Happy Independence Day – 2017

Greetings Fellow Earth Dwellers. It’s another glorious day in the neighborhood, the kind that makes it OK to get up early, even if you don’t want to. On this day I was compelled to arise at 0430 because the little dog decided it was time. The last few days, since returning from our vacation, he waiting until 0500 precisely. I swear he wears a tiny little wrist watch with an alarm. It’s amazing.

Just like all previous years, beginning a couple of days before the 4th, many of our neighbors find it necessary ignite extremely loud fireworks well into the night. We expect it. The dogs hate it and would like to run down and have a word or two with whoever is holding the igniters. Apparently the city police view such events as normal, and accepted, because we never see them converging on the offenders, even when they lite off rockets that spew sparks all over the place, including over the dry hay-field next to our property. And it’s the same folks every year.

Now, having shared all that, I’ve got another story about a fire I started, legally, on June 30th. That was the last day for open burning in the county and I’ve been putting it off. Being the last day kinda prompted me to get busy and make it go away.

I took my handy little propane torch down there, after stringing my longest hose to the pile of debris. I’ve always used matches in the past then decided to try the torch with the last pile and found it to be much more convenient because it’s got an igniter on it. Pretty handy. When I touched it to the pile it went up pretty quickly and spread to the entire burn pile in a matter of seconds. I hadn’t planned for it to be as big as it got, but I had it under control with my water hose so just let it go. After it died down a bit, I went up on the porch to watch it and visit with our Niece Maryssa who was visiting from Salem where she spending the summer in a test marriage with her boyfriend who lives with his parents. Maryssa is a Senior at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon so we don’t see her much. It’s great to visit with her. I spend at least one evening talking with her and Granddaughter Lydia just like I was one of the girls. The entire time I feared they would talk about stuff I probably wouldn’t want to discuss, but they didn’t, so it was all good.

As I sat there visiting, Keith, a young firefighter, came walking into the back yard and reported that I had to put my fire out because the burn ban was ending at midnight. It was about 4:30 pm at the time, and dusk was hours away so I reported that I was legal because the “Burn Line” (503) 397-4800 told me that June 30th was the last burn day and open burning was allowed in the county for folks who had a current burn permit. My fire qualified so burn it did.

Being a good citizen, and knowing Keith was just doing the job he was told to do, I went down to man my garden hose while he went to his truck to unreel a couple hundred feet of hose after connect the truck to the fire hydrant that is conveniently located at the corner of our property. As we hosed down the pile I asked why I had to put out my fire when the burn line said it was legal and he said, “We’ve had phone calls … “, an unfinished sentence.

“OK,” I said, “so I burn legally and someone in town calls to complain so you come out to put my fire  out?”, or words to that effect. He didn’t respond to that so I prodded a little harder suggesting that whoever called knew the Fire Chief. He denied that, of course, and said, “No, some fires have already gotten out of control, and the burn ban ends at dusk.” I noted the change of the ban ending at dusk instead of midnight, his first choice, but didn’t say anything. He also said”the chief said …” a number of times that so I just left it alone.

The Chief Said.

Since I used to be a Chief, a Navy Chief, I understood the concept about “The Chief Said”. It’s law and doesn’t require any explanation. Just do it. So he did. And he did a great job. He blew my fire all apart, even thought it was barely burning when he arrived, and sprayed it all down with foam when there was no more smoke coming off the embers. I acknowledged that I doubt that that pile would burn any time before next year at the earliest.

Then, regarding phone calls to the fire department, I said, “you think you got phone calls now, wait until they build those 77 new houses in the field adjacent to our property. When I burn then you’ll probably get tons of calls.” He said, “It’s OK if you have a valid burn permit.” I let that rest a bit before replying, “I have a valid burn permit for the one we’re destroying.” Keith had no response because he knew I was correct, but, The Chief Said.

Finally he was done and told me “The Chief Said you need to have a 3 foot bare dirt perimeter around the debris to ensure it doesn’t re-start.” Looking at my destroyed burn pile which had been soaked with probably 200 plus gallons of water, maybe more, I thought it was unlikely it would ever burn again.

He wound his hose up and departed well before the Dusk ban and I went to work creating the perimeter as directed. Diane made me quit after I made one circuit of the pile because, well, it was just time to quit. Now the plan it to get the old truck down to the pile, scoop up the residue, and just let it resume to be just another part of the field I mow. Works for me because keeping track of the burn pile is a pain.

For today’s festivities at our house, I made potato salad and will be BBQing pork ribs this afternoon sometime. I have to be down at the docks at 2:00 pm to ring in the 4th using the bell in the Columbia River Warrior Rock replica located near the gazebo in front of the old court house in St. Helens. All I have to do is ring it 13 times for the original 13 colonies. It’s a yearly thing done by the American Legion Post 42 of which I’m a member. It’s kinda cool to be part of that.

