Monday, January 28, 2008

Bread and butter

I don't think I need dishes anymore. I can just eat right out of the thing I cooked the food in. Well at least some of the time anyway. When I was helping my mom I couldn't believe how many dishes we used for the most basic meal. Each thing on the table had a dish to serve it out of and its own spoon. We always had a knife even if there was no use for it. And then we would wash the dishes that weren't used... I'ts crazy!

It's crazy... When my dad was alive he aways wanted bread and butter with every meal. Now my mom always askes me if I want bread. I'm like mom, we're having fish and rice. I guess old habits,..

I watched the state of the union address tonight. I have nothing to say about this except that I watched it. I had heard that it would be something about legacy. It left me flat, as did the democratic response. I have to wonder about Bush's presidential library though. He said he reads a lot of books each year. 500 books or something. Or was it 50?... I'd be thrilled if I read 5.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Train tracks and a power line

It's really snowing here right now. They said it would this afternoon and it is. I got up early this morning to go skiing. I waxed two pairs of skis last night so all I had to do was get up wolf down some breakfast and go. People were doing morning things. There was a guy in Carharts riding a four wheeler back to his trailerhouse from the gas station, his mullet haning down from the back of his visor cap. He must have gotten a paper or something he needed for breakfast. Down the road there was an old grey haired guy also wearing a visor cap getting out of his pickup to meet up with other old guys at a cafe for coffee or breakfast.

It was freezing rain on the mountain. I took a few recreational race runs. I crashed once but did it gracefully and did not get hurt. I had to keep scraping the ice off of my goggles to see. After a while I noticed that my jacket was turning white, and then my chest started to get cold. A layer of ice had formed on my ski jacket. It was really unusual. It wasn't wet, just cold.

I left early to avoid all of the snow and it was a good thing I left when I did as it really got bad out. On my way home I stopped and took some pictures with my new camera. The battery door on my little coolpix broke so I bought a new one, a Nikon P5100. It's pretty cool. I can set the shutter and the f-stop or both, or run the camera in fully auto mode. It also lets me choose the "film" /ISO speed. And it takes the flash from my big Nikon digital, but it's a little bitty camera. I find that I'll use a small camera more than a big one. Despite having two digital SLR cameras, I'd always want to use my little coolpix.

Anyway I've been taking photos of train tracks and power lines now for some reason, and I think that would make for a good country and western song;

Train tracks and a power line,
She just spent my last dime,..

Friday, January 25, 2008

GOP debate

Here's how I rank them on last night's debate in Florida.

1. Giuliani- bugs bunny
2. Huckabee- stuck by his guns
3. Romney- big love
4. Paul- off to see the wizard
5. McCain- a bridge to nowhere

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Be true to your school

While I was in Montana last week I went to the bookstore at the University of Montana. I wanted a T shirt. I'm getting very low on T shirts. I just wanted a T shirt that said University of Montana on it or something. But all they had were ones that had great big graphics on them that said Griz and had big bear paws on them. Well I like watching football while I'm over there during football season but other than that I don't want to look like a football player myself, but I did find this cap.

There were lots of caps with different departments and sports on them but only two that said Artist on them. Either these caps are really popular because they fly off the shelf, or they are really unpopular and they just don't get many in. Either way, I went to the art school so I bought one of the two that they had. Those are the school colors BTW.

I'm watching the GOP debate tonight. I'll report my thoughts tomorrow as I know it's such a popular subject on my blog.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Democratic debate

I watched the last democratic debate. I watched it once and then watched the replay of it later that night.

Before that on Sunday while watching Meet The Press, I saw the video clip in which Obama reflected on Ronald Reagan's ability to draw democrats over to vote republican. Clearly Bill and Hillary Clinton mischaracterized his statements into support for Reagan's republican ideas. The Clintons have to know full well that this wasn't the case.

I had a real hard time with this. So here is how I would rank who won the debate. I'm not letting Edwards win by default.

