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Jack Bog's Blog, by Jack Bogdanski of Portland, Oregon

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Thursday, July 31, 2003

Lonesome day

On this date a year ago, my dad, John "Buggsy" Bogdanski, left this earth at the age of 74.

By now you would think I would have my feelings about him and memories of him wrapped up fairly neat and tidy, ready for a definitive written tribute.

But I don't. There's so much still swirling around inside me that it's picked up some kind of emotional centripetal force and won't come out.

Here's just a little. Now that I've got my own child, I understand better than ever what Buggsy felt when he looked around himself at his life and his family. I savor all the great things he did for me, because those are some of the same things that I want to do for my family.

I remember making a phonograph record with him when I was really little, maybe 3 years old. It was in a booth in a penny arcade on the Seaside Heights (N.J.) boardwalk. You went in, put 50 cents or so in the slot, and you got 30 seconds or a minute to record your voice on a vinyl record. I sang a song that my parents and their siblings had taught me, "Me and My Shadow."

And at the very end, Buggsy could be heard saying "That was very good. Now open up --" At which point the recording cut off, but he was instructing me to open up the drawer, and showing me that the record would be there. Which it was. We took the little disk home and put it on the turntable and listened to it over and over. It was a wonder; it made us proud.

"That was very good."

Thanks, Dad.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003


This weblog had its 20,000th visitor this afternoon. The lucky individual was from the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, brought here by a link from internet powerhouse How Appealing.

The reader won a complimentary lifetime subscription to this blog.

The first 10K visits took almost 10 months to accumulate. The second took just over three months.

Is it because more and more smart readers are catching on to our wit and wisdom?

Nah. What's been bringing 'em in are all the cheap tricks of a hit counter slut. Kobe cheerleader photos forever!

So that's why

I thought she'd been acting a little funny lately:

Breaking news from the IRS

After years of painstaking study, the Internal Revenue Service has just made the stunning announcement that on your birthday, your age increases. Not only that, your birthday is the anniversary of the date on which you were born.

As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. Here is the full text of Revenue Ruling 2003-72, which was released earlier this month:

This revenue ruling applies a uniform method of determining when a child attains a specific age for purposes of the following sections of the Internal Revenue Code: 21 (dependent care credit), 23 (adoption credit), 24 (child tax credit), 32 (earned income credit), 129 (dependent care assistance programs), 131 (foster care payments), 137 (adoption assistance programs), and 151 (dependency exemptions).

Each of these provisions allows a credit, exclusion, or deduction to the taxpayer, provided, among other requirements, a child has not attained a specific age. For example, under section 24(c), one of the requirements for a qualifying child for the child tax credit is that the child "has not attained the age of 17 as of the close of the calendar year in which the taxable year of the taxpayer begins."


For purposes of each of the provisions identified in this revenue ruling, a child attains a given age on the anniversary of the date that the child was born. For example, a child born on January 1, 1987, attains the age of 17 on January 1, 2004.


The principal author of this revenue ruling is Karin Loverud of the Division Counsel/Associate Chief Counsel (Tax Exempt and Government Entities). For further information regarding this revenue ruling, contact Ms. Loverud on (202) 622-6080 (not a toll-free call).

Thank you, Ms. Loverud, for clearing that up. I will be using your "uniform method" of determining children's ages from here on out.

The IRS's next project will be a five-year study to come up with a method of determining when the calendar year begins.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Fight cancer

Eat pizza and masturbate.

I may live longer than Bob Hope.

What's with Wu?

Today's Tribune tells of the festering "blood feud" between our area congressmen, Earl Blumenauer and David Wu, over the renovation of the Pioneer Courthouse. Blumenauer opposes adding basement parking spaces for the Ninth Circuit judges and evicting the Post Office, and he's been threatening to block the project. But now Wu has trumped Earl's ace by voicing his support for it. And since the historic courthouse is in Wu's district, not Blumenauer's, it looks like the parking and the eviction of the P.O. are a done deal.

The grassroots groups who oppose the changes to the city's oldest building are furious. They claim that Wu hasn't so much as returned their calls, and yet he's throwing his weight around on the courthouse flap. Wu once clerked for a Ninth Circuit judge in the Pioneer Courthouse, and says he's sensitive to the historic nature of the building, but, like the judges who will benefit from lavish new digs, he doesn't think the renovation will mar the Pioneer's character.

Wu, whose district is not safe for him as a Democrat, will lose a lot of friends, and some votes, on this one. And I disagree both with his position and with how he's handling it. I clerked for the same judge Wu did, and I think that the basement garage and the loss of the Post Office are a crying shame. I also think that if you're going to pull high-level strings on an issue like this one, you have to face the music with the many citizens who care deeply about the issue.

Arrogant behavior from Wu does not surprise me at all. That guy has always made even my bloated ego look positively tiny by comparison.

Keep this up and he'll be back at a law firm, or somewhere else in the private sector, come January 2005. Lobbyist for companies with Pacific Rim ties -- that sounds about right.

Another interesting feature of the article is Blumenauer's proposed blue ribbon "community" panel on the courthouse, which would be headed by former Mayor and Gov. Neil Goldschmidt, now a high-priced power broker for big-shot developers and corporate villains. Too bad we won't get his unbiased thinking. Perhaps there is room in the courthouse for some condos. Maybe the judges could get an aerial tram built from their West Hills homes down to the courthouse.

Yet another clue that Blumenauer is just Vera Katz in a bow tie.

Monday, July 28, 2003

I think we're alone now

The great influx of web surfers looking for information on Kobe Bryant's accuser has stopped arriving at this weblog. I can only assume that they found what they were seeking elsewhere. (To any stragglers still looking, her name is Vera Katz, and her phone number is 503-823-4120. ONLY KIDDING!)

It was great fun watching them all roll in here, though. The 700+ hits last Tuesday shot me up the blogger traffic standings. For a shining moment, I was right up there with Bag and Baggage!

Oh, well. It's over.

I feel like Roger Maris now. Or MC Hammer.

How lovely it was

Thanks for the Memory
Words and Music by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger
Introduced in the film "Big Broadcast Of 1938" by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross

Thanks for the memory
Of candlelight and wine, castles on the Rhine
The Parthenon and moments on the Hudson River Line
How lovely it was!

Thanks for the memory
Of rainy afternoons, swingy Harlem tunes
And motor trips and burning lips and burning toast and prunes
How lovely it was!

Many's the time that we feasted
And many's the time that we fasted
Oh, well, it was swell while it lasted
We did have fun and no harm done

And thanks for the memory
Of sunburns at the shore, nights in Singapore
You might have been a headache but you never were a bore
So thank you so much.

