Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Wallowa Lake, Oregon

Thanks to Measure 37 this place may soon be filled with houses. Measure 37 was pushed through by timber interests as a way to market their cut-over land for vacation home sites. It basically gutted Oregon's land use planning laws. They were considered to be some of the most forward looking planning tools in the country. Angered a lot of folks who felt they should be able to build anywhere and anything they wanted. Voters are beginning to realize how big a mistake Measure 37 was. I only hope it's not too late for Oregon.

Christmas Thoughts

This evening is the day after Christmas and we are slowly recovering from the holidays. As usual, Christmas snuck up on us, mailed the Christmas Cards a little late, shopped for the last of the Christmas presents on the 23rd and finalized dinner plans on Christmas Eve. Wonder of wonders, we had a wonderful Christmas Eve service at church, lots of singing and lots of laughing and lots of good cheer. Christmas dinner was wonderful, we cooked the turkey and friends brought dessert and salads and we met at Char's to eat. Char was in California visiting her dad, but many of her friends met at her place and had a great dinner.

This was the first year that we didn't have some other members of our family to celebrate Christmas with. It was different, but it was good. Talked with family members on the phone and that helped. We don't get to see the kids and grandkids much because they are in Arkansas and Massachusetts. But we get to travel all over the country to visit them. Thanks to our kids we have been in nearly every state in the 50. Only missing the deep south.

It was interesting to consider the Nativity and the world that Jesus was to confront. The situation hasn't changed much since then. We still do not have peace in the Middle East after 2000 years of strife. We must continue to work for peace and understanding. We need to work to convince others to work for peace and not for war. The road to peace is seldom paved with bullets. I find it hard to understand why people don't know that.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Death and Taxes

Was talking the other day with a friend who is a business owner in a neighboring town and the subject of taxes came up. Now, he is a Republican and I expected to hear some rant about high taxes, but he shocked me by saying that he couldn't understand people who were opposed to taxes. He stated, and rightly, I think, that if you continue to cut taxes and let routine maintenance go it won't belong until everything grinds to a halt. He recognizes the need for a good infrastructure in his state and community to foster better business. If the roads and streets go to pot(holes) people will go elsewhere to shop. He uttered my favorite saying when it comes to taxes, "you can't get something for nothing." If you want good streets, schools, parks, fire protection, etc. you have to pay for it. I don't understand people who complain about high taxes and poor streets at the same time. Do they think that asphalt is free? With the oil crunch street paving has gone through the roof. I know, they want the city, county, state, federal employees to work for nothing, "after all, they're at the public trough".
I spent 6 years as the mayor of our little town and it was nearly impossible to get a budget passed because people complained about the high taxes in the city. ( About $500 for a $100,000 home) These same folks thought nothing wrong with spending $10 - $20 bucks a week on the lottery. I always called the lottery the stupid tax, because stupid people spent hard earned money on lottery tickets. I pay my stupid tax about once a year. I buy a $1 lottery ticket whenever the prize is over $250,000,000. I know I can't win, but somebody might win and donate a mil or so to the schools in the area. Pay your taxes folks that's the best way to support our democracy. Oh yeah, you can't take it with you. Now I've tied the death part into this masterpiece.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Winter Travel

Here in Oregon there have been several cases of people getting lost or stuck in the snow. Often these situations end badly. People fail to realize that mother nature can strike with a suddenness that is unbelievable. My mother-in-law used to always tell us to make sure that we have ample food and water aboard whenever we travelled across the state. We always pooh-poohed her concerns because she grew up in an era of bad roads and unreliable cars, but she really knew what she was talking about. We always carry warm blankets in the trunk, but seldom have food supplies with us. I think I could live off my fat for a week or two, but drinking water might be a problem. My wife always makes sure we have a lot of water in the car when we travel so we could be ok.

It's really easy to get into trouble on the roads especially when travelling in unfamiliar territory. A number of years ago we went to Phoenix, AZ for our son's wedding. It was spring break, the end of March, and we decided to take a different route home. We had never visited The Grand Canyon in all our trips to Arizona so this time we went north to Flagstaff and into the Park. After doing the tourist things we continued on our way and spent the night in Page, AZ intending to drive north through Utah to Interstate 84 and then home. The next day we left Page and drove through Kanab and then north on a highway that appeared on our map to parallel I 15. I figured that we could go all the way to I 70 and then over to I 15. After a while it started snowing heavily and the road we were on was soon covered with snow. We decided that the going would be better on I 15, so we turned on to the highway to Cedar City. Soon we were on a road walled in by snow 8 to 10 feet high on either side of the highway with no place to get off or turn around. I stopped in the middle of the road and put on tire chains and we continued on. After a while we met a snow plow coming from Cedar City so we knew the road was open all the way. We were soon over the pass and on the downhill side of the mountains on our way to Cedar City. Everything worked out fine, but we could have just as easily gotten stuck in the snow and stayed there until we were found frozen in our car. What we did was really foolish and it could have ended badly. What you see on a road map is not always what you get on the ground. I guess the moral is be prepared for any eventuality.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Package Sizes