1. Obama
2. Edwards

Bill Clinton DSQ
Hillary Clinton DSQ

I'm sending the Clintons to the penalty box to think things over.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Show me the door

I'm back home now. My mom just has to get used to eating solid food again gain some strength and with luck she will be back to normal. When this whole jounrey started in the fall, I said I'd "confront" it. I'm not sure I really confronted cancer on my blog. I think the only way you can really confront cancer is to get it for yourself.

I take with me impressions of the whole experience both in my mind and on the memory card of my camera. The photo above is of the corridor I walked down so many times. It connects the two different sections of the hospital and you have to use it to get from the parking lot to the hospital rooms. I saw lots of different people here. I took this photo the last time I walked down it. It's empty on the weekends and at night.

This is the little flat screen that has the conference room schedule graphic on it that you can see a detail of HERE or just scroll down to Jan 18th.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Some things never change

Yesterday morning I was outside shoveling snow off of the sidewalk. The local TV news reminded everyone that if you don't clear the snow by 9:30 am, the city can send someone out to do it and charge you for it. I'm not sure if they do that or not, but everyone seems to go out to shovel, and the neighbor guys usually shovel for my mom before I get to it. Anway, across the street and down the block a ways there were two kids, both boys and probably brothers. The little one was probably about 10. He had a winter coat on with a hood up. He was so bundled up that his arms kind of stuck out to the sides. It was his gesture of just standing there in his coat that caught my attention. While I was watching, the bigger kid who was probably about 12 took a handful of snow and was holding it as if to show the little kid something. Then the big kid just washed the little kid's face in the snow. The little kid didn't fight it. His arms never moved. When his face washing was over he just turned around and trotted back to the door of their house and went inside. His arms in the same position the whole time. Then the big kid stood there looking at the door like,.. will I get in trouble now?

I got a kick out of that. :)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sick as a dog

Sorry that was the only thing I could think of to name this post. Mom is fine and was released from the hospital today. They left an IV thing in her arm and so I had to remove it when we got home. We called and they told us how to do it. It was no big deal really as I got the bleeding stopped. The care at the hospital was outstanding actually.

I got off of the elevator on the wrong floor once today and took this picture. No this isn't my mom.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Conference room schedule

There was a small flat computer screen up in one of the hospital corridors with this graphic on it. I had to get a snap as I love portraits and this is one of the most compelling images I've seen on this trip.

He is always testing us you know.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The bat cave

My mom had her second cancer operation today. This one was much easier on her and it puts her back to the way she was before the first operation. I'll spare you the details. Anway she seems fine now. Well,..she has to stay in the hospital for a few days but other than that I think she will be ok. I was thinking. There are only so many rooms in this hospital and I think we've been in quite a few of them now. It's like we own it now or something. I feel quite at home there.

Speaking of home. I'm blogging from the basement bedroom of the house I grew up in. It's really an old house. Built around 1900. Here is a photo of my workstation. I don't know why I find this interesting but I do. Don't you ever wonder where people blog from? I mean that exact space. Well right now this is it. It's a cool old desk actually. I wish I owned it. Who knows perahps some day I will. I used to sleep in this bedroom during the summer when it was hot out. There is a door with some steps that lead outside. I'd keep my bike in the next room and early in the morning I'd put my bike shorts on, grab my bike, go out that basement door and ride it all the way to Flathead Lake sometimes which is 100 miles to the north.

It was a strange transition to leave the basment like that, then leave the city streets and then be out on the open highway on my bike. Like leaving the bat cave or something. Then I'd hang out at the cabin and ride back a few days later. Life was good back then. Simple. The only thing I had to worry about was getting a flat or having a mechanical. I used to carry quarters in my socks and I knew where all of the pop machines were along the way.