Thanks for the memory
Of sentimental verse, nothing in my purse
And chuckles when the preacher said "For better or for worse"
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memory
Of lingerie with lace, Pilsner by the case
And how I jumped the day you trumped my one-and-only ace
How lovely it was!

We said goodbye with a highball
Then I got as "high" as a steeple
But we were intelligent people
No tears, no fuss, Hooray! For us

So, thanks for the memory
And strictly entre-nous, darling how are you?
And how are all the little dreams that never did come true?
Awf'lly glad I met you, cheerio, and toodle-oo
And thank you so much.

(After it became his theme song, Bob Hope rarely sang "Thanks for the Memory" the same way twice. He tailored the lyrics to fit the news of the world, or the occasion.)

Neither right nor wrong

Harold Schonberg, the chief music critic for The New York Times in the '60s and '70s, died over the weekend. They don't give out too many Pulitzer Prizes to music critics, but Schonberg was so good that he won one.

Schonberg was a most accomplished and colorful writer. He was not too shabby a pianist himself, and so he knew what he was talking about. Back when I was first learning about classical music around 1970, his reviews were a significant part of the educational process. A few years later, I was a professional newspaperman myself, and so I can relate well to the picture of him, at the manual typewriter and squinting through the sting of cigarette smoke. (I hope he gave those up, as I did. In any event, he made it to age 87.) Of course, to compare me with Schonberg then would be like comparing me with Shakespeare now. But he set standards for journalism and music appreciation to which many of us could at least aspire.

You blog pundits out there should get a kick out of this quote:

I'd be dead if I tried to please a particular audience. Criticism is only informed opinion. I write a piece that is a personal reaction based, hopefully, on a lot of years of study, background, scholarship and whatever intuition I have. It's not a critic's job to be right or wrong; it's his job to express an opinion in readable English.
In the late critic's honor, tonight we'll dust off some Guiomar Novaes recordings of Chopin, and remember for a few minutes the feel of a crisp morning newspaper bearing the Schonberg byline.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Cough, cough

Another beautiful day in Portland. Sunday, too. Time to do some stuff outside.

Except for the fact that there's a bunch of grass smoke in the air.

Welcome to the livable city. One farmer down in the Willamette Valley saves a few hundred bucks by burning his fields. A million people breathe the smoke. That's the Oregon way.

Call the DEQ? Forget it. Regulation of field burning is presided over by the Department of Agriculture. As the name suggests, although these bureaucrats are supposed to make sure the smoke is not generated when the winds will blow it into heavily populated areas, they "get it wrong" sometimes. Wink, wink.

Now we're in for a particularly hot spell, and this smoke will be probably be around for days.

In the end, this is the doing of the state legislature. Do you think lawmakers like Betsy Close and Ted Ferrioli give a hoot about the smoke in the air in Portland? Fat chance. Their constituents are miserable, and so everyone else in the state should be, too.

The only time the state has ever acted in this area was after a bungled field burn caused a large pileup, with multiple fatalities, on I-5. That led to restrictions on the practice, but they're ineffective to stop the air pollution from spreading when the farmers do burn.

Just ask the folks at the Oregon chapter of the American Lung Association what they think. They'll tell you it's a national disgrace.

Add it to the list.

UPDATE, 3:30 pm: Well, the breeze turned around and blew the grass smoke out of town. Maybe the boys and girls down at the Ag Department called the wind direction right today, albeit belatedly. But it was quite smoky out there around noontime. And I wish that we didn't have to inhale that stuff, ever. There are plenty of healthy ways to get rid of the bugs and disease besides burning. I remember when they first imposed the current restrictions on the number of acres that may legally be burned each year -- the farmers said then that the sky would fall and they'd go out of business. That obviously hasn't happened, and it wouldn't happen if field burning were banned outright.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Stay still, dang it!

Here's something to stare at over a long summer weekend. (Via Struggleville.)

Uh oh

Bunch of small earthquakes out at Kelly Point today. I felt the biggest one, around 2:00 this afternoon, but apparently there were two right around then. Plus some smaller ones overnight.

There was a fairly strong one out there last April, too.

This is where the Willamette and Columbia Rivers converge. There's so much big, fast-moving water at that spot, the earth must be under enormous stresses.

Let's hope and pray that this settles the situation down out there. It's way too close to home.

No kidding

Today's Trib has a screaming banner headline about the new ground for opposition to the City of Portland's plan to substitute underground water tanks for its open Mount Tabor Reservoirs: It's too expensive.

Hmmm... Now where have I heard that argument made before?


Dave Letterman was really "on" last night. Can't remember when his monologue last amused me so much.

Summertime is so festive in New York City. Today on my way to work, my cab driver had, in his turban, chips and salsa.

Uday and Qusay are dead. Now Saddam's down to his last two sons -- Jermaine and Tito.

The show also featured an on-stage horse, which defecated. That's comedy gold, folks. Go, Dave!

Pressure's on

For thousands of would-be lawyers nationwide, the bar exam is just one long weekend away. If a bar examinee does not exhibit odd behavior this weekend, he or she may not be cramming hard enough.

A couple of local candidates show differing psychic reactions to the stress. William over at Dicta is having the pressure dream. For me this dream is always essentially the same: I'm about to appear on stage in a play, but I don't know my lines. Or I'm about to take over as a DJ on a radio station, but I haven't picked out my music and the show before me's ending. For William, it's -- well, read it for yourself.

Meanwhile, the author of I Hate Stupid People is thinking about Europe, where he is going when the test is over.

I remember the trip my roommate and I took after the California bar exam. We flew down to Vegas the very hour the test was over. For months we had planned several days and nights of debauchery. When we got there, we just wanted to curl up and cry for a couple of days. I remember talking to some "professional" ladies in a bar, and the scene making me a bit nauseous. We changed our flights and went home a day early.

Meanwhile, law students with a year or more still to go in law school are thinking more pleasant thoughts. Hilsy's going down to the Oregon Brew Festival, and I'm hoping for a detailed report. But for Pete's sake, Hilsy, don't drive home!

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Almost a joke

I'm working on writing a tasteless joke, but I'm stuck. The last time I got this far and had to turn back, I could only get as far as this:

Many have noted the eerie similarities between the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations. But have you considered the eerie similarities between Lee Harvey Oswald and Pee Wee Herman?

Oswald shot and was caught in a theater. Pee Wee was caught as he shot all his wad in a theater.

Now I'm working on one about Kobe Bryant and Randall Simon, the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball player who was recently fined for hitting a Milwaukee baseball mascot in the head with a bat while the latter was gallivanting around the field in a sausage costume.

Once again, I'm not quite there. Here's what I've got so far:

What's the difference between Randall Simon and Kobe Bryant?