Perhaps no one noticed but many of the package sizes that we have grown to know and love have changed. I don't know when it happened, I suppose that it has been going on all the time, but the packages of ice cream that most people buy, the half gallon, is no longer a half qallon, but rather 1.75 quarts. No advertising blitzes telling us, "now in a new reduced size", no nothing... Prices are the same, maybe even a little higher, but practically all "Half Gallon" Ice Cream containers are now 1.75 quarts. What's next? 1.75 pint quarts? I'm really suprised that no one has complained. I think that since the packages looki about the same size most people haven't noticed that they're getting screwed out of a quarter of a quart. I know thaqt you can't fight city hall, but I'm sure that you can't fight Wal-Mart.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

TV Offerings

I'm sure I am not alone, but it seems to me that the offerings on TV are getting worse and worse. I realize that I'm older than the demographics they shoot for but you would think that there would be at least one show a night on the 60 + channels on the cable that is worth watching. I can't believe the drivel that they try to pass off as entertainment. The reality shows have created a nation of voyeurs who seem to enjoy watching people plotting against other people so they can win a prize. I have nothing against competition, but at least they could require a little ability in some area. There are four Law & Order shows on the air at at least that many CSI shows. Can't our creative geniuses come up with something else?

Then there are the "NEWS" shows with some celebrity conjecturing about the Jon Benet' Ramsey murder 6 years after the fact. Get a life! Any lurid happening draws reporters like manure draws flies. About the same amount of substance too. I guess we could watch pro sports if you like watching a bunch of overpaid over exposed kids playing games for the benefit of overweight couch potatoes who have to be told what is happening by overpaid ex-jocks. The ex-jocks seem to think they're getting paid by the word, so they never shut up. They also think their opinions are worth something which in itself is laughable. Why don't they shut up and let us watch the game? Thank God I can read which I suspect some of the cretins on the tube are unable to do.

Well I've got that off my chest. Got to hurry, Boston Legal is on.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

No More Ranting?

I read a letter to the editor in the paper the other day and the writer said that the Democrats wouldn't be able to rant anymore because they were in power. That would be true if they held the Presidency and held a majority on the Supreme Court. The GW Bush presidency will have long lasting effects, many of which we haven't considered yet. We're stuck in Iraq with an increasing insurgency and a rapidly destabilizing Middle East. Iran is ready to step into the vacuum left by the fall of Saddam Hussein and the Israelis are facing a strengthened Hezbollah fighting for control of the Palestinian lands. There will be no easy fix and I hope that the Democrats realize that. Maybe we can get Henry Kissinger to broker a peace deal like he did for Vietnam. No quick solutions.

The Middle East situation is just one of his major screw ups. How many people are still displaced by Katrina? What has been done for them except to pay contractors outrageous amounts to clean up some of the mess. Individuals can't get anyone to help them clean up and rebuild because the contractors are busy working for the government. It seems to me that the best thing we could have done as a nation would be to offer organization and some price controls. Most people don't like to live in cramped travel trailers for over a year. Help them to rebuild!

I think there will be plenty to rant about for the next two years.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Well, the Democrats seemed to have pulled it off. The pundits are saying that the Dems who won are middle of the roaders not liberals. Maybe, I think that the Dems bought in the idea that liberal is bad and acted accordingly. I thinks it's time for the true liberals to step up and reclaim the wonderful legacy of the liberal/ progressive folks have given us. Women can vote, civil rights, social security, and on and on. Liberal is good, conservative is bad. Let's get that straight.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Election Time

Well I voted yesterday. Oregon uses a mail-in ballot for all elections and I filled mine out yesterday. I won't mail it though, I'll just take it down to the County Court House and save 39 cents. We have a bunch of stupid things on the ballot this year. Oregon is the home of the initiative and referendum process and we have some real yoyos who get stuff on the ballot. Unfortunately the electorate isn't too smart either and we've passed some real dumb laws. The last go around we basically dismantled Oregon's exemplary land use planning process. This year we get to vote on term limits (again), various tax cut programs, and some poorly written campaign finance reform ideas. Hopefully we will be smart enough to resist the temptation to govern by a committee aof the whole.

