Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 'Ala Carte' New Year

Another year is upon us. But not just another year, another decade. When we look back, we think of where we were at the turn of the century. I remember that it was an exciting time as we watched it change throughout the world, one hour at a time. We worried that computers would throw us into turmoil and many of us stocked up on food and other provisions because of that.

Jake was still alive back then. The parkway was a thing of the future, partially done but not complete. Jake's was the primary truck stop for the area and was known throughout the country. We had articles written on us in national magazines and I made friends with a writer who called himself the 'silver fox'. He and his wife, Shirl, drove the country in a motor home while he wrote. I remember telling him how Shirl was going to need a more permanent home. I also recall the phone call as he sat in his new home laughing while Shirl was headed to Walmart to find things to decorate it.

So many things have happened both positive and negative We grasp and hold on to the positive and hope to let the negative go but to learn from it. We look at the future with anticipation and with positive thoughts. Change will come and we will grasp it and try to wrap our minds around it.

Just as no one back then could imagine what it is like today, we cannot fathom our future either. But, we can step into it with cheerful hearts, thankful for what we have and open to change to make things better.

With that in mind, I make one major change at the beginning of this year.....this decade. And that it in my dinners. I have looked at them for quite some time. We are creatures of habit and tend to just do what we have done in the past. Breakfast and lunch comes in plates that are delivered to the table at the same time. But dinner is different. You bring soup or salad before. And with most, you bring a hot dinner roll. All this makes the cost of that meal more and quite often, that soup, salad, and dinner roll is left behind on the table while the main part of the meal is consumed. So, I have decided to make a bold change and serve my dinners Ala Carte. By this, I will be lowering their price instead of raising them and then up charging for any diners who prefer the old style traditional dinner meal.

I believe this will do a few things. First off, and most important, it will make dinner more affordable. We all want that. Secondly, it will reduce waste. And lastly, it should improve service in a meal that is the hardest to serve appropriately. Timing on dinners has always been a problem. And with only one plate to serve, this should make the service much quicker.

Now, I will sit back and watch to see if the customer agrees and ready to adjust to my new thoughts if they do not. For I know that it is not about me but about them....which is you, the reader of this stream of thought.

Thank you all for the past year and I look forward to talking with you as I walk through the room and do my thing in the coming year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A minor rant

We are soon to look at a new year. In some ways, we are excited while in others, apprehensive. I must admit that most of my apprehension comes from what the government plans to throw at us in the coming year to help pay for their increasing budgets and this massive health care issue.

Being a businessman now, I certainly see through some different eyes and will admit that. And in that same light, I see things that I would not have noticed before particularly how our state government is twisting this new tax program around to try and talk the people into voting for it. They try and increase their coffers by attacking corporations and saying that they need to pay more of their 'fair' share.

While their new plan will not affect me that much, it will increase the fees for having a corporation like mine by 1500%. They say that we are not paying enough in taxes but what they don't say is that we pay like anyone else. Every cent of profit that the corporation makes is added on to my wages at the end of the year so that I do pay my fair share. So, this just becomes another expense of the business which only in the end is a higher tax increase than one really imagines.

But it is not my type of corporation that is getting the worst of this 'fair' tax increase. It is the C corporation that will be affected the most and I feel we will see many of these dissolve. Maybe that is the underlying reason behind all of this, no one truly knows except the politician himself who as we all know does not always tell us those real reasons.

These C corporations are now to be taxed upon their sales and not their income. So, lets take a business such as mine. The actual income or bottom line is 5 to 10 percent of that figure. The staggering fact there is that there are corporations that will owe more taxes than they have income.

Those corporations will either dissolve or make wholesale changes from within.

The bottom line on all of this is quite simple. These are the creators of jobs that we direly need in this economy. We are in a state with a very high unemployment rate. Hundreds of people lined up recently for part time jobs in a new local restaurant.

The decisions of these corporations, in my thoughts, are very simple. Close their doors, lay people off, or change the way they do business. Either way you look at it, it means less jobs not more.

Now, equally in my simple way of looking at things, it also means that in the long run, less taxes for this same government.

Now, the second part of this is that they claim that they will create jobs with these tax increases. But, what they don't say is that those created jobs are short term and to sustain them we must continue a spiral of increased taxes.

Wouldn't we be better off creating jobs that are sustainable or that create more jobs? Who cares if some fat cat makes a bit of money off of that? At least their will be plenty of jobs for the people who need them.

I don't know about you, but I would rather feed that fat cat than that devouring vacuum called government who claims that they are acting on our behalf but in reality see only their own agendas.

Holy cow! I started off thinking that I was going to state the positive and ended up with all of this.

One thing that I do know. What ever the challenges that are placed in front of us, we will be resilient and creative. And we will keep our focus on what is the most important and that is people themselves.

My job and my crew's job is really quite simple. To serve our customers. To give them the best quality for the price in an environment where they feel welcome. To honestly and genuinely care for each person that walks through our doors. And then to reach outside those doors to a community around us and help out where we can. I truly believe that if we keep that focus, we can weather what ever storm that is placed in front of us.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


For 23 years, I worked Christmas. It was not that I had to or even if I wanted to. My reasons were quite simple. My crew had to work so I did also. I know it was hard on my kids but it was hard on theirs also. So, one of the first decisions that I made when I took over the diner was very simple. Thanksgiving and Christmas were to be family holidays and were going to be off for my crew.

We had plans for Thanksgiving and some of our crew decided it was important to them also but Christmas. The diner was to be officially closed. And so it became.

My Christmas started simply by getting out of bed. There were no responsibilities other than just that. Trinity needed some things so we decided to go out. We decided that if we found a coffee shop open, we would get a latte and bring one back to Judy. We noticed a store open and figured that the Starbucks within would be open also. We were right.

Two men were running the little shop. We ordered up our drinks. I told the man that I was sorry that he had to work. He looked right through me....not hearing a word that I said. I figured it was because he was busy so I let it go and just stuffed a couple of bills in the tip bucket.

