Regulatory Boards

I received a letter from the governor last week informing me that I had been appointed to a state regulatory board involving my profession. I feel quite honored by the appointment.   I hope I can do a good job.

The first thing I had to do was find a notary and swear  in front of them that I promised to uphold the constitutions of both the US and my State.  The notary happened to be one of my support staff at work, and she was pretty amused by the whole episode. (I have a Canadian friend who did an internship in Texas, and they had to figure out how she could be allowed to participate in the program without swearing allegiance to the State of Texas. I think they got the Canadian Consul involved to negotiate that one.)  I also had to disclose all the investments and businesses I have (which amount to none) that could result in a conflict of interest or could be impacted by legislative action.  (Sound familiar, Mr Trump?)

The next thing I had to do was register for a one day workshop for people on regulatory boards to learn how such boards operate and the correct procedures to use. It is refreshing to know that people are still being taught the proper way government should operate.  I don’t suppose it will be a real exciting workshop, but I will be there with newbies from the Barley Council and the Board of Optometry, and they might be a lot of fun.

What would you like to regulate?

A Garden without Godzilla

Things have been pretty stressful for me here, especially at work, as several people who I work closely with have taken up offers on job buyouts from the State.  Loss is not easy.

The recent post by VS about Godzilla made me think back on our recent visit to the Japanese Gardens in Portland. It is a pretty serene place.


I find it helpful to look back on these photos and remember the quiet, the beauty, and the peace.

What helps you find serenity when you are stressed?

Popcorn Memories

Today’s post comes from Ben.

I was thinking about popcorn tonight. Actually I wanted popcorn tonight… but I didn’t want to go to the trouble of making it; I wanted a bag of cold popcorn out of the freezer. But that meant making some and freezing it and that seemed like a long wait and a lot of trouble.

And that’s how come I’m thinking about popcorn.

I first learned to make popcorn in a large metal pot on the stovetop. Add some oil, throw in a few kernels, wait until they pop, then add more, add the lid and shake it across the stove. I can hear that sound of the heavy metal pot scrapping across the electric stove elements.

I don’t remember what we served it in.

My grandfather grew popcorn one year. He was quite the gardener. I remember it had to dry and we had to husk it. No idea how it tasted…

I think at some point we had one of those concave, yellow plastic cover poppers; I think you were supposed to serve it in the lid when it was done. And you added butter to the top – it was supposed to drip on to the popcorn before you flipped it over, right? I don’t remember mom ever doing that.

And then there was the black pan w/ the handle on the top in order to stir the popcorn. That one didn’t last long; it probably didn’t work that well.

Then we got air poppers… they worked and were fun. But mom still wouldn’t let me put butter in the little dish on the top. And the popcorn had a tendency to fly out all over…

I remember going to a cabin with my sister and her in-laws when I was about 10. They had ‘Jiffy Pop’ and I’d never seen Jiffy pop before and I was kinda fascinated with the foil bag getting bigger and bigger. I remember her in-laws making sexual references about that. (I don’t remember anything specific, but I knew what they were joking about… and then ‘Grandpa’ grabbed ‘Grandma’ by one finger and kinda tugged on it and kept saying they had to go. People laughed. I was uncomfortable.)

And this one looks familiar. We may have had one of these.

Fourth of July tradition after I met Kelly: Her aunt would pop (in oil on the stove!) a brown paper bag full of popcorn and we’d park on the side of the street right down by Silver Lake to watch the fireworks. Soon as they were over we throw everything in the van because we had to beat the traffic out of downtown.

And then day old popcorn, out of the grease stained bag was THE BEST!

(Several years later… Kelly and I and the kids are trying to get that spot on the street again. Parking rules have changed and parking isn’t allowed. So you have to time it just right that magically ALL the cars will park at once just before the fireworks start and then the cops won’t chase you all away. I, however, have parked in the entrance to the local power plant. The cop asks us to move. I said I thought since it was closed it would be OK. He says there might be an emergency. I said I’d move if there was…..? He smiled. I moved.)

And then came microwave popcorn. How many fire alarms have been set off at work or school from the burned popcorn??

But still, the best is movie theater popcorn. With enough butter to choke a horse.

Sometimes I go to the movies just to buy popcorn. And if you buy a large, you can get a free refill on popcorn. And I got to thinking tonight (remember I was thinking about popcorn) it it’s free refills… do they care if I go to a movie? Is there a specific amount of time that has to pass between buying the popcorn and getting the refill??

You see where I’m going with this; what if I buy a large bag, dump it into some zip lock bags, and ask for a refill? That’s not wrong is it?

Do I have to buy a bag, go into the ‘megaplex’ area to a lounge, fill my bags and find a different clerk to refill? But again, why the bother? I buy a large, dump in a Target bag, and ask for a refill. Am I right??

And now the places that make the cheddar popcorn! Oh My… I could eat a gallon of that without even trying. That is good stuff. I have to forcibly limit myself around cheddar popcorn. Especially from ‘Carrols Corn’ here in Rochester. (

Back to popcorn in the freezer. When I was a kid and I was in the hospital, mom would bring me popcorn for a snack. She’d freeze it and bring it to me in Wonder Bread bags. (we were so poor we had to reuse the Wonder Bread Bags).

And now when I bring home extra popcorn, I put it in quart ziplock bags and put it in the freezer. It stays fresh, it doesn’t get soggy, and it’s a nice, quick, easy, cool snack.




Meaningless Employment

Today’s post comes from Bill.

I was cleaning out some old files the other day and I came across some television scripts I wrote in 1996 for K-Tel (remember K-Tel?).

