Welcome To The Beaver/Duck/Legal Pot/No Sales Tax/Only Full-Serve Gas State

Oregon is a state that does things in a way befitting its geographical location. When you’re bordered on the north by coffee-addled tech geeks in Washington, pot-loving Northern California hillbillies (and as I live in California, I guarantee you there are as many backwoods rednecks there as in the entire South), a section of the gambling mecca of Nevada on the southeast, and Idaho, you’re going to end up with a place where contradictions rule.

And what contradictions there are in the Beaver State.

First off, Oregon should be called the Duck State. The University of Oregon (Ducks) have become a college sports powerhouse, get most the state’s sports fans’ attention, and all of Nike founder (and U. of O. alum) Phil Knight’s money. Also, Eugene, home of Ducks, is right off of I-5, the main north-south highway running through Oregon, and eventually up to Canada.

Conversely, the Beavers, of Oregon State, are perpetually in a position of playing second fiddle to their avian cousins, both on the gridiron and in affections of Oregonians. And Corvallis, where Oregon State is located, is somewhere between the Pacific Ocean and Nevada, for all I know.

There’s the the state’s politics. Oregon had voted Republican in pretty much every presidential election through 1984. The older George Bush didn’t do so well with the Oregon crowd in ‘88, and the state has voted Democrat ever since. I can’t say for certain if presidential politics had anything to do with Oregon voters’ decision to vote in legalized pot back in 2015, but I’m sure that choice has only helped the business at the famous Voodoo Doughnut shops in Eugene and Portland.

But, whatever your politics are, Oregon has you covered.

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The Drink Of The Weekend–Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale

As part of our mission here at Why Daddy Drinks to revel in the humorous lunacy that is fatherhood, and to promote the drinking of quality beverages, we bring you our erratically scheduled segment highlighting something that should be in your glass. This is The Drink Of The Weekend.

There is nothing that is both as finite and infinite as time. Yes, time never ends. There is always a new day tomorrow. And the day after that and the day after that and…You get the idea.

But, within that always ongoing cycle of time lies the beginning and ending of everything. The day begins, the day ends. You only have so much time at your disposal. And within that period of time, you have to find a way to handle your responsibilities, find some recreation and deal with all the unexpected things that seem to come out of nowhere, and which often take up much, if not most of the time you expect to have for predetermined responsibilities and hoped-for recreation.

And when you have kids, so often those “unexpected things” that appear out of nowhere are related directly to your lovely, wonderful offspring. Just the other morning, as I was trying to get some work done, my daughters felt the need to ask me to give them ponytails, show off a new “dance” one of them had done (Eight-year-old Maddo looked like a cross between Mick Jagger and three cats fighting with each other) and tattle on each other for the heinous crime of trying to brush their teeth at the same time.

What I’m trying to get at is that I’ve hardly had any time to write much lately. And no time at all to do one of these Drink of the Weekend features. Not that there haven’t been reasons to imbibe in something good, mind you. For example, as I write this sentence, three full days have passed since I last wrote anything here. And, I am also doing so at the end of a 10+ hour day of working at home, one that was punctuated by 10+ hours of my daughters crying, whining, and fighting with and tattling on each other, while also barging in on me to ask for what seemed like a million times if I could get them out of the house, or call one of their friends to have a play date.

Yeah, there hasn’t been much time to write about something to drink. But, man, there has been enough going on to make me want to drink.

And when I have had a chance to crack open something cold, and good, lately, it has been Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Hop Stoopid Ale.

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Squirrels Are A**holes

I spied my target from about 15 feet away. I knew he saw me, and I was fine with that. The little bugger scurried away, then stopped, looked around, and moved like he was coming back in my direction. It was like he either didn’t know what was going on, or that he had nothing to fear from me.

Oh, but he did.

I took hold of my weapon, loaded it, squeezed the trigger and fired. He ran away, but not before I hit him with a stream of water that sent him sprinting along my back deck’s railing, then jumping onto our redwood tree where he stopped, again, and thought about coming back toward our house. I wasted little time and kept spraying the vermin, making him race from branch to branch until he finally fled off in a state of fear that I hoped would keep him from ever gracing our deck again. .

What was my fight with? Just the adorable scourge that is the common American squirrel.

