No charges were filed. In retrospect, I should have drawn some blood or something for all the trouble of having my parents pick me up from jail.

3. Several years back, I was a good sport and took Irish dance lessons with the Younger Daughter. For the record, she grew bored of it and decided to quit–not me.

4. My biggest traffic pet peeve: Not using your turn signal. In an earlier post, I threatened to develop a tactical nuke capable of taking out a car. I would definitely use this on those who can’t be bothered with such formalities as signalling turns.

5. I am a sucker for cats. I could easily be one of those freaks that has like 47 cats. I hope this doesn’t threaten my Man Club membership.

6. In junior high, I once told a counselor that my goal was to be an NBA basketball player. For some weird reason, he thought I should have a backup plan, but I didn’t think so. For the record, I never even tried out for basketball. Oh yeah, and I’m 5’9″. Thankfully, I did come up with a backup plan.

7. I was so painfully shy in my younger years, that I never attended a single dance–not even the big ones: homecoming, prom, etc. That’s probably my single biggest regret from my youth.

8. Many years ago now, John and I decided at around 3pm to drive from Portland, Oregon, to Vancouver, B.C…for no particular reason. And we just turned around and drove right back after grabbing some fuel and snacks in Vancouver. A 12-hour round-trip if I remember correctly. Crazy. And one of my fondest memories.

Mary Ann Busted for Pot

Ginger or Mary Ann? It’s a classic question to ask guys. Ok, gals can answer too if you want…that’s okay. As for me, I was always partial to Mary Ann. I much prefer the more natural girl-next-door look to the 29-pounds-of-make-up look.

Anyway, former Gilligan’s Island star Dawn Wells (playing Mary Ann Summers) is now a resident of Driggs, Idaho, where she owns a ranch. Back in October, 2007, she attended a surprise birthday party. On the way home, a Teton county sheriff pulled her over after noticing her swerving back and forth on the road. As the officer approached the car, he noticed that all 4 windows were down on a cold October night and that Ms. Wells was not wearing a jacket. Oh, apparently there was some sort of marijuana smell also. They had a conversation that went something like this (this may be totally made up, but based loosely on the actual facts of the case):

Deputy Gutierrez: Good evening ma’am. So why am I smelling marijuana smoke coming from your vehicle?

Ms. Wells: Hmmm? What? Oh, well you see, I was headed home from the surprise birthday party my friends had for me. Along the way, I saw these 3 guys that needed a ride. I’m 69 years old and routinely pick up young hitchhikers at night. So I picked them up and was giving them a ride to Driggs. Almost instantly, they all lit up marijuana cigarettes. I was outraged! I immediately pulled over and kicked them out of my car. They put out their smokes and were nice enough to put them in the ashtray and center console so as not to mess up my car.

Deputy Gutierrez: Wait, so what’s this container with a half-smoked joint and some unsmoked marijuana?

Ms. Wells: Well duh, the hitchhikers left it here.

Deputy Gutierrez: Ma’am, I need you to step out of the car please.

Somehow she failed her field sobriety test and was arrested on the counts of: driving under the influence, possession of drug paraphenalia, and possession of a controlled substance. In a plea deal reached on February 29, these 3 charges were dropped and she pleaded guilty to reckless driving. In the end, she served 5 days in jail, paid $410.50 in fines, and will have 6 months of unsupervised probation.

 http://www.ktvb.com/news/localnews/stories/ktvbn-mar1108-mary_ann.44494e42.html

Great New Jobs

As many of you know, I’m looking for a new job. My plan was to stay in the same field, but hey, if the right job comes along in another field, I might give it a try. cnn.com posted an article on “Some really odd jobs”. So sit back, relax, and help me sort through some of these to see if they might be suitable for me.

1. Breath odor evaluator

Not a big fan of the whole outsourcing or illegal immigrant labor thing, but maybe this is a job that Americans just won’t do.

2. Diener

What they do: Prepare cadavers for the pathologist before autopsies are performed in hospitals.

For those Generation X and older, do you remember watching the opening credits to Quincy, M.E. in the 70s? Remember where Quincy was talking to the line-up of cops by a cadaver. Then when he pulled the sheet off, the officers all fainted one-by-one. Yeah, that’s me, collapsing to the floor. (To reminisce on that opening, click here.)

4. Ocularist

What they do: In short, they paint artificial eyes. It sounds easier than it is, since as with real eyes, no two are exactly the same.

