Saturday, September 30, 2006


At a place where I work, I inherited a desk from a retiring teacher. On the front of the bottom desk drawer was this large sticker. I absolutely had to remove it, and it was a painstaking process because the sticker was quite old. Luckily, the retired teacher had left some x-acto knife blades in his desk, along with a hardbound copy of "Guns, Crime and Freedom" by the NRA's Wayne LaPierre, fundamentalist Christian reading material and other similar things. After fumigating and disposing of the contents of the desk, I took about 10 minutes to chip off the sticker small piece by small piece... but before removing it, I thought it was worth a photo. Hope you are able to enjoy.


Friday, September 29, 2006


Bob Stoops, the Oklahoma football coach, after living a full life, died. When he got to heaven, God was showing him around.

They came to a modest little house with a faded Sooner flag in the window.

"This house is yours for eternity, Bob," said God. "This is very special; not everyone gets a house up here."

Bob felt special, indeed, and walked up to his house. On his way up the porch, he noticed another house just around the corner. It was a 3-story mansion with a Green and Yellow sidewalk, a 50 foot tall flagpole with an enormous Oregon Duck flag, and in every window, a Duck.

Bob looked at God and said "God, I'm not trying to be ungrateful, but I have a question. I was a good coach, I went to three consecutive bowl games, won a national championship, and turned around Oklahoma's entire program."

God said "So what do you want to know, Bob?"

"Well, why does Mike Belotti get a better house than me?"

God chuckled, and said "Bob, that's not Mike's house, it's mine."

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Friday, September 15, 2006


Saturday, September 09, 2006


Our band, Standard Deviation, has been barred from any further performances at Ten Depot Street, a sophisticated, highly-coveted local venue for bands here in La Grande. The reason? We hear it is because we tend to play TOO LOUD.


I can understand where Ten Depot Street is coming from. They are not only a nitespot, but they are also a restaurant. If a band begins playing at 8:30 p.m., there are usually still some people there enjoying their dinner. If the music is TOO LOUD, people might not want to stay and finish their dinner. If this happens, the restaurant loses money and possibly future customers. We were asked by the owner to TURN IT DOWN the last time we played there. We did TURN IT DOWN, but apparently not enough and a few customers left. Oops.

On the other hand, what are people doing still eating dinner at 8:30 or 9:00 p.m.? Don't they know that if they eat dinner that late, it serves to put more pounds onto their frames? 8-)>

One major problem I have with our band being barred is THIS: other local bands who are more established than us, such as the Alibis, and Jimmy Lloyd Ray and the Switchmasters, play just as loud or louder than we do... and they are still being allowed to play there. There is even a really cool local fellow who bills himself as Al "Too Loud" McLeod who has played there before (but probably quietly, being the professional that he is). I guess this must be because those people are local music GODS (no insult intended, that is just how locals view those bands/musicians), and we haven't yet achieved such deity status. But maybe our banishment is due to something else...

Our dismissal can't be because of us drawing small crowds. It is true we have drawn small crowds there a couple of times... but Ten Depot Street has done very little to promote our appearances in the past. I always thought that if an establishment wanted to draw crowds, which would equal more money in their pockets, they would advertise aggressively. I don't think it's our responsibility as a band, to advertise aggressively, when we are being paid a flat amount of $300 to play there for an evening. If we were going to be making a certain percentage of the take for the evening, heck yeah, we would be out advertising ourselves, aggressively. But that isn't the case... So if we do draw a small crowd, it may be due to some lack of effort on our part, but I have to say the establishment hasn't shown desire to bring in large numbers of people for our shows.

Our banishment can't be because people don't like us personally. We all have good personal hygiene, we don't swear, we don't fart or belch into the microphones when we play, and we don't do any "Jim Morrison Onstage in Miami" stuff.

Have we been banned because we SUCK? I don't think that's the reason, either. Lots of our friends come out to hear us play and to dance to our music. Sometimes our band sounds pretty good, other times not... but people just about always like to DANCE to what we are playing, especially when they get good and OILED UP. That's why playing in a bar can be so much FUN at times.