Yes, we all know about the everyday squirrel, the pigeon of the mammal world. Who hasn’t gotten excited at the sight of a squirrel on their porch or in their backyard? Squirrels are pretty fine with getting near humans. And squirrels aren’t some kind of rare, exotic creature. Little kids can look right out their kitchen window, see a squirrel, and see wildlife in action. They are everywhere around the country and are cute and funny.

And they are goddamn assholes.

I didn’t always feel this way about the common squirrel. Up until recently, I would actually get excited about a squirrel if he arrived at our back door, twitching around excitedly as he looked at us through the door’s glass pane. I even made it a point to put our pieces of older or uneaten fruits and other treats for the many squirrels that visit us so that they could have something to eat. I cared about the squirrel’s role in nature and I wanted ours to have a full belly.

And how did these little suckers show their appreciation for my generosity?

By wrecking every single bird feeder I have tried to put out over the last who-knows-how-many years.

We live up in the Oakland Hills. And like many homes in this area, we don’t have a back yard. What we do have is a decent-sized deck where, like any good, square American, we have a set of furniture, some plants and flowers, my two barbecues (one gas, one charcoal) and WAY too many toys for our daughters. And like any good, square American with such a setup, we think it’s nice to have a batch of the local finches and other songbirds around to cheer the place up.

So, with access to all the trees right off of our deck, we started hanging a bird feeder full of black oil sunflower seeds off of one of the branches we could reach and easily refill. It was nothing fancy, just your basic tube-shaped feeder, about 18 inches long, with a cap and handle at the top for filling and hanging, a plugged-up bottom and six little perches from which the little songbirds could sit and feed. I loaded it up, put it on a branch and waited for the beautiful chirping and singing to begin.

And within a week the squirrels had found the feeder and turned it into a buffet of their own.

The thieving jerks didn’t take long to figure out they could climb out onto the branch, stretch their heads down and start chewing away at not just the seed, but the feeder itself. And all the birds I wanted to attract had been scared off, too.

The suction cup feeder before putting it to use…

So, it was off to Plan B: The Squirrel-Proof Feeder. You may have seen one of these at your local hardware store. They come in different designs, each claiming to keep squirrels away from your birdseed. The one I bought looked pretty solid: a hard, plastic rectangular feeder inside of a metal sleeve. It was one of those spring-tension devices designed with the theory that when a squirrel sits on the feeding bar, his weight will pull down the sleeve, which will block the holes and keep the squirrel from getting to the food. Everybody wins!

And by “everybody,” I mean the squirrels.

It took them a couple of weeks but, like they did before, the squirrels outsmarted my second feeder. I think the squirrels found a way to use the feeder bars to sit upon and, while the feeder holes were blocked, would chew their way through the hard plastic seed holder. I surmised this one day when I saw that not only was the feeder empty, but a lower corner looked like a sawzall had been taken to the thing. My anger at the squirrels rose to a level just a little higher than that of Donald Trump when he goes on a Twitter rant against (insert anything here).

To top it off, I continued to put out pieces of old bread, fruit and crackers on our deck’s railing almost like a peace offering in the hope that if I kept the seed thieves satiated they would leave my feeder alone. Having lived with my six-and-eight-year-old daughters all their lives, I should have known how well this theory would work out.

My wife then came up with what we expected to be the $7 solution to our squirrel-bird feeder wars. At our local hardware store–the kind of which is staffed by guys who actually know the difference between a U-joint and a J-joint–my wife found a feeder with two suction cups that we could stick on the glass in the door that opens onto our deck. I filled up the thing with black oil sunflower seed, stuck it on the window and watched the birds find their way over and began digging in.

It seemed like the perfect answer. I sometimes work at home, and watching the birds come right up to the glass and feed away would provide a nice break from my daily routine. At least it did until I saw some other member of nature come over and get in on the action.

The squirrel looked like her didn’t know what was going on. I had stuck the feeder on the glass at such a height that squirrels couldn’t come down from the roof and get to it without smashing their faces on the deck below. And it was up high enough that it was out of jumping range for the little buggers. I figured I could chalk one up in the “W” column for myself.

But, I had underestimated my sneaky opponents. And in a big way, too.

