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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Paths of Life

 Paths of Life from Arizona State Museum

It's hard to believe we have been in Tucson just over three weeks and have to start home. If I had my druthers, I'd spend a lot longer here as I really love this house and the desert around it. The weather has been in the 70s-- which isn't always the case for January in Tucson.

There were so many things I thought I'd be doing while here, but the house had to be the priority. I ended up having a lot of my own editing to do. We had some house repairs, things to replace, and basically will be leaving Casa Espiritu in great shape for the first renters.

So Sunday we hook up the trailer; us and the cats, who will hate traveling again, start the journey north. I am uncertain how long it will take as that all depends on the weather. Right now it's looking like it should be fine for roads.

One of the things I most wanted to do while here was visit the Arizona Historical Museum and the Arizona State Museum on the UofA campus. Being there brought back wonderful memories of when Farm Boss was getting his Master's, but also when our kids came with us on vacations in the years after that.

There used to be a small cafe in that area where we got ice cream cones. It was where I first heard Danny's Song. Just to hear that song now makes me all teary because I knew then it was my life. I was hearing a guy singing about what I was living.

During those years we came south with a 15' vacation trailer, no air conditioning and a porta-potty in a closet. It was usually May or later (had to work around school) and to get cooled off, we used spray bottles of water and wet towels.

Once in Tucson, we stayed in trailer parks off Miracle Mile, which I have to say even then wasn't exactly a high class neighborhood. One had a small lake with ducks (education on duck sexual practices). The other had a rougher clientele, including some who looked like they were part of Hells Angels (fortunately no education). Any such place had to have a swimming pool.

Those were good years. I am glad I knew it when I was living them.

first photo Tucson Mountain Park-- second Lake Powell

Tucson has a ton of memories attached from my first time here in 1965 until this last time as we again head north.Yes, I love Arizona.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My guest blogger-- Jim Roberts on doing a radio show

Until my 50th high school reunion came along, I'd never gone to any of them. That one though seemed significant, and Farm Boss and I attended his and mine. What I liked about doing it wasn't so much the reunion, which was fine; but it was reconnecting with friends from those years, some I'd known since childhood. In my mind, they were all still 18 until that September. To now see them as my age was very cool.

 One of those was Jim Roberts. When I was a kid, with my mom, brother, and the neighbors, I picked beans and berries on the Roberts' farm. I have very vivid memories of being between the tall bean rows, eating a warm sack lunch when the break came, getting the beans weighed for how much I'd be making toward school clothes.

Jim and his wife Sally

At the reunion, I reconnected with several friends on Facebook and Jim was one. When I found out what he's been doing, I asked him to write a guest blog here because I thought others might find how public radio works and who does these shows to be of interest.

As a side note, it is also interesting what we can do, in our senior years, when the world might think we should be playing Bingo or sitting home watching TV. The following is from Jim:


Will start by saying I've known you since we were kids in the same grade and riding the same school bus.  You were really quiet and studious and I was sort of the opposite!  Fifty years later I see you at the first hi school reunion I'd ever attended and then connected through the magic of face book.

Don't know if this is pertinent, but I have had a life long love of radio as a means of learning things and enjoying music.  I remember being a little kid listening to my dad being interviewed on a Portland radio station that had something to do with farming.  Blessed to not have a TV until maybe a junior in hi school so consequently listened to radio and read.  Same stuff I do to this day with the recent increase with radio involvement.

We haven't had a TV since 1990 so know virtually nothing about of the current menu on the tube.  Stumbled across KMUN shortly after moving to Wahkiakum county from Anchorage.  Had just retired from 19 years as a staff RN at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

My wife Sally and I arrived to the Columbia-Pacific in February, 2010.  First thing that caught our ears was The Ship Report at 8:49 each weekday morning unless it's in 'dry dock', as the host and station manager Joanne Rideout describes.  NPR news and local interest programs mornings and evenings interspersed with local news covering Oregon and Washington issues.  And then the music starts.  Folk of one sort or another weekdays 10-noon followed by Fresh Air and then, depending on the day, will be two or three hours of music.

 I was listening Joey's Blues in the Afternoon on a Monday afternoon in September of 2012 when he announced that KMUN was looking to train new programmers and to call the station if interested.  He hadn't hung up yet and I was on the phone!

Shortly an application arrived in the mail and ultimate acceptance into the class of 5 that met five consecutive Wednesdays from 4-5:30. Elizabeth Menetrey is the program director and taught us well.  At the end of the five weeks each person had to produce a five minute show with a beginning, two sets with snippets of three tunes in each with a station break between and then an ending to the 'show'.

A committee then decides if you are good to go on air. I was paired with Todd Lippold on a Saturday noon-2:00 show called Cross Road.  I remember the date, 11/10/2012 as it coincides with the Marine Corps birthday.

Since then have hosted a variety of shows including Lost Highway, Blues in the Afternoon, both on Mondays with regular hosts John Stevenson and Joe Patenaude, Cross Roads, Stuck in the Sixties and the Saturday night party from 8-10.