Randall got in trouble for smacking a sausage cheerleader with his bat, Kobe got in trouble for batting a cheerleader with his sausage.

Damn, I'm so close....

I hope they were flossing

The grisly photos of the dead Uday and Qusay Hussein are up. Ewwwwwww. (Thanks to Pablo for the link... I guess.)

And so this proves we really killed them. The Army's 100% sure on the one, 90% sure on the other, based on dental records.

Which got me thinking -- Their dental records? How did we get those?

I can see it now: U.S. soldiers bursting into their dentist's office in downtown Baghdad.

"Everybody on the floor! Hands over your heads! Give us Qusay's root canal charts! NOW! We know they're in here! PUT DOWN THAT LITTLE MIRROR! Hand over the X-rays and no one gets hurt."

Maybe we got them peacefully. I'm sure the CIA has moles at both Iraq Blue Cross and Iraqi Kaiser. Covert molar operatives, if you will.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

With a little help from our friends

Amazing news today, that Robert Pamplin Sr. and Robert Pamplin Jr. will donate yet another $6.5 million to my employer, Lewis & Clark College, to help it recover from -- well, let's just say some recent financial difficulties.

Of course, there are still some questions swirling around the way the college is run, and there is a way to go before confidence in the place will be fully restored. But to have the Pamplins open up their checkbooks and do something like this is a tonic of the highest order.

The contributions that the Pamplins have made to the life of our city, and to education all around the country, are nothing short of phenomenal. They are successful people who really know how to give back.

To these extraordinary gentlemen, I'm sure I'm joined by the entire college community when I say, thank you. To everybody else I say, can you believe how lucky we are to have friends like these?

Regime change

Mayor Katz announced her retirement today. b!X has the full text of the announcement.

Rather than run against someone over the age of 21 (which she hasn't had to do in a while), she's decided to pack it in. And so marks the end a long era of bad ideas and misplaced priorities.

What do we have to show for three -- count 'em, three -- terms under Vera? Here's what she says we've accomplished:

I am proud of projects such as the extension of lightrail lines to the airport and Expo center; completion of the streetcar; expansion of the Oregon Convention Center; creation of new neighborhoods in the River District and South Waterfront; launch of the River Renaissance; construction of North America’s largest Chinese Classical Garden and the Eastbank Esplanade; restoration of our historic City Hall and the Civic Stadium; and the rebirth of Oldtown/Chinatown, North and Northeast Portland neighborhoods -- with the Central Eastside, St. Johns, Gateway and Lents on the way.

I am also proud of groundbreaking policies and initiatives that reshaped city services like the City’s first comprehensive economic development strategy; significantly-increased funding for the arts; the Youth Gang Anti-Gun Task Force that stopped a rapid escalation of gun and gang violence in the mid-1990s; our graffiti abatement and auto theft programs; the annual Regulatory Improvement Workplans; the Fair Contracting and Employment Strategy to assist women and minority owned businesses; maintenance of our triple A bond rating; reduction of administrative costs that saved millions of dollars; and the protection of our schools by keeping them open and funded until the Legislature acts.

With these and other efforts since 1993, Portland is safer; countywide per capita income has grown; citizens rate the livability of neighborhoods higher – results that helped Money magazine rate Portland as the most livable city in America in 2000.

Anything on there to make you start applauding? None for me.

Not mentioned: rotting schools, flight of large employers to the suburbs, national leadership in unemployment, disintegration of mental health services, endless public subsidy to a small handful of real estate tycoons, "community policing" which has made both the community and the police very unhappy.

And then there's that endless string of bad ideas: Put toll booths on the Willamette River crossings. New computers for the water bureau. Luxury boxes at Civic Stadium. Double the size of a Convention Center that wasn't getting enough business. Sell the Bull Run reservoir. Buy PGE. Cover I-405 through downtown for more development. Narrow Burnside Street. Pave over much of Waterfront Park. Streetcars for Homer Williams. An aerial tram for Neil Goldschmidt. The list goes on and on.

Worldwide Pablo hit the nail on the head when he cited "her repeated lack of leadership, the coziness with monied developers, her tin ear to the needs of every-day Portlanders, and her haughty, impractical and occasionally heavy-handed single-mindedness about Portland's future."

So now it's on to Earl Blumenauer vs. Jim Francesconi for mayor, with maybe other candidates as well. The person who will get my vote is the one who promises to be the least like his or her predecessor.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Cracks me up

Check out Bob Borden's diary for July 23. Don't miss the photo of him with Uday and Qusay "during better times." You're gold, Bob!

What they want

Yesterday Tony posted a bit of a rant about all the folks who have come to his site after being directed there by search engines looking for photos of the alleged victim in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault scandal.

Today they're here. We'll be breaking all records on the hit counter today, and they're virtually all looking for the 19-year-old Colorado co-ed ex-cheerleader front desk clerk.

Is somebody offering a reward for these pictures? Are they on some scavenger hunt list?

For what it's worth, one of the TV reports I saw on the story last week showed a short clip of the woman walking along a street. Of course, it didn't give her name.

And I don't have it, folks! All I've got are nude photos of Joey Harrington in the sack with Annika Sorenstam.

Oh, yeah -- and this gal:

I love this game

Whenever I join the chorus of former fans bemoaning the sorry state of the big sports leagues, populated by the likes of Barry Bonds and the Trail Blazers, I wonder if there's anybody out there still playing for the love of the game. Who has values higher than making obscene amounts of money and winning trophies at all costs.

And then I read about Lance Armstrong falling off his bike in the Tour de France yesterday, and I'm stunned -- stunned by what happened. It started when Armstrong got too close to a dangerously over-enthusiastic fan, got his handlebars tangled up in a bag the fan was waving, and went crashing to the pavement.

He quickly got up and rejoined the pack where -- get this -- his closest competitor in the race, Jan Ullrich of Germany, slowed down to let him catch up.

You think that's crazy? It gets better. The reason the guy slowed down? Last year when Ullrich fell in the race, Armstrong did the same for him.

Here's how they tell it in the Dallas Morning News:

Uninjured but for a few scrapes, Armstrong quickly remounted his bicycle and chased back to the lead group of riders, who were waiting for him in a sporting gesture. Armstrong waited for Ullrich in a similar situation when the German crashed in the 2001 Tour.

"I'm really grateful for Jan for remembering my gesture of two years ago. What goes around, comes around," said Armstrong, who finished 40 seconds ahead of second-place Mayo. "The tables were turned two years ago when I did what I did. I appreciated he did what he did today."

