This page contains the entries from my journal. When I decided to sell everything and move to Oregon, I started entertaining the idea of keeping a daily journal. I never really thought about keeping a journal in the past, but it seems like it will be a fun thing to do. As a going-away gift, my thoughtful friend Annette gave me a nice leather journal and a funky Cross Ion pen. Now that I have my journal and implement in-hand, I have officially started with my regular entries and my adventure has officially begun. If for some reason you are actually interested in reading my rambling, scattered thoughts, have a ball.
Please note that the entries are in decending order by date. The first entry is the most recent.
Click here to see the May journal entries.
June 20, 2004 - 2:50 PM Pacific Time
Wow! I am a bum. It's been 7 days since I've written a journal entry. I really enjoy writing once I sit down and focus, but I obviously
have trouble forcing myself to stop what I'm doing and write. I'm listening to music, sipping on some green tea and sitting at my desk
right now, so I'll have to make sure I write a lot in this entry to make up for the past 7 days. I've been having a great time here. It's
starting to feel like home and I finally feel comfortable and relaxed. Last Sunday I walked around for a little while downtown while I
was waiting for laundry. I stopped by the laundry mat and started a wash cycle and then I left and headed down to the Sunday Market to
get some food and explore a bit. It was a beautiful day and there were lots of people out and about. There was a band playing and lots of
food and beverage booths set up all over the place. I ordered a sandwich and sat down to eat it while I listened to the band. The band
was pretty bad. They had a female singer and they kept covering Deep Purple songs. They were entertaining enough to pass the time while I
finished my sandwich. There was a funky looking older man sitting at the same table a couple of seats away from me. He had a white beard
and a black top hat on. You don't see many people with top hats these days, and for good reason. Maybe I'll photograph this guy at some
point. I spotted him later when I walked around checking out all of the boothes. He had his own booth where he was selling marbles. A man
in a top hat selling marbles. Classic! I also spotted the guy with the motorcycle helmet again. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this guy
before, but he is certainly interesting to watch. He's older, perhaps in his late 50s or early 60s. He wears a thick Army jacket and a
helmet that has random stickers all over it. He walks all over the place collecting deposit bottles and cans. I've seen him about 15
times now around town, not once without his helmet on. The people don't seem to be bothered by this guy at all. I've seen people talking
to him and others stop by to give him their bottles and cans. I want to know his story. I'll have to do some investigation. Perhaps I'll
just talk with him at some point. I'd really like to photograph him, but I don't really have any compositions in mind at this point.
Before I left the Sunday Market I bought I bottle of water from one of the vendors. I didn't realize it when it was first handed to me,
but it was tap water. Come to think of it, it was easy to open the bottle. I'm guessing that's because the protective seal was already
broken. Once I tasted it, I knew it was tap water. What a scam! I hope they at least washed the old bottles out before they filled them
up with tap water. I'm not grossed out easily, but I couldn't finish the water. I kept picturing the nasty lips of the bottle's former
owner wrapped around the mouth of the bottle. There may have been drool or backwash in that bottle, and maybe the vendor didn't wash it
out first. I'm such a wimp. Humans have lived for thousands of years without bottled spring water, yet I couldn't finish my bottle
because the water came from the tap and someone else's lips may have touched the bottle.
I went fishing on Monday morning with Reyhan. I
had a great time. When I arrived at the marina there was a young boy there with his mother. Apparently they were passing through town on
their way to California. They woke up at 4:00 AM and went to the marina, hoping to find a fishing guide with room on his boat and they
found Reyhan. Since I was the only one going out with Reyhan on Monday morning, Chris - the kid - was in luck. His mother waited at the
marina from 5:00 AM until 2:00 PM. She was nervous leaving him, but Chris really wanted to go fishing for Sturgeon. The three of us had a
good time. We each caught about 15 Sturgeon. The legal size for keeping a Sturgeon is 45"-60" this year and there is a 5-per-year-per-
person limit. I just wanted to catch some fish, but it would have been cool if I could have taken one home. The biggest one I caught was
45", but I caught it early in the morning and I threw it back because I thought I'd catch a bigger one. Alas, I never did catch a bigger
one. Chris caught a 53", 33-pound Sturgeon. He's only 14, but he did pretty good reeling that fish in. It was huge. Sturgeon put up a
good fight and it's fun reeling them in. I had bruises on my lower abdomen from wedging the bottom of pole against my flesh for leverage
all day. My forearms were sore by the end of the day. Reyhan is a great guide and I'm so glad that I went out with him instead of a big
charter boat. We saw lots of charter boats with lots of people on them and it didn't look fun. They had cheap equipment and it looked
like it was chaos with all of those lines in the water. Every time someone caught a fish they all scrambled trying to keep the lines from
crossing. At one point Reyhan anchored in between two boats, one of which was his friend's boat. The boat on our port side was a big
charter boat. The wind and current were drawing the lines toward the stern, so it didn't really matter that we were close. The deck hand
on the charter didn't like us there. What a dickhead! He starting mouthing off to Reyhan immediately. He said he was going to put a lead
through Reyhan's head. He wasn't referring to a lead bullet, but a lead fishing weight. The weights they use are heavy and allow the line
to be cast far out and then sink all the way to the bottom. The deckhand started casting off the starboard side of his boat directly at
our boat, even though it didn't make any sense given the wind and current conditions. He almost hit me with a weight at one point. Reyhan
decided to leave and he told the charter boat's captain that he was going to report him to the marine board and that his deck hand's
behavior was unacceptable and unprofessional. Reyhan's friend - the captain of the boat to our starboard side - also witnessed this
display and was going to file a complaint as well. Apparently it only takes three complaints to warrant an investigation, and the
captains license necessary to operate a large charter boat is hard to get but easy to lose if you screw up. Hopefully that deck hand gets
what's coming to him. I wouldn't screw with Reyhan. He's a huge dude and this is a small town!