Wow, that sounds like a very interesting, rewarding career. I believe that I would enjoy this for tens of seconds before I quit.

5. Flatulence smell-reduction underwear maker

What they do: Create underwear that protect against bad human gas for people who suffer from gastrointestinal problems. The underwear is made with various materials and filters to help remedy hydrogen sulfide gases, the main offender in foul smells.

I guess making it wouldn’t be so bad. I just don’t want to be the tester. I’d happily delegate that.

6. Beer tester

What they do: Taste — and spit out — beer all day to approve new and existing flavors.

Finally, a career right my alley–getting paid to drink taste beer all day. No boss, really, I promise to spit it all out.

7. Crack filler

This is wrong on so many levels, that I don’t even want to comment on it. I try to keep this blog PG-13 or cleaner.

8. Ball tester

Well, I have no interest in being a tester. I would like to sign up to be a test subject depending upon the circumstances. (That’s still PG-13, right?)

9. Video game tester

What they do: For eight hours a day, five days a week, a group of males and females of all ages play video games. They repeat levels, games and characters, looking for any bugs and/or glitches in the software.

Sweetness! This might be the best one so far. I can sit on my butt, eat chips, chug Mountain Dew, and play. I love it!

10. Tampon tester

Pass.

11. Gold reclaimer

What they do: Scour old teeth for fillings, melting the gold from them with broken gold jewelry into tiny gold pellets, which is then re-sold to jewelers.

So I get to go whack old people and pull their teeth out? I mean, it sounds like a good way to relieve some stress, but are you sure it’s legal?

12. Dog sniffer

What they do: Once a week, they analyze the odor of dog’s breath to test the effect of their diet on their teeth. Breath is graded on a scale of zero to 10 and is categorized as sweaty, salty, musty, fungal or decaying.

“…musty, fungal, or decaying.” (shivers) Add this one to the illegal immigrant/outsource list.

13. Potato chip inspector

What they do: Search for over-cooked or clumped chips to discard as they come down the assembly line.

Mmmm…daddy like. I’ll check into this one also. Ooops…there’s another “defective” one (crunch).

14. Porta-potty servicer

What they do: Like regular restrooms, portable toilets need maintenance, too. Once a week, service workers clean these single-stall facilities to achieve certain standards of sanitation.

It’s really every little boy’s dream, though you’ll never get any of us to admit it: To drive around all day sucking the crap out of porta-potty tanks all over town…yeah.

17. Safe cracker

What they do: When combinations are lost or forgotten, safe crackers use their ears and fingers to open the safe.

I could do this, but only if my tool of choice could be dynamite.

19. Paper towel sniffer

What they do: Paper towel manufacturers prefer their products to be odorless before, during and after their use. Naturally, paper towel sniffers ensure that once a paper towel is used, there is no noticeable scent.

There seems to be a lot of demand for people to sniff things and rate the hideousness thereof. Outsource all of these, please.

20. Foley artist

What they do: Use whatever they can find to create and record the noises used to make the sound effects in films, like heavy footsteps, rolling thunder or creaking doors.

I don’t fancy myself an artist, but this actually sounds like fun.

A 24 Fix is in the Works

I cried inconsolably for days when I heard that season 7 of Fox’s 24 would not air at all this year–instead delayed until January of 2009. I have been suffering severe withdrawals ever since.

Fox recently provided a glimmer of hope by announcing a “preqeul” that will bridge the gap between seasons 6 and 7. This two hour show will air this fall and serve to ease some of the withdrawal pains prior to season 7 commencing in January, 2009.

Also, to the producers: You’ve had plenty of time with this extra year off. Make sure 24 doesn’t suck this year. If it does, season 7 will be the last one.

Boise: A Terrorist Target?

According to a recent study of 132 urban areas in the United States, Boise, Idaho is the 10th most vulnerable to a bio-terrorist attack. The study was funded by the Department of Homeland Security and headed up by University of Arizona mathematics professor Walter W. Piegorsch. Boise was the only city west of Texas to make the top 10 list. That’s right, cities like Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles are not considered highly vulnerable–at least according to this study.

The three factors considered in the study included social aspects, natural hazards, and the construction of the city. What’s important to realize is that this study measured the vulnerability of cities to attacks–not the probability.

Boise has three large dams upstream. 2 of them are earth-filled: Lucky Peak and Anderson Ranch; Arrowrock is concrete. With the Boise River running through the heart of the city, the failure of these dams (whether intentional or accidental) could devastate the downtown district of the city and many surrounding cities.

