Monthly Archives: October 2004


It seems like it was not so long ago that I was much more credulous than I am today. While I still love all things spooky, I get frustrated when people immediately apply the socially accepted explanation to anything out of the ordinary. Mist in the corner? It must be the soul of some dead person! Oh, come now.

I've patiently listened to stories of obvious hypnogogia (a terrifying sensation I've experienced myself), electrical problems, doors hung off level, and there's no dissuading the believer, no matter how gently. No, I don't really believe that long, silver object in the sky was a UFO, especially when you live by an airport. Something as easy as freeing a silver mylar balloon and watching it until it's out of sight will change your opinion of how strange common objects can appear to a wishful eye.

Perhaps there are aliens among us, though the stories have changed over the centuries from being elves to demons to ET. Why is the modern version any more credible? I'm reminded finally of the end of Audrey Rose, which I am about to partially spoil for those who are sensitive: a psychiatrist is regressing Ivy through her childhood, and finally gets to the "time before you were born...when you were another person...another person...another person..." (aside: that script has a lot of repetition in it--drives me bugfuck). Gee, that's not leading at all.

In any case, this is all prelude. What brings me to the subject is that Betty Hill has died. In 1961, Betty and Barney Hill experienced what has come to be called "missing time". Seeking the help of a psychiatrist, the Hills were regressed hypnotically, and produced a most remarkable tale. The story became a book, then a television movie starring James Earl Jones.

I believed the Hills completely. In fact, I am still certain the Hills believed their story to be true. The memory of the story is like a key in my gut--something basic that opened many other things. But the skeptic I have grown into realizes that something happened on that fateful September night, and because a faulty psychological technique reached for a fantastic answer, we will never know the truth.

The Hill abduction was one of the seminal stories of my childhood, and I feel as if a little piece of that child has broken off tonight. Perhaps it was abducted.

Rest in peace, Betty.

It's that spooky time of year when I start craving all things scary. I started my film festival last night with The Amityville Horror. Next, it's time to find some haunted houses. Here's what's going on this year in Portland:

  • Screamland is at Oaks Park, and runs October 15-31.

  • The Haunted Hay Ride at Rossi Farm is located at 3839 Ne 122, and runs October 22-23-24th and October 29-30-31st.
  • Nightmare on Sunnyside Road is at Clackamas Town Center, and runs October 14-31.
  • 13th Door is at Washington Square Mall (in the "old haunted theater") and has a schedule.
  • House of Midnight is at Bullwinkles in Wilsonville. It's a drive--but I love Bullwinkles during the day, so I'm thinking it's also pretty fun for this event. See the site for dates.
  • Scream at the Beach is at Jantzen Beach Center, and also runs on a funky schedule--so check the site.

Me, I want to go to ALL of them, though I'm unlikely to get the chance. If you've been to these events before, or go this year, be sure to post your review!


If you have registered with a canvasser recently, please read this immediately, and make sure you are actually registered.

A co-worker this morning told me about this, but didn't have name of the company. Voters Outreach of America is a GOP-funded company paid to register voters, but they have been destroying democrat registrations. Canvassers may also have said they were part of America Votes. More details from Talking Points Memo.

If you think you've been scammed, call your local election office right away.


This is not a transcript! During the partial-birth abortion question, I distinctly remember Kerry talking about how a mother shouldn't have to die in childbirth when her baby is going to die anyway. What else is missing?

UPDATE: Okay, I'm a little freaked out. I remember it, Bill remembers it, but it isn't there. We can't figure out where we heard it--another speech? Another debate? Somebody's blog?

I swear I've been taking my meds.

That may be a hyperbolic title. Sue me, it's early.

Here's the instacat poll from Liberal Conspiracy. Now here's my take:

Bush did better last night. He formed full sentences, and had clearer ideas. And he still got spanked.

Kerry consistently gave answers that not only clarified issues, but inspired me as a voter.

Three points where Bush blew it:

  1. His demeanor was often angry and decidedly unpresidential. Spousal Unit and I were taken aback several times, worried that Bush isn't stable enough to safely lead the country for the next month. "I'm behind in the polls? Fine, bring me my special briefcase."

  2. A really bad point was where Kerry explained that the "partial-birth" abortion bill had no provision for protecting the health of the mother. "A woman who is carrying a baby who will die anyway shouldn't have to die in childbirth." And on parental permission for abortions, he explained that when a "16-year-old-girl is raped by her father, she shouldn't have to ask her rapist for's not as simple as the President would have you believe." After these very clear examples, Bush stepped forward and said: "Yes, it is that simple, either you're for it or against it!" This example of Bush's "compassionate conservatism" left me stunned and a little sick.*
  3. Near the end of the debate, a woman asked Bush to describe three mistakes he had made, and what he had done to correct them. Except for "a few appointments", he came up emtpy-handed. He was head-shakingly arrogant. He's been asked this question before--why can't he come up with something a little humbler?

I'm wondering at this point if Bush will find a way to cancel the last debate.

*Note: I don't have a transcript handy, so my quotes are approximate.


Today, I am forty. It is a good day, and it has been--especially lately--a good life so far.

What follows is an exercise in perspective, offered to those half my age. Some of these things I knew at 20, some I didn't.

  • You may think that such financial frippery as balancing a checkbook, paying bills on time, and having savings in the bank is sheer drudgery. The truth is, once you get the hang of it, it feels really good.

  • As much as you can. look inward. Think about what's most important to you, what you like to do now, what your favorite vegetables are, how you want a lover to touch you, where you want to be in five years, how you think the world should be. Keep thinking about these things, and let them change and develop. If you do this now, you won't have to do it when you are forty or fifty, after half a life of having half a life.
  • You are probably thinking you will feel old when you are forty. You won't. It feels like a new beginning, because you have another forty ahead of you, and this time you don't have to learn to say you're sorry or which fork to use first (hint: always work from the outside in).
  • Be very cautious about permanent decisions. I'm not saying don't take risks--do! Have fun, adventure, for it is true that you will regret more the things you did not do than the things you did. I'm talking about more mundane things like ruining your credit or changing your name (not getting married, but actually doing a legal name change--think on it for at least a year or two).
  • Speaking of credit: if you're not already damned good at it, take a class. Pay attention. It will make the future infinitely easier if you can keep things clean.
  • Wear sunscreen. Yeah, someone already said that, but it's true.
  • Don't do something just because it's the expected thing. Consider what you want for your own future before you get married, buy a house, have children, etc. It's okay to not want what other people want.

Some additions from over-forty friends


  • Most of the time it doesn't cost you anything to be nice to people.

  • Beware of believing anything told to you by someone with an axe to grind.
  • People need to think very hard about whether they really want children or are just meeting someone else's expectations. Once you have a child, you're responsible for their welfare until they're of age. The world can always use another good parent, but there is already a huge surplus of bad ones.


  • Do everything you can, because if you're not watching alertly, your choices narrow. And then you cannot.

  • The older you get, the shorter you realize the list is.

Some more from very astute under-forties


  • Realize that you're going to keep learning. Look back at yourself five years ago--what you thought, how you behaved, what you knew or thought you knew. That feeling will never go away.


  • You will always be worrying about something.


  • Don't burden yourself with too many expectations or deadlines about where your life/career should or shouldn't be by a given age. It's all way much more fluid and up in the air now than we were raised to believe.


  • Do not tie your self esteem to someone else's perception.

  • Stop smoking cigarettes right now before you get more hooked.
  • Don't hold grudges. They don't do anything to the person you're grudging against, but they make you bitter and unhappy.
  • Travel.
  • Vote.