Monday, January 29, 2007

A rejected writers top ten fiction authors.

I have written the great American novel and sent my works to many publishers with no luck. I used to joke that I could wall paper my house with rejects. I guess I am kind of like Snoopy in Peanuts. I wrote a children’s book and tried to find the right illustrator with little luck and no takers. I wrote a science fiction novel that was met with little interest. It took me years to complete a page by page layperson non fiction analysis of the New Testament. (I have not tried to publish that yet.) I have a few other unfinished pieces that I am hoping to finish this year. One is a non fiction account of the last union campaign I directed in Corona, California. I kept a diary of the organizing progress as I ran the campaign. Lynn Feekin of The Labor and Education Research Center at the University of Oregon has offered her help in transforming my transcripts, but each time I try to tie it all together, I get bogged on another project.

Some writers just seem to be able to flow their thoughts on paper. I read quite a bit about all subjects, but here is a list of my favorite “mind candy” fiction writers when I want a quick escape:

1. John Irving-A Prayer for Owen Meany and Cider House Rules are just wonderful reads. A Son of the Circus, The Hotel New Hampshire and The World According to Garp are worth the time also. You do not want nay of his books to end.

2. James Michener-I love the way he weaves between real and fiction in his semi-historical writing. I love The Source and how it explains much about people of Jewish heritage. Hawaii, Space, Chesapeake are just a few of many great reads. You can’t be intimidated by the thickness of the books. They go quick!

3. Tom Robbins-Skinny Legs and All, Another Roadside Attraction and Still Life with Woodpecker will open your minds to all sorts of strange thoughts. How Robbins can bring to life inanimate objects and give them thought processes is just genius.

4. Jean Auel-How can you not love the center character of Ayla in the Earth Children Series? And you have to admire the detail of anthropological theory that goes along with the story lines. Many have copied her story line, but not with the success of Ms. Auel.

5. Edward Rutherford-If you like English folklore or have an interest in London England, you must read Sarum. This book is a romp through history. One of the quicker reads. Russka is another of his more famous works that is worth the time.

6. Orson Scott Card-Enders Game is one of those reads that can be enjoyed buy all ages. It is rumored to be coming soon on the big screen. Xenocide, Chidren of the Mind and others will leave you with great wonderment of a Mormon with long family ties back to Brigham Young. He is an outspoken Democrat. Like minds....

7. James Lee Burke-His descriptive writing of the New Orleans area is wonderful. His macho character Dave Robicheaux is one of my favorites. Black Cherry Blues and Cimmeron Rose are good to start with.

8. John Updike-If you want a good perspective of the male mind, read Rabbit, Run. If you enjoy that, you have to read Rabbit Redux and Rabbit at Rest.

9. Jonathan Kellerman-Alex Delaware is a complex psychologist that is mixed up in strange situations in When the Bough Breaks, Silent Partner and The Murder Book. His wife Kaye is also a good read.

10. Tim Dorsey-This writer is funny and irrelevant. His main character Serge A Storms is a Psychotic mass murderer that you have to like. My son Jacob is a big fan. Cadillac Beach and Torpedo Juice should be read where people can’t hear you laugh.

Sometime in the near future I will write about my 10 favorite books. Some were written by authors not on my top ten list.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Weyerhaeuser tells Evergreen no thanks!

Well that was a surprise. Weyerhaeuser decided to take an offer from another investor to buy their Pulp Mill in Cosmopolis, Washington. The Eureka Reporter - Article Weyerhaeuser instead accepted an offer from another group who are naming the place Cocidus High Purity Cellulose. The Daily World The same people bought a sulfide pulp mill in Port Alice in British Columbia after Lapointe Partners went bankrupt after buying the plant for $1 and sucking profits off into thin air. Oh yes, the same Lapointe people who bought Shasta Paper for $1 and went bankrupt, then Samoa Pacific/Bankrupt and Stockton Pacific/Bankrupt so on & so on.