I then stood in line waiting for our drinks. The man there had been complaining to the previous customer on how he had to work and what he had told his kids when they asked him. I told him also that I was sorry that he had to work. Instead of acknowledging me, he continued to complain about his demise. I said, "I am just trying to say that I understand. I worked Christmas for 23 years and this woman next to me didn't see her father every Christmas morning just as your child did today.". He seemed to not hear a word that I said so I just let it go. I walked away almost kicking myself for even coming in. After all, if people like me did not go out on Christmas morning, he would not be working and would be home with his kids. But, now I had my Mocha Truffle latte.

I think next year, I will not be going out at all except to go to the diner to get something. I actually enjoyed going to the diner in the afternoon. I walked through the quiet diner. It was all so peaceful and quiet. It reminded me of the day before we opened up there. I walked through the building, talking to it as if I was talking to a friend. I remember telling it to get ready. I told it that it was going to be filled with people like it has never been filled before. And those people would be happy and enjoying themselves. I promised the building that if it took care of me, I would take care of it. It was funny, but I knew this inanimate object would become one of my friends and it truly has. When I walk into her, it is like walking into my home.

And I believe that is a part of our success. Allot of my crew have that same feeling of sorts. They enjoy themselves there and see many people who over the years have become friends. In one day last week, three separate customers told me that they felt our employees were like extended family to them. Those words are so much more important than anything that the bottom line can give to me.

To all of the people who have supported us over these last five years. Who smile and talk to me both in the diner and where they meet me in other places. Who encourage, support, and make my job a happy one. A very Merry Christmas. Thank you for allowing me to survive in the building that so many including myself considered the worst location in town for a restaurant.

May God bless you all.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanksgiving in prespective

I have tried writing stories of Thanksgiving but nothing says the story better than pictures. Thanks to my daughter, Carrie, for showing you the fun that we had. The end result was that we served approx 450 meals and raised $1000 to help someone in this extra needy holiday season.

The pies are prepped and ready to be served

The food is also readyas are the greetersand Jimmy and family in the kitchenThe feeding beginsand so does the fun including Frank and his conga lineMusicians entertainand friends volunteerDeliveries are preparedwith more volunteers deliveringFriends are greetedand interviews are made The best part of the day are the friendsand the funSeating has to be adjustedand more interviews madeThanks to all of the organizations and businesses that helpedIt was great to see the kids get involvedBirthdays happenedand great food was servedMore musicians entertainedand more kids helpedSeniors had funas did the entertainersFriends were made
Food was served and consumed.....until all was gone

and every slice was sliced.
Thanks to all who made this years Thanksgiving such a great success. To the organizations and businesses who donated food and time to the donations given to pay for some of the seniors meals to the many volunteers and musicians to Jimmy and his family that joined my own.
Thank you all and God bless you.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Revisited

Last year, I shared my story about shopping for socks many years ago. I have learned alot since then and this morning, I was prepared to go shopping my way...and it worked.

I had two things that I wanted to get. Socks for Judy and I and a Blue Ray DVD player that was down at Walmart. I was sure the DVD player was gone as people waited in line in the middle of the night for that one but I was going to check it out, just in case.

I pulled into Fred Meyer's at 7:50. I spied a 10 minute slot next to the door. If all went as I hoped, I would be out in plenty of time. In two minutes, I had Judy's socks, two more and I had mine. One minute later, I was at the self check out with no line. Two minutes after that, I was eating donuts and drinking coffee as I walked out the door to my car. At 8AM, I was well on my way to Walmart arriving and parking at around 8:05.

I walked into Walmart knowing where the DVD players were by the map on the internet. I walked to a huge display full of players. They had put it a few isles away from the electronics and my thoughts had gone one was around them. I had my player and was in my car heading to a busy diner at 8:15.

I am sure that the crew was very tired of my bragging but I was very proud of my shopping trip this year. Maybe the older and wiser thing has some truth to it?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Football Adventure

Casey's favorite team is the Detroit Lions. It has been since his youth and he has stuck with them. So, when he found that they were going to be playing in Seattle this year, we set up plans and bought tickets. I thought it through knowing the weather up there and made sure that our seats were on the bay side of the stadium so that any weather would be behind us and we secured seats up top on that side of the arena. We bought four so that Jayden and Casey's girlfriend, Jessica could go.

Saturday afternoon went by slow for two reasons, we had to wait for Jess to get off of work and the Ducks were losing down in San Fran but finally we hit the road around 5 or so. We made fairly good time and I watched the speed signs closely between zig zag and sandy as they fluctuate a bit there. I usually set my cruise on five miles above the limit, knowing that no police will stop for that. Coming into Sandy, I didn't notice the signs but slowed down knowing that the Sandy 25 was just around the corner. As I entered Sandy at my speed of 25 or so, I noticed the lights in my rear view mirror. I slowed and looked for a wide stretch to pull off at (for officer courtesy) and the policeman got angered at me, hitting his siren for effect. He informed me that I was driving 57 in a 40. I asked where and he told me of how there were two signs one informing of the other up and coming 40 mph and when I hit the 40 sign, I was going 57 (obviously decelerating from my 60, but oh well). I said something as he handed me the $170 ticket and he coldly informed me that he could double the price as it was in a safety zone. I thanked the kind sir and we got on our way.

We stopped at our friends house in Vancouver where Trin stays when working in Portland. Randy and Anisha Slocum are some of the most giving people that I know and since their kids were gone for the weekend, they too went out for the night leaving the house to us. If we had not shown up, Trin would have been home alone. We all situated ourselves for the night and I dropped off to sleep around 10. I heard a siren but thought it might have been a dream or something and lay there in my bed. Trin banged on the door and came inside looking out the back window overlooking the yard behind. I could then see the emergency lights and saw many of the locals mingling around a SUV that had been driven into the fence of the neighbors. A police car sitting next to it seemed to have forced it there.