Now I must go put on some clothes and ready myself for the task.

Hope everyone has a safe 4th.

Politics, Hallmark, & Projects

I’ve been thinking lately, not something I typically do on a regular basis. Normally I just roll with whatever’s going on at the time, oblivious to external influences. Consequently, I miss out on a lot of things that are apparently important to lots of people.

One thing that got my attention lately is the Texas Elector who decided he wasn’t going to cast Texas’ electoral votes for Trump because he’s an elector “to elect a president, not a king.” So, he’s resigning, leaving, which brings up another question in my head. How do these people get a job as an Elector?

Are they appointed by someone? If so, who might that be?

Did they win some sort of raffle at the last convention?

Did they happen to sit in the only chair at the convention dinner that had the winning envelope taped to the bottom?

Considering the fact there have been Faithless Electors in the past, those who do not vote for their winning candidate, I can’t help but wonder about either the validity of the elector process, or those appointed to serve as an elector. Seems like I read somewhere, in my long, arduous research on this, that the Electoral system was designed because voters couldn’t be trusted to vote for the most qualified candidate. Actually, I did read it somewhere, like here. Go figure.

Enough of that.

Now, how about some more interesting stuff? OK.

We’ve been watching a lot of Hallmark Channel movies lately, like we do every year at this time. All have Christmas themes, and all have great stories where the guy gets the girl and every one is happy forever after. Today was different, however. It was about a young woman who was transported 71 years into the future from December 22nd, 1945 to December 22nd, 2016. During her time in 2016 she learned about how small, kind things she did in 1945 had enormous impact on her town and families in 2016. Being able to witness these changes gave her a new outlook on life, changing her view of herself as insignificant to the understanding that even a small stone makes ripples in a pond. It was very good. So good, in fact, that we didn’t even take time to make popcorn. That is a stellar testament to our value of this movie.

I’d tell you the name of it, but I can’t remember.

I’ve got two drawers installed in Diane’s pantry. Only 8 more to go. As soon as I remember to buy the right kind of screws the next time I’m at ACE, I’ll be able to finish them up. I’m looking forward to the end of it because I’ve been talking about it for at least 7 years. That’s not all about procrastination, which I’ve very good at, but also about having lots of other things to do. So, drawers were never high on the list of priorities. That, and having emergent issues interfere with my 3-hour work day. Too many club meetings, also. Since I stopped going to all the meetings, I’ve been able to use my tools more often.

Part of the building process gave me an opportunity to use the drill press I was presented by PGE at my 20 year employment anniversary. I drilled about a zillion holes, some of which were countersunk to make shorter screws work like longer ones. All that drilling caused lingering pain in my right bicep which I thought was just normal tired muscles. Frequent checks, however, because it just feels weird, revealed to me that something is rolling around in there with that tiny muscle. I’m convinced it’s a growth of some sort, or that a portion of my bicep experienced a small explosion. One of these days I may call my doctor  to see if there’s a chance she can figure it out. Maybe it’ll just go away. In any case, progress comes with a price. Perhaps this is mine.

We’ve had snow. See.img_0787

Those are tiny little snow drifts made by our one day snow storm on our porch. I imagine they are pretty hazardous for small bugs in a hurry, but not too bad for people. The front yard was a winter wonderland, too, but I didn’t take a photo of that

I’ll stop for today on that note.

The Electoral College

Funny how I forget, every presidential election, that my vote isn’t really cast directly for my candidate choice, but for some unknown person who is appointed by the political parties in my state. By agreement, this person who is appointed to the Electoral College will vote for the candidate who wins the state. Seems like that’s basically giving the vote to the candidate who actually gets the most votes. But, Electoral College appointees are not ‘bound’ to vote for the winning candidate. Nope. They can vote for whoever they want.

There are 538 of these people who determine the outcome of any presidential election. Maybe they are used for other election, too, but I’m not aware what elections those might be. So, I’ll just continue to pretend I know what I’m talking about and say that only presidential elections are involved.

The 538 Electoral College members mirror the number of Senators and Congressmen and dictate how many votes each state has. Oregon has 7, Rhode Island has 4. Respectively, those two states have populations of 3,831,074 and 1,052,567. Using a little bit of basic math that I learned in the third grade, using much smaller numbers, I see that each electoral vote in Oregon is determined by about 547,296 people, and in Rhode Island each electoral vote is determined by about 263,142 people.

Hmmm. So, one electoral vote in Rhode Island represents the desires of 263K people but in Oregon it represents almost twice as many people. The average for each electoral vote for the entire United State is about 547K which makes Rhode Island’s 4 votes appear to be a little out of balance. I checked a few other states and found that the numbers are generally higher, like 677K for each of California’s electoral votes.

