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I made the trek to the Apple Store at Washington Square shopping center and came home with a wireless keyboard. I also came home with a couple suggestions for a better word processor than the Apple Pages.

I purchased “Documents to Go Premium” office suite that allows creation and editing of documents in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Settings allow files to be synced with either a desk computer or an off-site cloud storage location.

The customer ratings and reviews were mostly favorable with 3 out of 5 stars from 396 ratings. The cost of this app was $14.99 and that’s a heck of a lot cheaper that Microsoft’s equivalent programs for the desktop.

We’ll see how it works.

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A blogger friend posted this list of life questions on his blog; so I thought I’d give it a try.

1. Started your own blog. Yes.
2. Slept under the stars. As a kid.
3. Played in a band. Majored in music in college. I never played in a band but did play the timpani in one orchestral concert. I lost my place so bad I never tried that again. I’ve sung in many choral groups.
4. Visited Hawaii. No. I don’t really have a desire to go to Hawaii. There are so many other interesting places to see.
5. Watched a meteor shower. Yes, but I can’t remember exactly when.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity. No, but I did give $50 to Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign back in an earlier life.
7. Been to Disneyland. Yes, at least three times.
8. Climbed a mountain. Yes, sort of.
9. Held a praying mantis. A dead one.
10. Sang a solo. Many times.
11. Bungee jumped. Never, and never will.
12. Visited Paris. Not yet.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. I think so. While in the US Navy we traveled from Jacksonville, Florida, to the Philippines (round trip) and I’m sure we saw some.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. Can’t say as I have.
15. Adopted a child. No.
16. Had food poisoning. No.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. No, but I have seen it from the Staten Island Ferry.
18. Grown your own vegetables. Yes.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. No.
20. Slept on an overnight train. I haven’t taken on overnight train ride.
21. Had a pillow fight. Heaven’s yes!
22. Hitch hiked. The last time was in Jacksonville Florida while in the Navy about in 1972.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. Okay, yes. But I was hung over.
24. Built a snow fort. I wish I had a picture of the huge one I build in Valdes, Alaska.
25. Held a lamb. Held a Lamb Chop.
26. Gone skinny dipping. Yes, with Debby. No photo; just memories.
27. Run a Marathon. One of my life’s goals never reached.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice. Haven’t been to Europe yet.
29. Seen a total eclipse. Yes, in 1979 at Portland, Oregon. I was at the Rose Garden in Portland with many others. Someone yelled “Author, Author” and we all applauded.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. Bazillions of times. My favorite sunsets have been in Wyoming.
31. Hit a home run. I was a crappy baseball player.
32. Been on a cruise. Yes, thanks to the US Navy. I have ridden on the Alaska Ferries a few times, too.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. No.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. No, but I have been to the grade school that one of my grandmothers attended.
35. Seen an Amish community. No, but I have traveled in northern Ohio and seen many horse drawn carriages on the roads.
36. Taught yourself a new language. I have purchased Rosetta Stone Spanish and am struggling with it.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. Never, but I do recall a time where I said to myself (in all truth) “I am debt free!”
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. No.
39. Gone rock (wall) climbing. No.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David. No, but have seen the replica at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California.
41. Sung karaoke. One time. And that was enough.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. Yes, on my honeymoon, would you believe?
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant. No.
44. Visited Africa. No, but I am doing some reading about Africa at this time.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. Yes, a few times.
46. Been transported in an ambulance. No.
47. Had your portrait painted drawn. I’ve had a caricature done once or twice.
48. Gone deep sea fishing. Not deep sea, but have fished from a boat on the inland waters of Southeastern Alaska.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person. No.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. No and not even in Las Vegas.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. Snorkeling. When I was in the Navy in San Diego I used to go to La Jolla Cove and snorkel.
52. Kissed in the rain. Of course.
53. Played in the mud. Duh, I was a kid.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater. Yes. The only time I can remember was seeing “Colossus, the Forbin Project” in Parkland, Washington.
55. Been in a movie. Don’t think so.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China. No.
57. Started a business. Yes, but I was a miserable failure doing it full time. Now I do the same thing part-time with mild success.
58. Taken a martial arts class. Never interested in doing this.
59. Visited Russia. No. But my brother and his family did, and saw Gorbachev in the Kremlin.
60. Served at a soup kitchen. No.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies. No, but I have bought some.
62. Gone whale watching. I saw some from the deck of the USS Saratoga while in the Indian Ocean.
63. Got flowers for no reason. No.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. I tried to, but I had a mild case of hepatitis as a kid and they don’t want it.
65. Gone sky diving. Nope.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. No.
67. Bounced a check. Sure.
68. Flown in a helicopter. Never, but have always wanted to.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial. Yes.
71. Eaten Caviar. Yes.
72. Pieced a quilt. No.
73. Stood in Times Square. Yes.
74. Toured the Everglades. No.
75. Been fired from a job. A couple of times.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London. No.
77. Broken a bone. Yes, in my hands. I was drunk and fell down.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. No.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. Yes, a couple of times. Super colors.
80. Published a book. No.
81. Visited the Vatican. No, but I have seen the movie “Shoes of the Fisherman”.
82. Bought a brand new car. Yes.
83. Walked in Jerusalem. No.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper. Yes.
85. Read the entire Bible. Quite a bit of it, but not all.
86. Visited the White House. I’ve seen it but never went inside.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. Just fish and crabs.
88. Had chickenpox. Yes, I think.
89. Saved someone’s life. No.
90. Sat on a jury. I’ve only done jury duty two times, but never got on a panel.
91. Met someone famous. Not to shake their hand. I saw Nixon when he was Vice President; Saw JFK a month before the assignation; I saw G.E. Smith, former band leader for Saturday Night Live, on the street in NYC.
92. Joined a book club. A Couple of times; the Book-of-the-month club.
93. Lost a loved one? No one young; just both parents.
94. Had a baby. Not personally, but fathered two.
95. Seen the Alamo in person. No.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake. No.
97. Been involved in a law suit. Oh, God, Yes. Don’t you just hate attorneys?!?
98. Owned a cell phone. Duh!
99. Been stung by a bee. Ouch, and by a wasp, too.
100. Read an entire book in one day. Yes.