Everything seemed to be fine until one day when I was working at home. I looked up from the sofa where I had parked myself and my laptop and there he was. Somehow, one of the squirrels had managed to get up and balance himself on the outside door handle and was trying to figure out how to make the leap onto the feeder, which was still a good two feet outside of his reach. I stomped over and whipped the door open, which scared him away and out into the trees. I hoped he wouldn’t come back. It would turn out to be a fruitless hope on my part.

Before long, one of the squirrels was back, and had shimmied his way up the outer door frame and lunged at the feeder. He didn’t make it, but I knew by this time that these rodents weren’t going to give up. And despite my efforts to remain in front of my TV as much as possible, I knew I would eventually have to get and couldn’t keep an eye on the feeder all the time. And when I did get up, that’s when the my enemy struck.

You can see the results in the photo here. Somehow, one the squirrels got enough lift to get onto

…and after the squirrels had their way with it.

the feeder, and was on long enough to gnaw through the little perch where the birds set to eat. Amazingly, the feeder’s suction cups held because it hadn’t been pulled off the glass. I cursed a while took the feeder down and did the only right-thinking thing someone in my position should.

I went straight to the hardware store and bought another feeder. I also bought a metal can with a snug-tight lid that I filled up with 10 pounds of black oil sunflower seed and sat right outside the door, ready for when the feeder needs refilling. I’ll be damned if I’m going to give in an surrender to a glorified rat.

Since then, a couple of weeks have gone by. I’ve seen a few squirrels around, but they haven’t gone after the feeder. Maybe the ones that did got pancaked by a car and those I’ve seen lately haven’t yet figured out what treats are in the feeder? In any case, I don’t care, as long as they leave me, the birds and that buffet of birdseed alone.

But, just in case they get any thoughts, I’m keeping that hose nearby.

Tahoe? Uh, oh…Oh No!

Ah, Lake Tahoe.

The name alone conjures up images of some of the most-spectacular scenery in all of America. And if you’ve been there, you immediately realize that all of the hyperbole about Lake Tahoe can’t do the place justice.


My beautiful wife and kids. And beautiful Lake Tahoe. Just before the real “fun” began.

–There is the lake itself. Lake Tahoe sits at an elevation of 6,225 feet, and goes down 1,645 feet at its deepest point. Take away the Great Lakes and Lake Tahoe is the biggest lake in the U.S. by volume. There is so much pristine, natural, alpine water in Lake Tahoe that it could cover all of California, 14 inches deep.

–There is the gorgeous scenery of the nearby snow-covered High Sierras. If you’re into skiing, some of the best slopes in the country surround the lake. Some places let you ski right into and out of wherever you are staying. And at some places, you can walk across the street from you hotel and right onto a lift up to the slopes.

–For the gambling types, the Nevada state line is a short drive, or in some cases, a short walk away. You can go into any casino, drink like a lush and smoke up a storm, if you so choose, and blow the mortgage on blackjack (Why did you hit on 17, anyway?).

–And there’s also the emergency room and staff at Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe where, less than 24 hours after my family and I arrived in town, my six-year-old daughter was being treated for pneumonia. And hives, too.

Yes, you could say one of those things seems out of place when you think about the typical Tahoe trip. And there was nothing typical at all about what was supposed to be our week-long relaxing and fun vacation that turned into a 72-hour turn-and-burn trip home due to an unexpected medical emergency.

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The Breakfast-Baseball Lineup

Anybody who knows me knows that I am a big baseball fan in spite of my Beloved Seattle Mariners breaking my soul again and again with a now-Major League-leading 15-straight non-playoff seasons.

Whatever. Opening Day is just a few days away for the M’s, who start their season with four games at Houston with the Astros, and then three at the California/Anaheim/Cucamonga/Azusa Pacific/Los Angeles Angels before Seattle has its home opener against the Astros on April 10. The Mariners make their first trip to Oakland, where I live, for four games against the A’s starting on April 20. And although I want the A’s to do well, there is no doubt where my loyalties will lie. There’s a reason why I have a Mariners logo tattooed on my upper left arm: Because I care. Probably too much, but again…Whatever.