Almost three hundred workers are now completely confused about their old workplace. The Daily World The Public Utilities Department for Grays Harbor was "shocked" by the news. The Daily World It will be interesting to see what happens.

Evergreen CEO David Tsang held special meetings last week with workers at Samoa and was pretty confident the deal was close at hand. The new mill was to also be named Evergreen, and he was going to personally lead the transition, much as he had successfully done here at Samoa. Guess that is not in the works.

The former union workers or at least the leaders at Cosmopolis have publicly stated that they are worried about the new owners.The Daily World They should be. History shows these people can get nasty in negotiations. They pretty much threatened to back out of the deal to buy the Port Alice Mill if the workers did not accept an sub par offer. The Marxist-Leninist Daily

It must really be unnerving for the long term workers who are now displaced at Cosmopolis. You put years of your life in a place, and it becomes a part of you. I always joke with people at work that I have to stay at Evergreen because after nearly 30 years, I can not do a "real" job. When I put myself in the shoes of the people at the old "Cosi" plant, I wonder if maybe I am hitting closer to the truth than I jest.

Update: David Tsang addresses Weyerhaeuser decision.The Daily World

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Senior Softball King Reign Begins!

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the best f-ing softball player you’ve ever met. Just ask the opposing teams in the 4 leagues I’m in this summer. I flat out rake. You could populate a small country with all the pitchers I've taken deep. I just spent three hours in the batting cage and hit the @#%$ out of the ball. Line drives, big flies, opposite field shots. I can do it all. Some kids next to me in the cages were staring and pointing at me. I can’t blame them. They’ve probably never seen a 50 year-old man wearing Oakley Blades and batting gloves who can hit bombs like me. Especially not with shorts this tight.

This season, I’m making sure we sweep all 4 leagues. Especially the Men’s League at Eureka. We were two outs away from winning that baby last year and now I can taste it. I’ve gotta get my hands on that 10-foot plastic trophy. It’s all I think about. Rumor has it the league winners get 2 free pitchers at Big Louie’s Pizza after the season. No way we lose with the trophy and 78 ounces of Bud on the line.

I just bought all new equipment for this season. You should see the extra long stripped baggy baseball pants I got. Super tight. I picked up a new set of wristbands, a tube of eye black and a pair of 3-inch mud cleats, you know, just in case I need to break up a double play. I also got to get my hands on one of those $350 Miken Ultra II bat for a little extra power. It may cost me a week’s pay, but screw it, when I start cranking 400-foot shots it will be worth it. I can’t wait for that first at bat. I’m bringing a tape deck to the game, so that I can blast The Scorpions when I walk to the plate. Nothing gets me fired up to play ball more than The Scorpions. Except maybe Metallica, but I save that for the playoffs.

I feel sorry for the other teams. They have no idea what I’m about to unleash on them. Actually, I don’t feel sorry for them. You think that anyone felt sorry for me when that bastard coach cut me from the Babe Ruth baseball team? You think Babe Ruth or Dave Kingman felt sorry for the other team when they took them deep? They should have known better than to get into a league with me. This year I’m focused. I practiced like a son of a bitch in the winter at Coopers Gulch and got the call to play catcher. That’s right, the main show baby. Only the best play behind the plate. I have to be sharp, so no more beer during the games. I’m going to wait until after the game to starting pounding cold ones and I’m still going to drink you under the table. My initials might as well be M-V-P. That stands for Most Valuable Player for all you non-softball players. The League starts in a few months. I may take the week before off to prepare. Why do I take softball so seriously? F you. You’re just jealous!

(Disclaimer: I plagiarized some of this material. It reminded me of some people I know. This is supposed to be funny.)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Palco, please don't screw over your workers!