The metro area is largely surrounded by federal- and state-owned lands that are composed of mostly grasses and sagebrush that are quite vulnerable to wildfires during the summer months.

While most agree that a terrorist attack in Boise is not likely, local officials are rightly taking the report seriously. They plan on discussing the findings with the authors of study and the FBI.

1968 Retrospect: Professional Basketball

A new professional basketball league, the American Basketball Association (ABA), started up in 1968. It saw only limited success and all teams lost money in the first year. The league lasted only 8 years before merging with the NBA in 1976.

In the NBA, Wilt Chamberlain was the Player of the Year for the 3rd consecutive year. In the 1967-68 season, Chamberlain became the all-time leading career scorer at the time with 25,434 points. In July, Chamberlain was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for 3 players and cash.

The St. Louis Hawks won the Western Division and the Philadelphia 76ers won the Eastern Division. However, neither team made it to the finals. In the end, it was the Boston Celtics going up against the Los Angeles Lakers. With the scoring of John Havlicek and the defensive skills of player-coach Bill Russell, the Celtics beat the Laker 4 games to 2 to win their 9th championship in 10 years.

The NBA also added two new teams for the 1968-69 season: The Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns. They each paid a franchise fee of $2 million. Contrast this with the $300 million franchise fee that the Charlotte Bobcats paid 3 years ago.

Am I Deaf?

I was at the doctor’s office for a physical. I saw “the glove” and the lubricating gel on the counter. Turns out he was planning on doing a prostate exam. I politely declined. Guidelines say that you should start getting this exam done at age 40 and I’m not going to have a done a day before I turn 40, so there.

Anyway, he completed the rest of the physical and asked if I had any particular health concerns. I didn’t really have any, but mentioned I thought I was having more difficulty hearing. So…he proceeded to rub his thumb and index finger together near my ear and ask if I could hear that. And I could, so he said my hearing was fine.

Ok, wait. This guy spent 10 years of his life and tens of thousands of dollars on medical school. We live in the United States and have access to the best diagnostic tools money can buy. And he rubs fingers together to check my hearing? This is insanity!

My Failed Career as a Mechanic

About 10 years ago, I picked up a crappy old Mazda 323 so that we could save money with the forthcoming birth of the Younger Daughter. A buddy and I went to lunch a few times per week and he kept chiding me about not having a working radio. One day, he’d had enough and took a look to see if we could fix it. As it turns out, the fuse servicing the radio was simply missing. So, in our infinite wisdom, we randomly removed fuses from other slots until we found one that was “not doing anything”, and placed it in the radio slot. Awesome, now we could listen to some tunes on our drive.

As we were driving back to work on a very hot August afternoon, I noticed that the temperature gauge was rising. I finally had to pull over as it reached critical levels. Opening the hood, I noticed that the radiator hose had burst. Apparently that fuse was doing something after all. Yes, we removed the fuse servicing the radiator fan. Hey, I don’t claim to be a genius all of the time.

Busy, Busy, Busy

As spring approaches, the kids’ activities really start revving up. The Older Daughter is in track and has practice after school everyday. In a few weeks, she’ll be starting up driver’s ed. She has to be there at 7am for classroom instruction. 7am!

The Younger Daughter has horse riding lessons 3 times a week and is participating in horse shows several times a month.

On top of that, both kids have 4-H meetings a couple of times per month.

Oh, and it looks like $4/gallon gas may be just around the corner. I’m going to contact our local gas station to see if I can arrange to direct deposit my paycheck into their account. They’re going to get all the money anyway…let’s simplify things.

Dumb Marketing Slogans

There’s coffee shop near where I work called Monday Morning. I guess that’s fine. I’m not a big fan of Mondays (okay, I hate Mondays), but fine, name your business whatever you like. However, they stepped over the line with their slogan: “When everyday is a Monday.” If every day is Monday, I want no part of it thank you very much.

Another one that puzzles me is the Fat Boy ice cream sandwich. What marketing genius came up with this name? Is this really supposed to encourage me to buy them? It should be obvious that you buy them, you eat them, then you become one yourself.

Finally, if you didn’t see my post a few weeks ago, the Scotland tourism bureau spent US$250,000 for this gem: “Welcome to Scotland”

Maybe I should get into marketing. If this is the best they can come up, I know that I can do better.