Granted, that’s only 2 states out of 50-something, and probably isn’t truly representative of a fair comparison, but considering the stakes you would think there would be a little more equality given to each state by population. Either that, or divide the votes in a different manner. I suggest that each state have only one electoral vote, regardless of population, and it would take 26 to win.

Better yet, I suggest that each state have as many electoral votes as they do citizens and that it would take 1/2 +1 to win the vote.

Oh, wait! That would mean the candidate with the most popular vote would win.

I’m sorry I suggested that because from a purely political perspective and I’m sure that would be illegal, immoral, and unnatural. But, gee, that’s the way all the other elections, state-by-state, are determined aren’t they?

Very confusing and, I’m guessing, designed that way so simple folks like myself get dizzy trying to figure it out and just give up.

That’s what I’m going to do, now.

Give up.

At least for now.

In the future I might just decide to vote for whichever candidate I think has the fewest tan lines.

 

 

Was Donald Just Messing Around?

I have an opinion.

Actually, I have lots of opinions.

Perhaps that isn’t news for those of you who know me, or who stumble across this blog once in a while. The opinion is about President Elect Donald John Trump and the turmoil that led up to him winning the election.

Now, I’m not going to dissect all the issues raised against both major candidates. No, I’m just opinionating about Donald’s reason for running and about the inflammatory things he said during the run.

First, it is my humble opinion that DJ initially threw his hat in the ring on a lark with no expectations of winning the nomination for the Republican Party. But he did, no matter what he did or said. So, he did and said pretty much anything he wanted and the media ate it up, beating him up for his blatant refusal to adhere to accepted political correctness as defined by the ACLU. That’s an opinion about the ACLU, too. I’m not sure they care about anything except messing with the lives of the majority.

So, there goes Donald, happily inflaming everyone, seeing his frowning face alongside Hillary’s smiling face on every newscast. Regarding that … I think it’s very evident which way a newspaper, or network was leaning by those photos. Sneer vs. Smile. What could go wrong, right? The entire nation was against him, it seemed. No one thought he had a prayer of getting the GOP nomination and I think that was right on target for Donald. He was having a great time.

Then he was nominated so had to up the stakes by offending as many people as he could. Build a wall between us and Mexico then bill the Mexican government. Silly stuff like that. Saying things and offending people in a giant effort to avoid the possibility that he would be elected.

All the polls indicated Hillary was beating Donald on all fronts. He didn’t have a chance. So they said. Then, on November 8th, all of Donald’s fears were realized when he started to win those Swing States. I can just see him as he sat in his 3-story penthouse, seeing that he was winning states he was supposed to lose and thinking, “man, if this keeps up I’m going to have to move. That won’t be good.”

When the final bell rang, and Hillary lost, there was Donald shaking his head in amazement. He won! How in the heck did that happen when he’d done his absolute best to lose. Or, was he simply making a point, showing that America was looking for someone different, really different. Someone so unlike your run-of-the-mill lifetime politician that it was offensive. If that is correct, he certainly did it, and that it happened makes him look like some kind of genius.

Now it’s four days later and Donald seems to have mellowed. A lot. He’s talking about retaining portions of Obamacare, something he was going to totally dismantle not too long ago.

Now the intended joke is a reality and he’s either got to make good on all his early promises, or fold a little like all the previous winners did. Funny thing, though, the promises he won’t keep were never realistic, and everyone knew that.

So, why did they vote for him? Hard to tell, but they did. And he won. And he’ll be moving out of that 3-story New York penthouse in January. During a snow storm.

I don’t know about you, but I’m mighty curious to see what happens. I already feel pretty good about what’s currently going on because the world didn’t end on November 9th as I suspected it might.

Maybe that’s what’s next.

Oh … being curious about the meaning of GOP so I Googled it. Turns out to mean “Grand Old Party”. I think that’s a pretty frivolous moniker for an organization as serious as the Republican Party. OK. That’sa joke. Kinda.

Civil Disobedience and Riots in Portland

Riots in Portland? Really? What’s that all about?

According to the news I listened to, those who did the rioting just wanted to make sure their voices were heard. A far simpler way would have been to leave a message on someone’s answer phone. Instead they went about destroying numerous vehicles at a Toyota dealership ($200K), smashed windows along the street, in addition to stopping the commuters on their way home by walking on to the freeway and MAX lines. I’m guessing the message they want heard is not the one they delivered last night during their melee.

There is info suggesting they aren’t going to stop until someone listens. This is all in the wake of President Donald Trump beating Hillary in the election. Maybe they just want a vote recount, nationwide, to rectify what they view as a disgrace of the American Voting System. Maybe they want Donald to just step down and allow the rightful heir to the throne assume her position. Who knows? All they’re doing is breaking stuff.

I think they need an interpreter.

Knuckleheads.