Wednesday, April 25, 2007



When Kelly was three years old and Katie was about 1 1/2, my grandmother passed away and we made the trip to Burns, OR for the funeral (about 4 hours drive from where we live). We stayed at a Best Western motel. Kelly got sick, and we were using the motel room ice bucket for her to throw up into. When we checked out, I asked the front desk person if we could keep the bucket for the trip home, and she said "By all means!" So, that little ice bucket became known around our home as the "Puke Bucket". After that, when we would be on family trips and the girls would see a Best Western motel sign, they would say...

"Look, Daddy! Puke Bucket!"

I like Best Western motels, but they have nonetheless been referred to by all members of my family (plus some of our friends who have heard this story) as the Puke Bucket Motel for the last 17 years or so.

We still have the official puke bucket, and it still has the Barney the Dinosaur stickers we put not just on the outside but on the inside, so when our kids threw up they could do it on Barney.


While I was hobbling around in the local Safeway store yesterday, I got to the checkout line just ahead of a mother and teenage daughter who were obviously members of a particular local Christian fundamentalist church; you can tell by the way the members dress. In this case, the mom was wearing a kind of wrap or scarf around her head, and the daughter had her hair pulled back in a tight bun. Both wore long, plain dresses with long sleeves.

Anyway, as the checker was working at my groceries, I couldn't help but notice this mother and daughter frantically running from one checkout aisle to the next, turning copies of Style and Cosmopolitan magazines around so the front covers, depicting cleavage and form-fitting dresses, wouldn't show.

It was just too funny, and I couldn't resist... I approached the mother and said, honestly, "I understand exactly what you're doing. I do that with books by Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter every time I go to Barnes and Noble." (I actually DO do that in bookstores!)

Her quick response was "Well, reading those books is a person's prerogative. With this stuff, it's just in your face, all the time."

What I wanted to say was "Because people in our country read so damned much of that rightwing crap, we see reactions like yours to just about anything sexual." I also could have said, "If you don't like it don't look at it!" or I could have stepped away from my groceries, confronted her and said "Look, you stupid dumbass!" while I went about undoing her and her daughter's "Lord's work"... "We live in a free society, whether you like it or not!" I didn't do or say those things because I engage in the same kind of behavior when I see the wingnut books on display at B & N.

My response was "I assure you I would like to see our country get away from nasty rightwing politics as much as you would like to see higher standards in the kind of magazines people read."

She muttered something under her breath as she followed her daughter, who was busily turning more magazines around a couple of checkout lines ahead.

This reminds me of Lizzy's story about her political encounter with her auto mechanic. Did I do or say the right things here?


I may need to get ahold of the above book and read it! Heh!
I have been invited to contribute at a fun sports blog entitled "American Legends". I plan to write an occasional piece for AL, in which I will attempt to speak coherently about professional and college sports from a Pacific Northwest perspective. My first piece is up on that blog now, and it discusses the emergence of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers from what some fans might think of as the "dark ages" of the franchise. I will of course continue with my political diatribes here at VE, but as I am a huge sports fanatic, AL may provide something of an outlet for those interests. If you are a fan, check out American Legends, which is listed in my list of links!

Friday, April 20, 2007


Why? Because we like it!


This is a picture of The Gorge Amphitheatre. I will be going there to the Sasquatch Festival with my daughter Katie and a friend of hers in late May. The excursion will be a high-school graduation gift of sorts for the two of them. Katie was desperate to go because a couple of her favorite artists are playing there, and her friend's parents wanted an adult along... but I didn't mind saying "yes!" because I absolutely love some of the music we will be hearing. I was more than willing to "chaperone". Here are some of the artists we will see:

Interpol, looking cool as always.

The Arcade Fire, who will hopefully play their great new CD "Neon Bible" in its entirety!

Beautiful music from the pefectly beautiful Neko Case!

A massively talented band from New York, The Hold Steady! I think they really put things together with their most recent CD.

Bring on the narcissistic slackers... I love the Dandy Warhols!!

I haven't heard a lot by Spoon, but I like their songs that were heard in the recent movie "Stranger Than Fiction". I'll be interested in hearing them!