My theory is that the owner of the restaurant simply prefers more sedate acts that rely on at least SOME original material (of which we do none, we just play rough "classic rock" that is apparently TOO LOUD)... She seems to lean toward bands that play acoustic rock or folk rock, and maybe blues, because those are her preferences. She is the owner of a nice restaurant and nitespot, so that's fine, because she needs to run her business as she sees fit.

I am sure that on the night we were TOO LOUD, if several customers left because of the noise, the establishment more than made up for any lost money by selling more drinks than usual at the bar... because WE were playing that night. Even given that, I think it must be due to the owner having a certain image she wants her place to portray. One of mellow sophistication, I think.

And when we get behind our instruments and start playing, we say SCREW mellow sophistication. We play our music the way we feel at the time, and that's what the customers get. The crowd doesn't just get what some musicians think the crowd (and the bar's owner, I guess) wants to hear, the crowd gets US. We are honest, and we are genuine about what we do. And those who come to hear us play seem to appreciate that.

So thanks, Ten Depot Street, for all the good memories we will have of our times spent there. The members of our band will all probably continue to go eat dinner at your place, have a drink or two there, and go listen to live music there too! Not just because yours is one of the few places in town that provides a good meal and that has a nice bar, but because it is a place of high QUALITY! I only wish you the best. But just don't expect us to become a sophisticated, mellow acoustic band solely for the purpose of being allowed to play at your place. I'm not sure that kind of thing is in our genes.

Ten Depot Street always strives for QUALITY, and it tends to succeed most of the time. Maybe we need to TURN IT DOWN, but maybe Ten Depot Street could also remember that QUALITY can be a RELATIVE THING. Appealing to as many kinds of people as possible can be good for business, but I suppose if the proprietor wishes to cater to a specific kind of clientele (in this case, mellow, sophisticated, and probably middle-to-upper-middle class), monetary sacrifices will likely be made in the name of maintaining an image.

So I guess it all must boil down to this: Standard Deviation is viewed as being BAD FOR BUSINESS at Ten Depot Street.

If we are basically being told we don't belong, playing in a nice bar, and that we instead belong in taverns because of our lack of mellow sophistication, then I say "Bring on the taverns!" We simply enjoy playing, and I think it is always best to play in places where you are genuinely appreciated. So we will look around and find those places.

That's o.k. with me... I always kind of wanted to be a Bad Boy when it comes to playing music.

Friday, September 08, 2006


I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.

Ethics is a science about moral values, but not a science to discover moral "truths".

I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.

Do not pride yourself on the few great men who, over the centuries have been born on your earth --- through no merit of yours. Reflect, rather; on how you treated them at the time, and how you have followed their teachings.

Nothing truly valuable arises from ambition or from a mere sense of duty; it stems rather from love and devotion towards men and towards objective things.

The foundation of morality should not be made dependent on myth nor tied to any authority lest doubt about the myth or about the integrity of the authority imperil the foundation of sound judgment and action.

Where the pure see purity, the pig sees smut.

Humanity is more important than national citizenship.

Why denigrate oneself? Others take care of that when necessary.

Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing. If I had to live my life over again, I'd be a plumber.

I never think of the future --- it comes soon enough.

Make friends with a few animals. Then you will become a cheerful man once more and nothing will be able to trouble you.

Bureaucracy is the death of any achievement.

God never tells us in advance whether the course we are to follow is the correct one.

The end comes sometime: Does it matter when?

People are like the ocean: sometimes smooth and friendly, at others stormy and full of malice. The important thing to remember is that they too are mostly made of water.

In order to be an immaculate member of a flock of sheep, one must above all be a sheep oneself.

As a human being, one has been endowed with just enough intelligence to be able to see clearly how utterly inadequate that intelligence is when confronted with what exists.

In Nature, the overall principles represent a higher reality than does the single object.

No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.

Philosophy is like a mother who gave birth to and endowed all the other sciences. Therefore one should not scorn her in her nakedness and poverty, but should hope, rather, that part of her Don Quixote ideal will live on in her children so that they do not sink into philistinism.