I've got to start following this sport a little more closely.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Words to live by

The kiddie reading list at our house has expanded to include a picture story book by Babette Cole called "Dr. Dog." This one teaches the youngsters about hygiene, and it isn't afraid to go graphic. For example, the cartoon dog, who is also a doctor, tells the kids at one point:

"Never scratch your bum and suck your thumb."
I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

On the way home from church

I love this place. Where else could you wander over to your local record store at a Sunday brunchtime and stand 10 feet away from a great trio of artists performing four of their best songs for free?

That's what I just got back from: The Thorns at the Northwest Portland Music Millennium.

The four songs, from their current album, were "Runaway Feeling," "Dragonfly," "I Can't Remember," and "Long, Sweet Summer Night." My daughter and I bopped happily along in a crowd of mixed age, but mostly boomers.

Newcomer Carla Werner played first, with a handful of songs that show a lot of promise.

For those of us who are nighttime-concert-challenged due to the demands of Life 101, this was a wonderful gift. Thanks to the Millennium and especially to the Thorns.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

She be newbie

From Springfield, Oregon (part of greater metropolitan Eugene) comes Narra Design, created by Allie. The blog's been "on" for a week. Graphics as well as words. Happy blogging, Allie!

Friday, July 18, 2003

Break time

Well, my posts are showing a nasty edge again. Time to take another much-needed break from the old blog keyboard. I hope to return kinder and gentler. We don't want any scenes like this one around here.

Although the blog layout hurts my eyes, I need to come more from the heart like this.

It's official

Kobe Bryant has been officially accused of felony sexual assault.

Sounds like it's going to come down to a he said/she said about whether it was consensual sex or not. After a few, ahem, crime lab results have come in, he's admitting adultery.

Do you think maybe four years in college might have prevented this?

What are the chances of this guy being convicted and doing hard time? Virtually none. With all the money behind him, life is about to become miserable for the alleged victim and the poor $67,000-a-year county prosecutor who needs to try the case.

The alleged victim is apparently no stranger to the limelight, however. According to a Denver TV station,

She is a 2002 graduate of Eagle Valley High School and was a varsity cheerleader. She's currently enrolled at the University of Northern Colorado. Friends and neighbors have told 7NEWS that she's a good singer and pianist and had tried out for the TV talent show "American Idol."
One of her friends is quoting as saying: "She craves attention like no other. This is the bad kind of attention that she's going to get."

You got that right.

Perhaps the most bizarre angle to this is that Kobe apparently allowed himself to be arrested and have his mug shot taken while he was wearing black and white horizontal stripes on his shirt! Intentional humor on his part?

Finally, the countdown is on for the appearances of: Johnnie Cochrane, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Bob Packwood. (Likely to keep a low profile: Marv Albert.)

If Kato Kaelin testifies, I'm leaving the country.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

My prayer

Dear Lord,

May Ruth Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens serve on the Supreme Court until they are 100 years old at least.

And dear Lord, if you wouldn't mind sending down genital acne, gluteal boils, and ingrown nose hairs to Pat Robertson, that would be helpful as well. Thanks.


On the bus

Brother Tony's asking all the right questions about justice, L.A. style.

Sing along with Barney

Hey kids! Here's one that all my favorite bloggers can relate to!

I link you
You link me
We're a happy family
Though my blog is trite
And a waste of time to view
Won't you say you'll link me too

I link you
You link me
We'll get points for all to see
At the Truth Laid Bear
And Technorati too
Won't you say you'll link me too

Stag or drag

Rumor has it that U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft will be in Portland tomorrow. Wonder if he's bringing the wife.

Sage advice

A friend of mine who counsels young lawyers looking for jobs relays this job-hunting tip: "You need to change the e-mail address on your resume from slinkyundies@aol.com."

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Fact or fiction

I am one of many folks on the receiving end of an e-mail message reporting that Pepsi is planning a new "patriotic" can design for its beverage. It supposedly will include the U.S. flag and the Pledge of Allegiance, but -- get this -- the words "under God" will be omitted from the text of the Pledge "so as not to offend anyone."


Granted, it's a large American corporation, but no one's that dumb. This has got to be an internet myth.

UPDATE, 8:44 pm: Turns out there's a kernel of truth here, but just a kernel. Thanks to James and Happy Death for setting me straight.

Hail and farewell

The New York Times has kicked Bill Keller upstairs to be its new executive editor. At least, that's what it says in The Times, but you know, sometimes they make things up -- ha ha ha!

Good for The Times, but maybe not so good for us readers. I for one have been an admirer of Keller's writing ever since the days he was covering the former Soviet Union. More recently, his op-ed columns and longer pieces have spoken to me on several occasions.

Whether you loved or hated his politics, the guy can think and write up a storm.

Little known fact: Keller was a reporter for The Oregonian from 1970 until 1979.

Oldies but goodies

Those who stayed up 'til the end of last night's Late Show with David Letterman got a wonderful treat, as Howard Tate performed his classic "Get it While You Can." Backing him up on piano was the man who laid down the classic tracks with him 30-plus years ago, Jerry Ragovoy. Wonderful music, which some of you may have read about first here.

Here's another tip: I have rediscovered the perfect album to listen to in the kitchen. It's Carole King's classic from '71, Tapestry. 'Twas a golden age of popular songwriting, and this gal was doing it so well. Plus that voice -- that clear, strong, young woman's voice -- brings out the goosebumps. If you're old enough to remember this one, you'll enjoy the nostalgia; if you aren't, this is an essential collection to listen to at least a few times, if not many times over.


I get a kick out of our mass media. All of a sudden the big breaking news is, George Bush manipulated the truth, misled the American public, and maybe even outright lied to get his way on the invasion of Iraq.

You don't say!

What do you think he's doing to get his way with the tax system? The deficit? Corporate responsibility? The environment?

What do you think his predecessor did?

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Where's b!X?

Readers of Portland Communique are wondering where its chief scribe, who calls himself The One True b!X, has been the last two days plus. It's not like him to remain silent so long without advance warning.

Speculation runs rampant: Found a job? In jail following a beef with the cops over his "press" credentials? Paid hush money by the Portland Business Alliance? Detained by Ashcroft? Soon to resume blogging from an undisclosed location? On vacation? Chained himself to the Tabor Reservoirs in protest?

Mystery of the Day.

Farewell to Nature's

I just noticed that the name "Nature's" has now virtually disappeared from what is now the "Wild Oats Market" at NE 15th and Fremont. There are still a few bread sacks with the old Nature's Northwest name on it, but that's about it.

And so the absorption of another Portland institution by a giant out-of-state concern is complete.

We still have Nike, Tektronix, Columbia Sportswear and a few others, but the Rose City's great homegrown businesses have been bought out left and right. Even the Trail Blazers are run out of Seattle.