I put on my clothes and went out to see what was up. As I approached the scene, an Asian lady was smoking a cigarette and walking my way so I asked her what was up. "A guy just jumped out of this car and ran down the road. I think the police have him.". Other police cars showed up and one large police officer walked up to us, grabbed the woman throwing down her cigarette and spinning her around to slap on the cuffs. She had been in the vehicle! I threw my arms up and backed away finding another neighbor to talk with. In all, around 9 police cars showed up. I was so happy that I was there because I know Trin well and she would have panicked over the situation leaving me helpless to help her out so far away.

The excitement over for the night, I got back to sleep and we headed out early the next morning. We arrived in Seattle around noon, just in time for the 1PM kick off. We mingled in the crowd outside the stadium eating dogs from the local stands in the street as a part of the whole football package.

We arrived in our seats about a half hour before the kick off. Although they were high up, we had a fantastic view of the whole field from the 50 yd line.

Others began moving in around us and a family of four came in two rows down. They were very colorful and informed everybody around them that they had come in from Iowa to see the game. The funny thing was their dress. The mother (who reminded me of Edith Bunker from All in the Family) was dressed normally, her husband was all decked out in Minnesota Viking gear, the son in Miami Dolphin gear, and his wife/girlfriend the only one in a gear of one of the teams as she sported Detroit Lions gear including an autographed Joey Harrington jersey (that should be worth a bit).

Edith began excitedly taking pictures of their game event. She had that big Edith smile on her face as she snapped the shots. But when the game started and the crowd roared around her, she turned sideways and held her hands over her ears not looking at the field at all. After that initial excitement, she sat down and preceded to put all of her stuff on the seat next to her. The problem was that seat was soon occupied. She seemed frazzled bringing all of her stuff back to her small space. Putting her coat on, taking it off, putting it on again and finally placing it on the seat behind her. She sat back down and seconds later threw her hands up in the air. She had lost something. She looked in a panic around her and then made the fellow who had taken the seat away from her stand up so she could look around him. She finally found it behind her on her seat. By the end of the first quarter, her seat was vacated and I spied her sitting in the isle way. She could not handle the closeness of us all, I guess. Her husband joined her at the end of the third quarter or so.

Behind me a crowd of 9 or 10 Canadians showed up. Mostly guys, there was one young girl in the bunch. They were all drinking beer and arguing over which Hockey team was better, Calgary or Edmonton. Through most of the game, they talked beer and hockey (ehh). Their heavy Canadian accents highlighted the yelling back and forth. The funniest remark that I heard was somewhere in the second half. "Hey, this is great. We should do this more often. Anyone know which team is winning?".

As they drank, the language got more and more loose. The "F" word started to get thrown around and by half time was a steady flow. I had had enough and I stood up, turned around, looking at all of them in the eye in my best Grandpa stern look and while pointing down at Jay, said, 'Do you think you could stop the swearing please.". They were all very apologetic and I heard many "sorry sir's". I thanked them and sat back down. During the second half, I heard them policing themselves. As one would slip up, the other would hit him and I am sure point back down at Jay. I got to rather like those guys who seemed clueless as to who was even playing the game down on the field.

After the game finished, we fought the crowds going out and got in our car, deciding to drive straight home as it was only 4:30. We made only one big stop in Portland for gas and supplies and arrived in Bend around 10:30 - 11.

As I drove down the freeway in Washington, I would fly past cars and then realize that the 70mph had been reduced to 60mph only to have those same cars fly by me minutes later when the 60 became 70 again. I do need to keep a closer eye on those types of signs, don't I?

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Every one of us has one. That single most important person who was the biggest influence in their life. Now there are usually many different influential people but usually one who sticks out above all others.

For me and my two brothers, that was a man named Ned Landers. Graduate of the University of Oregon, he was an excellent trumpet player and a very good baseball player. I believe he could have excelled in either of these but he chose another direction. To follow God in ministry.

His first church was the small white Baptist church in Crescent. He was newly married to a beautiful woman named Marcene. Marcene complimented him so well in his profession and the town quickly embraced the young couple.

Ned was not a fiery speaker. But he always spoke truth and backed it up with his life. I often remembered his laugh and don't recall ever seeing anger in his eyes, even when I drove my car through his freshly built white picket fence in front of his house.

He was the one who led me down the path of my decision to believe and who went out back of that church camp chapel with me and knelt behind a log pile where I a made my commitment. Afterwards, I looked up and saw a heard of deer grazing just feet from us. Ned talked of the innocence of the deer and correlated it with the innocence of Christ. I felt very peaceful and happy that night.

I know both of my brothers felt the same of Ned that I did as they both talked so highly of him from time to time. I remember Marvin telling me how highly he felt of Ned and Rudy told me a story once where Ned had challenged him. He said, Ned told him if he comes to a crossroad in his life, sometimes the road that looks harder is the one to take as if will challenge your growth more.

Over the years, I have watched Ned as he led three Churches All three saw growth but all three were small churches. I believe that was Ned's calling. To take a small church and help it develop. He always took a meager salary and was taken care of by the church. I know that must have made his life harder at times but Ned never showed it. I have always looked at that as a perfect example of what Christ would want to see in a leader of His church. I don't ever recall Ned complain about anything. Comment but never complain.

Ned and Marcene always welcomed you into their home. The shared whatever they had gladly with you. I have always felt warm, welcome, and wanted in their homes.

Ned retired from his last church in Longview, WA a few years back. But a pastor never really retires. I found him this week in Yachats while Judy and I spent a couple of days on the coast. He is working with a small Baptist church there helping it get on to it's feet. We followed Ned up to his house where Marcene was busy helping out a neighbor with her laundry. We sat and reminisced about old times and what they had been doing.

I got the opportunity to share with Ned just how influential he had been in my life and I believe I saw a tear in the side of his eyes as he thanked me for the compliment. He talked of being in the church for another year or so but not being able to do much more than that as his health wont allow much more. Once more, it was not a complaint, merely a comment.

