Thursday, May 31, 2007

In Which I Satisfy the County and Cure Insomnia

Here is what my job is (do NOT read if you are at work, if falling asleep and smacking the keyboard with your head is frowned upon):

So recently I sent in two documents to the County to be officially recorded by the Bureaucracy of Authentic Documents, in order to render them Ceremonially Clean and Symmetrically Righteous.

A side note: our office normally does this via mail, even though the County Ministry which handles these authentications is right downtown, maybe three miles away, because if you enter the Ministry, you must take a number and sit down along with many people with various issues, including, apparently, loss of things like bathing rights, voice modulation, and child rearing skills, and then wait for the priviledge of getting to take another, better number. Time is money and odors are, apparently, free.

Where was I?

I sent in the documents, which had been drafted, reviewed and re-reviewed by one engineering firm, one real estate lawyer, one corporate lawyer, and one mediocre legal assistant.
  1. Two weeks later, they sent it back because one document did not list the client's middle name. Honest.
  2. They also said there was a new rule, which makes the client's entire property tax bill for 2007 (even the part that isn't normally due until October) due before they could process the paperwork. True story.
  3. We sent the paperwork back with the client's middle name in the proper place and a couple thou for property taxes.
  4. Two weeks later, they sent it back because we wrote the wrong Washington Administrative Code number down on the exemption code line on the Real Estate Excise Tax Affidavit Form. The same form they went over with a fine tooth comb previously and found the middle name fiasco. True story.
  5. Tired of mailing the package just to get it back two weeks later, I marched down to the County Ministry of Silly Rules with my documents, took a number and sat down. Try to count how many times they would have sent the documents back if I had continued the mailing game:
  6. The County Treasurer discovered a new "Clean Water" bill that had to be paid before the documents could be processed. I took out my wallet and paid the $23.10 (which, you might notice, had not been previously mentioned when they required the property tax payment).
  7. After paying the processing fee and the new water fee, I got my Real Estate Tax Affidavits officially stamped and numbered, and I got to get a new number and sit back down to wait for an audience with the County Auditor.
  8. The County Auditor found a plat map in one of the documents that had some small-font writing on it that might become illegible once scanned. I gave her permission to stamp the document with a dire warning regarding the possible illegibility.
  9. Then the County Auditor frowned upon the Abbreviated Legal Description used in one of the documents, even though the Abbreviated Legal Description came from the County records. I changed it for her.
  10. Then the County Auditor frowned upon a blank that was left blank in the document, even though it really did not compromise the recordability of the document. I filled in the blank.
  11. Finally satisfied, she placed upon the documents her authentic and bureaucratic seal of acceptance, scanned them into the Database of Truth, and I was set free.

Yes, there is a good chance that if I had continued to mail the documents, and they continued to find one problem at a time, the package might have come back to me four times for a total of six times before they would have been tired of toying with me by mail and recorded the damn documents.

And that's one part of my job. I promise not to try to write about my job again. Your forehead might get hurt.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What I Did on my Memorial Day Vacation

We made Annie hike to Yaquina Head Lighthouse, and then we made her hike up the hill overlooking the lighthouse. You don't have to be a dog whisperer to read her face. It's a good thing we don't allow her to have firearms.Here we are watching baby seals. Annie is asking to be excused. Scotty wants to know what baby seal tastes like.
Here are some baby seals. There were more, tinier ones in the water of this sheltered pool getting swimming lessons from their moms. But they didn't show up very well in the pictures I took, so you will have to imagine them.

The Exploding Whale

There's another dead whale on the Oregon coast. Doubt if they're going to get out the dynamite this time, so you will have to watch this old footage and reminisce.

Friday, May 25, 2007

This Is Where I'm Taking My New Prius This Weekend.

Got to break in the Planet-Mobile with some dog snot, dog breath, dog hair, and sand.

My Smugness Factor just went to 11.

So I'm gonna be busy saving the planet.

Are you?