Why is that? Most Portland entrepreneurs seem just a little too eager to cut and run. Rather than go after other companies and swallow them up, our businesses allow themselves to be swallowed as soon as the price is in the ballpark. Don't get me started on the Fred Meyer stores -- since Kroger took them over, they feel like Ohio rather than Oregon. Freddy Kroger's, if you will.

I remember the old Nature's Food and Tool when it was in a funky storefront at NE 24th and Fremont (where Garden Fever is now). The only place with a comparable feel over this way now is the People's Food Coop down around SE 21st and Powell.

What Nature's morphed into is now battling with locally owned New Seasons Markets for the organic food dollars of Portland shoppers. In this 'hood, at least, New Seasons is winning.

We don't need another non-hero

I know I promised to lay off the Blazers this week, but I can't resist noting that Sacramento Kings star Chris Webber just pleaded guilty to lying to a federal grand jury a few years ago about his shady financial dealings while a "scholar athlete" at the University of Michigan.

Those dealings have already cost the school its victories from that era, which have been forfeited. Now Webber will get a fine that for most folks would be crippling, but for him will be a slap on the wrist. The government's case was starting to fall apart -- the guy Webber dealt with died over the winter -- and so this cozy deal is made. More serious charges have been, or are now going to be, dropped.

Druggies, rapists, crooks -- that's today's NBA. It's not for me.

What your toilet is thinking

Whew, that last post was heavy. Here's a link to brighten things up: Izzle Pfaff gets off another great one (blog post, that is).

Empty sky

I'm not sure I'll ever get over the hurt evoked by either or both of these photos:

"The sky is still the same unbelievable blue..."

Monday, July 14, 2003

Return to the good old days

Lately at our house we've been enjoying milk from a glass bottle. It's from Noris Dairy, which is apparently a mom-and-pop operation near Salem. The milk drinkers around here are particularly ga-ga for their chocolate milk.

The stuff is organic, and Pasteurized but not homogenized. Tastes wonderful.

The Noris bottles get returned to the store, and unlike pop and beer bottles, which are broken and only possibly recycled, they are actually sterilized and reused.

The deposit? A buck a bottle.


Warning, technical tax talk

While I've got my nose to the tax grindstone, I note that the Seventh Circuit has affirmed a Tax Court ruling that gifts of interests in a family limited liability company (LLC) did not qualify for the gift tax annual exclusion. Estate planners will doubtlessly spin the decision, Hackl v. Commissioner, as being limited to its extreme facts -- these commentators always have a ready reason why adverse court decisions don't apply to their clients. But I'm not so sure Hackl will be so limited.

One of the arguments the taxpayers made was that the Tax Court's decision threatens to disallow the gift tax exclusion (the ability to make gifts of $11,000 per donee per year without gift tax consequences) for virtually any gift of a small interest in a family entity, such as a corporation, partnership, or LLC. The unanimous Seventh Circuit panel did not seem to have a problem with that prospect. It declared:

The Hackls protest that Treeco is set up like any other limited liability corporation and that its restrictions on the alienability of its shares are common in closely held companies. While that may be true, the fact that other companies operate this way does not mean that shares in such companies should automatically be considered present interests for purposes of the gift tax exclusion. As we have previously said, Internal Revenue Code provisions dealing with exclusions are matters of legislative grace that must be narrowly construed. See Stinson Estate, 214 F.3d at 848. The onus is on the taxpayers to show that their transfers qualify for the gift tax exclusion, a burden the Hackls have not met.
Surely the IRS isn't going to ignore the court's suggestion. You can bet they'll be challenging lots and lots of annual exclusions as a result of the Seventh Circuit's ruling. A nice little loophole for the wealthy may just have gotten smaller.

From my clipping file

There's a nice mention of me in Frolic and Detour, which a former student of mine cranks out back in Minnesota. Nicely written blog she's got there, too.

Alli, thanks for the compliment. While some might prefer to be called an "intellectual giant," I guess I'm wired for "amusing," and so "world's most amusing" is an honor. Particularly coming from someone who sat through 56 hours of my eclectic "show."

"I just cannot make myself want to see a pirate movie with Johnny Depp." Gotta add Alli to the Hap'nin' Gals list.

New Week's resolution

I'm never too good at keeping resolutions, especially when it comes to this blog. But for this week, at least, I am resolved to refrain from blogging about the following topics:

1. Shortcomings of Portland city government

2. Shortcomings of Oregon state government

3. Shortcomings of Portland Trail Blazers basketball team

Those three have gotten way too easy, anyway.

I hope everyone's week gets off to a painless start. For me, it's going to be a busy one working on this and this. And here you thought academics goofed off all summer.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

See your 20, raise you 20

Today's Oregonian reveals that the stakes are definitely going up in the game that the City of Portland is playing with the Enron bankruptcy crowd over ownership of Enron's only decent subsidiary and the state's largest electric utility, Portland General Electric. PGE is now publicly threatening to pull its corporate headquarters out of downtown Portland and move it to the burbs of Wilsonville if the city doesn't back off from its plans to orchestrate a municipal takeover of PGE.

This is classic Portland city government. It's already spent $850,000 on its efforts to get control of PGE, and it isn't stopping there. In other words, the city's taxpayers are now spending close to a million bucks to run another of our large corporate employers out of town.

Another nice move, Erik and Vera. Keep it up and your hero Homer Williams will be the only guy left with an office here.

Why, why, why is the city doing this? Supposedly to "protect the ratepayers." Excuse me, but as Commissioner Francesconi wisely points out, we already pay a state agency to do that. It's called the PUC. Look into it.

Friday, July 11, 2003

I can handle rejection

The Trib reports today (with a screaming banner headline) that the City of Portland's bid to buy Portland General Electric has been rejected by Enron's creditors, because the price it was offering was too low. But the city isn't giving up on this pipedream. Oh no, $850,000 isn't enough to throw at this idea. Let's go for another million!

Geez, now even City Commissioner Randy Leonard is growling that the city may have to condemn PGE.

Regular readers of the blog know what I'm going to say. All together now: It's a bad idea! Let it go!

Thursday, July 10, 2003

I learn something new every day

Just finished an interesting article in today's New York Times about Lawrence Halprin, who designed such wonderful outdoor spaces in Portland as Ira Keller Fountain (across from what used to be called the Civic Auditorium); Pettygrove Park; and Lovejoy Plaza. Halprin's other works include the FDR Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which I also love; and the re-design of the approach to Yosemite Falls, which is apparently quite the improvement over its predecessor.

There's a huge picture of the Keller Fountain in the print version of the Halprin profile, and a similar photo made it to the lead of the web version. (In the web photo, though, it looks like the water's been turned off -- bummer.) I just took some out-of-town guests by there last weekend as part of a downtown tour. It always pleases.