I've been fairly comfortable at night in
my house until Tuesday. It was around midnight and I was using the bathroom. I had the TV volume up kind of loud when I heard my
neighbor's dog start barking and then I heard someone open up my front storm door. It scared the crap out of me. I stopped mid-stream and
zipped up right as I heard someone knock on my door. For some reason I just assumed it was a neighbor coming to complain about my TV
being too loud or something. I didn't even ask who it was, which was stupid in hindsight. It could have been anyone. I opened the door
and there was a dirty, skinny, weathered guy standing in the doorway and his mountain bike was laying on the grass. He looked around and
then quickly explained, "I must have the wrong house. My friend used to live here but I've been gone for 3 1/2 years." I agreed with him
that he must have the wrong house and I shut the door. It freaked me out. He was nasty looking. His two front teeth were rotted to point
where they are now just two small brown nubs. That's the first thing I noticed about him, those nasty little nubs. After I shut and
locked the door, I ran into my bedroom and grabbed my gun. I'm glad I have that gun. It's the one thing that makes me feel safe alone at
night. After about 5 minutes I opened up the door with the gun in my hand, just to make sure he wasn't lurking around outside in the
dark. Who knows? He may have been casing the joing to see if I was alone. He was gone, but the garbage that I had set out at 9:30 that
night for a 6:00 AM pickup was scattered all over the street. Damn! What a pain in the ass. It's after midnight, I just had the crap
scared out of me, and now my garbage is all over the street. I couldn't fit my garbage bags in the trash container, so I just set the
bags on the curb. I forgot all about raccoons. This is the first time I ever lived in a house as an adult where I have to set the trash
out. Now I know. Don't set bags out because raccoons will rip them to shreds if they smell food. You have to hand it to those raccoons.
They don't mess around when they want food. I went out in my pajamas and picked up every last piece of nasty, wet trash and put it all in
a new bag and then put that in the trash bin.
Wednesday night I went to comedy night at the Wet Dog Cafe downtown. I had previously
measured the distance between my house and the bar while I was driving one day and it's about 1.6 miles. Since the bar is close to my
place, I decided to walk down there so I could drink without having to worry about driving. I'm glad I did walk. It's a nice walk. Right
as I start heading down my street and down the hill, the view is amazing. The street looks like it runs straight into the river. I
love looking out and seeing huge ships passing on the river. I still haven't gotten used to it. I had a great time at the bar. The
bartender is nice and talked to me from time to time. I also talked to a couple of guys working on the movie for a while. They were cool.
I didn't catch the one guy's name. He was a small Mexican guy with a thick mustache. His friend was an Italian guy named Giovanni. They
both had tattoos and Giovanni was interesting looking. He had slicked back hair that was starting to grey and his faced was weathered and
looked chiseled. Some people are just interesting to look at. They didn't stick around for the comedians. I think they wanted to find a
place with more chicks. The comedy was great. There were two females comedians. Both were hilarious. I like the first one, Alycia Wood. I
talked to her for a while after she was done performing and she was very friendly. I bought a CD from her because I think it's important
to support struggling performers. I can't believe that someone has the balls to get up on stage in front of a small crowd in a small bar
and perform like that. There weren't many people there at all, but she did great. She seemed nervous as hell before she got on stage, but
once she got up there she seemed natural and confident. Female comedians are hot as hell! I've always loved all of the women on Saturday
Night Live and Mad TV, even the ones that are a little goofy looking. I think a sense of humor is one of the sexiest traits a woman can
possess. That's one of the things that drew me to Lori, my last girlfriend. Lori is beautiful and very easy on the eyes, but she also has
a great sense of humor and that was one of my favorite things about her. I could always make her laugh and I loved that. Anyhow, after
the comedians finished performing I finished my last drink and headed home on foot.
It was around 1:00 AM and it was a clear, cool night.
I really enjoyed the walk. The town was so quiet and peaceful. I felt safe walking in the dark, although I always carry my pepper spray,
just in case someone or something messes with me. I won't have that. It was really dark walking up the 1/4 mile hill to my place. I don't
think there is a leash law here. I see a lot of dogs just wandering around and that kind of spooks me out. I love dogs, but that doesn't
mean I trust them, particularly when I don't know them or who owns them. When I was getting close to my house, a dog came running up to
me barking. It was running around me, barking and growling the whole time. Then it ran up ahead, stopped, turned back towards me, and
continued to bark. That's fun; walking in the dark towards a barking dog that's staring right at me. Once one dog starts barking, every
dog in the neighborhood starts barking. I'm glad I own pepper spray. If one of those dogs trys to bite me, I'm either going to kick the
dog in the belly like Adam Vinatieri kicks a football or I'm going to spray it right in its little beady eyes with pepper spray. Either
way, I'm not going to get bitten by a dog if I help it.