I pick up my new red Toyota Prius tomorrow morning. No, I'm not going to be cancelling out your bloaty, planet-killing carbon emissions. You're going to have to do that your own self.

And look for me to be making snide remarks about SUVs again.

So if you don't get killed in a global-warming-caused hurricane this summer, you can thank me come next fall, 'cause I probably saved your ass.

That reminds me, I wonder if the White House is going to make the weather service name this summer's hurricanes Barack, John, and Hillary...maybe next summer.

61 miles per gallon, baby.

With any luck, I won't have to talk to another car salesperson for years.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Conan - Bellybuttons

Because laughing is good for you.

Instant Karma

There are very few times in life when you find yourself smiling over another person's demise, but when a guy tries to kill his girlfriend by parking his car on the railroad tracks and running, and then the train ends up flinging the car into the air and ONTO THE GUY, killing him, whilst the girlfriend, riding in the vehicle of death, survives, well you just have to smile, don't you?

Monday, May 21, 2007

I Could Use a Shower

This may come as a shock to you, but believe me when I tell you that car dealers will tell you whatever it takes to get you to buy a car on their lot, regardless of the actual truth of the thing.

Today we were told:

  • Fords suck.

  • Nissans suck.

  • Four-wheel-drive vehicles get one mile per gallon less than two-wheel-drive vehicles.

  • Toyota Corollas get practically the same gas mileage as Priuses (actual averaged gas mileage for Corolla: 35; averaged gas mileage for Prius: 55).

  • Toyota Corollas emit only tiny amounts of pollution (fagettaboutit).

  • Honda Civic hybrids aren't really hydrids, so they suck.

  • Nevertheless, forget about hybrids and buy one of these 16 Corollas because they rock.
I feel dirty.


There was a Colin Meloy siting at Bike Gallery today, and I wasn't even the one siting. But I got to experience it vicariously, in hushed tones, over the telephone.

See you at Edgefield, Mr. Meloy!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Final Results: Rubicon Third in Overall, First in Spectators' Hearts

Jolly good show, Aaron and Team Rubicon! Go to for more info.

This Just In

If Jericho goes down, it will go down (characteristically) fighting.

Nuts to you, CBS!

For Those of You Who Thought Nothing Good Could Ever Come from New Zealand

First there's Aaron Tuckerman, the tiny wonderboy with the oversize ears, er, heart, currently kicking northern hemisphere ass in Arkansas...

Now there is the Flight of the Conchords, reputedly New Zealand's fourth biggest folk parody rock duo, coming soon to an HBO-tuned TV near you. BTW, they are looking for suggestions to name the first biggest folk parody rock band in New Zealand. The only thing I could think of was Stop Anthony Hopkins Before He Kiwis Again, or SAHBHKA.

I'm sure you can do better.

Is this the Year of the Kiwi?

Time will tell...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Davy & Goliath saga continues...

Go Norrene, Aaron, Matt and everyone riding their guts out! We are cheering you on from here!

You can read about the team here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

David vs. Goliath Happens

Norrene and David (and Dean)'s little team that could, did yesterday.

Go Tuckerman, the little fella with the big heart-lung machine! Go bike racers with no posse, lawyers, agents, trainers, chefs (well, besides Norrene) or masseuses!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

La, La, La, Not Listening

Sunshine, flowers, kids on bikes, dogs on leashes. Happy, happy, happy.

Do NOT look over here. It's just jerks fighting with bigger jerks. It's up to the judge to decide who's the bigger arsehole.

Go ride your bike.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I Kid Because I Love

They weren't supposed to go and cancel it.

Where else but in Jericho are we going to get nu-cu-lar bombs AND salt mines AND warring Kansas towns?

Skeet, we didn't even get to know all your dark secrets.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Living Will

If you ever find yourself at my bedside, and you notice that I have read a Family Circle cartoon without cursing in anger that it is still wasting precious comic space, or at least rolling my eyes (or eye, depending on my condition), please just pull the plug.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Scotty the Bunny-nator

Imagine this as a brown, furry bunny.