Marcene asked us to please stay and have lunch with them. I knew that they didn't have much but it meant allot to her so we agreed allowing more time for us to be together. We shared a meal with them and then left shortly afterwards with Marcene taking a picture of us with her old "film" camera.

You won't find him in a search of the net. You won't read about him in a book. But you will see his influence in just about any person that his life has ever touched. I drove away deep in thought of that couple that I truly love. My mind washed with the thought that so much of the good parts of me were molded by the influence of that one Godly man. The highest setting of the mark of being a good man. Thank you , Ned.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jake's Diner Chargers

Well, they lost their last two games but that did not temper the pride in the hearts of the parents and grandparents on the sideline of the game on Sunday. They all held equal pride for that team of young men and one very brave girl. They fought very hard.

In the second half, one of their defenders came through and made a devastating hit on one of our guys. The boy lay there on his back after the powerful crunch. We all strained to see the number and my heart sank as I realized it was Jay. I know how hard it must have been for Carrie to not want to run out on the field. Jay is not one to just lay there so I knew he was hurt. So, I walked around the field to visit with my brave warrior. He had been hit hard and complained of his shoulder. Sitting next to him in equal misery was his friend and the coaches son, Luke. I have known Luke and his energetic personality for years. I asked him how he was and he began to tell me all of the parts of his body that hurt.

I looked at both of the boys and said, 'you both are tough, aren't you'. They both acknowledged me and I headed back to my spot on the other side of the field. I left just as the game was winding down with a kiss on top of Carrie's head and a request to let him know how proud I was of him.

We began setting up for the party about an hour before the diner closed. We cleared off one of the counters for the two chaffing dishes that were to be filled with stuff that all footballers love. Grilled cheese, Fries, Chicken Nuggets, and my favorite, Mini corn dogs.

My friend, Rick Steber (the author), stopped in to say Hi just before they got there. I wish that I had more time to visit with him but things needed to be set up and organized and before I knew it, Rick was gone.

The team began to arrive and sat around the tables in the middle of the room while the parents sat around the edge. Carrie put some pictures of the team on the TV to entertain the kids as they all showed up.

My favorite (outside of the obvious most favorite Jay), David Prickett came over and gave me a signed sports card of him. I was so honored by that gesture. I truly believe that the core spirit of this team was this young man. He not only gave 100% while he was out there on the field but he was also a leader and an encourager. I watched a touchdown for the other team right in front of me. One of our own guys inadvertently cut off David who was bearing down on the runner with no doubt in my mind a crunching tackle. As the team ran back to the huddle after the play, David openly patted the other teammate on the back letting him know that it was OK and he knew not meant. What a great gesture. I turned to the parents around me and openly said "That is why I like that guy so much. He is a not only a tenacious player but a good teammate also."

The feed started and the cooks strained to keep up with all of those young mouths. They chowed down on the buffet goods quicker than the cooks could fry more. I loved looking over the tables at all of those well mannered children having such a good time laughing and eating. Judy and the waitresses strained to keep up with their drinks. One of them ordered a strawberry lemonade. I started to protest while Judy corrected me. "This is our team", she stated as I got the strawberry juice out of the fridge to highlight the lemonade.

The coaches (five of them in all) got up and began to hand out the certificates with something to be said for each one of the valiant young warriors. Afterwards, Mark, the head coach called me forward to thank me for my support. Judy did not want to come so I grabbed her hand. Some of the parents noticed and encouraged her also. We shook the hands of all of the coaches and the kids presented us with a card that they and all of the parents had signed. I gazed over the many signatures but was not able to truly read the card until yesterday and actually teared up a bit reading it from the acknowledgements and thanks from the parents on not just the support of the team but of our community support. Those notes of thanks and encouragement validate that we are doing the right thing and I will always treasure that card.

Another good season and another picture plaque to put up on the wall.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

World Series Final Day

The day was a bit hectic working up to the final evening. All the last minute thoughts and preparations were being brought together while at the same time answering questions and solving problems of the day.

I was dealing with a headache that I wonder if it were caused by that latte that I drank in the morning. I recall as I drank it, that I realized that I was ordering a regular latte when I usually order a decaf. The headache worsened as the day progressed and I ended up going home for a short nap as Judy and the kids left for Eugene and their concert.

Jim asked about a group that normally uses the backroom on this day of the month and checking the calendar I found that their was one scheduled by mistake. A quick call to that group solved my dilemma in that many of their group were away on vacation and they choose to put off their meeting for the month.

I had produced some bug eyes and a hat that I was intending to use on the final table. I had confidence that I could make that table. I know that I am a good player even though good players must have more than skill, they must also have luck. I had my outfit ready, however, just in case.

Frank showed up around four or so to help me set up and we quickly got all or our tables ready for play. We set up a display on the big table of the final table prizes and put our heads together on how we were going to seat our tables. We decided to alternate every person on the list and thus giving us the ability to keep family members at different tables to start out.

We then sat down and ate some supper while we waited for the players to arrive. A quick check of my totals showed me that the 24th player to sign up would be the one that would take us over the $19,000 mark and so I decided to award that player with a free meal courtesy of Jake's.

The players began to stream in and we let them sit where the wanted knowing that we would adjust them later before we started. Just before we did this, we made a couple of announcements going over the prizes including some booby prizes that Frank had come up with . He found boxes of Candy Boogers that he lovingly placed the World Series logo on the boxes. These were for the first few players to go out.

Stan Schliep was our 24th player and was applauded and given his free meal. Frank then assigned players to their tables and the play began. I was placed at the first table along with my marine buddy, Zin and Leslie James from the twins. I knew all of the players at the table and knew that it would be a strong and hard fought one.

I started off slow building my chip stack carefully with good hands and shrewed bets (yes, I did bluff from time to time when I felt myself in a strong position to do so). My chip stack grew as the blinds went up and I soon had the strong stack at the table. Zin was doing quite well on his own and I recall the one push that I felt confident on with a suited Ace/Four in my hand. Zin thought it over and I was hoping that he would fold since my bet matched his chips putting him all in. Zin thought long and hard before accepting my challenge and flipping over his Ace/Eight. Zin won that hand but I still had a healthy stack of chips.