In addition to baseball, another thing I care about deeply is breakfast. I make 96% of the breakfasts in our house for one simple reason: I’m good at it. I use a cast-iron skillet for most of the cooking and when I get an idea for something in my head I don’t suffer easily anyone asking for anything different. Tortillas, cheese, bacon, a couple of eggs: There’s your breakfast burrito. But, with two daughters, ages 5 and 7, who typically ask for 17 things, then eat maybe two of them, you can probably imagine how well I am able to stick to my no-changes-in-daddy’s-plans meal philosophy.

Yet, breakfast is still awesome and so is baseball, but rarely are the two thought of together. That’s because, Boston’s Patriots Day game aside, nearly all Major League games are held in the afternoon or evening, long after you’ve put the Honey Nut Cheerios away. And that is a shame, because I have thought about all the different things that you can have for breakfast, and how the best of the bunch actually looks like a pretty solid batting order of a menu.

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Morning Battles

Sometimes, I work from home. And when I do, I have a routine I try to stick to.

Wake up around 5. Get a cup of coffee. Meditate for about 10 minutes. Crank out 30 push-ups. (Don’t ask me why I do 30 push-ups. I have no idea why I picked that number.) Take a showier. Get dressed. Set up my laptop on our dining table. Start getting a little bit of work done.

And then, everything goes to hell in a blaze of mean talk, pushing, shoving, crying and yelling that includes so much admonishment, punctuated by the word “WHY?” over and over and over.

This is what happens when my wife and I ask our six-and-eight-year-old daughters to do one of the most-basic, run-on-autopilot tasks that anyone can do no matter what their age is: brush their teeth. Or, rather, I should this is what happens when we tell our daughters to go into the bathroom and brush their teeth together.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has more than one kid. If you put the two (or, God help you of you have three or more) together in any situation that requires them to be in the same location for longer than, say, 37 seconds, there is minimum 100-percent chance they will end up in fight that is only slightly more brutal that what took place during the Battle of the Bulge.

For whatever reason, and I don’t know if its genetic, the result of how they are brought up, or demons that creep into their brains when they are asleep, but siblings just have the inherent need to fight with each other when they are young.

If they sit together in a car, they end up fighting. If one of them wants to watch re-runs of “Full House” (our eight-year-old), the other one wants to watch Sesame Street (our six-year-old). And they end up fighting. If one of them gets their hands on a small bag of Chee-tos, the other one just has to tattle on her sister about why she got something and she didn’t.

And they end up fighting.

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One For The Road, And Back

“Please step over here, sir. Your scan showed a ‘groin anomaly’.”

Depending on where you are when you hear this words, you are likely to have a variety of reactions. If it come from your doctor, you might wonder if you should expect to become a soprano, or of you should start getting your affairs in order.

But, if you happened to hear that where I did, which was in the Transportation Security Authority line at Oakland International Airport, your more likely to do a spit take as you hack up the words, “Uh…What did you say?”

“A groin anomaly, sir,” repeated the TSA agent. “Something showed up. I need to use my hands to pat you down.”

“Well…A groin anomaly,” I said while cracking a smirk and then thinking, “I don’t know whether to be proud, or offended.”

Thus began what was to be a quick and dirty weekend trip to visit my mom. And it was a solo trip, too. While it would have been nice to bring my wife and daughters with me, the thought of paying close to $1,000 for plane tickets, plus whatever it would have cost to rent a vehicle
big enough for the four of us and all of our stuff was too much to bear.

So, after my “groin anomaly” checked out (it was most likely my belt that set off the machine). and the TSA folks were satisfied that I wasn’t the WASP-iest ISIS recruit in Oakland, I proceeded on my way to that location that is the best place in any airport anywhere: the airport bar.

My glory days of destroying my liver through the competitive sport of bar crawling are long in the past. With a wife, two young daughters, various streaming TV options and a job that requires me to get up at 5 a.m. during the week, there really is no time left for parking myself on a stool and commiserating with the local barflies over beers and shots. That scene doesn’t really play well when you need to be reading the latest Julie B. Jones story to your kids at bedtime.

And yet…When I get to any airport, whether it be in Oakland, Seattle, New York or on the Big Island of Hawaii, if I don’t have one drink at one of the bars in the terminal, then to me, the trip to wherever it may be isn’t complete. I know the markup on whatever is sold anywhere in an airport is at least 4,000 percent. And I don’t care.

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