I drove out past Portland to the Columbia River Gorge on Thursday. I didn't spend much time out there, I just wanted to drive around to
check things out. It takes about 2 1/2 hours to get to the gorge. The scenery is gorgeous out there. I'll have to go back when I have
more time to photograph the gorge. I did take the time to go on a short hike to photograph Latourell Falls. Mount Hood and Mount Saint Helens are perfectly visible on the ride to and
from the Portland area. I drove up to the highest point in Astoria last night on my way to the movies. The Astoria column is at the
highest point in town and the view from up there is amazing. You can see the entire town and the view of the river and the bridge is
breathtaking. I'm going up there tonight to photograph the bridge again. I was on the phone with my buddy John Park yesterday and the
doorbell rang. When I went to see who it was I saw a little girl run away and her bike was laying on my porch. I just kept talking with
John until the doorbell rang again. There was a cute little blond girl standing on my front step. She was maybe 6 or 7 years old, but I
suck at guessing age. I think it was the same girl that had run away about 15 minutes earlier. When I asked her what I could do for her,
she simply asked if she could walk the dog. She was so cute and she she just stared up at my with her big eyes. I explained to her that I
didn't have a dog and that I just moved here. She looked so sad and like she didn't believe me. I asked her if someone used to live here
that had a dog and she nodded her head. I had to tell her a couple times that I didn't have a dog because she just stood there staring up
at me. I was going to get into the whole rental agreement pet restriction thing with her, and that I couldn't have a dog because I'm not
allowed to have a dog, but I figured that discussing the details of my rental agreement with a 6-year-old probably wouldn't do much good.
Maybe she was visiting her grandparents because I think an older couple lives in the house that she walked back to. That would make
sense. The last time she was here she got to play with a dog that used to live here. I hope she wasn't sad. I hate seeing a sad little
kid. The Ring II film crew was filming all day and all night on Friday a couple of streets down from me in my neighborhood. They had the
entire street blocked off. That's cool that I'll get to see my neighborhood in a movie. Alright, I'm done writing now. I've been sitting
here typing for the past two hours. I'm going to watch some Comedy Central now.
June 13, 2004 - 8:17 PM Pacific Time
The Goonies is on HBO right now. I got excited when I saw that it was on. For some reason I really want to watch it now that I'm living
in Astoria, being that it was filmed here. It's funny because I just ordered it on Netflix last night. I guess I should cancel it now
that I just watched it again on TV. You can tell that only the beginning of the film was actually filmed in Astoria proper. All of the
beach scenes must have been filmed farther south near Cannon Beach. The premise of the movie is that the house where two of the kids live
is being foreclosed because the parents can't afford it any longer. The greedy capitalists that covet the property plan on using it to
build a country club. There are two reasons this doesn't work. The first reason, which is readily obvious to me now, is that the house is
clearly on top of a very steep hill with lots of other houses around it. Who would ever attempt to build a golf course on top of very
steep hillside? The other problem is that later in flick the kids - supposedly still in Astoria - are trapped underground beneath the
Astoria Country Club (this doesn't really exist outside of the movie). Well if there is a country club in Astoria to serve the plot, why would developers be doing everything in their power to displace homeowners and build another country club? Perhaps I'm
paying far too much attention to this movie. After all, it stars the woman from Throw Momma from the Train. I shouldn't expect an award
winning script. I did end up going to the movies last night, but I called an audible and opted for The Stepford Wives. I liked this
movie. It's a simple story, but it totally entertained me. I like any sort of media that utilizes the whole "perfect housewife" and "
revolutionary new modern appliance" imagery of the 1950s. The film has a great cast, too. I had a slug on my dining room wall last night.
That's a first for me. Centipedes and spiders on the east coast, slugs on the northwest coast. I attempted to remove him from the wall
with my bare fingers to no avail. It slimed me! It produced a thick mucus membrane that prevented me from getting a grip on it without
squishing it, which I didn't want to do. I thought the slime was a little nasty, but it didn't really bother me much. I went and grabbed
a napkin to pick the slug off the wall with. It worked and I dropped the slug on the wet grass in the backyard. I washed my hands after
touching the slug, but the damn slime would not come off my fingers. I was seriously scrubbing my hands with lots of soap and I could not
get this slime off of me. This slime is some serious shit. I've seen slime like this before on a catfish. Interesting. I decided to search for information on slugs because I find these
creatures intriguing. One of the first things that I read stated, "Handle slugs with gloves as they may carry parasites potentially harmful
to human health." Great! Now I'm going to get a tape worm that's going to grow 4-feet long in my gut and will eventually come out of one of two
possible exits, both of which are undesirable. I'll be thinking about this all night. Actually, they are quite interesting creatures. Slugs are part of the phylum
Mollusca and are essentially snails without the shells, and with lungs rather than gills. They eat many times their body weight in a day. Their diet consists of algae, insects, animal feces, and lichen. An adult slug has both male and female sex organs. Slugs have
relatively powerful jaws and they sometimes battle each other. Cool. I think dog and cock fighting should be replaced with slug fighting.