I used to put Coke in my water bottles when I ran out of water. I had a water bottle on my handlebars over my front brake. I didn't notice that Coke had been splashing out onto the front brake. I had a rule back then about distance riding; never use the brakes if you don't really need to. I was going down this one steep section pretty fast about as fast as traffic so pulled out into the lane. I touched the brakes to control my speed and the front one stuck while braking. I wasn't ready for that and it threw me forward off of the saddle as my body was relaxed. I managed to ride the bike to a stop but it gave me a scare. I took the brake apart at a nearby stream and cleaned off the sticky Coke. After that I had another rule: never put Coke in the front bottle.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Looking back

Here is another photo of train tracks that I used to wander up and down as a kid. They used to take me out of town in my mind.

Dentist conspiracy

I've never liked clowns. I don't like pictures of clowns either. And now we find out that children DON'T LIKE CLOWNS

And I don't like having my blood pressure taken at the dentist either. Yesterday I was getting my teeth cleaned and my gal grabbed my wrist and put a blood pressure thing on it. I'm like, What!? Well I hate being at the dentist and I usually stress out at least some not to mention that they hang me upside-down when they clean my teeth. My pressure was 133 over 79, but I question the results.

So why are you taking my blood pressure? I asked. Well we figure people never go to the doctor... Hmm..I'm thinking there might be another reason. Some sort of doctor/ dentist conspiracy, no doubt resulting in higher insurance rates.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Democratic debate

I watched the democratic debate tonight. I was a little disappointed that a fight didn't break out. This time Clinton kept her cool. I think that worked in her favor. I'd like to see John McEnroe run for president. He'd get really upset and start throwing things around. He'd start in on the moderators.

So for once I can't really say who came out ontop. The media is saying Clinton but I'm not so sure. Russert caught her up in in a vote issue about bankruptcy. She voted for a bill that would punish people who had no option but to file for bankruptcy for medical reasons. (correct me if I'm wrong as I'm trying to remember a bunch of stuff without having written it all down) Clinton countered by saying that the bill didn't pass and she was glad it failed. (?)

Obama seemed to stumble around like usual verbalizing his positions. He was however consistent but you really had to listen. I don't know about the comment he made about loosing papers. I'm not sure that played well... "Now where did I put that paper that told us how to stop the nuclear retaliation?...and where did I put those keys?.. They must be around here somewhere,... Not those!.. those go to the caddy,.. The ones we are looking for have a yellow tri-chevron on them,.."

Edwards was on point.

So who won? I'd say that Edwards won the debate.

1. Edwards
2. Clinton
3. Obama

However, both Clinton and Edwards were farther left than Obama. On the issue of Gun control, I thought Obama was the most Moderate. He seemed to be the most moderate on all of the issues. That might work well in the end but won't help getting the democratic nomination.

When all is said and done

I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't like the saying "at the end of the day". It's getting pretty worn out. I always think that at the end of the day comes the night and then yet another day. Then what? They could say at the end of tomorrow, and cover two days that way. They might say at the end of the week instead or at the end of the month, or even at the end of the year, but it might be the last day of the week, month or year and the same as saying at the end of the day.

When all is said and done, I don't like it when people say "at the end of the day".

Friday, January 11, 2008

Motorized VS non-motorized backcountry

The debate about motorized vs non-motorized use of the National Forests heated up in western Montana recently as the Forest Service is holding meetings for people to present their viewpoints so they can update their travel management plan. The debate is largely about the use of ATVs and snowmobiles VS hiking biking and horseback riding. ATV sales have exploded in recent years changing the face of the backcountry in the northwest.

My view of the ATV situation is that it's getting out of control. If the situation in Montana is anything like it is with ATV use during hunting season in Eastern Washington then it is out of control and beyond the ability of the Forest Service to enforce the restrictions.