I guess I get paranoid when companies do their "I am broke" thingy. A company can not control the price of it's vendors. They can not control the price for power in the form of electricity. There are many costs in running a business that the business itself can not usually control. But one thing a company can control in times of economic stress. And that is change the wage and benefit packages of the workers. When I saw in today's TS Times-Standard Online - Palco's future starts Wednesday that the workers pension is 20 million dollars underfunded, I had a bad feeling. I hold out little hope that Palco will do the right thing for their workers. I hope I am wrong.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Go Walter Ray Williams Jr! Ex-Eureka boy.

I was channel surfing this morning and ran across the Denny's hosted Dick Weber classic Bowling Tournament. Former Humboldt County resident Walter Ray Williams Jr. had just finished off a competitor and moved to the semi final against the flamboyant Patrick Allen. )The lefties have sure taken over the Pro Bowlers Tour (PBA).) Walter only needed to strike in the 10th frame to win, but fell short, and lost 249 to 245. - Live Scoring 1 Walter will get over that. He is in the PBA and Horseshoe Throwing Hall of Fame. Career Scrapbook Walter used to live in Eureka and was on the Johnny Carson show when he was a Junior National Champion back in the early 70's. He went on to be a World Champion horseshoe thrower besides PBA champion. I actually threw horseshoes competitively back in the 70's. I think it was his father who organized and ran the local tournaments at Redwood Acres. Gave us teenagers something to do. Walter Jr. was nice kid, and it is good to see someone like that do well in life. I also remember Bill Landowski Sr. opening Broadway Lanes for us young hoodlums and teaching us the art of bowling. He was phenomenal at bowling while doing maintenance on the lanes. His son Bill Jr. and Randy were great bowlers themselves.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Tired on the Dunes. Sandwellers need sleep too!

Oh Merl, please keep your opinions to yourself. Or just send a right wing manifesto to all. Hey, I grew up and have respected your opinions for 4 decades. Our economic and sociological dynamics have changed big guy. Sad but true.. .....Palco bankrupt? I have been public with my views of the Palco's inept forest practices. Why is it that the workers must suffer from managements ineptness........ I just finished working 27 hours out of 36 all at night. I had some obligations in between. I told Robin I was only going to sleep a few hours and go to the gym. For what ever reason, I was able to bench in reps nearly 6,000 lbs and finish up with other chest exercises and then 30 minutes cardio. Now, there is nothing left of me........ I am now officially playing the worse basketball of my life. So you are going to hear it right now. I am going on a diet. Man I hate that word! I will have to cut the buffet practices and Bev's. I have to lower the portions. Damn! I need to lose 30 lbs by May. I will keep you posted. Maybe a top ten low fat places? Say it ain't so!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The drug/welfare conundrum. Compassion vs. Anger.

Here is a letter to the editor that pretty much splits liberals and conservatives. People in Oregon are sounding more like people in Idaho who are sounding like people in Utah who are…….

I have a question, not only for Douglas County, but for the entire state of Oregon. Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me, I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as they seem fit. In order for me to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test, which I have no problem with.

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who do not have to pass a urine test. Shouldn’t one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check, because I have to pass one to go earn it for them? Please understand that I have nothing against helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sit on their butt. Could you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check?

Leonard Wilson
Riddle, Oregon

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I want Breakfast, and lot's of it!

Breakfast used to be my favorite meal. It seems that the older I get, the more I just pass it over. Oh, I am not talking bagel, scones, muffins or donuts, I am talking serious load em up eating here. If you are hungry and lost in the Eureka area, here are my suggestions:

1. Bev’s Café-Huge portions. The chicken fried steak fills a whole separate plate. This is for the serious chow hound.

2. Stanton’s-I am partial to the Wood Boss. Three Eggs, sausage, hash browns, toast and pancakes. Just right for a good filler-up.

3. Samoa Cookhouse-I will only go if they are having the eggs, sausage, toast, hash browns and the biscuits and gravy. French toast and pancake days are not my cup of tea.

4. The Chalet House of Omelets-The food is consistent just none to big.

5. Golden Harvest Café-I love the Humboldt Omelet, but their potatoes are not that great. Get a side order of sour cream to down those puppies.