If I ever have the opportunity to run a television network, I will surely look into this whole slug fighting thing. I should get to bed soon. I
have to get up at 3:45 AM so I can meet Reyhan - the guided fishing trip guy - at Tackle Time in Warrenton at 5:00 AM. I'm gonna catch me
a sturgeon. Wish me luck.
June 12, 2004 - 3:40 PM Pacific Time
I'm listening to very loud music right now. One of the nice things about living in a house by myself is that I can make a lot of noise
without disturbing anyone. I used to live in a 4th floor condo and I couldn't make much noise without disturbing my neighbors below me.
Last night, around midnight, I turned up my music and started acting like I was a singer of a hardcore band. Actually, it's more like a
mix between a singer and a boxer. I'll be singing and then I just start boxing. I tend to do this from time to time. If anyone could ever see me during one of these fits, I'm sure they'd be concerned and would probably contact a local mental rehabilitation facility to inform them of my actions. I got so out of breath last night doing this that I thought I was going to puke at one point. I suppose it's good
exercise. I think I've been living by myself for far too long. Yesterday I decided to get out of the house. I've been quite lazy lately
during this spell of dreary weather. The sun came out for a little bit yesterday and it energized me. I drove down to the Columbia River
Maritime Museum. It's a really nice museum. I think they did a great job with it. I stayed there for a while checking out the exhibits.
It's cool how feared the Columbia River bar is by mariners. Approximately 2000 ships have wrecked due to the bar or foul weather since the late 1700s. The
museum includes this cool mock-up of a Coast Guard boat during a rescue. The boat is set upon a steep platform that represents the crest
of a massive wave. The angle of the boat is intimidating. The crew have special harnesses and tethers that they have to quickly attach
at various points around the boat to keep from being swept overboard during high seas. I think my dad might find this stuff interesting. There's a lot of history here. I'll probably take my parents to the museum when they come to visit. After the museum I drove across the bridge to Washington. The bridge is cool because the side of it closest to Astoria is very tall, to allow ship traffic to pass below with plenty of clearance. After you pass over this section of the bridge, it steeply declines until the bridges flattens out at river level. You can clearly see how narrow the channel is when you're driving across the bridge. There are sections of the river where the sand bar raises
out of the water, even at high tide. I saw a bald eagle sitting on the tip of a log sticking out of the water, but there's no shoulder on the bridge so stopping and breaking out my camera gear is not an option. You can't walk across the bridge either, unless you want to walk down one of the two narrow driving lanes. When I crossed over into Washington I immediately got stuck in a traffic jam. It took about 15
minutes before the traffic start moving again. The cause of the jam was filming for The Ring II. They had closed one of the lanes that
passed in front of a small church. It looked like they had created a small outdoor fair/market for the movie. There were signs hanging
that made it look like the church was in Astoria, but it's really in Washington. It's amazing how much equipment these crews lug around.
There must have been 6 or 7 tractor trailers filled with equipment. I hope the movie is as good as the first one. It's tough to make a
good horror movie, and I think they did a great job with the first one. They'll probably screw it up. I didn't really think the movie
really warranted a sequel. Few do, except for Grumpy Old Men. I've been made fun of this before, but I don't care because I love the two
Grumpy Old Men movies. I drove to Cape Disappointment to check out the lighthouse there. I didn't have any of my camera gear. I only
wanted to scout out potential locations for future shooting. I hiked up a small, 3/4-mile trail to the light. It's a nice looking light,
but I'm not sure about shooting it from that location. There's too much around it, like weather monitoring equipment and a fence. I'll
have to do some research to see if there are any better vantage points that will allow me to shoot the light from a distance. I could see the light from the Oregon side when I was at the jetties, but it's too far away from that point. I really liked hiking through the dense
woods. The trees are large and all of the fallen, dead trees are covered with flowers and moss. There are lots of cool sounding birds. It sounds like a jungle. When I got back to Astoria I decided to stop at a bar that one of the furniture delivery guys mentioned to me, the
Wet Dog Brewery and Cafe. It was around dinner time, so the bar area was empty. I had a wheat beer and talked to the bar tender a little
bit to see what the place was like at night. He was a friendly guy. It looks like it's kind of club-like on Fridays and Saturdays, when
they have a DJ for entertainment. That's not really my cup-o-joe, especially when I'm by myself. He said that they have comedians perform every Wednesday night starting at 9:30. He said that some of them are pretty good, but occasionally they'll get some from time to time
that bomb. I'm going to check it out this Wednesday. I like comedy and it'll be good for me to get out. Perhaps I'll meet some people.
I've been hanging around the house a lot. This house has many idiosyncrasies that give it character, for lack of a better word. When I
flick the bathroom light switch it takes around 8 seconds for both lights to come on. Yes, I counted. It seems like every morning there
is a single strand of spider silk that stretches across my front door that I walk through. It's not a web, just a single strand. I'm not
sure what this spider is up to, but it's certainly not going to catch any flies with a single strand of silk. Perhaps the spider is lazy
like myself. It sets out to create a intricate, grand web, but loses interest immediately and moves on to something else completely
unrelated. There are lots of strange odors in this house. I have a "linen" closet that smells like urine. Whenever I open the door, which is always stuck shut, the force of prying the door open tends to waft the stinky air right into my face. It's a pretty strong smell.