Republicans may be in trouble. Across the border in Idaho (one of the reddest of the red states) there is a dead heat between the Republicans and the Democrats for both the Governor's chair and the U.S. House. When that happens in Idaho where they think that GW Bush has come to lead them to the Promised Land, then they are in trouble! Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of folks.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Kerry"s Gaffe

Well, the Republicans with the help of John Kerry have done it again. Poor ol' John Kerry, after being Swift boated out of the election in '04 has now let them take his comment about GW and turn it into a slur against the troops in Iraq.
When I heard the Kerry comment the first time there was no question in my mind that he was talking about Bush. I thought it was a pretty good slam. But, the Rep. spin masters go hold of it and it became a slur on the education of the troops. They knew he was talking about the boss, but were quick enough to see that it could be turned against poor dumb John. I think he hasn't figured it out that they will do anything to make him look bad. He is still trying to figure out how they turned his heroism under fire into a liability. He obviously has never been in a pissing match with a skunk. Ain't no way you're gonna' win. Karl Rove and his band are all skunks and they don't care who they spray. The truth is something to be warped and used against the truth teller. "A good lie well told and stuck to is better than the truth any day." Of course, the important thing is, that they have the media analyzing Kerry's comment and not focusing on the 105 troops killed in Iraq in October. Mission accomplished my A$$.
John expects folks to be honest and tell the truth. He should tell the world that he saw Karl Rove performing unnatural sex acts on GW and blare it to the media. They don't care if it's true or not. They publish first and check later. By then it's too late.
Well, that feels better! I haven't ranted much lately. It feels good to get it off my chest.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Real Fire

Well, Fall is here and Winter isn't far behind. Here in the High Desert of Eastern Oregon it can get pretty cold at night. Thank Cascade Natural Gas we have heat on demand. When we first bought our home, one of its selling points was a floor to ceiling fireplace that opened into the living room and the dining room. I immediately saw an Irish Setter asleep in front of a crackling fire and me in my smoking jacket with my pipe surveying my kingdom. We bought the house on that vision and even though the renter whom we displaced said the fireplace smoked I couldn't wait until Fall so I could fire it up. My wife got to try it out shortly after we moved in in June. Early summer was cold and rainy that year and she found out that the floor furnace that was intended to be the primary source of heat didn't work. I was at summer school in Eugene and she was trying to keep herself and the kids warm. We talked on the phone, but no fire was forthcoming in our beautiful fireplace. I made it back home the next weekend and got it to work. It seemed that it smoked for the renters because they hadn't opened the damper and the only wood we had was soaked from the unnatural June rains. I found some dry wood and showed my wife how to start a fire and all was well. Actually she didn't need it any more because Summer turned on with a vengeance. The Irish Setter came a year later and he did make a great picture lying in front of the fire.

That was over thirty years ago and we still enjoy the fireplace. I have cut and hauled innumerable cords of firewood and enjoyed its warmth often. This year we bought a cord of wood from some ladies who cut and sell wood for extra income and I have officially retired my chain saw. As I sit here typing at the dining room table we have a nice Juniper fire going in the fireplace. By now, our primary heat source is a gas furnace, but the fire has a warming effect. The flames, the crackling, and the glowing embers give an indescribable feeling. Thank heavens we live in a rural area and there are no burning restrictions. I can't imagine living in an area where you can only use your fireplace on certain days. A gas log just doesn't cut it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Googling my Blog

Like many others (I hope!) I Google myself from time to time, not that I have an ego problem or anything like that. It is interesting to see how many other people have your name and are doing something noteworthy, or should I say Googleworthy. Plus, you sometimes find some real interesting web sites. Anyway, I finally did find my name on page 68 or so and that was good because it confirmed something I had done last year. I signed a letter requesting that evolution be taught as a science in schools, and lo and behold, there I was with thousands of other clergy supporting evolution.