The Times article notes that Halprin installations in some cities (including Olympia) are falling apart, in part because no one cares enough to maintain them. Here in Portland, there are groups pitching in to preserve Halprin's works. Developer John Russell is named as someone who's pungled up $100K to keep Portland's Halprin spaces alive and vibrant.

I've been rude to Portland developers in this blog. When they do something great like this, they deserve credit. So here it is: Nice going, John Russell.

More good news

From Craghead comes a referral to the news that Henry Weinhard's beer is going to be brewed in Oregon again. Yes, there's a deal with the often-evil Miller Brewing Co. to have the suds churned out of the Full Sail Brewery in Hood River.

Hurray! Although I'm not as cool as my friend, Doug, who still has an unopened bottle from Henry's Bottling No. 1, I remember the earliest days of Henry's (when I was in law school). For many years, I consumed the stuff, proud that it was being produced at 12th and West Burnside. I'm not as much of a beer snob as some, and although Henry's ain't the best beer you ever drank, I like to drink local whenever possible. Plus, for years the price on this stuff was right. When they moved its production to Tumwater -- where God intended that only Olympia be made -- I stopped buying the Henry's.

As soon as the first batches come running out of Hood River, sign me up for a case or two.

Up against the wall

What do you expect from a firefighter if not common sense and courage?

That's what Portland firefighter-turned-City Commissioner Randy Leonard is showing as he has suspended enforcement of the city's sign code against artistic murals.

As ably reported last night by Bix and this morning by The O, Leonard yesterday ordered the City Hall bureaucrats under his command to stop harassing two Southeast Portland businesses who have put noncommercial murals on the walls near their businesses. Leonard is calling for a rewrite of the city code to once again distinguish between commercial and noncommercial wall coverings.

This is beautiful. When was the last time a City Commissioner ordered out-of-control city agency minions to stop doing something dumb?

Better yet was Leonard's response to Mayor Katz, who swears she knows it all on this issue. Said Randy: "It's an absurd ordinance, obviously.... This is not going to be fun for Vera to hear, but I think we have the votes to make changes."

Awesome! I told you to vote for this guy. You wouldn't have seen his opponent, Serena Cruz, taking action like this, that's for sure. She and Vera would be giving each other foot rubs by now.

Anyway, Leonard's got his work cut out for him. As pointed out in this blog not so long ago, the billboard company weasels believe they have established that under Oregon law, the city can't distinguish between commercial and noncommercial murals. And you can bet they and their lawyers will be suing the city's pants off if Leonard indeed has the votes to reinstitute that distinction on the city's ordinance books.

This is where we come in, friends -- we, the citizens of the Rose City.

When the billboard companies start acting up, I say we organize a good, old fashioned boycott. We identify one or more billboard companies who are taking the lead in attacking the art murals. And we boycott the goods and services that are being advertised on that company's boards.

Imagine an Oregon business getting calls from Portlanders to the following effect: "We see that you are advertising on X Company's billboards. X Company is challenging Portland's right to allow artistic murals where commercial billboards are prohibited. We believe what X Company is doing is wrong. And so we're not patronizing your business."

He he!

Don't underestimate the power of this. Although the billboard company denies it, a neighborhood campaign of this sort contributed to the undoing of the awful animated billboard that once "graced" the corner of NE 28th and Broadway. Every time a new ad went up, some neighbors from Hollywood and Sullivan's Gulch called the advertiser to express their concerns. Soon the sign went away, supposedly for "maintenance." That was a year and a half ago.

Anyway, however this turns out, three cheers for Randy Leonard.

"This is not going to be fun for Vera to hear, but I think we have the votes to make changes." As the kids say, bwaaahahahahahahaaahaa!

Have some Oregon blueberries

Another bright and sunny day here in Portland. Going up to 90 today, not a cloud in the sky.

I'm going to go out on a limb and call this the Peak of Summer. Even though the days have been shortening slightly for the last three weeks or so, the sense of summer has still been growing. When that sense turns and is heading noticeably toward fall, we'll all start feeling a little blue, so we have to get out there and bask in the Peak.

And I believe this is it. Today's the day. The Peak of Summer.

Go get it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Dang good writin'

This week's "Carnival of the Vanities" is up here. This floating feature of the blogosphere allows little-known bloggers to submit what they think is one of their best posts for a listing. This week's host is Winds of Change, and if you head there, you'll see that I couldn't resist putting in a plug for one of my stories from this blog.

Pick around on that list and you'll find some good stuff.

"Oh, yeah, there was some facial surgery on display last night. Women in their fifties with the eerie porcelain smoothness of a bathroom countertop stretched across their poor screaming cheekbones. They look like some kind of weird Druidic cult, these women. They all eschew tanning now of course, and with their perpetually arched eyebrows, preternaturally high foreheads and botoxed-to-neutrality expressions, they are like implacable, ghostly pale mystics in their sheath gowns and high coiffures."

"This is the understanding that it is socially unacceptable to be seen in public with a woman whose age is less than half plus seven of your age. This rule is not up for negotiation, and always works. Some examples:

18 year old males. 18/2 = 9 + 7 = 16 Acceptable
28 year old man. 28/2 = 14 + 7 = 21 Acceptable
55 year old man. 55/2 = 27.5 + 7 = 35 Acceptable

33 year old man dating a 21 year old girl? Not Socially Acceptable. See how the math works?"

"Along about 2am, I staggered semi-consciously back to the ship, pausing now & again to yark up a gallon of beer, my last seven meals, and bits of my spleen & pancreas. Somehow I made it back to my berthing area to bed-spin my way into a dreamless semi-coma."

Head on over for some new voices. And get your bookmark button ready.

Want baseball?

Oregon residents who want an easy way to tell their state senator in their own words to support bringing major league baseball to Portland can now just head to the Portland Baseball Group website. A pop-up should appear that makes the writing process about as easy as it can get. Just fill it in and click.

Don't let the folks in Salem say, "I didn't hear from you, so I didn't know you cared."

Top 10 list

So the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team has announced cost-cutting layoffs of 30 percent of its staff. Here now are the --

Top 10 Other Things the Blazers Ought to Cut by 30 Percent
10. Volume levels during player introductions

9. Clothing-to-skin ratio on Blazer Dancers

8. Bonzi Wells spitting incidents

7. Duration of Mo Cheeks learning curve

6. Each player should be cut in two at the sternum

5. Broken eye sockets from fistfights at practice

4. Reliance on technicalities to get players excused from felony drug possession charges

3. Qyntel's medication

2. Phony enthusiasm of whatever that mascot is supposed to be

And the Number 1 Other Thing the Blazers Ought to Cut by 30 Percent:

1. The price of a frickin' beer

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Quotation of the day

"I think they're trying to change the city of Portland into the other types of cities that many of us have left." -- Neighbor Marty Slapikis, on the proposed North Macadam development project, currently on the "fast track" at Portland City Hall.