So we went out to scoop poop this morning, Scotty and me. As Scotty rounds the corner of the yard (it has four!), he starts sprinting in his predator mode. No big woop. Whenever he catches sight of a cat or a bunny (we have quite a few resident wild bunnies), he goes for it as if he has a chance of catching them before they slip through the fence.

As if.

Pay attention, as-iffers, because Scotty managed to latch his snout around a fluffy brown bunny. The bunny was squeaking like a, well, I suppose like a panicked bunny, although I have never heard a bunny squeak before. It's quite disturbing.

Just as Scotty was about to shake it like a Polaroid picture, I shouted "no," and for once, he listened to me. I told him to drop the bunny and, again, oddly, he did. The two were stuck in a standoff, the bunny afraid to run, Scotty afraid to look away and lose his first live-caught prey.

Because Scotty and Bun were behind some vicious sticker bushes, I could not force him to do anything. So I tried calling. "Come, Scotty." He considered it, but abandoned the idea. I tried a little intimidation. I knocked on the trunk of the sticker bush with my poop-picking-up spade (an empty threat if there ever was one), and called him again. And he came. Really!

The bunny escaped with his life, although with much less fur than he had a moment ago.

So now you know. Scotty is deadly. To bunnies. Look at him with respect now, for he is a predator. He certainly feels more respect for himself.

You can tell.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Graduation Sounds, Wedding Talk.

Friday I was still shopping for a graduation present for Katie, my niece, whose graduation dinner party is the following day. Found a present, but not a good one by any means.

Saturday evening was Katie Day, as she is celebrating the successful completion of her double major in nursing and English. Actually this weekend is Katie Weekend, as the festivities at the University of Portland started at 9:00 Saturday morning with a special nursing graduation event, continued through some sort of mystical Baccalaureate Mass that afternoon, and will conclude Sunday with the actual graduation ceremony. Apparently, when the University of Portland graduates you, you stay graduated.

I, I might add, served as designated driver for Dean and Jenny for Saturday's dinner festivities. I only freaked them out with my erratic driving maybe twice.

Dean and Jenny were horrified at the sheer mass of children at the dinner, and the resulting decibel level. Which steered the evening's conversation toward how to word the upcoming invitations to make it clear that their wedding is meant for the over-21 crowd. I suggested calling it an "adult themed wedding," but they didn't go for it.

Speaking of their wedding, it seems they have found a minister to officiate, which lets me off the hook (me having been tapped as their website-ordained back-up), which is mostly good, but a little bit of a bummer, since I had a doozy of a speech percolating in the back of my head. Although if the wedding were to land on the wrong day, biorhythmically speaking, the Toastmaster Janice would have failed to show up, and the Stuttery, Pigletty Janice would have been stuck with the job.

Despite the children investation at the dinner, it was great to see every (adult) one, and holler family in-jokes, introductions of poor Jenny, and congratulations over the din.

On the way home, Dean pronounced Mom (Grandma) one of his favorite people ever. She certainly knows how to liven up a party.

It was also nice to come home.

Wild Dogs in the Park

Saturday morning was the local Humane Society's annual doggy fun run/walk, for which I annually volunteer, along with a dozen or so other hardy animal lovers. We were down at Esther Short Park at 6:45 in the morning, waiting for the hordes.

We were there at 7:00 waiting for the hordes.

We were there at 7:30 waiting for the hordes.

We were there at 7:45 waiting for the hordes.

We were there at 8:00 waiting for the hordes.

The hordes all came en masse at 8:30. Thanks, hordes. Way to require long lines and several dog and volunteer freak-outs.

The walk started at 9:00 admidst the wacky chaos of a thousand dogs and several thousand people.

I stayed a minute too long and got volunteered to count the donations. We counted $50,000, and wished for more. They need all the help they can get. Our shelter is a goner and needs to be replaced, but construction costs and daily shelter costs just keep rising.