Then I Googled my blog, Rural Rantings , and to my dismay the first hit was Rural Rantings by Wild Woman or some such name. I then went through about 20 pages of rural and rantings in one form or another and didn't find my Blog, on a Google site no less. I was crushed. I know that no one reads these rambling rantings, but I thought Google would at least acknowledge that it existed. What a blow to my ego. I am sufficiently chastised. I shall go and ego no more. Mea Culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I'm getting tired of the political campaigns. To look at the ads on TV not one of the candidates is worth a penny. If you believe the ads we have a choice between a liar and a cheat. I can't tell what a single one of the candidates stands for. They are all against taxes and they'll make sure that our area will get all the money our liar (or cheat) can get into the budget. They'll also lower taxes so we won't have to pay for anything! What a wonderful world we live in, we can get everything for nothing! P.T. Barnum was right, there is a sucker born every minute, and he is us. We need to get back to real campaigning with debates and fistfights and duels and the like. I can't say what I would do if elected, but I hope that I could keep some of the honor and trust that my folks taught me. Washington does seem to change people, I suppose they have to go along to get along.

The polarization of our nation concerns me. It seems that both major parties do their best to continue the rift. True politics is the art of compromise, not backbiting and backstabbing. It's hard to work a compromise with a person you have just called a lying sonofabitch. Those elected need to understand that they represent us all, not just those who voted for the winner.
I don't mind paying taxes, but I want everybody to pay their fair share. I want good roads and good schools and public libraries and parks and public swimming pools and police and fire and the list is nearly endless. My Dad taught me that you never get something for nothing, you have to pay your dues. I don't see why people don't understand that. You can make a good argument for all those things I mentioned and even though you may not use some of those things, their existence makes this a better place to live. Pay your dues folks, you can't take it with you and your kids will just blow it. Enjoy life, enjoy the gifts God and the government give you.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Power to the People

I just got back from a weeks vacation on the Northern Oregon Coast. We had a great time with my wife's sister and her husband. The weather was great (just a light Oregon "mist" on a couple of days) three sunny days with no wind. We saw all sorts of neat "tourist" stuff and marvelled at the access to the Oregon beaches. Thanks to Oswald West, Tom McCall, and later Governors, the beaches in Oregon are state property and property owners cannot restrict access to the beach. Consequently, everyone can walk on the beach and enjoy the wonders that the ocean provides. Contrast that to our visit to the Connecticutt shore a few years ago. We were given a "pass" to a "public" beach by our motel and told that that would be the only place we could get to the ocean. (actually Long Island Sound) All the other beaches were restricted and available only to the land owners. I can now understand why public beaches are so crowded! There just aren't that many open beaches available back there.
In Oregon, beachfront property owners are prohibited from doing anything to the beach that will change the site. That's why there aren't any of those ugly concrete barriers on the beaches of Oregon. If you want to build right on the beachfront you take your chances with mother nature. That stops folks from building huge eyesores right at the edge of the beach. Most property owners use a setback to protect their homes from winter waves and we don't have too many folks losing their homes every winter as other areas do. Thanks Os and Tom for a great vacation.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Living in Fear

Heard on the news today about an airplane crashing into a high rise apartment building on the Upper East Side of Manhatten. The reporter talked about the panic in the streets when the small airplane exploded into a ball of fire on impact. The reporter surmised that the people were afraid of another terrorist attack ala 9/11. It was later reported that the crash was really an accident and no terrorism was suspected, rather a student pilot who lost track of where they were and hit the building. How sad it is to think that someone's tragic accident becomes an object of fear for the people who witness it. This time it wouldn't have made a difference, but what happens when onlookers are frozen with fear of a terrorist act and don't act to help the accident victim? The president and his cronies have created a climate of fear in this country that has almost paralyzed us. The object of a terrorist is to strike fear in the mind of the populous. Thanks to GW they have succeeded. FDR said it best, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." It is not healthy to live in a constant state of fear, especially when there isn't much that we can do to stop a committed terrorist who is willing to give his life for his cause. If you want to be afraid of something, worry about getting struck by lightening, the odds on that happening are better and you can do something to avoid it. Better yet, read "Brave New World" or "1984" or "Animal Farm" and see how would be dictators use fear to achieve their goals. The comparison with the current regime is downright spooky.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Old Age

I just saw 'The Guardian" with my wife. Kevin Costner plays an over the hill rescue swimmer for the U.S. Coast Guard who tells the equally over the hill bartender/singer (female) "it's hell to get old". Her reply is great. She says and I can't quite quote, "it's great getting older, I've seen thousands of sunsets, drunk a lot of great drinks, sung a lot of songs, screwed my share of guys and I wouldn't give up a thing. It's been a great ride and I can't wait to see what happens next." That's my kind of woman. I turn 67 in a few days and it has been a wonderful trip and I'm sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens next. I compare each sunset with the thousands I've seen and rate them. God does a wonderful job of painting the sky each evening, every sunset is different and not one is boring. Of course, I'm somewhat biased, we have a fantastic horizon here and most of our sunsets are spectacular. The rest are just stupendous. I wouldn't give up a second of my life to re-live, even the tough times. Not much of a rant, but I do get tired of folks complaining about growing old. If you consider the alternative, growing old is fantastic, it means we're still alive and ready for something new. Bring on the old age!!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Voter ID