6. Marie Calendar’s-Just a cut above some others. Someone who picks this place must be into just chatting waiting for an order.

7. The Marina-The food is all right, it is just the portion thing. I do not go here to get my grub on!

8. Denny’s-I have been known to order a meal and then add another grand slam just to add extra garnish. Oh come now, quantity over quality, remember?

9. Cutten Inn-Last time I went they were using Babe’s Pizza as a home. Are they back in their old location? They are all right, not great or anything.

10. Any Weekend Buffet- Hometown, Marie Calender’s, Red Lion it does not really matter as long as the quantity is there!

Any favorite in your hometown?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Good ole US of A # 1! The good and bad.

Lead the world in weapons sale. We have 460,000 troops serving abroad. More nuclear weapons. OK, forget the war stuff, we have the most internet users than anyone in the world at 205,327,000. We have 371 Billionaires. Consume more energy. Largest gross domestic product at 13.3 Trillion dollars and the largest gold reserves at 158 Billion. No wonder that we rank first in access to clean water and sanitation facilities. ............But does it stand to reason that that we spend more money per year per person at $5,700 on health care?............Then why do 43 countries have more doctors per capita then us? Why do 33 countries have less infant deaths? Why is male life expectancy longer in 27 other countries? And 29 countries are better than ours for women life expectancy?......And on social issues, why is it that we have the highest per capita rate of people behind bars in prison. And why do 71 countries have more females running their governments? How is it we spend so much money on election campaigns when we rank 139th out of 172 nations of eligible voters who actually vote? We need to do better. Check out these stats and more Jan. 16th in the PARADE Magazine Is America Still No. 1?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

That piece of wood you threw on the fire cost 50 cents!

Early this morning I heard a weird noise out back. I asked Robin if she heard anything downstairs. She said nothing out of the ordinary. I was on my way out the door and saw a water shower going up into the air. Our line out back burst from the cold. I thought this was only supposed to happen if the Temp went under 20 degrees. Guess not. Some buddies of mine went to Coopers Gulch to hit some softballs at 9am. Not a good idea in 30 degree weather. It did not seem to affect Barry Scarpelino though, he was hitting shots over 300 feet and he is closing in on 55 years of age. Robin and I went to the gym and then to the C/R women's and men's game. Afterwards we met friends at Big Louie's to watch the Eagles and Saints. My buddy Ron is an Engineer who has to analyze many of lifes little problems. He did a cost assessment on how much it cost to actually use wood heat. He broke it down to a level of a normal piece of wood and how much that piece represents cost wise in heating a house. It came out to 50 cents! Has anyone out there heard of such cost comparisons? He explained his methodology but he was losing me quickly. Of course if it applys to his house it may be skewed. His house is well over 4,000 square ft with 9 ft picture windows over looking the bay on Humboldt Hill.

Friday, January 12, 2007

When this coach learned a lesson about life.

As a long time coach of Peninsula Union Yellowjacket eighth grade boy's basketball team, I had grown accustomed to small numbers showing up to try out for the team. With only 41 students from kindergarten through eighth, Peninsula Union Elementary has one of the lowest average daily attendances in Humboldt County. After a preliminary meeting, it looked like we would have 8 players at the most trying out. We have never cut any players at Peninsula, located in Samoa, in the 15 plus years that I have been a volunteer coach. Only two of the players coming out were in eighth grade and 5 were in either in fifth or sixth grade. I already knew it would be a rough uphill battle of a season. But the few that were there were enthusiastic and three of the sixth graders were returning players and knew what they were getting into.

At our organizational meeting, I voiced my concern about the lack of numbers on this year's team, and alluded that we may have to cancel the season. One of the kids approached me afterward. "Is it alright for Edward to play?" I was asked by one of the returning sixth graders. I had no idea who Edward was, and he noticed my confused look. "He is in the special education class here." Glen Paul students co-exist on the Peninsula campus in a rented classroom and interact daily with each other. Then I remembered walking down the hall and seeing a boy with Downs Syndrome walking with the special day students with a shirt that said, "Basketball is Life." It seems that Edward was playing against the boys at recess and held his own. I could not think of any reason to not give him a chance.