Maybe they had a small friend or relative with a bladder problem that lived in the closet. Who knows? I put of box of baking soda in
there, which has helped a little, but I think I need to step it up a notch. Oh no, I hope I'm not forced to use potpourri-filled pouches
like Monica made with old panty hose on Friends. I think that was the episode where Joey started acting feminine because of the black and white photos of babies that his female roommate hung up. There are many other odors in the house. Sometimes I smell something like
burning rubber in the kitchen. I have no clue what the source of that one is. There is also a very stale, stagnant water odor in the
corner of the kitchen near the refrigerator. One thing with the house that took me a while to figure out is that it is not level. It
slants from back to front. Every time I sit down at my computer, my chair usually ends up about a foot closer to the front of the house
from where I started. It also just feels slanted. I checked with my level to make sure I wasn't crazy, and it is definitely slanted.
Today I was eating a big plate of linguini while seated facing the back of the house. The pasta kept sliding towards me in the sauce,
right up to the edge of the plate. I kept pushing it back, but it would gradually slide right back to the front of the plate. The kid
that lives across the street seems so bored. He looks like he might be 11 or 12-years-old. He's always walking around outside bouncing a
basketball. Sometimes he throws the ball in the air and catches it, or he'll bounce the ball off the side of his house. His parents must
be patient. My parents would kill me if I bounced a basketball off the side of the house repeatedly. I feel bad for him. I wonder if he's lonely or bored. There are other kids that I see him with from time to time, but most of the time he just plays with the ball. I hope he
has friends and just chooses to play with the ball because he likes it. I think I'm going to see a movie tonight at the local theater.
Nothing that I'm interested in is playing, so I think I'll just see the natural disaster flick, The Day After Tomorrow. I know it's going to be bad, but perhaps it will entertain me.
June 9, 2004 - 5:49 PM Pacific Time
I just cooked my first dinner in my new house. It wasn't the fanciest meal ever, but it felt good to make my own meal for the first time in a month. I realized that there are few things that I'm still missing, like oil and a colander, but I have a list and these items are now on it. I'm definitely getting used to the house. I've slept here for the past two nights. I haven't slept too well, but I haven't been too creeped out either. This is the first house with a basement that I've lived in by myself. Sometimes I get a little spooked thinking about the old, dirty basement with the low ceilings, rusty furnace, and spiders. Although I haven't encountered too many spiders when I'm out and about, there are definitely spiders in that basement. When I'm laying on the couch watching TV at night, I start thinking about what might be in the basement lurking around. Who knows if some creature found a way into the basement, a way that I'm not yet aware of. What if someone snuck in while I was out and they are hiding in the basement, just waiting for the right moment to attack? After all, the sliding glass door doesn't even lock. What if it's not a material being at all. The house was built in 1948. Perhaps someone has died a violent death in this house in the past 56 years. Someone could have been tortured in that basement and their angry, sad spirit may lurk in the basement as I'm typing this. What if tonight is the anniversary of their death and the spirit is going to torture me as some form of misguided payback? Oh well, I guess I'll try not to think about it too much. I must say that I'm pretty comfortable going down there, at least compared to my comfort level with exploring creepy basements as a youth. I used to be terrified of the basement in the first house that I lived in as a child. It wasn't even that scary in retrospect. Half of the basement was finished by my parents and my Uncle George when I was really young. That part of the basement had carpet and paneling and it was used by my sister and me as a playroom. There was a door separating the finished part from the unfinished part. The unfinished part was small and was not even that dirty, yet it scared me. My dad's makeshift work bench, which consisted of a door laid across two work-horses. There was also the dehumidifier. I just did not grasp the concept of the dehumidifier when I was younger. I just knew that it made noises that I could hear from the good side of the basement from time to time, and it collected lots of water in a bin that needed to be periodically emptied. Interesting device if you ask me. When my parents finished the basement, they fashioned a small closet for potatoes and stuff like that...at least I think that's what the little closet was for. The closet was formed using the space beneath the staircase that led down into the basement. When they dry-walled that area, they left a little doorway which opened into the dark, unfinished space beneath the staircase. I'm sure I only opened up that door once or twice in my life, but I was always frightened by what might be in there. I was convinced that it was filled with spiders. I think this may have been the start of my arachnophobia. I'm not even sure if I even saw spiders in there at any point. Actually, come to think of it, I'm not even sure if that closet existed. It's hard to trust my childhood memories sometimes. I know that I've told stories before and I believed everything that I was saying, only to find out later from my mother that it never happened or happened in a totally different way. My sister tells stories about things that simply didn't happen. We call them her phantom memories. This is when she "remembers" something that did not happen. The best example of this, and I'm sure she'd agree, is