400,000 Hits and being the one of the leading authorities in a number of obscure fields.

At least according to the counter at the bottom of the page.   If one looks a little deeper one finds that a lot of this traffic consists of bots looking around and if you jettison the hits where someone spends less than 30 seconds before discovering nothing they were actually looking for, you understand the real number is considerably smaller.   But, more than enough people spend enough time here each month to convince me that I’m communicating with someone.   That makes this site sort of a public journal.   It’s largely replaced the mass E-mailings I used to send out to people on an almost daily basis.   But, I’m happy it exists, and I get enough feedback from people to make it seem worthwhile.   Thanks.

So far I’ve published 156 posts that average around 800 words per post, so one can see that writing a book is indeed within the grasp of the average person.   That little factoid alone is sort of fascinating to me, as I really had no concept of the shear quantity of stuff one could create fairly easily.   If I were a novelist I’ve written the equivalent (at least in numbers of words) of two average size novels over the course of a couple years.  Which is amazing to me, for one.

One wonders if blogs will one day be a curious artifact from the early parts of the 21st century when almost anyone could first gain access to such a potentially large group of people.   My biggest “success” has been an entry about Irena Sendler and a Facebook “chain letter” inspired by a Glenn Beck program.  If you Google “Irena Sendler Obama” my blog entry is one of the first you’ll come across.   I also get some “interesting” E-mail from Glenn Beck Fans to this day.  (Who knew some of them were literate.)

I’m also fairly high up on Google for anyone who is looking into either a 1961 Honda C110 or a Datsun 1500 Sports Fairlady.  Or someone who wants to replace the control arms on a BMW Z-3.   Anyone who Googles both Ted Nugent and Jerry Garcia at the same time will find Fauxsuperblogs in the top five.   Seemingly, I’d be a great source for “Trivia” players.

I also was one of the first people to review the Badcat Unleash, (a guitar attenuator re-amp device) and I still get quite a bit of traffic from those who are interested in those.  Curiously, I get a couple of questions a week of a technical nature, which I answer if I’m up to it.

Anyone looking for Horse Butte in Lebanon Oregon will also be directed to my site.    I would also seem to the an authority on Deodorant Shelf alarms as well.   A couple of times I’ve actually been directed to my own blog site when doing research on something, which is hilarious.   It’s a bit like everyone being famous for 15 minutes: “In the future, everyone will be an expert on something.”   Or at least appear to be one. 

Oh, I understand that I’m in the same boat.   I do try to confine my comments to something I actually know about.   But, I could be wrong.   I often wonder if anything I’ve written has been cited in someone’s term paper or research project.     So far, at least, and as far as I know, Rand Paul has yet to plagiarize anything from my blog.   (But one can dream, eh?)  On Facebook, I’ve seen political and economic citations to blog pages of people much like myself.   That, in itself, gives me reason for pause; I mean, “What do I know?”

OK, it’s probably time to sign off here before things get totally silly.   I just couldn’t pass on the chance to reflect on a milestone of some sort, and let anyone who reads this know:  “I’m glad you’re doing so.”

Horse Butte

Many of my favorite memories involve a place called “Horse Butte’: a 1200′ hill just east of the Santiam river that flows through Lebanon, Oregon, where I grew up.   You won’t find Horse Butte on any map:  you’ll find a place referred to as “Ridgeway Butte“, (Blue font is an active link) named after a fellow who operated a ferry boat across the river back in the 19th century.

Fortunately, there was a bridge over the Santiam River by the time I was a kid, a half century or so ago. It was  gateway to a world of unbounded mystery, romance and adventure, less than a mile from my house.  The hill was visible from nearly any place in my hometown with a view to the east, and along with the somewhat taller Peterson’s Butte, formed a reliable guide as to navigation and orientation, although hardly a problem in a town where all the streets ran North/South or East/West.  (I still do this now, and have always lived near at least some visible mountainous landmark(s): the first time I ever drove anywhere in the Midwest, I repeatedly got disoriented.)  Driving towards Lebanon on Highway 34 you could see it for miles forming the foreground for the Cascades Mountain Range looming up behind it.

I never knew the actual name of Horse Butte was Ridgeway Butte until adulthood, as everybody I knew called it Horse Butte.  My step dad told me it was because the meadow where the cross was looked like the shape of a horse from the middle of town.

Further adding to the mystical allure, for me at least, was the fact that every Christmas season a cross would be illuminated about 2/3 of the way up the hill.  In my neighborhood, it was common knowledge to those familiar with kid-lore that every time you went up on Horse Butte. It was never discussed exactly what misfortune might befall someone imprudent enough to ignore this axiom, but I figured it was probably on a “need to know” basis. (In the 90’s the cross was replaced with a new one, that from the vantage point of the town, looked more like a big plus sign than a cross.   At least it was a positive message.)