Edward's mother was concerned about his participation, but was willing to see how he would do in practice. She was not ready to commit him to game time situations and so it was wait and see. In the first practice shoot around, I could see that he had a nice shot from a set position. His motor skills needed work, as far as passing and dribbling, but he was able to master the three man weave within the first practice and showed good comradely with others on the team.

When it was time to hand out uniforms to the players before their first game, I handed Edward his and he said, "Sweet!" Pretty normal reaction. Our first game was against St. Bernard's at their gym. I was hoping to get Edward in for a few minutes each half. As it turned out, three people fouled out for our team and we had only four left on the floor. Edward ended up playing major minutes because of need and he played great. He even shot a few times but did not connect.

Edward logged some pretty intense playing time in the course of the year. One coach came up to me at half time of one of our games and told me he was instructing his team to let Edward free so he could score. He thought it was great thing we were doing at the school. At that point in the season I just thought of Edward as another player on the team and nothing else. I was a little upset because on one side I wanted him to score, but my competitive side wanted him to earn it. As it turned out, his team was not about to give up an inch to Edward and seemed to smother him in the second half. Their competitive nature took care of my worry.

In the end, Edward did score. He helped his team to victory one game with two points. It was a home game and the whole gym went crazy while Edward went back to his position on defense with arms raised in celebration. In Edward's final game as an elementary player he scored 4 points against a team that qualified for the Jay Cees Tournament in Crescent City.

It was sad to say good bye to last year's edition of Yellowjacket basketball. Not only was it no problem having Edward play, he seemed to have a calming influence on the rest of the team. Yeah, it was rough year in terms of win-loss record. But I feel the players grew immensely as persons. And I can only hope to ever have a chance to coach someone like Edward again.

I would like to thank Edward's Teacher for his support during games and practice. Thanks also to the entire Peninsula staff for their encouragement and participation. And finally thanks to Glen Paul and the Humboldt County Board of Education for giving Edward the chance. It was well worth it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Evergreen purchasing Cosmopolis Pulp Mill.

I have been itching to report on rumblings of Evergreen Pulp's potential purchase of the pulp mill in the Aberdeen, Washington area. The Daily World I could not get anyone to confirm it at our facility. Shows where I am on the pecking or "need to know" list. I have been hassling management on this subject for awhile. Particulars have not been shared with us "lowly hourly union" types. The news is a great boon for the ex-worker/future workers at the "Cosi" pulp mill. Evergreen seems to be committed to communities/workers and environment so far in the Northern California area. There will be many obstacles to hurdle over to bring the Cosi plant up to production. I hope there is a spirit of cooperation for all involved on the Washington coast. My wife and I actually checked out the Cosmopolis Mill summer before last and the Grays Harbor area is beautiful and pristine. The Pulp Mill loomed large in the landscape, but not nearly as large as ours here on the peninsula. I wish all the potential workers well.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Democrats meet Tomorrow.

The Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee meets tomorrow Jan.10th at 7 pm at 129 5th St. across from Denny's. HCDCC - Welcome to the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee All Democrats are welcome. Hope to see you there! (I will be a little late as I have to work a 12 hour shift.)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Schwarzenegger wants universal health care?

Schwarzenegger is messing with our minds I tell you. Here he comes up with a potential radical plan to provide health care for all in California. Elections- Schwarzenegger Proposes Health Coverage for All - AOL News Did he re-register as a Democrat while I was not looking? I wonder how his party will react to this. I am anxious to see the details of the plan.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Union Yes! LP workers vote for union 1999!