the story about the escaped ape at the zoo. My sister's version of this story is that our whole family was as the zoo when we were both young. Apparently an ape had escaped and my parents and sister caught word of this. At the same time my parents had misplaced me and I was nowhere to be found. Frantically they all started searching for me. All of sudden they turned around and there I was, holding hands with the escaped ape, walking towards them. I think the only part of this story that is true is that we were indeed at a petting zoo together. That's it. No escaped ape, and certainly no situation where I was found holding hands with an escaped ape. My sister is great. I love her a lot. I spent a lot of time over the past two days getting all of my insurance updated. I actually had trouble getting a renter's policy because of a previous homeowner's claim as a result of lightening striking my condo building. I hate dealing with insurance companies. On the flip side I suppose they need to make money too, so they need to form policies that protect them from high risk people. It still sucks when you're on the other side, simply trying to get some insurance at a reasonable price to protect your belongings. I finally worked through it and I'm all set, but what a pain in the ass. I think by Monday I'll be ready to start focusing on photography again. I did drive out to the jetties yesterday. I think I found a couple of potential shots out there. The jetties were built at the mouth of the Columbia River to help protect ships trying to cross the river bar from the Pacific. They are impressive structures, as they span a great distance. It's cool watching the waves slam into the jetty rocks. I can't wait to watch some cool winter storms this year. I took a picture today. I looked out my back window this morning and I spotted a huge bull frog. When I got my camera and approached it, I was surprised that it wasn't spooked by my presence. I was able to use my 180mm macro lens to take a close-up of the frog's eye. I thought it was dead, but I didn't want to touch it because I wanted to keep photographing it. It didn't move at all, even when I was about 1 foot from it. I came back out 10 minutes later and it was gone, so it obviously wasn't dead. If you look closely, you can actually see my reflection in the eye.
June 5, 2004 - 7:00 PM Pacific Time
Not a lot of photography for me lately. I woke up at 8:00 AM this morning and I spent the entire day moving in. It was fun. I went to Oregon's version of Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer. There are Wal-Marts in Oregon, but I've seen more Fred Meyers. I was able to buy everything that I needed today. I got cleaning supplies, bedding, curtains, hardware, a microwave, pots, pans, glasses, plates, a welcome mat, a vacuum cleaner, a toaster, hedge clippers, a shower curtain, a paper shredder, and much more. The rest of my furniture arrived today. I spent the whole day unpacking and setting up all of this stuff. The place is ready for me to move in, but I'm going to stick around the hotel tonight and tomorrow night so I have Internet access and T.V. I was assembling a cabinet for my bathroom and I heard a lawnmower today. Apparently someone hired someone to mow and edge the property. I felt bad for the guys because it was pouring. Well, at least I don't have to worry about mowing the lawn for the next week. I'm starting to like my new house. It has character. The countertop in the kitchen is bright yellow. It's ugly, but different. So many companies are making inexpensive stainless steel and chrome stuff for the kitchen and bathroom these days. I like stainless steel and chrome, but instead of buying a $500 chrome Kitchen-Aid mixer (currently in storage in Virginia) and a $100 Williams-Sonoma pepper mill (I brought that with me...I like freshly ground black pepper), I bought a $30 stainless toaster and a $70 stainless microwave. The place doesn't look too bad. I'm going to order a mat cutter and framing supplies this week. I'm going to frame a bunch of my recent pictures and decorate the place with them. I hung my Oregon Coast calendar that Karen Stromberg gave me a couple months before I decided to do all of this. It seemed appropriate. She really wanted me to visit and photograph Oregon, and here I am. Well, I guess it's been a fairly uneventful day overall. I went down in the basement for about a minute, and then I got freaked out and ran back upstairs. Old basements are creepy!
June 4, 2004 - 10:20 PM Pacific Time
Today was a good day. I woke up in a bad mood because I wasn't sure if I'd hear from the property management company or not, and I really
wanted to get into my place today. I slept in and then watched TV for a couple of hours and then I fell asleep again until about noon,
when I was awoken by the phone. It was the management company telling me that I was approved and letting me know that I could come sign
the lease and get my keys. Perfect! I went back to the furniture store and bought a chair for my computer desk. I forgot this yesterday.
I told them that I was moving in today and they arranged to have the furniture delivered today. Perfect! I went to another furniture
store and bought a complete bedroom set. They are delivering it all tomorrow. Again, perfect! I bought all of the cleaning products I
needed and I also bought a bunch of groceries and toiletries. I worked at the house for about 2 hours after dinner and I made a lot of
progress. It's starting to look like a home. Once I get the rest of the furniture in tomorrow, and I buy the long list of household items
tomorrow, I should be fully moved in. The phone and cable TV/Internet won't be enabled until Thursday, so I decided to spend the next
couple of nights at the hotel so I could have Internet access for at least the next couple of days. I'm excited now. I feel like I have a
home. I met a guy today that runs a small charter fishing company. I think I'll give him a call and sign myself up for a fishing trip.