Carrie and Jay showed up and Carrie began taking pictures of which I will load on when I get the chance. Jay got a kick out of ringing the bell and handing out the booger booby prizes. Leslie was short stacked and I soon took her out and our table was split up and moved. I found myself to the right of last years champion and considered the most feared player there, Bob Head. Bob and I have played each other many times and I think pretty much know each other fairly well. My stack continued to grow and I was looking very strong as a candidate for the final table.

Then it happened. I looked down at pocket kings. I tripled the bet hoping to push everyone out. Bob raised me and went all in with his remaining chips. I thought it through carefully. Unless he had pocket aces, I was in immediate command of the hand and since he was right next to me, the odds of the happening are rather slim. I accepted his challenge and watched as he flipped over an Ace/Ten. My heart sunk as another ace showed up on the flop and Bob soon had most of my chips. I tried to hold on with my three remaining chips but soon found myself in the position of having to go in on one of the next two hands. There were ten players remaining. Just two away from a final table prize. I had a suited 5/6 come up and I pushed all in. I sprinted to the cashier station and retrieved my bug eyes and cap. My table laughed as I sat myself down for my last hand. A four and a seven on the flop gave me a open ended straight draw and I thought I might be able to survive but no card came to my rescue and I was knocked out in tenth place. Another strong player was soon knocked out and we had ourselves a final table.

Since most of our players are male, it was a treat to find that we had three women players at that final table. Bob Head, who we acknowledge as making the final table in each of the three years was there along with Davie, Jimmy, Frank, and my buddy, Zin joined the three women, Mindy, Sue, and Ann. One by one, the awards were given out and we were happy when the fifth place beauty aids award from Kings Razor actually went to a women, Ann. Frank went out at fourth, leaving a hanging on Dave against two strong stacks of Jim and Zin. Dave soon went to third place and we had our heads up. I helped Jim with his chips as he sometimes gets confused about keeping them in order which makes for a quicker game. The two battled back and forth before Zin finally won an all in battle that just barely took Jim out and our new champion was crowned.

After a photo op of the winners, Frank and Jason helped me set up the tables for the next morning before they too left. Kara informed me that the Pepsi drain was not draining properly and I began working on that problem as the crew finished up it's clean up. The clog was in an awkward spot so I had her flag the bin to not put any ice in it in the morning until I could fix the problem and we set the alarms and left.

I arrived at home exhausted. I figured that I would not eat or drink anything that might wake me up later and I drew myself a bath and was fast asleep upon hitting the pillow. But, to my dismay was wide awake just a few hours later probably since I am in the house all alone. Maybe placing this blog will allow me to get back to some of that needed rest.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

World Series Update

Four tables full of poker enthusiasts joined us Monday night for the official prequalification tournament for this years big World Series of Holdem for Habitat event. Four new people qualified including Leslie James from the Twins who qualified on the final day for the third year in a row. It didn't look good for her for a while, however, as she was pitted against another pretty good lady player at her table who seemed to have her beat out in chips most of the evening but Leslie's patience lasted out in the end and she eventually overcame her opponent.

The pink frog was crippled early on by my buddy, Zin, at my table but lasted out eventually and I ended up winning out at my table for the evening as every table was a final table for the evening.

Tomorrow's main event now has 45 potential qualifiers with a few of them including my son, Casey, not able to compete due to other commitments.

Tomorrow's event should officially take us over the $19,000 threshold for our contributions to build houses for needy vets. Every person on tomorrow's final table will receive a prize including a Habitat for Humanity T Shirt.

We have some pretty great prizes including a weekend for two on the Oregon Coast at the beautiful Sandcastle Motel right on the beach, A Marine Discovery Tour in Newport, and two meals at the Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City.

Other prizes include a Leading Edge Helicopter ride over Bend with my friend Chris Jordon donated by Printer Resources, $100 gift card by Missing Links golf course, $100 worth of product from Kings Razor, a $50 gift Chevron gift card from American Energy, Six lines of bowling from Lava Lanes, a poker for dummies book, and a sentimental small wishing well building built by the late Bob Cheney. Bob passed away earlier this year after a bout with lung cancer. Bob, a local vet and friend, was the man who built the small Habitat for Humanity house that sits on my counter and holds the donations for the weekly tournaments.

It looks to be a very exciting climax to another year of our weekly tournaments that will start all over again next Monday evening.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dealing with the DA

Now, I know that he is an elected official and that his office is suppose to be out there advocating us and that I always try to remain positive but I have a hard time remaining positive when I think of Mike Dugan and his associates down at the district attorney's office. In the past few years, I have had three dealings with his office. In fact, they are the only dealings that I have had with them and all three have left a bad taste in my mouth. I guess the best way for me to explain myself is to go over the three events and leave the determinations up to all of you.

My first goes back to our first year in our new location. I had not even had the chance to have all of my fencing up when the first burglary happened. I had a very heavy old safe in my office. I did not imagine anyone attempting to steal it or I would have surely done something to secure it better. It was extremely heavy taking three to four of us to put it into place. I kept the back up money for the tills along with some money of my own in it. I remember well being called that morning and the sinking feeling that it gave me to know that someone had broken in and stole it.

The burglars had left quite a mess but had left my computers in place and it was obvious that they knew exactly what and where they were going which told me that there was some inside information which bothered me even more. They obviously had some problems loading the safe up as they left behind a lot of shattered glass that seemed to be from their getaway vehicle. The burglars were soon apprehended due to their own stupidity when they tried to get a friend to fix their glass on the sly after they told him they had broken it on a safe that they had stole. The safe was found out on the Alfalfa road and although the back up money was gone, my small bag of cash was still sitting inside of it as they seemingly overlooked it. The team of robbers ended up being three ex employees along with one of their spouses. The inside informer was never caught.