In 1999 I directed a successful union organizing drive at the Chip Export Yard owned by Louisiana Pacific at Samoa. There were 8 full time employees and 14 part-time workers. The Times Standard did a front page story of the worker rally/Demonstration at the facility. Local unions and organizations that participated in the rally were: United Brotherhood of Carpenters local 751, Longshoremen local 14, Plumbers and Steamfitters local 290, Plasters and Cement Masons local 355, AWPPW local 49 and the Redwood Peace Alliance. Local people of note that helped with the rally were, Dave Meserve, Betsy Roberts, Marianne Hassler, Gerald Cawvey, David Dees, Karen Briggs, John Cumming, Sid Berg, Doc Holiday and Charles Olivier. The workers actualized huge raises, grievance procedure, better health insurance and pension. They gradually were integrated into AWPPW local 49 and are union workers to this day. It may have been the last successful manufacturing union organizing drive in Humboldt County. I tried to organize the Louisiana Pacific Particleboard Plant in Arcata but could not seem to get them over the top. They lost an election by one vote in 1998. When Louisiana Pacific sold the mill to Hambro, all the 100 or so workers were fired and then re-hired by Hambro with no seniority and huge loss in wages. If they were union when the plant sold they may have had a security clause that would have saved their wages and benefits. Just shows you what a union can do for workers! The average manufacturing workers makes 30% more in wages and benefits than non-union workers in the United States. Maybe it is time for your place to be union?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Gropenator loved by all?

Please explain this Arnold Schwarzenegger thing again?

Let’s just say hypothetically that I had no political experience whatsoever. Never had been in office or was involved in committees to help communities or election campaigns. And here are some of the hypothetical baggage I am carrying with me that will be exposed during and election campaign:

1. Womanizer/Sexist-Self admitted macho woman abuser with no remorse and to this day holds no respect for the opposite sex.
2. Homophobe-On record not liking “Girly” men.
3. Self admitted and well documented illegal drug user with a history of steroids, pot and who knows what else.
4. Anti-Union leanings. Does not like unions and is vocal about it.
5. Anti-Environment-Drive around in a Hummer and other gas guzzling vehicles unabashedly for years. No care for environmental legislation.
6. Lifelong Republican in a State registration leaning heavy to the left.

Oh, and I want to run for Governor of California. I would think that I would be laughed out of the state. But due to a cult of personality, Arnold wins overwhelmingly and currently serving a second term.

Only in America people.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Door knocking adventures Vol. #1

Saw 1st District County Supervisor Jimmy Smith the other night. The subject drifted into knocking on doors while campaigning. He described one time he was talking to people and noticed a neighbor who was watching the discussion while standing in his garage. After he spoke to the people at the house he was at, he started to go up the driveway of the person in the garage, and when he saw Jimmy coming, he hit the garage door button and closed it while watching Jimmy come up the driveway. I told him about knocking on doors one time and seeing Bonnie Neely at the door next to me on 7th St. She waved. What are the odds?

My wife would have to say her worst experience was accompanying me in Fairhaven. We were target knocking registered voters and had come to the end of one of the blocks where a pile of cars and garbage were protected by a pack of dogs. I was just knocking at the next door neighbor and Robin followed with a clipboard in hand. The dogs at the next house were barking and this huge guy came out on the porch and yelled “what the F*** is going on?” I yelled from the next house that I was just knocking on doors in the neighborhood. He said, “Oh, yeah Mother F***er? Go sick-em guys!” I stood between Robin and the dogs that came toward us. “C’mon, Mother F***er! You make it to my porch and I’ll buy whatever you have! C’mon Mother F***er I dare you.” I thought about it quickly and Robin and I did a hasty retreat as he animatedly yelled and waved for me to take the risk. A lady who recognized me and lived at the house came over and took my leaf and went over to the house. The next day I was at work telling my crew mates the story in detail. One of the guys was not laughing and asked me where this had happened. I told him and smiled and said, “That’s my cousin, I’ll make him buy a spaghetti fund raising ticket.” Just goes to show you how small this area can be.