Monday, May 17, 2010

Bar None

We have a prison here -- the Clallam Correctional Facility.

"Correctional" gives me the historical willies. How many times have we heard a word like that used in the past?

It's interesting interacting with prison people -- or "interesting," in the way that word is sometimes expressed.  The released prisoners, in their brand-new red jackets and blue slacks, ride the buses to Port Angeles or Tacoma, their possessions, in cardboard boxes, sharing the seat with them. One of them was wearing a superb line-art tattoo of a snarling panther.  He described it as a prison tattoo, and then how it was completed.  The cover is removed from a tape-deck, and a sharpened wire attached to the wheel mechanism, turning it into a tiny mechanical tattoo needle. A lighter is held to the base of a black plastic chess piece, and the resulting black soot mixed with a medium I can't recall, but which probably wouldn't be hard to figure out, given what possibly or nearly sanitary liquids are available in a prison.

At one point, the prison administration listed their zip code as 98326, without using their 4-digit individual code. Mapquest defined the entire zip code as "prison." The listing ricocheted throughout the internet.  For a while, trying to order anything possibly dangerous -- even a weed hoe -- on the internet, was refused by Amazon because the zip code belonged to a prison.  The problem is slowly being scoured out of the systems.

I almost wrote "corrected:"  $!#!! AP style poisoning my vocabulary, like Hemingway.  A recent Pulitzer winner told me that "newspapers are circling the drain." I coulda told him that; try to get one to pay you. They get torqued off if you don't fight your way past the cops on a nasty dangerous corner to get a photo, or insult the tribe by flashing away with a camera at the funeral of an important elder (like I need that -- I have to live with these people!).  For $20.00 a photo, if I'm lucky.  Clallam County Commisioner Mike Doherty made fun of me at a community meeting to a member of the sheriff's department for how little I'm paid and how hard I work for it. I've been less available for a lot of his projects and the local meetings, lately. I have books to process for real publishers who really pay me, thank you. I get more reliable money from the ads on my blogs and sales sites.

Speaking of newspapers, credit where credit is due -- one of them DID pay me for not doing my job, because I waited in vain outside the prison in a freezing-cold truck for two hours around midnight, waiting for my editor to get me permission to enter the place.  The important story was about a guy who  who filled up one wing of the prison with smoke after deciding it would be a good idea to roast sausages in a toilet.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Next Chicken Step

Now we've got the egg production up and running -- 227 eggs as of today -- it's time for the next step.

Rebuilt the bigger cage to make it easier to access for cleaning, and got three nice new chicks (featherball stage)  from the Triple Nickel Farm on Highway 112.

The process now is:  buy new chicks when the older hens are cycling down (not yet, but will come soon enough), get a big rooster for the older hens and let 'em go on the hill behind us to have a few days/weeks/months of freedom.  Better than being slaughtered for soup or braise.  

The hill is the breeding home of eagles and other predators.  They don't hunt near their nesting area, and they keep down other predators.

I was perfectly willing to try slaughtering chickens, but when I was talking about the whole recycling process, Dan's face crinkled up in distress.  He was raised on a chicken farm, and had to kill a lot of them.  He just doesn't want to do the same with two hens he considers family pets.  So the girls will get an end-of-life vacation.

The new chicks are mixes; a black Arucana mix, and a couple of red/gray mottled things.  They cost two bucks apiece.  They're still scared, but they know where their compfy grass-lined nest is, as well as the food and water.

After a lifetime of not really eating eggs because Dan can't eat store eggs, we don't really eat a lot of eggs ourselves.  Most of them are now part of the swap system  with our neighbors, for cleaned, packaged salmon fillets and elk-burger and trout and ling-cod and halibut. Both sides of the swap think they've made out like fat rats and gotten the better end of the deal.

I'm going to check with the co-op and see if we can't just trade for milk, cheese, butter and  yogurt.  If you've got chickens, you've got a cow.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why I quit working for the Census

They need to speak to their mid-level supervisors about making giggly remarks when “they” instruct a trainee to fill out pay-forms to reflect what hasn’t actually happened, just to make it line up with the state work laws. If the people in the offices back east make mistakes about mileage and time in rural areas, they need to work that out, not encourage employees to cheat on the pay-forms.

Signing up to work for the Census was me overloading myself again, when I have prior commitments (like my intern in July!), and having to back out before both jobs go to pieces. And I have these books to finish processing — and I can’t take forever on that, either.  It’s got to get done sooner rather than later.

Dan doesn’t know I’ve scheduled three more chickens for the back coop.  Sorry, but when one can trade eggs for salmon and elk-burger, and the co-op is asking for eggs, ya just gotta go for it.  He did tell me yesterday he'd never had such big, rich eggs in his life, that they were better than the ones his grandfather raised -- with the reasonable caveat that hens and feed were probably better today.  He did admit Red and Black are pretty spoiled chickens.  Pets, that's all.