Katie and I have CDs by Electrelane, the all-female band that knows how to play some pretty cool stuff. They are one of her favorite bands. Here is another of Katie's favorite artists, northwest singer-songwriter Mirah:

So who else is playing at this two-day event? Well, the headliners are Bjork, and The Beastie Boys... I don't particularly care about either act, but I'm sure they will still be fun and interesting. Other artists at the festival include M.I.A., Citizen Cope, Grizzly Bear, Manu Chao and Radio Bemba Sound System, Two Gallants, Ghostland Observatory, The Slip, Loney Dear, Aqueduct, The Thermals (I've seen them before, they're a great young punk band), Viva Voce, The Blow, Gabriel Teodros, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Bad Brains (a classic band, for sure), Ozomatli, The Black Angels (they play cool stuff), Tokyo Police Club, Money Mark, St. Vincent, Jessy Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, Smoosh, Common Market, Helio Sequence (they are a good group) and Minus The Bear.

So you've never heard (or heard of) very many of those bands? Me neither!! But heck, that will be half the fun. The show runs from noon until midnight or so on each of the two days. I am guessing there will be 5-6 acts per day that will get to be on the main stage, and then there will be others who'll get to play on small stages set a ways from the Amphitheatre.

I am pretty sure my back will be able to hold up for the entire event. Things seem to be healing nicely at this point, I'm walking a mile to a mile and a half a day, and I don't really seem to need the painkillers anymore (dang!)... 8-)> I will probably get myself a lightweight lawnchair, one of those that you can carry around on your back like a daypack.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate. I have been to some shows at The Gorge when it gets to be 50 degrees or lower, plus rainy... But I can handle (and have handled) crummy weather conditions there on occasion in order to see Steely Dan, Tom Petty, Van Morrison/Joni/Mitchell/Bob Dylan, The Who, Patti Smith/Neil Young & Crazy Horse, and Foreigner/Journey (hey, that last one was for my wife Kit, as her musical tastes run that direction... although I have to admit Journey guitarist Neal Schon was fantastic!)

I urge any and all of you who live in (or anywhere near) the Pacific Northwest (and all of you who are far away too!) to come check out a show sometime at The Gorge. It is one of my favorite venues of all time. Let me know if you ever do decide to go there, and maybe I can drive up and meet you (it's about a 3 1/2 hour drive from where I live). There are plenty of places to stay within an hour's drive of the venue if you book a few months in advance. For this event, I got a couple of motel rooms, one for the kids and one for me, about 45 minutes from The Gorge. If you do go there, I'd suggest you not bother with staying at the campground... It is impossible to get any sleep with all the addled partiers running around all night, and the outhouses usually get to the "overload" point!

I know, I had to put some reference to POOP in there someplace, didn't I!

Anyway, I look forward to being one of the oldest people at the show, and having what may well be the grayest hair of any attendees! I will survive my encounter with Sasquatch, and I will love it!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


But I guess it isn't here anymore, is it! Heh!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


"Be thankful for the fools. But for them, the rest of us could not succeed."
- Mark Twain

I know, the picture probably has very little to do with the quote... I just like the picture!

Thursday, April 12, 2007


"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid."
- Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, April 08, 2007


One of my favorite blogbuddies, Chaotic Fred (aka Mandelbrot's Chaos) has a new blog I am excited about, because I know he tends to pretty-thoroughly research what he writes, and it may provide a good place where we can go to read about, as he puts it, "all of my thoughts on environmental topics, including but not limited to alternative fuels and thoughts on organic farming". The name of the blog is "TechnoAgrarian Musings" and I have added it to my links. Go check it out! There are already some interesting things there.

Of course M.C. might not agree with a lot of us leftoids on the topic of global warming, but I will agree to disagree with him on that, and focus my attention when I go to his new blog on learning more about alternative fuel sources. While he may disagree with the Al Gore stance on climate change, Fred is nonetheless fascinated by information technology and scientific developments. I am not a very scientific-minded person, like he tends to be, so I believe he is providing us with a resource as well as a service, and a place where such matters can be discussed thoughtfully in a mostly apolitical manner.

Good job there Fred, and keep farting fire!

I posted the picture of the wind farm mainly because I am very interested in wind power. In the future I will post some pictures of some of the wind farms in NE Oregon and SE Washington. There is one in SE Washington between Walla Walla and the Columbia River that is absolutely VAST. To me it is inspiring and amazing to see all those generators moving!! There is a wind farm being developed about 20 miles from where I live, and I know I will be frequently visiting the site and learning more about how it works! Cheers!