His friend caught a 8-foot sturgeon this week. It took him about 45 minutes to reel it in. They had to chase it with the boat for a
while. That sounds like fun, fighting the mighty sturgeon. I think they have white sturgeon here, but I'm probably wrong. I know that Les
Claypool from Primus likes to fish for Sturgeon. He's mentioned it in song lyrics. What's really cool about this region, for an
arachnophobe like myself, is that there are very few spiders. For anyone that knows me well, they know that I'm very freaked out by
spiders. I can spot them everywhere and I'm very uncomfortable in any place with a large spider population. Unfortunately, I've lived in
some very active spider towns in my life. Despite my constant exposure to spiders throughout my life, I have never gotten over my fear.
Although spiders are fantastic and remarkable from a science and nature-loving perspective, they are clearly the work of the devil and I
want nothing to do with them. My condominium in Virginia was the most spider-free place that I have ever lived. I think this was because
it was new, clean, and on the fourth floor. I only encountered two spiders the entire time I lived there. That's phenomenal. The town
that I went to college in, Plattsburgh, N.Y., was infested with spiders. It was on a river and there were spiders everywhere. Shrubs were
covered with webs and any area near an outdoor light was a spider zone. I'm not talking about little spiders. I'm talking about the kind
of spiders with large, bulbous abdomens and hard, shell-like exoskeletons. I don't know the specific names of the various species that
have these characteristics, but I know that they are nasty and they make huge, orb webs. I've seen a spider make a web from the ground up
to the top of a traffic light and across a large portion of an intersection. If you don't watch out, you'll walk right through one of
these webs, god forbid. Harrisburg, PA was another town that I lived in that was like this. It was also on a river. I lived in a basement
apartment in Harrisburg. I will never live in a basement apartment again if I can help it. Besides the insane amounts of spiders in that
place, there were endless amount of cockroaches and centipedes. You'd be surprised how many people have never encountered a household
centipede. Check out this image if you're wondering what they
look like. I've had centipedes up to 6 inches long in that apartment. They are harmless, but they are still nasty. They are very, very
flat and tough to grab when they're on a wall or any other flat surface, especially with a paper towel. Many times I'd try to grab on to
them, but I'd only get a portion of the body and the rest of the body would escape. The legs would always continue to move for about 20
seconds on the portion of the body that I would get. I'd see these things almost every night. Back to spiders. I remember one time there
was a plumber in my kitchen working on a bad clog. He was down on the floor running one of those snake things down the drain and through
the pipes. I was standing there watching him when I spotted a spider walking across the top of the refrigerator. I gasped and I said, "
Don't move, there's a spider on the fridge." The guy didn't say a word. He simply stopped what he was doing for a moment and looked up at
me like I was challenged. He shook his head and went back to what he was doing. I grabbed a paper towel and planned my attack carefully.
yet I struck quickly, demonstrating years of spider-killing experience. As always, I opened up the paper towel after applying significant
spider-killing pressure to confirm the kill and to give me an even closer look at the spider so I manage to have spidermares for the next
two nights (Spidermare: a nightmare with heavy spider presence.) I have these all of the time. Anyhow, I opened up the paper towel only to find no spider. I wish I could describe the absolute panic that ensued, but words cannot describe such a moronic, utterly spastic
episode. In one swift motion I ripped my shirt off and ran into the bathroom for a rapid full-body arachnid check. I never found the
spider, but I certainly made quite a scene. I can only imagine what the plumber thought of all this. Another time, in the same
kitchen, I had another memorable spider incident. I walked into the kitchen and right through a spider web. My body went into such
contortions that I stumbled sideways across the kitchen and fell right into refrigerator, face first. The refrigerator was about 8 feet
away from where I walked through the web, and somehow I managed to slam into it with the side of my face. Well, I guess the point of all
this was to demonstrate the extent that this phobia effects my daily life. I'm relieved that the coastal region of Oregon does
not have the same spider populations that the various east coast towns I've lived in. This is a very good thing.
June 3, 2004 - 8:00 PM Pacific Time
A huge boat that has "Siem Thoem Car Carriers" written on the side of it is passing as I write this. I wonder if it's carrying cars out to sea, or did it just drop off a bunch of cars somewhere up river? I really want to photograph one of these huge boats passing in front of the setting sun, but the light is not right for this particular one. It's tough to time. The boats only come around every hour or so. The sun sets in about 40 minutes. I have my camera ready just in case. If another one comes along in the next 30 minutes I'll run downstairs to shoot it. Luckily they travel slowly, so I should have time to get set up. I did manage to photograph a small boat with two fisherman on it as the sun was setting last night. I spent most of the day looking for a place to rent. Damn, the market is tough here. I just missed out on a house that was up on a hill and overlooked the bridge. It was just renovated, too. It is a great house, but alas I did not get it. A Coast Guard J.O. had applied a couple days before me and their application is still pending. I found a little 2 bedroom house. It's old, but I guess it has character. It has a little fenced in yard and a garage. I guess I can buy a grill and take advantage of the yard. I submitted my application today, but the property management place is so swamped and I have a feeling that they're not going to get me in by the weekend. I hope they do. I'm sick of hotels. I bought some furntiture today. A couch, coffee table, computer desk, and a TV with a stand. I'll buy a bedroom set tomorrow. I guess I need to buy a lawnmower, too. I wonder how much a lawnmower costs? I've never owned one. Change is what I wanted, change it what I got. I'm kind of in a funk right now because I just want to get started setting up my house, and I can't. I just have to wait until the rental property place gets back to me. Perhaps I'll pester them tomorrow.