It was the ugliest meeting I've ever been to,” said Friends of the Bitterroot president Jim Miller. “It was very ugly and sad.”Miller said the crowd was heavily weighted in favor of pro-motorized recreation. People were “aggressive, belligerent and angry. ... The ‘f-word' was used more than once in comments.”“It was not a meeting that I would have liked to have my wife or kids at,” he said. At one point, as a woman spoke about wilderness, a man in the crowd allegedly said, “Put a bullet in her head.” His words were loud enough for a number of people to hear, including a Forest Service official.

(gosh I hope that wasn't one of my family who said that!..But attitudes like this don't surprise me. "put a bullet in her head." ? My gosh! I can't tell you how disappointed comments like this make me because I know people who would say such things. My dad would roll over in his grave if he heard this. How things have changed.)

The situation was intimidating for anyone who wanted to speak in favor of non-motorized recreation, Miller said.

Jim Hundley, of the Selway-Pintler Wilderness Backcountry Horsemen, called the meeting “basically a mob scene. It was very ugly and intimidating.”

Dan Thompson, of the Ravalli County Off-Road Users Association, agreed the meeting got out of hand.“We really regret the inappropriate behavior of a few people,” Thompson said. “Fortunately, they weren't members of our organization. ? Hopefully people will be better behaved and respectful in the future.”

I've heard the "behavior of a few people" argument used to explain why there are now ATV trails going everywhere in the woods despite restrictions. And they maintain these trails by hauling around a chain saw and cutting downed trees. It's clearly the behavior of quite a few people, not just a few people. It's also a management problem for the Forest Service and I think the meeting illustrates how far things have gotten out of control both in the meetings and in the backcountry.

I have to add that I do think many people are responsible with ATVs and I've looked at the issue from both sides as I've ridden them around myself and have a number of friends who own both ATVs and snowmobiles. Having said that, I think this meeting speaks volumes about the conflict. That's me on the left in the photo above. I really enjoyed the ATV ride my friend treated me to.

The entire article is HERE .

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Repulbican debate coverage

I try not to get political on bicycle log, but I'm totally into watching these debates.

I think I've seen at least part of or all of the presidential debates, both republican and democrat. I try to rank who won each fairly despite my bias. (I'm supporting Obama) I've also tried to watch each candidate when they appear on Meet the Press or Face the Nation.

So here's how I would rank the republicans tonight on the Fox debate;

1. Paul
2. Huckabee
3. Giuliani
4. Romney
5. McCain
6. Thompson

And here's why;

Paul was recently on Meet The Press and both my mom and I (who is a republican) thought he didn't understand the issues and didn't really have what it took to be president. He didn't show well at all on MTP as Russert got the best of him. But tonight he was on point and defended himself and his positions well and made sense.

Huckabee also was on point and answered the religious right question about marriage very well I thought. I didn't think he screwed up at all. I didn't agree with the "gates of hell" if you mess with the states because I'm not sure that would be a good foreign policy but I thought it played well as far as a republican debate goes.
(I went to Hellgate Highschool in Missoula Montana. if we sent people who messed with the United States to Hellgate Highschool, then they might think twice before they screwed with us! :)

Giuliani also made strong and convincing arguments for why he should lead and it was the best showing I think he's had. I should probably put him into 2nd position, but Huckabee made a bigger impression.

Romney was on message and consistent but I thought he was somewhat defensive. The attack on Paul also put me off and I think took him off point and made him look shallow. Same with McCain.

I have the greatest respect for McCain, but he said things that I thought were stereotypical. The burka comment. Plus he took what I thought were cheap shots at Paul. I didn't understand his motivation for that, and I thought it took him off message and showed a chink in his personality armor. The burka comment dated him to his generation when it might have been ok to find fault in another culture's mores or rules if you will. It migh be ok if you are trying to win over a certian demographic. I thought the attack on Paul and the burka comment were big mistakes.

Thompson was more prepared than he has ever been, but I still didn't see any real motivation. People might have begged him to run but nobody is going to beg him to be president. I have no idea what his motivation is. The "virgin" comment was in poor taste I thought like the McCain burka comment. I think they both showed their age when they are willing to make statements like this.