I am noticing that when I open this page, I now sometimes get a full-page pop-under ad. Is this part of the "improvements" we got when Google bought Blogger?

I also note that if it continues, I will be joining the legions who have migrated away from Blogspot (or "Clogspot," as one recent emigre calls it).

UPDATE, 4/19/04, 2:51 a.m.: This blog moved off Blogspot in August 2003.

Earl of the Pearl

My congressman, Earl Blumenauer, is making headlines by actively noncampaigning for mayor of Portland. All of a sudden he's holding coffees all over town to talk, not about federal issues, but about strictly local matters.

Just having conversations with his constituents, he says. Hasn't made up his mind whether to run for mayor or not. Yeah, right.

Earl will make a formidable mayoral candidate, if for no other reason than the campaign war chest he's amassed running against the perennial GOP candidate in his district, Nobody, in the last few congressional elections. As I understand it, the guy's already got nearly $300K in the bank that he can use to run for mayor. That ain't hay.

Given Blumenauer's track record, the fact that he lost the mayoral election to Vera Katz years ago is actually in his favor. He lost his first bid for the City Council, too, as I recall, but cooled his heels over at the Multnomah County Commission for a few years before eventually making it onto the City Council dais.

I like Earl as my congressman, but I'm not all that hot on his bid to become mayor. To me he looks like Vera Katz in a bow tie (figuratively speaking). All snuggled in nice and cozy with the old West Hills money, he probably loves the public funds giveaways in the Pearl District; would like to be right there to cut the ribbon on the OHSU aerial tram; has no problems with the tens of millions in city funds that will build Homer Williams's next mint, North Macadam; and has a lovely mutual admiration society going with the kindly gentlemen over at the Portland Business Alliance. I heard that he was firmly behind the Pioneer Courthouse Square ice skating rink, and I'm sure he gets all sorts of sweet nothings whispered into his ears by lobbyists like Neil Goldschmidt, whom he doubtlessly admires. The fact that Blumenauer and Katz are, ahem, shall we say, coordinating their planned candidacy announcements surely does not paint Blumenauer as an agent of change.

No, I'm not rushing out with an Earl for Mayor lawn sign just yet. But I do get a kick out of his likely opponent, announced mayoral candidate and City Commissioner Jim Francesconi. Jim was quoted in the paper yesterday as follows:

"I think I know what the issues are," Francesconi said. "We have to have a new kind of leadership that focuses on the issues of jobs, education and keeping essential neighborhood services of all kinds in our city."
Hey, Jim, if we need a "new kind of leadership," what the heck have we been paying you for, for the last six and half years?

Watching Earl and Jim try to out-"outsider" each other will doubtlessly provide months of amusement.

[UPDATE, 1:13 p.m.: Congressman Blumenauer isn't slacking on his current job. Emma of The Oregon Blog points me to an op-ed piece that Earl and Rep. Jim Leach (R) of Iowa have on the op-ed page of today's New York Times. They're calling for reform of the congressional redistricting process, and it's a thought-provoking piece. Which I would have known about had my Times carrier not failed to deliver last night. Grrrrrr!]

Monday, July 7, 2003

He's got a jones, all right, but not a basketball jones

Portland Trail Blazers basketball star Damon Stoudamire has been busted on pot charges yet again. This time he was allegedly trying to get nearly an ounce and a half of wacky weed through a Tucson Airport security checkpoint by wrapping it in aluminum foil and holding it in his pocket.




Now he'll have to serve time on his last marijuana bust, which he talked down to probation. Plus whatever you get these days for smuggling a sizeable amount of contraband through airport security. Not to mention the major time he'll do if prosecutors can convince an appeals court that the search that turned up a pound of dope at Stoudamire's house last year was actually legal.

The team is huffing and puffing. Just to show they're serious about changing their image, the Blazers have imposed a $250,000 fine and a suspension.

Wrong, gentlemen. You want to show me how serious you are? Fire this loser. Cut him. Pay him if you have to, but banish him permanently from the team. Forget about trading him -- no one is interested -- but get him out of our sight for good.

The Blazers are looking for a corporate sponsor to name their arena after. How about Corrections Corporation of America?

In other NBA scum news with a Portland twist, the celebration at Nike for its new endorsement deal with Kobe Bryant ended somewhat abruptly this weekend, as it was revealed he may soon be facing sexual assault charges.

I am so glad I'm off the season-ticket merry-go-round with the NBA. They are a sad, sad bunch.

Go ahead, ruin your life

UtterlyBoring.com tried to warn me, but I went there anyway.

Sunday, July 6, 2003

How blue did they get

Big-time congratulations to everyone connected with the 16th annual Waterfront Blues Festival here in town. I'm confident it broke all attendance records. Perfect weather all four days combined with the growing word of mouth about how doggone much fun this event is, to bring huge crowds from curtain to curtain. We knew the place would be packed for the fireworks on the Fourth, but when I showed up for what I thought would be a sleepy Sunday lunchtime scene today, I was greeted by wall-to-wall music lovers, already in a groove. Even the fair weather blues fans were out in full force.

I remember the first of these events, inaugurated on a sweatshirt-weather gray Fourth back in the mid-80s. There was one stage, up around the Morrison Bridge somewhere, maybe a few rows of benches, a handful of vendors. Now it's, well, a true festival, with four stages, dozens of booths, African delicacies -- even wine tasting, for Pete's sake. The lineup of acts went top-drawer long ago, and this year we caught the likes of Taj Mahal, Terry Evans, Etta James and Pinetop Perkins along with fantastic Portland acts like Bill Rhoades and regional favorites like Too Slim and the Taildraggers, who I think come up from Sacramento. [CORRECTION: They're from Spokane. Same difference.]

In my early days at this festival, I took the music so seriously that I couldn't understand the huge segment of the crowd that was there just to socialize, eat, drink, and people-watch. But this year, I must confess, I was in the latter category. I had out-of-town guests with me on Saturday afternoon, and a toddler was my date for Sunday. So although I heard the show, it was at a slight distance most of the time.

It was still great.

You know who really impresses me? Portland singer Linda Hornbuckle. Last year, she and pianist Janice Scroggins held together a loose gospel jam so that we could hear the preacher stylings of Howard Tate. This year, the gospel segment was so tight that it positively rocked the place off the ground. I think that was Terry Evans up there with them, but whoever it was, when they belted out a version of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," you could definitely feel those hands around that crowd.