Pet pigs, pet lambs... it's how they're treated and raised up here.  We're eating ground beef from Triple Nickel Farm on Highway 112, out of a bull the owner said, "He was my pet -- but his calves killed six of my heifers."  They were too big.  But he was a food animal, and they had to eat him. 

Anyway, the Census wasn't paying enough to make me cheat on my pay-forms, possibly get no pay for hours worked, or send me up dirt roads to find people with shot-guns.  Admittedly, they pay for all injury and hospital time -- but when one of their safety instructions is "Wear comfortable shoes, in case you have to run" (it's in their handbook!) it does tend to set off alarms.

And this on-line book thing is working, as money trickles in from all sides.  Not a huge amount of money, but certainly enough to take care of things.  Not spending money is the same as earning it -- and when, like yesterday, you run into a paint shop that is clearing for inventory and gives you enough paint to finish the inside of the house -- "Free!  Just get it out of here!" -- that's the same as making a lot of money.

I made more money in ten minutes getting free paint than I'd ever make on another job.  "Poverty is a full-time job" can be rephrased as "Independence is a full-time job." Depends on what you do with it.

Note:  new Census rule.  A "lot" (supervisor quote) of people up to no good have been impersonating census workers. If the Census worker is NOT wearing a bright-orange vest with green fluorescent stripes that say "Census bureau" down the front and on a green fluorescent patch on the back, CALL THE POLICE!  If you invite them in and they do -- it's not a census worker.  The new rule is:  NO going into anybody's home.  If they ask to come in -- CALL THE POLICE!

On the way home, I helped several people with census questions.  One guy in a business which -- admittedly -- a lot of folks with warrants patronize, was looking at his form and said, "I don't know if I want to fill all this out."  When I told him the punishment for a census worker who revealed anything about personal information was 5 years in jail and/or a $250,000 fine, and that a CW could be waterboarded before they'd give up that info to anybody, including the sheriff or the IRS, and that NO information could be released for 72 years to ANYBODY, he went ahead and filled it out. He can help out his more nervous customers, too, now.

For every census form filled out, a community brings in on the average $1400 of gov'ment money.  It's about cutting up the pie  we all pay into-- they can't come fix your roads if they don't think anybody's living up there.  Our library has been closed for a week at a time up here.  It's a lifeline for a lot of locals -- knowledge that we have so many people here will help with funding.

The numbers the census collects goes into a pool. They don't look like "The Hernandez family with six kids lives here."  It looks like: "This area is 15% Hispanic."  And that, by the way, is how you get listed -- the way you insisted on writing it.  Evidently people have put down race as "non-white" and "German." I put down "Vaguely Ethnic" and "American Mutt." If Obama can call himself a Mutt, so can I. 

Dan, who is 1/8 Wyandotte and living here where "American Indian" can bring in nice funding, listed himself as such.  It's not about the little box you belong in permanently -- it's about where people are in their lives for this decade's funding and numbers of representatives in the House of Representatives.

I asked, "What if a gay couple puts down 'husband or wife?' Is it based on laws or society?" and was told, "Put it down. It's what they say they are. Don't argue."

Thomas Jefferson said we have to do this if we live here, so might as well do it.  But -- if you got a problem, call the Census office.  They're actually pretty helpful. They just want to get this job done.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

All Those Nasty Trees Gone

Pillar Point on Highway 112 used to be shaded by big, nasty, old trees.  As you can see, the local lumber company has opened up the other side of the road, so you don't have to look at all those horrible big-leaf maples, Douglas Fir and hemlock any more.  

This is on the Scenic By-Way.  Merrill and Ring logging knows that "scenic" means teaching the iggernant citifolks what a Workin' Forres' looks like.  Tourism ain't got no money for the local economy, of course. The sooner all these in-the-way trees and fish are gone, the sooner the owners can sell to a developer and turn the place into someplace the citifolks can live.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Workin' For Da Man

Got a job with the census.  I'm expecting it to be pretty huge -- a lot of people don't have direct mail delivery out here.  And with the meth-heads, scammers and other run-aways, it just may get entertaining. But what the hell, every once in a while I have to get a job that will remind me why working in comics is so much BETTER.  And some extra cash for some of the house upkeep we're doing would be nice.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

My bees are really cold.  They're barely moving.  But THIS gives me hope.

I'll keep providing food and water and staying out of the hive.  I don't even know if the queen is alive.  Whether she is or not, I'm getting a new monarch from these guys this summer.

Start worrying about your little insects and I'll guarantee you, you'll stop being afraid of them.  All you can think of is how to keep the Girls alive.