One of the few “father/son” memories I have with my genetic father was a hike up the mountain (that’s what I thought of it as) when I was around 7 or so.    It must have been in the spring-early summer, as about halfway up the hill we got caught in a sudden downpour and sought refuge under a large deciduous tree of some sort.

I remember the smell of the rain and the sound of the drops hitting leaves, and I remember sitting down on the ground  savoring the delicious feeling of being warm and dry while I ate a peanut butter sandwich and drank water from my Army surplus canteen.  Ahh, the joys of “roughing” it.

What really sticks with me are the countless times I hiked up that hill, either with one other kid, or on an expedition with several of us.   Until I was about 10, trips up the hill needed to include a somewhat older kid to make sure we didn’t do anything dangerous or get lost.   We didn’t really follow a trail, there was a gravel road that led all the way to the old unused quarry at the top of the hill.   The road was blocked off by a locked gate at the base, and I never saw a car or a truck using the road.  You would see deer, owls, buzzards and other critters on a regular basis, although, as kids, we didn’t think of that as anything special.   Supposedly there are eagles and cougars up there, but I never saw any of those.

We did get to use a trail when we went to touch the cross, as it was probably a couple hundred yards off the gravel road.  The first time I made the pilgrimage I was all excited to actually see the cross up close, which I’d imagined countless times would be a wonderful, awe inspiring sort of thing on the order of crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, culminating with the attainment of enlightenment at the moment I actually laid one of my mitts on it. Like many experiences before and since, this failed to live up to my high expectations when I actually got to do it.   The cross itself, while suitably impressive in size, looked more like a crude sheet metal business sign to me and I was amazed to see that it was illuminated by regular light bulbs that just screwed into the front of it.  It just didn’t have the majesty I was expecting. Sigh.

One thing that didn’t disappoint was the view, especially from the top.   Click on the photo for a larger view.

At 850 feet above the valley floor, you could see much of the town from up there and I was delighted that, although I couldn’t locate my house, I could see things I recognized: churches, schools, water towers, factories and roads.  This gave the experience an otherworldly sensation of being outside “civilization” and being in some sort of wilderness.

The spontaneous and unstructured aspect of these little excursions also added to the appeal and the feeling of freedom and “being on your own” are things that still resonate with me.   The lack of adult supervision here was key.  Being free to fantasize that an old cistern was a German bunker for a moment,  that we were experiencing life like pioneers, or had something in common with Sir Edmund Hillary when we got to the very top were things a more mature presence would stifle.

Doing research (mainly looking for suitable photos) on this I discovered that there are now regular organized hikes up both Ridgeway and Peterson’s Butte.  I find this a little like the adult takeover of Halloween.

In 2008 a plan to subdivide most of Ridgeway Butte into 285 lots and build view homes up there was announced.  From what I can tell, things seem to have ground to a halt.  Nothing pops up when you go the the Ridgeway Butte website, and I found some evidence that they’re having trouble with environmental stuff.  Google earth doesn’t show much development other than some trees having been logged off.   I’ve heard there have been concerns with soil stability. The downturn in the Economy may also have something to do with it.

One day when I was in the sixth grade, several (at least two or three)of my classmates from Santiam School were hiking up to the top of the butte on a Sunday afternoon when we encountered some kids from another school, Cascades.   They were at the edge of the old quarry and were using a pipe as a lever to roll rocks the size of an old 19″ portable TV down the hillside and off into the forest about 30 yards away.   They motioned us over to join them and indicated that all of us might  be able to dislodge this really large rock and send it down the hill.  I remember being worried that one of us might get crushed but an examination seemed to reveal little danger of this and it looked like something that would be fun to all of us.

It took us maybe 10 minutes to  dislodge and send the boulder, which was about the size of a kitchen stove, thundering down the east side of the mountain.   It rumbled off into the forest (small evergreen trees, with up to six inch trunks) and quickly disappeared from sight, but continued to provide sonic evidence of it’s path of destruction for quite some time.   We continued on with smaller rocks, but lost interest as this seemed anticlimactic after the big one.

The next morning at school, we were discussing our adventures with our fellow students while we waited for the teacher to come and open the door.  The size of the big rock had grown to the size of a car by then with suitably larger sized trees as victims.  We were somewhat surprised when the teacher, Harold Grove, opened the door from the inside as we hadn’t realized he was in the classroom, but we quickly went inside and got ready for class to start.

The first thing he says is: “Did you hear that the police are looking for the people that crushed a house up on Horse Butte with boulders?  They almost killed a couple of people.  They’re going to be in big trouble.”    I remember my focus narrowing down to the top of my desk and my throat going dry as I contemplated the rest of my life behind bars.  I fully expected the police to come into the classroom at any moment and my heart was pounding.   I then noticed Mr. Grove was smiling and  realized he was kidding.   He then gave us a brief “seriously, that was really dumb” lecture on how foolish, destructive and dangerous our actions were and we were lucky we didn’t kill someone. I think he made his point.