Mike Dugan himself decided to take on the case and called me to inform me of this. I told him that I appreciated his personal attention to it. And indeed when he decided to plea bargain with the spouse who was merely a look out for the other three, he called me to see how I felt about the deal. I agreed that a deal of getting merely theft instead of burglary in exchange for giving up against the other three was a good deal.

At the plea for one of the principals, Mike met with me out in the lobby of the courthouse and again acknowledged his personal handling of the case. I thanked him for his personal attention and, to be honest, was very impressed with it. But that was my last impressed dealing with his office that I have had.

Mike went on vacation and left the case with one of his associates. I was informed by mail that the case and sentencing for two of the defendants had been put up on the docket without anyone calling me and that one of the burglarers had been given the same plea bargain as the spouse. The associate had read the notes from Mike wrong and had asked for merely theft on both of them and their lawyers had gleefully accepted.

I called the DA's office in anger asking how something like this could have happened. I was called with an explanation and an apology from one of the DA assistants. I was also informed that because that other man had received the lesser charge that the court would have no alternative but to give that same charge to all. After all, that was the only fair thing that the court could do. I was incensed and wrote the DA and the judge. The judge asked the DA to call me and indeed Mike did with an "I'm sorry" but there is really nothing that can be done at this stage. One of the other two remaining was underage and would not be dealt with leaving the last defendant who was glad to receive that same theft charge. I was informed of her sentencing and was called and allowed to not only confront her and her friends in the courtroom but to also challenge the court with my thoughts and feelings. The judge seemed concerned as to what had happened to me but as I already was warned felt that it was only fair that the court give this defendant the same deal. Only fair! Where was the fairness in what had happened to us?

I let this go and left it behind me. A couple of years later, Judy's car was sideswiped by a woman who lived just up the street from us. I was turning into our street just after it happened and actually saw her vear away from the car and almost hit mine. I did not at first think that it was her as her car was green and the paint on the side of Judy's car was white and primer. Then I noticed that on the back side of her car was paint the same color and scrapes that were the exact height as the molding on the side of Judy's car. The police came and interviewed her getting conflicting stories that led them to arresting her for hit and run.

The case was one day away from court when the DA's office called me to inform me that they were throwing the case out. The assistant who had the case had left the DA's office and the new assistant who was calling me on the phone was informing me that he could not see any chance of winning the case and that he was throwing it out rather than waste tax payers money since I had not actually seen her hit Judy's car. The paint and scrapes seemed to not mean anything at all to him and I was left with not even an apology.

Now, two more years later, a high well published case, and we once again must deal with that office again. My first frustration was not of their doing when one of the two burglars was let go at the jail with no bail. He was arrested a couple of days on a lesser charge and was given a pittance bail on that charge of which he paid and then quickly left town before the grand jury convened two days later.

I met the DA assistant, Jonathan Char, in charge of my case at that grand jury hearing. I sat across from him and looked him in the eye as I told him of my lack of confidence in the office that he worked for and why I felt that way. He had no explanation why the other burglar had been released but assured me that there would be an arrest warrant put out for him To this date, the other man has not been picked up although he has been back in town. We will have to wait for him to be arrested for some other reason and hope that those authorities see the arrest warrant out for him on this charge.

Mr. Char gave me papers to fill out regarding how much I wanted to be involved in the case. I checked all of the boxes in the papers including, if I remember right, the opportunity to confront them in court when and if they are sentenced. He assured me that I would be kept appraised at every thing that happened in the case and that I would be informed of every court date so that I could be there.

I went to the first court only to have it be put off. Just before the next court date, Mr. Char called me to let me know that the case would probably just be put off again due to the fact that their lawyer was asking for copies of some of the surveillance cameras at the other site that they had burglarized. Off of his suggestion, I did not go to that courtroom only to discover that they had asked to have the case go to trial. I called Mr. Char and was told the defendant had that right to have the trial done in a certain time frame and that it was probably done to keep them from gaining more evidence against him.

Just before that date, I received a call from the DA's office of a plea agreement made to the man who was still in jail. I was angry over not being informed when Mr. Char had promised to keep me appraised of every change in the case. Mr. Char called me with the explanation. He said that their were two reasons for the expediency of the decision. First, he was going away on vacation and did not want to have any confusion regarding it with another assistant taking the case and that he had not asked for my opinion on the plea because it was just what he had gone over with me at the grand jury as to all that he hoped to get the man for. I asked him why the man who agree to something like that and he said it was because they had found evidence of him in another burglary and so he agreed to plea before getting hit with yet a higher sentence.

I was assured by Mr. Char that although he did not have a date for sentencing that his office would inform me probably in writing well before that date so that I would have the opportunity to be there and to have my say in court. I informed him then that I wanted that opportunity and he once again promised me that I would have that.

On Friday, I received a message from Mike Dugan himself that I still have on my phone. He was calling me at 9:15 to inform me that at 9:30, that man was going to be sentenced and that if I wanted to say anything that I needed to come right down. I got that message at 10:00. I called Mr. Char's office to only get his voice mail. So, I called victim's assistance. I was called by a lady who had taken the case who first left me a message telling me that I was not called because only the victims were given that information. She then called leaving me a message apologizing as she did not realize that I was the victim.

I called her back and vented to her all that I have written in this post. She apologized for the misinformation that Mr. Char had left her with regarding my status and desires. She informed me of the sentence and once again apologized that I was not afforded my rights laid out to me. She seemed to be surprised when I informed her of Mr. Dugan's call and agreed that he must have seen something in the file that lead him to believe that I wanted to be there and was not informed. I asked her to relay my disappointment to him and she agreed to do so.

She was very gracious and I assured her that I had nothing personally against her but was very disappointed with the over all dealing of the case by her office and she said that I certainly had the right to be angry.

So, there is my case to you and I hope that I have shown why I have no confidence in the office of an important supposed advocate for the state and the victim I actually don't see much assistance to the victim at all here, do you?