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Hmmm... was there supposed to be a picture here?

Friday, April 06, 2007


Those pictures are from the hilarious "Psychedelic Republicans" trading card set. Do I have a set of my own? Well, I sure do!

I want to know what kind of drugs Dick Cheney is taking, besides his heart medication. My guess is that he must be taking some pretty good blotter acid, or maybe at least some good quality psilocybin. Something hallucinogenic, at any rate:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Vice President Dick Cheney repeated his assertions of al-Qaida links to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq on Thursday as the Defense Department released a report citing more evidence that the prewar government did not cooperate with the terrorist group.

Cheney contended that al-Qaida was operating in Iraq before the March 2003 invasion led by U.S. forces and that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was leading the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida. Others in al-Qaida planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“He took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the al-Qaida operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June,” Cheney told radio host Rush Limbaugh during an interview. “As I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq.”

However, a declassified Pentagon report released Thursday said that interrogations of the deposed Iraqi leader and two of his former aides as well as seized Iraqi documents confirmed that the terrorist organization and the Saddam government were not working together before the invasion.

The Sept. 11 Commission’s 2004 report also found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network during that period.

The rest of the article is at

ALSO: Lizzy, I apologize for stealing this article excerpt from your blog and posting it here, but this is just the kind of stuff that makes my blood boil:

From the NY Times:

Cheney: Bush Administration May Challenge 22nd Amendment in 2008 Election.

Published: April 1, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, North Carolina. April 1 — Vice President Cheney delivered a speech early Sunday morning before a formation of soldiers at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The speech was not publicized and the prepared remarks were intended to boost troop morale. The comments were fairly unremarkable except for one short comment near the end of the speech in which Mr. Cheney suggested that the Bush Administration may seek to challenge the 22nd amendment in the 2008 presidential election in an effort to ensure that the war in Iraq is successful.

Mr. Cheney again cited the war in Iraq as a key component in the effort to combat terrorism, saying "The war in Iraq is such a crucial part of the greater war on terror that we currently have our legal advisors looking into the possibility that the 22nd Amendment may not apply in 2008."

SNAVE'S NOTE: I have to notice the date of the article is April Fool's Day, but I seriously doubt Cheney was joking. He would probably prefer to just suspend the entire Consititution... it would be so much more convenient.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I believe we should not forget what Senator Webb of Virginia said in his rebuttal to the State of the Union address a few short months ago. From the WP:

Webb concluded his speech with references to former presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt and a warning for Bush:

"These presidents took the right kind of action for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight, we are calling on this president to take similar action in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way."

That is the attitude of the new Democratic congress. For speaking with the leader of Syria, Nancy Pelosi is not a traitor... she is just showing Bush a different way to get things done. Kudos to her. In that one short visit, it is possible she accomplished as much or more positive things than the Bush administration has in the Middle East in its sad 6 1/2 years.

Diplomacy does not always work, but it is always good to at least give it a chance. By setting this example, Pelosi doesn't send mixed messages to Syria, she lets Syria know that not all of us in America want to bomb Damascus... that it's basically just a handful of people who want war, and that they won't be in power all that much longer. And then maybe we can get some positive things done in that part of the world.


I would love to live in Montreal right about now... The Dears, The Arcade Fire, Malajube, Of Montreal... lots of good music coming out of that city these days!

Malajube sings in French, but I love their sound and their new CD. I would highly recommend it... very happy-sounding, well-done alternative pop music.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


In 1986, Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from
Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a
young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air.

The elephant seemed distressed, so Mbembe approached it very
carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot,
and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and
as gently as he could, Mbembe worked the wood out with his hunting
knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The
elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its
face, stared at him for several tense moments. Mbembe stood frozen,
thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant
trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Mbembe never forgot that
elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Mbembe was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his
teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one
of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe
and his son Tapu were standing. The large bull elephant stared
at Mbembe, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The
elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while
staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help
wondering if this was the same elephant. Mbembe summoned up his courage,
climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked
right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder.

The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of
Mbembe's legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him

Probably wasn't the same elephant.......