Adding to the warm feelings was the fact that this event is a benefit for my favorite charity, the Oregon Food Bank. My friends from Wisconsin were wowed when I told them that admission was five bucks a head plus two cans of food. Even my 2-year-old now knows that we gave some food to the "music show people" so that they could give it out to other people who don't have enough to eat and are hungry. When she handed over a little can of tomato paste to the beautiful volunteers at the gate, I realized what a special deal this was.

One thing I reflected on while I strolled the festival grounds was how much Portland has changed over the last decade and a half. At the first blues festival, everybody knew about half of the other people. This year, walking to and fro on both weekend afternoons, I saw hardly anyone I recognized. Tom Wendt, KBOO Radio's blues chief, was there, of course. But in those thousands of others? Nobody I knew.

O.k., I did see Jean Kempe-Ware, the public relations officer for the Food Bank, shooting some kind of video. I know Jean from her former job, p.r. director for my employer, Lewis & Clark College. I couldn't interrupt the shoot, but I wanted to say, Jean, we need you now.

As frustrated as I get with the political "leadership" in the City of Roses, there are times when I'm unspeakably happy and proud to live here. Sitting on the grass down at the Blues Festival is guaranteed to be one of those times.

Day 366

On this date one year ago, in the wee small hours of the morning, this weblog was born. Since then, I have had the honor of posting many words (and even some pictures) here, and more than 15,000 times, readers have cast their eyes upon them. Lo, at last report I'm no. 667 on the Blogosphere Ecosystem Hit Parade.

Some readers are neighbors, others are halfway around the world. To me, this is nothing short of amazing. Imagine what my reaction would have been 15 years ago, or even 10, if you had tried to explain blogging to me.

Thanks to everyone who's visited, and especially to everyone who's linked here or to Yakety Yak.

And now, on to year 2....

Thursday, July 3, 2003

Happy Fourth of July

Freedom from Fear, Norman Rockwell, 1943

Sing me, Muse, of moldy tile

Jeremy is one funny guy. Check out his haiku poems about dorm rooms:

The heat just came on The first time it ever worked It is summertime

A smell in the hall
Not food but sort of like food
It's leftover food

And, as they say, much, much more.

Holiday reading assignment

In Congress, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America

WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great- Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.

HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of the Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and the Convulsions within.

HE has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.

HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.

HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us;

FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rules into these Colonies:

FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

HE has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

IN every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.

WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock.
GEORGIA, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton.
NORTH-CAROLINA, Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.
SOUTH-CAROLINA, Edward Rutledge, Thos Heyward, junr., Thomas Lynch, junr., Arthur Middleton.
MARYLAND, Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, Thos. Stone, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.
VIRGINIA, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Ths. Jefferson, Benja. Harrison, Thos. Nelson, jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.
PENNSYLVANIA, Robt. Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benja. Franklin, John Morton, Geo. Clymer, Jas. Smith, Geo. Taylor, James Wilson, Geo. Ross.
DELAWARE, Caesar Rodney, Geo. Read.
NEW-YORK, Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston, Frank Lewis, Lewis Morris.
NEW-JERSEY, Richd. Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Fras. Hopkinson, John Hart, Abra. Clark.
NEW-HAMPSHIRE, Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thornton.
MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, Saml. Adams, John Adams, Robt. Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.
RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE, C. Step. Hopkins, William Ellery.
CONNECTICUT, Roger Sherman, Saml. Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver Wolcott.

Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Passing lane

I think it was baseball legend Satchel Paige who said, "Don't look back; something might be gainin' on ya." Well, I violated that principle today and scrolled down to the hit counter on Parkway Rest Stop, a "blogchild" of mine written by my cousin James back in the Garden State. Lo and behold, the guy's cracked 15K unique visitors and will be passing me by any day now.

No wonder. Jimmy has cranked out some amazing stuff, most notably his true tales of Army boot camp and the fictional exploits of Master Sgt. John "Jack" Steele, Adjunct Professor of Law. He just made the Amish Vanities list, too, and so the new readers will doubtlessly just keep a-comin'.

And he's got a farookin' (as he would put it) logo on the way!

O.k., I'll admit, part of me is mighty jealous. But the rest of me is kinda proud. Congratulations to James!

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

You know you're a middle-aged white guy if...

One of the big thrills in your life is having the electrical service to your house replaced.

I've been wanting to do this ever since we first moved in here nearly five years ago. The old circuit breaker box was a good 40 years old, and as far as my rudimentary understanding of such things goes, the meter base outside was not properly matched to the breaker box. As a power company linesman confirmed on a recent visit, it had trouble written all over it.

There were a couple of perennial obstacles to getting the job done. The first, of course, was bucks. These changeovers don't come cheap -- there's a comma in the number. Then there is the matter of the location of the meter. Nowadays, the power company wants the meter within 10 feet or so from the front of the house, to make life easier for the meter readers. In our case, that would have meant moving the meter a substantial distance, and a whole bunch of tricky rewiring would have been necessary in the basement.

Over the past month, things fell into place quite unexpectedly. First, interest rates had dropped substantially, and we realized we could reap substantial savings by refinancing the place yet again. (We had just done this last fall.) Applying for the new loan with our existing lender over the internet took all of about half an hour. We closed today, and the savings will more than pay for the electrical work.

The other favorable development came when I was able to convince the power company folks that the existing meter location is in fact the only good place for the service on our 90-plus-year-old house. Moving it closer to the curb would create some safety problems that the current location doesn't present. Voila, no meter move.

The estimate from our favorite electricians came in lower than we anticipated, and they had a guy ready to come out less than 48 hours after the estimator did. Wham, bam, it was done.

It's not officially over yet -- there needs to be an inspection or two, and the final connections up under the eaves outside have to be made by the power company guys. But assuming these steps take place according to plan, we've got our new service. We get room to expand (which we will soon need), and the worries about that meter base melting down are a thing of the past.

We just spent a good couple of hours filling in the chart on the circuit breaker panel. Many of the circuits weren't labeled or otherwise easily identified, and so we went through a process of trial and error figuring out which breakers go to which lights, outlets, and appliances. I manned the switches while my wife went room to room seeing what went on and off when I flipped them. The many communication breakdowns were comical. For instance, every once in a while I'd turn off the phones we were talking over, and that left us shouting at the tops of our lungs up and down the laundry chute. But getting in touch with every electrical outlet in the house felt pretty good.

To a geezer like me, that is.

She moves me

I don't do bumper stickers on my car, but if I did, I'd be tempted by this one:

Thanks to Worldwide Pablo for the link.

Thanks for the million laughs

Buddy Hackett 1924-2003

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