Thursday, April 24, 2008

"The Plan" Revisited

While marking an upcoming event on the calendar, it hit me that I have now been a “purposeless person”, also known as retired, for three months. I believe that Socrates once commented that an unexamined life is not worth living, so to that end, it’s time to reexamine my plan for retirement and to evaluate my accomplishments.

My “plan” called for the following:

Within the first month of retirement

perform at least one volunteer activity
host a dinner party
read a book
take a fun day trip

Within first three months of retirement

take two classes – for fun and to exercise the mind
plan a vacation
start a passion activity
begin a photo project

So what I have accomplished thus far? I have done pretty well in the volunteering department; currently I volunteer at the maritime museum and work with the Astoria Cruise Hosting group. Since January, I have also completed three classes at the community college as well as having read three books. As far as beginning a photography project, technically yes, but certainly not the one I originally had in mind. Oh well, the year is still young as far as opportunities for photography are concerned.

I have also taken several day trips but none were specifically designed as a fun activity. On the other hand, when one is retired, might it not be said that almost any trip is just for the fun of it?

On the down side, I still have not started a passion activity. I plan to as soon as I figure out what constitutes such an activity. Finally, for those of you who have been faithfully checking your mail box for an invitation to the dinner party, don’t give up. I have watched both Emeril Lagasse and Rachel Ray on the Food Network, but they have both failed to sufficiently inspire me to hit the kitchen, but the year is still young!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tuna Anyone

Built in 1881 and expanded during the twentieth century, the Samuel Elmore Cannery became the longest operating salmon cannery in the United States. Typical of fish canneries of this era, the structure was built over the river and supported by massive pilings that were driven deep into the bed of the Columbia River.

The cannery continued to be profitable until the 1940s when the salmon run declined sharply; the cannery would have ceased operations if it had not begun processing albacore tuna. Since tuna could be frozen before canning, the cannery now had a steady supply of fish for processing in the salmon off-season and thus began year-round processing at the Elmore plant.

The canning of tuna under the Bumble Bee label quickly surpassed salmon both in terms of quantity and market recognition. Both products were canned under the Bumble Bee label; however the label branding is now more commonly identified with tuna. If you ever ate Bumble Bee canned tuna before 1980, it was likely processed in this plant. The cannery ceased operations in 1980 and the building was destroyed by the work of an arsonist in 1993.

Samuel Elmore Cannery circa 1960

This is how the cannery appeared on a sunny afternoon in April of 2008. All that remains today is rubble from the once proud structure. Pictured is the concrete bunker that once housed the boiler. During low tide, a part of the boiler is visible to the left of the bunker. It's the thing that looks like a submarine sticking out of the mud.

Shown here are many of the piling that supported the cannery and the fuel room for the cannery's massive boiler.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Driver Safety Program

Last year, I learned that my auto insurer offers a discount to drivers age 55 or above who attend the AARP Driver Safety Program. Since my recent birthday pushed me to the magic age, I decided it was time to attend. Heck, I figured that a review of the driving rules might be a good thing, but honestly I was motivated by the financial rewards. I also figured what the heck, it's only eight hours and it might be fun!

Oh boy, I'm here to say that it was anything but fun! First of all, it appeared that the majority of the class participants were closer to seventy-five than fifty-five. That fact didn't concern me until the instructor asked everyone to tell a story about their first driving experience and when they first received their license. Yep, the story train had left the station full speed a head and was never going to stop!

The clinker for me occurred on day number two; the instructor brought her dog to class because it suffers from attachment disorder. Oh boy, were is Cesar Millan , the Dog Whisper when you need him!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Docent's First Tour

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to give my first solo tour of the museum to a group of middle school students from Maryland. To say the least, it was an experience that I will remember for some time to come!

The group was to arrive promptly at nine thirty, so I checked into the museum at nine in order to walk the galleries to be sure everything was in place. I also had several "hand on props" to position which I planned to use during the tour. As I passed through the first gallery, I met with the education director who informed me that the new gallery on steam boats on the Columbia River had opened on Monday and surely I would want to include it on my tour. No problem, how difficult could it be to prepare a few remarks about a display you have never seen! Actually, I had already done a little research so as I headed to the new gallery, I was hoping to find a picture or model of the T J Potter. Fortunately for me and my group, the Potter held a prominent position in the gallery.

Now with less than ten minutes before show time, I head back to the main lobby only to be informed that my group just called and was running behind schedule. Apparently, they had blindly followed directions from their GPS unit and it took them the long way which added an hour to their already long trip. Next, a senior docent, who incidentally scares the hell out of me, approached and informs me that he has a tour of forty cruise ship folks arriving at eleven. He want me to be sure to get me tour start ASAP and then don't slow up or stop for any reason. No pressure here! Suddenly, I realize that this tour was not going to go anything like I had originally envisioned.

At ten thirty, my group arrived and the first thing I notice is that everyone looked like their pass port photos! The kids and chaperons had been on a non-stop tour and were on the verge of exhaustion and in less than five minutes, I was going to take them into a dimly lit environment with the hope that they wouldn't fall asleep while standing!

I am happy to report that for the most part, the tour went off without a hitch and judging by the numerous questions, the kids were listening and engaged. The moral of the story is that flexibility is of paramount importance when giving a tour!!