Humane Society for Southwest Washington.

Mother's Day Is Coming Up. Ever Thought of a Lanyard?

The Lanyard
by Billy Collins

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room bouncing from typewriter to piano
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the "L" section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word, Lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past.
A past where I sat at a workbench
at a camp by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips into a lanyard.
A gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard.
Or wear one, if that’s what you did with them.
But that did not keep me from crossing strand over strand
again and again until I had made a boxy, red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold facecloths on my forehead
then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim
and I in turn presented her with a lanyard.
"Here are thousands of meals" she said,
"and here is clothing and a good education."
"And here is your lanyard," I replied,
"which I made with a little help from a counselor."
"Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth and two clear eyes to read the world." she whispered.
"And here," I said, "is the lanyard I made at camp."
"And here," I wish to say to her now, "is a smaller gift.
Not the archaic truth, that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took the two-toned lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be that this useless worthless thing I wove out of boredom
would be enough to make us even."

(Thank you, Billy Collins)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

TV as Entertainment

Skeet Ulrich, wondering if the fallout has affected everyone's brains. And if the TV audience is buying any of this.

I know it's a wild idea, but I do like to use TV as entertainment, but it takes some work from the viewer to keep it interesting. I like to interact with the "action" on the screen, helpfully pointing out instances where I notice room for improvement.

Drew enjoys this, as long as I don't do it, you know, aloud. So television viewing can be fun and challenging chez me.

24 is particularly juicy pickings this season, as the plot is silly, the dialog varies from patriotically wooden to expositorily unctuous, and acting is not strictly enforced. But be assured that everybody is really upset. And they're under the gun. And the perimeter is secured. Only not that secure, because "CTU" (the hopefully fictional "Counter Terrorism Unit" Jack Bauer works for) is the least competent agency since the Bush administration.

Also fun viewing (although not in the classic, ha-ha sense) is Jericho, about a small Kansas town (with suspiciously Southern California views) getting kicked around after the CTU helpers from 24 really eff up, and the terrorists nuke all the nice places to live. There seems to be only one family in town who are of average intelligence. The rest are either dumb-asses, dumb-ass and power-hungry, or just intent on milling around like sheep in the town square. There is one sheriff's deputy that I am pretty sure is a leftover Muppet. The only other exception is the mystery guy, Hawkins, played by Lennie James, who is probably a counter-terrorist good guy, but in possession of his own personal nuke, so we're keeping an eye on him.

Last night's episode ended with a looming battle with the neighboring town of New Bern, as national order seems to have devolved into a patchwork of warring city-states. Skeet Ulrich was last seen passing out weapons, conveniently offered by Lennie "Hawkins" James, to all comers over 16. I, personally, would have required an oath. It would have gone something like this:

I, state your name, pledge to the town of Jericho that I will fight to the death as long as the viewers don't get too attached to me, in which case I will fight until I get a sexy-looking cut on my face, and that I promise to be cuter than the New Bern residents so the viewers know who to root for.
One town, under CBS, in sweeps week, with access to the town salt mine for all.

And we must always end each episode with a rousing TURTELTAUB! as Jon Turteltaub's name appears, huge, for about a minute, on the screen.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What Gives?

I hereby present the first installment in my highly anticipated new series, "What Gives?" in which I ask the thought provoking, yet highly entertaining question, "What Gives?"

  • What gives, when you get some paint scraped off your bumper, the dealership tells you it will cost you $681 to fix?
  • What gives, when God makes dogs so cute and useful, and then loads them with skunk juice in what the vet calls their "anal glands," but must actually be God's Sense of Humor Bags, and then makes said bags highly susceptible to plugging and/or leaking?
  • What gives, whenever you answer the phone with a humorous "yellow" or "how's it hanging," that the person on the other line is there to tell you some ghastly bad news about somebody's health and/or jail residence status?
  • What gives, whenever you run out of wine, that your blog entries become dark and brooding?
  • Ha Ha!
  • What Gives?