June 2, 2004 - 10:24 PM Pacific Time
TBS has been playing Seinfeld all night, which is good. I'm watching the episode where they meet Jimmy in the gym. Jimmy speaks in the third person all of the time. Someone has stolen equipment from the Yankees, and George keeps getting caught in situations where he's sweating in the presence of senior management. The first time was at a meeting. George had showered at the gym before the meeting, but the shower didn't take. This used to happen to me all of the time at work during the summer. The shower was useless. The second I got out of the gym and was slammed with the heavy, humid 90-degree heat, I would be drenched in sweat. The more I thought about the sweating the more I sweat. The more I sweat, the more I thought about the sweating. Could people see the sweat through the back of my shirt? Anyhow, I love when George Steinbrenner (played by Larry David, a genius) questions George Costanza about the missing equipment. George keeps talking in the third person and the two Georges get all confused. It's classic. In a later episode, when Elaine befriends George's fiance Susan, George gets all pissed and says, "George is getting upset!". I love subtle references to past episodes. I'm in a really good mood. I arrived in Astoria this afternoon. This is the place that I'm going to live. The trip has ended. I watched the sun set on the river tonight and I was overcome with happiness. I love so much about this town. It's right on the Columbia River, where it dumps into the Pacific. There is a huge bridge that connects Astoria to Washington State. The city is on a hill side, kind of like an old, miniature version of San Francisco. I tried to find the Goonies house, but I forgot the street number. I'll find it tomorrow. I have to see the Goonies house. I'll also have to look for the school in Kindergarten Cop. The river is cool. Huge industrial ships come up the river. It's awesome to watch them. I saw a huge ship pass in front of the setting sun tonight. I wish I had my camera with me. My hotel room is right on the water. I can hear a bunch of sea lions making the noises that sea lions make. It's strange. They'll make tons of noise for minutes at a time, and then it will all of sudden stop for about 10 seconds. Then the noise starts right back up. They are very loud, and very cool. I can't wait to sleep with my window open all night. Hopefully some more big ships will pass in the night. I'm going to look for an apartment tomorrow. The rental market is tough here. I've talked to a bunch of people and aleady called a bunch of places. I think I'll have to rent a house. Hopefully I can rent one with a river view. I found a couple listings. I talked to a couple waitresses in town tonight and they were helpful. A man overheard me talking with them and he mentioned a property that he has available. The people seem really nice here. It appears to be a really safe place with good people. I hope that's the case. Most folks that I've talked to are quick to smile. Hopefully I'll find an apartment tomorrow. I want to get settled in and start focusing on my photography again. There is an absolutely huge ship passing by right now. I can hear the low hum of the ship's engines. I feel like this is the happiest I've ever been.
June 1, 2004 - 9:50 PM Pacific Time
Even though I stayed up late last night, I decided to get up at 5:00 AM this morning to shoot the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. It was tough
getting out of bed this morning. I think I had one too many glasses of wine last night. I forced myself to get up. I got dressed
quickly and got my camera gear ready. It was a beautiful morning. The lighthouse is awesome. It's surrounded by yellow wildflowers and at
the base of the cliffs are many tidal pools. The first light of sun hit the lighthouse just right. I love lighthouses. I wonder what kind of stuff happened over the years in this particular
lighthouse. I saw a show on ghosts once that had a segment that talked about some lighthouse that was far from land on a small
island. The lighthouse keeper had to live there, isolated, for months at a time. I can't remember the details, but I remember it sounded
cool. Something about cabin fever, madness, and many bad memories. That's the kind of stuff I like, unless I'm by myself in a dark place. I
don't like walking in cemeteries at night by myself, but I love walking through them if I have someone with me. I decided to check out
the tidal pools this morning. They are unbelievable. Everywhere I looked I saw huge orange starfish, big green anemones, and maroon spiny
sea urchins. You have to be careful walking around the rocks that border the pools. It's easy to step on a creature if you're not
careful. I really wanted to photograph the pools, but it's pointless without a polarizing filter. A polarizing filter will remove the
reflection of the sky on the water, allowing you to capture what's in the water, not the water itself. I also missed out on a shot of
smooth, black cobbles. This beach had cobbles only, no sand. They are extremely smooth. Apparently there were formed originally by
bubbling hot lava dumping into the ocean. If I had my polarizing filter, I could have removed the reflection of the sky from each wet
rock. Oh well, I guess I have the next year to photograph the tidal pools and cobble beaches. I need to replace my entire filter system.
I lost the polarizing filter, the graduated ND filters are extremely scratched, and I can't shoot with a wide angle lens without
vignetting. I priced a new Lee filter system with the filters that I need. It's going to cost $1,100. I put all of the items on my B&H
Photo wishlist so I can order it once I get a permanent address. I'm leaving for Astoria tomorrow. I like Newport a lot, but I have a
feeling that I'm going to stay in Astoria. I like the idea of being within 90 miles of Portland and 200 miles of Seattle. I can also be at
the ocean within minutes, and I can be at the Columbia river instantly. Mount Hood is also within a few hours. We'll see. I can't wait to get
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