The next step in controlling the masses is now under consideration in Washington. Voters will be required to present picture ID in order to vote. It seems to me that once you register by providing proper ID that you have proved your bona fides. One letter to the editor in the Oregonian said that picture ID would prevent illegal immigrants from voting. HOW? If they have good enough ID to register they will have good enough ID to vote. This is however good way for the government to control who votes. If they don't want you to vote, all they have to do is say your ID is suspect.
While I look like a Republican, (old and fat) my leftist ideas (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, protect the vulnerable, etc.) are well known in the community so it would be easy for the powers that be to prevent my voting, since my driver's license photo doesn't look much like me. (thinner with a mustache) For a party that claims to want to reduce government the current regime is acting more and more like big brother.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Small Town Highlights

Friday my elderly neighbor fell and injured her back. I took her husband to the hospital in an adjoining community while she rode in the ambulance. It's great to see small town volunteers and the work they do in the Fire and Ambulance Department. I did that sort of thing in my younger years and have been away from it for a number of years. It's great to see the new younger folks at work. They have great equipment and even better training and it's all volunteer. Anyone who thinks that the youth of today are slackers and uninvolved, should see these young people at work. I suspect that small towns all over our country are blessed with people like this. I'm sure that they can be found everywhere if we just look.
When we got back from the hospital, he was nearly overwhelmed by folks wanting to help. He told me today that they have enough food to last a month. All unsolicited, all an outpouring of love for the two of them. I can't speak for large cities, but here in our little town (pop. 1900) there is still plenty of community spirit, and it's great to see it at work.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Kneeling is hard on the knees

No rant today, I have been busy removing a hump in the cement floor of the laundry room. The back 15 feet is an add on to the garage. When the remodelers converted the one car garage into a bedroom they added enough to make a laundry/sewing room. When they poured the new floor they were off by about an inch and a half, and where they came together there was a crack and a hump in the floor.
So after about 30 years of living with it, I decided to fix it. With a hammer drill, a masonary say and a miner's hammer I got to work. Fotunately I have some knee pads, but I spent about 6 hours on my knees. Needless to say, the knee pads seemed to stop working after about 3 hours. This morning I could hardly walk, and I still had to put in the cement patch which took a couple of hours. I really understand how those old timers felt kneeling through two or three hours of Sunday worship on hard kneelers with no padding. That may be why we stand for most of the liturgy in our little church. Much easier for the old folks.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Religion and the internet

This morning while I was working on my Elliptical Glider I got to thinking about all of the religious (I guess) e-mails I get. I suppose most everybody gets these things that start off with a sweet little prayer and then wind up challenging you to forward it to as many people as you can. They almost always have some dire warning about what will happen to you if you don't forward it to 10,000 people or so. Others use the guilt trip on you saying things like "delete this if you don't love Jesus" or " forward this to as many people as you can unless you are ashamed of loving Jesus." The ones that really get me are the ones that rate how quickly your prayer will be answered depending on the number of people you forward it to. I delete them all. My God does not work that way. It really gets me when I get one of these syrupy e-mails from someone who hasn't seen the inside of a church in 40 years. I preach every Sunday to my little group about God's love for us all...He doesn't need help from the internet. I guess some people feel that sending an e-mail makes them religious. It works better when they feed the hungry, clothe the naked and protect the widows and orphans.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Rural Rantings

This is my first attempt at a Blog. I'm not sure that I have anything of interest to say to the world at large, but I sometimes come up with some pretty interesting (at least to me) ideas while on my Elliptical Strider every morning.
I've called this Rural Rantings because I live in a small rural community that is extremely conservative and I feel like the only liberal in the world. Maybe I can attract some like minded people to converse with.
My most recent thought on the Glider was the similarity between the Berlin Wall and the proposed wall along the US - Mexico border. As I recall the Soviets characterized the wall as an attempt to keep US spies and provocateurs out of their territory. Since their way of life was much better than that of the West there was no need to keep their folks in, just keep the riff-raff out. Sounds like the Mexican Wall to me. "Mr. Bush, Tear down this wall!"