So there it is. I thought Edwards won the last democratic debate and yet he finished last in the NH primary.


My friend's father Russ recently died. Before Russ died he asked my friend to look after his dog Jake. So now some mornings we have a mascot at work. You can tell Jake is still a little sad but I think he's slowly coming out of it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Round two

I found out that next week my mom goes in for round two of her cancer treatment operations. My mom had colon cancer. I've been trying to think of a sensitive way to explain the second procedure. It's not because I'm not comfortable with the situation, it's just that in my family we just don't talk about some things, and you don't really want to know. Let me put it this way, when the procedure is done then mom will be back to normal. Let's hope anyway.

So I'll be going back to Montana next week for this. More hospital. More time off of work. Most likely an extended stay again. We will see.

Made in Montana

Ted aka mrmontana wants snow as he isn't getting enough in Oregon.

I remember I bought a bag of ice in Montana last summer for my cooler. The bag said Made in Montana. I thought, wow,.. The've figured out how to make ice in Montana. Now they don't have to buy ice from other states!

Now I'm thinking there might be a market for Montana snow in Oregon. :)

My car this morning.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

It really is about the journey

I should be home petting Spunky my cat right now but my car konked out not quite half way home and before I got back into Idaho. There was a lot of slush on the road and I constantly had to clean my windshield as trucks passed me. The wipers started going slower and slower and I knew what whas going on. Finally I couldn't go any farther and the car quit as a drove off of the shoulder into pretty deep snow. It was kind of in the middle of no where. Thankfully I had a cell phone and called home. My mom called a tow truck and in about 20 min here it came from a small town. The guy was cool but woudln't take me anywhere except to his shop in that town. That actually worked out pretty well.

I knew the alternator was shot. Curt and I had just been talking about the same thing happening to him. I didn't want to stay in this little town even though they had a decent motel, and didn't really want them working on my car as it would have taken a day as they would have to get the part sent in, so I bought a battery from him, the only one that he had that fit my car. And drove it back to my mom's place about 80 miles or so on battery alone without using anything electrical in the car. I did have to use the wipers a couple of times again, but by this time the water on the road had started to freeze and there wasn't as much traffic going in that direction. I wasn't really sure if it would make it that far but it did. I couldn't go in the direction of my home in Washington as there were two mountain passes to go over, worse snow and slush conditions and it would have gotten dark on me. So after I put the new battery in, I pointed back into Montana where I'd spent the weekend with my mom.

I made it back into town and pulled into mom's garage. I had about 20 min before 5:00 pm on a Sunday and found an auto parts store just down the street that had my alternator. $275. I got to the auto parts store with about 5 minutes until they closed. I'll get $100 for the old one when I return it in the morning. So I removed the old one and installed the new one. Thankfully I had my sockets with me. It took me an hour and a half.

I'll make another attempt at getting home again tomorrow. I'm trying to see an up-side to all of this but I can't really find one other than I did get to have dinner again with my mom, and I guess I could be stuck in that little town for a day or two while those guys worked on my car. They weren't bad guys however. I found out that the owner knew my friend George. It's a small world,... planet Montana. You just have to drive a long way through snow wind and rain to get out of orbit.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

It's about the journey

It seems like I've been doing a lot of driving in the snow lately. One time I was riding my bike along this highway in the summer and there was mint planted in the field on the left. Man it smelled good! No minty fresh smell on this day. Just fresh. I love winter.

A month ago my mom was in the intensive care unit after her cancer surgery. Now she's doing pretty well. There's still a ways to go another surgery. What a journey it has been.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

About the clouds

As always, I took a lot of photos when I went skiing. I take a lot of photos no matter where I go. I thought this one was not so good but there was something about the clouds that I liked. They add a tension to the otherwise tranquil view.