When I decided to go freelance rather than look for another full-time job, one of the first assignments I picked up was writing for K-Tel. The voice and the format were already established, so all I had to do, really, was supply persuasive words. Most of the ads I wrote were for music collections. The offer was only slightly dubious. “The Greatest Hits of the Sixties Collection”, for example, was dominated by one-hit wonders. They were good, popular songs but they were Greatest Hits only if you could somehow pretend the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and any number of blockbuster bands never existed.

That’s not the strangest job I’ve had but it struck me then and strikes me still as an inauspicious launch to my freelance endeavor (I still can’t quite call it a career). It’s taken many twists and turns in the years since and I’ve worn many hats, metaphorically speaking.

Many of the Baboons have made reference at one time or another to jobs they’ve had—unlikely jobs, challenging jobs, absurd jobs. I’ll bet, though, that you still have job experiences you haven’t shared with us. It could be something that lasted only a day or two. The more peculiar the better. Share, please.

What have you done (or tried to do) for money?

Gardening with Godzilla!

Most of my friends don’t like weeding; all they see is a big chore ahead of them and how long it will take. Of course, if I never had to weed again, I probably wouldn’t be heartbroken, but I like to think of it as “zen weeding”.  I’m outside, it’s usually a lovely summer day with sunny skies and hopefully a nice breeze.  I let my brain wander off where it wants.

Today I was working on my creeping Charlie problem and trying not to think of all ground cover as evil.  After all, it’s only doing what Mother Nature intends it to do.   As I pulled up a tendril I wondered if the creeping Charlies on the other side of the boulevard knew what was happening on this side.  And that’s when I got to Godzilla.  What if the creeping Charlie is a Japanese city and I am the monster Godzilla?

No stopping my brain at this point! A long over ground tendril became an elevated train, underground tendrils were subway lines.  Tall bits that were reaching up – high rises.  Clumps of little root systems – office buildings.  Particularly thick clumps – city hall.  Bits that clung and clung and clung – Senate.  This kept me occupied for the better part of an hour.  I’m thinking Godzilla and I will be bonding again on the boulevard!

What monster would YOU like to be?

The Dining Room

We just got back home after a quick trip to Brookings, SD, to visit son and Daughter in Law, and to watch son perform in community theatre production of The Dining Room by A. R. Gurney.   The production was performed at SDSU as a benefit for Habitat for Humanity.  Son was one of 6 actors performing 57 parts in total. It tells the stories associated with a dining room across decades and diners.

Son wrote in his autobiographical blurb his keen memories of our dining room, and the  myriad of dishes that were consumed and the homework that was done there. He also mentioned that one of his most vivid memories of the dining room was a battle of wills he had with me, one that lasted, it seemed for hours, over his refusal to eat a bowl of my famous, homemade, minestrone soup.  After the play I told him that his children are going to LOVE that soup when I make it for them, and he is just being silly about not  liking cabbage in his minestrone.

What are your dining room stories, past, present, or future?

write good

Today’s post comes from tim

the suggestion that we sharpen up the pencil and write a blog by renae last week led me to think about writing untensils. i am a typist for the most part these days and the point of my finger has leaned to navigated the space allowed on the 4inch screen of an iphone as allowed in the world of steve jobs vision come true.

in a former life i wrote with pens and pencils. i still do on occasion and seldom think about the writing utensil in my hand but when i do i have an opinion.

remember the big black pencils in the 1st grade classroom? as big as a magic marker instead of a pencil. i wonder what the logic there was. give a little tiny hand a monster pencil to learn how to write? someone obviously thought it was a good idea. i graduated from the big black pencil in miss majeras’ first grade class to a fountain pen in the catholioc shcool i went to begining in second grade. there was a penmanship grade on our report cards and a portion of the week ( i dont think it was daily but it definately was a regular class) was dedicated to making sure we all did good when attempting to write a paper about our second grade observations on the world around us or penning stories about our understanding of the place of an 8 uear old in the universe.

the fountain pen was a magic implement. it made all ink it discharged seem important. a ballpoint pen was the way the rest of the world functioned in 1962 but at the nativity of the blessed virgin mary we were above all that. we needed to have our writing be special and so we used either a bottle of ink and an old fashion fountain pen with a bladder or as most in the class did we bought he shaffer pen with the little cartridges or we  could if we were rich do the wearever which was a fancy version with a better nib on the pen and a more flamboyant script was certainly bound to come out the tip.

i am a fan of the roller ball pen today but by today i mean 1970/80 technology. form what i can tell anything gel pen is the same thing today. the smooth writing that flows out of the tip of a rollerball/gelpen is a feeling i apprecaite.

my friend the organized former landscape architect likes a .05 not .07 lead pencil. always a quality point and always a good tool to write with.i never know where i put that darn little pack of lead inserts to keep it writin .   the old bic with the clear body and the bic blue top is a classic design that makes my jaw hurt looking at it remembering all the blue caps i have chewed on until the no longer went back on to cover the business part of the pen to keep it from blue spotting the pocket i am going to put it in.

my new cell phone has a feature that allows me to write either with a stylus on the screen or even with my fingertip. it is a feeling of being from the future to have the tip of yur finger be a writing utensil that works.

black pencil, yellow pencil, mechanical pencil, ball point pen, roller ball, fountain pen, keyboard, touchscreen, dictation pop ups on the screen that transform what i meant to what the spellchecker translator thought i said…

usually the way i get the meat of the idea i am trying to form onto a transferable  format is a non thought but as i have started using the franklin planner for my business notes and charting the day it find it is great to start journaling the day. the thoughts and ambitions of the day get lined up and forgotten unless there is a way of keeping track. so paper is good. i am sure the notes of my internet life will go unnoticed with me to the great beyond in the year i depart. no one will ever want to look at my emails and files other than the pictures and some of the special chosen few snippets of the deep and profound thoughts i have on occasion.

what makes you write good?

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