Friday, October 2, 2009

An Update

First off, I need to apologise to all of the people who read me for not posting in so long. You might take from that that I have not been up in the middle of the night but you would be wrong. The truth be know, I have been up and written many times but just have not felt that writers spark that takes an entry from being just informational to informative. Because of that I have written my blog entries only to delete them at the end of a long session of sitting in my 'man' room and listening to music as I am right now.

Allot of things have happened in the past few weeks and a couple of big events are in front of us also. I will try and capsulize those past events and touch on the ones coming up and am determined to just hit send at the end of this time of typing whether I like what was written or not.

Judy has taken on the role of entertainment director of sorts and has taken the crew on a few very fun adventures in the past weeks. With the change of weather, I see that coming to an end somewhat but I am sure that she will pull something out of that pretty sleeve of hers.

We took a group to Crater Lake and ended up with a young Chloe (Crystal's youngest) in our car. She entertained us during the trip with such dramatic statements as declaring that she had a wedgie to her informational statement that she knew where bees wax came from.....your ear. Chloe borrowed my camera during that adventure and Judy posted a collage of Chloe pictures that she took from her short perspective.

A week later, we took the biggest group of the year to Belknap springs on the McKenzie river and then stopping at Proxy falls on the way home. The secret garden at Belknap was a highlight of the trip as the group walked amongst its beauty of water and flowers. We found a small eating area in the corner of the group of gardens where we all had lunch before we walked back to the car and drove to the proxy falls trail head. We all walked into proxy and sat at the bottom looking at the splendor of it all while a couple of our younger crew members climbed to the top of the beautiful falls.

Judy's last adventure was one that I did not join in on as I had promised my grandson Jay that I would be at his soccer game and I stayed home to watch his team play. Judy took a van load of people over to Mollola so that two of our cooks could attempt something that many of us would love to do and yet probably would never attempt. The went up in and airplane and .....jumped out. Ted and Crystal went through the class needed and then boarded the plane. It was Crystal's first plane ride. No one faulted her when she did not jump. Just getting into that plane and lifting off of the ground was a new and exciting adventure for her. Ted screamed with glee as he drifted down towards the ground and then had his attached instructor behind him pull open the shoot. He said afterwards that it was intense and that he would probably not try it again. He is now planning his next jump while Crystal and Judy even toy with the idea of dropping out of the sky themselves.

As I wrote earlier, Jay is in soccer and I love watching his team play. Many of the team have been playing together for a few years now and are used to playing with each other. There skills have been honed along with that and they are somewhat unstoppable. I kind of wish I would have sponsored that team but I gave Jay the choice of only one sponsorship and he chose the Jake's Diner Chargers. The Chargers played the Prineville Cowboys to a 6 to 6 tie last Sunday. The Cowboys always field a pretty good team and this one was no different with some pretty big boys on it. I was pretty impressed with our team especially our defensive line that is anchored by Jay and a name that Bend will certainly hear of a lot in the future in Bend sports, David Prickett. David is a relentless hard worker who will not stop giving 100% until the other team has been stopped in that particular play. I watched David run a man down from the other side of the field. At the end of the first half, the Cowboys were only a foot away from the end zone with fourth down. I turned to a parent next to me and said, 'if they try coming down the middle, they will not be able to make it.'. Their linemen stood tall over ours but our foursome plus the linebackers behind them would have nothing of it. Their line surge was met by ours who drove them back a few yards. Jay, Dave, and the rest not only held their ground but drove those bigger boys back. That one play made my day.

On Sept 20, Judy and I along with Jim and his wife drove down to Sunriver to the Oregon Restaurant Association's award ceremony where we were given the Restaurant Neighbor Award. We are very proud of this award which was given to us for our community support. I was the first person to speak at the ceremony and wanted to insure that I gave credit to Jim and to Judy who is such a good business partner (along with being a pretty one also). I found it funny that all of the other recipients that spoke after me also gave credit to their wives. I am not saying it was because I did mine but I guess I would like to feel that way. It felt weird standing up on that stage with my Hawaiian shirt and ball cap and looking out over a sea of suits but I was determined to just be me.

Now that pretty much brings us up to date on our past. And now for the up and coming events.

On Monday and Tuesday, we will be hosting our third annual World Series of Holdem for Habitat. Two years ago, Habitat came to me with the need to raise a larger amount for a particular project so since the World Series of Poker was going on the TV, I set up this special event that our weekly events now work towards each year. Tuesday night is the big night. All of the winners of our weekly tourneys are automatically qualified along with the top five in points. We give points for every place on the final table each week. We have added one more automatic berth this year and that is what we called the 49er rule. If someone came and supported most all of the year, they deserve that berth also. The last chance to qualify is Monday when we run our final prequalify event. Every table is a final table with the highest non-qualifier on that table now qualifying. The funny thing there is that in both of our last two years main event, some of the highest positions have come from that group. I will be there on Tuesday night with my pink frog ready to win that trip to the coast. This year, we have quite a few neat prizes for all of the final table including a helicopter flight over Bend, golf from Missing Links in Redmond, Hair products from Kings Razor, gas from the Chevron station in front of us, and bowling from Lava Lanes.

Next Friday we have agreed to work with the Family Access Networks walk up the butte for FAN. We will be giving our profits from any of the after walk breakfasts from any of the walkers. We jumped on at the end of this one but I see it as an event that seems to be right up our alley and have somewhat verbally committed to partnering in the future with this very important group in our community.

A week later, on a Sunday evening we will be hosting a Spaghetti feed for the American Legion. The American Legion president, Richard Smith has been a tireless helper in every event that Jake's has ever held. He has told me never to ask him if he wants to help but to merely assign him a spot. On Thanksgiving, Richard sits for hours with pies all around him dishing up those delicious deserts to happy seniors. I am hosting this event as much for him as for the organization that he heads.

So...there you have it. We are now officially up to date. Once again,I apologize for my lack of posting in the past few weeks and will attempt to be diligent in the future

Friday, September 18, 2009


One thing that I have always loved about our employees and regular customers at Jake's is their ability to have fun. One of the most prominent things that you will hear after the clinking sound of people eating their food is the sound of laughter.