I believe in the brotherhood of man and the uniqueness of the individual. But if you ask me to prove what I believe, I can't. You know them to be true but you could spend a whole lifetime without being able to prove them. There comes a point where the mind takes a higher plane of knowledge, but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap.

The greatest obstacle to international order is that monstrously exaggerated spirit of nationalism which also goes by the fair-sounding but misused name of patriotism.

In my opinion, it is not right to bring politics into scientific matters, nor should individuals be held responsible for the government of the country to which they happen to belong.

An autocratic system of coercion, in my opinion, soon degenerates. For force always attracts men of low morality.

Nationalism is an infantile sickness. It is the measles of the human race.

Politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fueled by perennially rejuvenated illusions.

The old problem of what should be done to give the power into the hands of capable and well-meaning persons has so far resisted all efforts.

I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Happy Labor Day!

From Wikipedia:

"Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country. All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation." - Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor.

"The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883."

I believe we do need to be glad for what labor unions have given us. Workers need protections, and we all need decent wages and a 40-hour work week with at least a little bit of guaranteed vacation time, time for bereavement leave, maternity leave, even paternity leave. Employers who look after their employees' health should also be commended and thanked.

There are those who will blame unions for many of our nation's problems. Here in Oregon, there is an anti-unions advertisement being aired on TV that depicts public employees bragging about having long vacations, high wages, great benefits, etc... and all they say they have are of course exaggerations by the rightist union-buster wannabes. But I think the perpetrators of that kind of crap are missing the point by asking the wrong questions. Instead of being jealous of those who work in the public sector, those who work in the private sector should demand more of the kinds of things they perceive the public sector as having. What they seem to ask is "Why don't I have it as good as them?" and then their actions seem to say "If I can't have it, I'm going to work to see that they can't have it either!" Instead, maybe they should be asking "Why don't all employees have decent living wages and benefits?" and then saying "Let's do something positive to make that happen!" It CAN happen. There is a big pie, and everyone CAN have a piece of it. The more of us that are healthy and happy, the stronger our country will be.

I know it wouldn't necesarily be easy being a CEO of a large corporation, because it seems like to have a successful company there would have to be good leadership. Nonetheless I think some of those people can get by on far less than a couple hundred million a year. I would love to see an era of corporate responsibility toward employees ushered in, in which the CEOs would still make a nice salary as their reward for building and guiding their organization, but not at a rate of pay hundreds of times what their employees make. There are some of them who could stand to celebrate their workers more, treat them better, and show them some appreciation.

But even though Labor Day may have its origins in unionism, I don't think it should necessarily be a call to unionists, or that it needs to be a celebration only of unions and their positive contributions as much as it ought to be a celebration of our nation's workforce in general. Our workforce makes our nation strong, whether our workers labor in the public or private sector. Today is a day to celebrate American ingenuity and the American work ethic, and how it has helped our country to the position of greatness we are at today.

Now, go enjoy your hotdogs and hamburgers!! 8-)>


This is what Autzen Stadium looks like from where my friend John and I were sitting on Saturday.

Also, Baby Mackie has some new photos for you to check out (see links). One of them is a nice picture of him that my daughter drew. Mac wants to know if any of you can tell me how to use that picture in the blog header, i.e. how to place it right beneath the blog title so it will show up every time someone goes to his site. Mac thanks you in advance!

Friday, September 01, 2006


  • I'm off to Eugene, Oregon to watch my Oregon Ducks play Stanford. It will be a good thing to get out of La Grande and take a couple of days before heading back to work on Tuesday. Work will be hectic for a week or so, because I missed the actual first week due to my father's death and due to the funeral and burial on Tuesday, but I will get caught up.
  • My family all wanted me to go to this game, as I have had a ticket for some time now... and the last time I watched my beloved Ducks was in 1983! (That was one of the worst NCAA games EVER played in any sport, a 0-0 tie with our archrival Oregon State Beavers in 38 degrees and pouring rain.) During the last 23 years, the Ducks have risen to a level of national semi-prominence, and now I finally get to share in that a little.
  • My family and I are doing well. Thanks so much to all of you for your thoughts and your kind comments re. my father!
  • See you Monday.