Oregonians generally don’t complain about too little rainfall. However, this fall, October through the middle of December, we are noticeably under our averages here in northwestern Oregon. Hillsboro, Oregon, averages around 37 inches of rain a year (measured at the Hillsboro Airport). So far at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve weather station (3-4 miles from the airport) there have been only 18 inches of rain this calendar year and about 5.4 inches this fall.

Jackson Bottom Flooding 2007

Jackson Bottom Flooding 2007


The statistics published on the Jackson Bottom web site (here’s the link) indicate that the annual amount of rainfall in recent years can vary as much as 25 inches. So maybe we don’t want to sound the alarm yet; but in the past two and a half months we are six inches under the average.

What could be the affect of this? Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve is a 725 acre wetlands that normally floods in the winter months over ¾ of its area. The flood waters come from the Tualatin River and Dairy Creek that overflow their banks into the wetlands. These flooded areas provide a winter home for thousands of water birds of many types. If it doesn’t rain enough, the rivers don’t fill, and the wetlands don’t flood.

The heavier rains are late this year. For the next week the prediction is for very cold temperatures and light to moderate rainfall, not enough to raise our average. We need 15-20 inches of rain in the next 3-4 months to reach our average.

Rain, Rain don’t go away,
Don’t come another day,
Come today.

Hillsboro Library and Pond

Today, I was sitting in the main Hillsboro Library (the one on Brookwood) reading. Out the window to my left is a pond that was full of ducks and geese. (Rats! I didn’t have my camera with me. The picture is from last spring.)

After I finished the part of the book I had committed myself to read, I watched out the window for about ten minutes. There were a lot of kids running about the walkways adjacent to the pond, but the noise that was no doubt there didn’t seem to bother the birds.

There are some domestic and hybrid geese that live in this area year round. Today there were also Common Canada Geese, Cackling Canada Geese (the smaller variety of Canada Geese), a pair of American Widgeons, 2 pairs of Buffleheads, lots of Mallards, and some others I was not able to identify. All were delighting in the water.

If you happen to be driving along Brookwood Parkway, pull into the library parking lot and head to the other side of the building to the pond. You will no doubt see some wildlife.

Just north of the building in the Douglas-fir trees are some Great Blue Heron nests. They aren’t occupied this time of year, but you should be able to still see the nests at the tops of the trees. The picture above shows the Douglas-fir trees and the north end of the library. You can sit on the other side of the glass in the library and relax from your reading and do some bird watching.

What an interesting headline. The actual headline in the BBC News story was:

GM and Chrysler ‘in merger talks’.

This will be something to watch in the coming months.

My grandson, Travis, started first grade this year. He is in a bi-lingual class, English and Spanish. It is a large class for this school district, 27 kids, but the teacher seems to have the energy to manage all of them.

No one in Travis’s local extended family speaks any Spanish so I have decided to learn the language to support Travis’s efforts. I have never learned a “foreign” language before. I tried to learn German in College with no success. I have studied a little Japanese, mostly to be able to support my interest in Japanese History, but it is a very difficult language to learn. While it would be easy to learn to speak it, learning to read and translate it proved beyond me.

I purchased the RosetteStone Spanish (Latin American) edition of the course (first part of three). And I have made a personal commitment to work everyday to complete the course and learn the language. Living in Hillsboro, Oregon, I will have many opportunities to hear and practice the language. The area has many Spanish speaking residents.

Travis is a bright kid. I think he will do well in the bi-lingual class. Hopefully as I learn Spanish I will be able to help him learn his second language.

Maybe the title uses a politically incorrect metaphor, but the Chinese have opened their country to more and more scrutiny. They wish World recognition so they stage the Olympics. They seek influence outside their country so they make a presence in Africa. See this article from the Heritage Foundation. The Foundation is of the Conservative bent, so read the article with this in mind.

The official Chinese government policies as exemplified by their actions are to keep their citizenry in check when it comes to things such as thinking about democratic ideals, civil protests, etc. They use active intimidation such as “re-education through labour” to keep their people in check and to remove certain citizens from their rightful lives.

If the Chinese wish to become citizens of the world they must put up with the exposure of their repressive actions. They may have effective policies to block access to news and other information within their country, this is changing. The internet is a powerful tool of communication, and the Chinese government may have effective ways to censor its access by its citizenry, but this will change.

There are strong influences within the United States, see this posting on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s web site, that wish to influence the Chinese into easing its oppressive hold over its citizenry. Even if companies like Yahoo cave into pressures from the Chinese, China continues to keep that door open letting in people asking questions and seeking answers they can take outside the country. Who can say how many years it will take to cause China to be as open as the major Western countries.

We in the so called free countries must continue to influence China and its citizenry to become aware of the advantages of a more open society. While the United States is not a prefect example of the ideal country, much of our laundry is hanging on the line and in open view to anyone who wishes to view it, outside and inside our country. In the next few weeks we publicly select the candidates who will officially vie for leadership of our country. Much of the world will be watching, and hopefully this includes Chinese citizens.

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