One day, as I was pouring coffee, I ran across a man who informed me that it was his first time in at Jake's. He told me that he loved the atmosphere that he felt when he walked in. "Do you pay those guys to sit at the counter and laugh?", he asked. He was referring to the group of guys who come by from time to time in the morning to have coffee and just hang out. There is always some sort of banter going on between them and our waitstaff.

I remember one such time where the guy at the counter was giving one of the girls a hard time so she took out a napkin and wrote on it. 'Today is serve yourself day'. The quick witted customer wrote underneath that 'Today is tip yourself day'.

Wednesday, as I walked through the waitress station, I found both waitresses in tears laughing. "You need to reign in your other waitress", said one, "She is asking men of the cloth if they are wearing underwear.".

I looked at the other waitress, Penny, whose laugh is one of the most infectious that I have ever encountered. Between cackles, Penny explains, "I walked up to the table and asked if they all had silverware. One of them said, Underwear, of course I have underwear.".

I looked out into Penny's section to see the two Catholic Priests along with some of their parishioners. One of them asked Penny if she always asked people if they wore underwear. Penny's quick wit brought back, "I usually wait until their fourth visit before I asked that.".

Having fun while you work definitely makes the job much easier.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Clam Chowder and Precious People

Yesterday, we participated in the local Clam Chowder cook off event for support the troops at Bend Villa Court. It was a very interesting experience for me as I watched the various restaurants vie for the Clam Chowder title. Last years proud winner brought his trophy with him to show us all who the defending champion was. He also was vocal in his anger that the radio station had mentioned that they thought last years winner was us. He accused Jim of paying the radio station for that comment.

I went to the event to support Jim primarily. After all, he was doing this all on his own and other than the cost of material, I did not have allot invested in it. Competition is always a funny thing in that it brings out things in people. I remember someone saying that I should be trying to get people to go just to vote for us. I said, 'No, if we win, we win.". There was not allot of interaction going on between contestants except for one young girl from one of the restaurants who seemed to be there not because of her culinary skills but because of other assets that she had. Another of the Chefs there assisted her in her set up and she just served and smiled.

Local celebrities voted along with people who came and paid to sample the various fare that was laid out and then was give one vote to put on their favorite. Jimmy was the only one there who brought two types of Chowder, Manhattan and New England. This came to be our bane, however, in that we ended up competing against ourselves. I believe this might have been the thing that kept us from the people's award. I believe our votes combined would have out shadowed the winner and from my assessment of the ticket cups, we were very close to being second and third in the running. I think Jim will rethink this one next year even though many people seemed smitten by his Manhattan. We are considering putting that same Manhattan on the menu from time to time, however because of it's high praises.

Through all of the competition, there was a vision before the event even started that hit me the most. And it did not have anything at all to do with the conversation, but a whole lot to do with friendship. Two dear sweet ladies who obviously lived there, were in conversation in front of us and that conversation was so incredibly sweet that Judy just had to capture it in picture form. I am affected by this picture every time that I look at it. We must get it blown up and reprinted to give to both of this sweet ladies.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

End of Summer Cruise

The day started out like many of those days do. Lots of small problems that seemed to distract you from getting everything all together. One of the biggest was when our bookkeeper, Summer called me to inform me that there was a virus in her computer. I stopped by to see what I could do but it became quite evident that this one was way above me so I had her call our computer guy in. I figured that it could not be that bad. It ended up costing us almost what it would have cost us to purchase a new computer. Who ever created this virus is attempting to force people into purchasing their software. Shouldn't there be a crime against something like that?

Anyway, I focused on the event and let the computer guy do his job. Mid afternoon, I was pretty tired so I stopped by the house and took a power nap. Refreshed after just a few minutes, I headed down to the diner in my new Model A and put it in the line. Shortly there after more and more of the A's showed up and we had ourselves a pretty good looking line.

We decided to run the BBQ outside this time to help with the flow of things and it turned out to be a very good decision. Judy did an outstanding job of assigning jobs to the various members of the High Desert A's and Jimmy set up his BBQ and started cooking. Everything seemed in place for a pretty good evening.

Five thirty came along very fast and the line began to form for the BBQ. The line went almost all the way to the entrance of the parking lot. The feeding soon began with BBQ Sirloin and Chicken, Corn on the cob, Chili beans, French bread, Salad, and Watermelon. Some of the guys were serving while others ran drinks. Still others sold 50/50 raffle tickets. People were eating all over the place, inside, outside on the deck, and around their cars. As I walked around, all seemed to be quite happy with their meals.

Shortly, the band showed up. I stopped to say hi to Richard Taelour who always sets up the bands for our events here. I dubbed them the Taelour project as he has brought a variety of musicians who have played for bands such as Steve Miller, Three Dog Night, and The Righteous Brothers. He informed me that my friend Jeff Ingram who sometimes drums for Meryl Haggard was going to be there. And then he said that he had a special guest. One who has played in many bands, has won a Grammy award, and is considered one of the best steel guitarist in the world. His have is Ken Emerson and the is his my space which states his playing at Jake's on that night.

Everything seemed perfect as the band began to play and the food kept being served. And as a matter of fact, it was. This was the first event that I have ever had where there was absolutely no problems to solve. My job is to walk around looking for those problems and solving them as I see them. I ended up just walking around and talking to people all night long.

As the sun began to set and the moon shown brightly, the night was a complete success with people staying on after dark just to hear the bands last sets before they closed up for the night.

A good night benefiting a good cause, a scholarship fund for automotive students at COCC. I believe this to be the beginning of many years of good end of summer cruise ins with the High Desert A's and Jake's.

Coming up real soon, the World Series of Holdem for Habitat. October 5 & 6. The main prize of two nights on the Oregon Coast at the beautiful Sandcastle Motel and two passes to the Marine Discovery Tour in Newport will be given to the winner of the main event on the second day.