This all leads to the recent major winter storm here with huge wind gusts and lots of rain.  I was enjoying the 50 mile drive from Cathlamet to Astoria to do the Saturday night show which I call The 420 Club/Trippin' with Jimmy when I host it.

I was about half way across the Megler bridge and listening to KMUN programmer Ellen playing her music on the Shady Grove program when there was white noise for less than a minute before the signal was back. Arrived at the Tillicum house studio with my box of CD's for my program and found that another programmer, Suzy McCleary, had already talked to Ellen. She asked me to call our engineer Terry Wilson and find out what happened.

Turned out that Coast Radio was the only signal going out in the local area.  Both TV and radio stations had lost power and were just gone.  The true beauty of our community radio is that it's all volunteer programmers and community supported.  This is why we have the pledge drives and have a propane fired generator which allows us to broadcast even when all else has failed.  People do call with updates on what is happening where they live.

Terry had just left the air room after announcing that power had been restored to a particular area and a person called and said not so.  That's why we do this and this is part of stated objective of serving our community; Ask any of the other programmers and get the same answer.  It's one of the most fun things a person can do is to be on the radio.  Knowing that the entire planet most likely isn't listening to you and your music but also knowing they could is really cool.

Being able to play music recorded by friends of mine in addition to music Sally and I have collected over our 25 years is also really cool.  But the very coolest thing of all is to be a part of this truly amazing family and endeavor we call Coast Radio.


And for me besides hearing an old friend on the radio, here is the cool part-- you can listen to this music and station from anywhere in the US. When I went on the trip down here to Tucson, all I had to do was click on the link and there it was coming through my computer. To hear music a friend has chosen, the kind you might not hear elsewhere, then it's on a station that is not tied to corporate masters, that's worth protecting, don't you think?


Saturday, January 11, 2014

An Arizona Sunset

There is nothing more musical than a sunset. He who feels what he sees will find no more beautiful example of development in all that book which, alas, musicians read but too little-- the book of Nature.
Claude Debussy

When you follow a sunset from its beginning to the end, it is like music. The sky keeps changing and going from pastels to intense colors and then finally fading to dark gray and then black for nightfall. It is when you want to have Grofé Grand Canyon Suite playing on the stereo.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Life isn't always tidy

Looking at my list of books sold January 1, where I expected to find a gold bar, which is what you see until a sale appears (I mean sales were good -- for me anyway in December-- with a few much appreciated reviews where people told me, sometimes in emails, how much they enjoyed my books, a sale already was unlikely. I both laughed and growled when I saw why no gold bar.

My bet is the same person who stole 11 of my books in December came back December 28th, ordered one of the two books they hadn't already gotten, waited a couple of days and then asked for the refund. Hence [-1] is what showed up to start off January. I bet it won't be long and they'll have the last one also. Wonder if they will come back for new arrivals. The thefts have been a thorn in my side-- mainly because Amazon lets it happen.

The policy in Amazon is you can get a total refund of any purchase without giving a reason if you ask for it within 7 days. So any reader can order an eBook, read it, or just stash it on their computer and then ask for the refund even if they loved the book. There is no way Amazon can track it down and take it back. They ask no questions nor currently appear to look at how many returns a person has had. Although someone might use different email accounts, it could be tracked -- if Amazon cared.

Basically as one friend said, this kind of thing happens with those who go into a store, buy a big screen TV, watch the Super Bowl, and then return the TV the next day. In their case though they stole usage of the TV or the dress they wore to a big party. The item is returned. It's all dishonest, but in the case of the eBooks, it enables total theft. 

It's been said that you only really know if you are an honest person if you will steal when you know you can get away with it. Amazon is making that possible with their policy most especially where it comes to Kindles. If they only stole the books to read, that's one thing. Not good as it establishes a habit of taking whatever one feels they can get away with but there is another possibility for the thefts.

Some take those books for pirate sites where they give them away, resell them or alter a few words and claim them for their own. Amazon cooperates with that happening and mostly because what's an indie writer to them? What's a theft to them? They might care if it happens to the big publishing houses at the rate with which it happened to me.

It's funny because I give away books. I gave away thousands when I began putting out the eBooks. It was a way to get seen.  It feels different when they are stolen-- partly because it means a dishonest person has that book. If someone is willing to steal to get them, might they do other dishonest things with them?

I had been debating bringing out my Oregon historicals. They wouldn't have been first in 2014 in any case as I have a paranormal novella set for February 1st and a short story in an anthology of western romance writers for the middle of March; but when I do, I am pretty well decided to bring them out only as paperbacks and maybe not even list them on Amazon where they aren't likely to sell many or any. Right now I trust them no more than I do the person who stole the books. They are helping that individual go down a path that may lead to worse. All of life is that way. Actions lead to consequences. When the consequence is it worked, what does that teach?

Every book I write is about that issue of actions --> consequences. I wish I had a way to have the books out there with a company that cared about that philosophy.

The photo is from a path at the trailhead in Catalina State Park. It heads out with signs that clearly state where it's possible to go. Life isn't always so tidy.