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The case against the mosquito is getting stronger

I have a new reason to endorse the eradication of the mosquito.

I didn’t need a new reason, of course.

The list of these bloodsucking insects’ transgressions against society in general, and against me specifically, is one of great length and so hardly requires embellishment.

Malaria.

Dengue fever.

West Nile virus.

Mosquitoes spread those nasty diseases, along with a host of other potentially fatal ailments which I can neither spell nor pronounce even though I poked around for a while on the CDC website.


Snow and fog — and NE Oregon sweeps awards

The snow fell steadily for much of the day, but it was not the gentle, silent snow beloved of poets and skiers.

These flakes came fast and hard and so dense with moisture that they made a soft liquid plop, rather as raindrops make, when they struck a metal fender or a glass window.

Along about dusk the snow stopped and the fog settled in, that soggy wraith which sometimes steals in after a storm has chilled and saturated the ground and the air.

This transition happened with a suddenness more typical of a summer thunderstorm.


Sorting out the nation’s, and county’s, politics

I recently read a book whose author tried to explain why tens of millions of Americans moved to new cities and towns during the past half century or so.

Bill Bishop pulled off this immense feat in a way I would not have imagined possible before finishing his book, which was published in 2008.

“The Big Sort: Why The Clustering Of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart,” in which Bishop collaborated with statistician Robert Cushing, enthralled me.

I’m glad I gave Bishop a chance.


A winter’s day, sharing the trail with a coyote

I followed the tracks of a lone coyote through snow for better than a mile on a recent sun-dazzled Saturday, and when I turned back I felt a kinship with this cunning omnivore.

Mainly, though, I felt tired.

More tired, I’m sure, than the coyote was after covering the same  ground.

Coyotes rarely top 35 pounds, and being both relatively svelte and possessed of well-furred paws, they can often stay atop snow without foundering the way people, who typically bid the 35-pound mark farewell before they’re enrolled in first grade, are apt to do.

(I was wearing snowshoes to offset my natural disadvantage, but the principle holds.)


Which ‘people’ are Refuge occupiers helping?

I treasure my right to visit public lands.

Being a member of the public and all, I consider it a sacred thing that even within my own modestly sized county there exist hundreds of thousands of acres where I can go to have a picnic or take a nap beneath a ponderosa pine or shoot at a jackrabbit.

(And like as not miss — my rights as a citizen don’t include, unfortunately, the right to shoot straight.)


Do I hate Mega Bloks? Let me count the (421) ways

I’ll tell you why I hate Mega Bloks.

And I have 421 reasons.

So this might take a while.

Although not nearly as long as my wife Lisa and I labored, the Sunday morning after Christmas, to assemble a device so sinister in its complexity that the task would have had Oppenheimer and Von Braun bickering within 20 minutes.

This Lego-like creation, a Christmas gift for our son, Max, who’s 4 and a dinosaur fan, is a Tyrannosaurus rex.


Christmas spirit that’s costing me precious sleep

The Christmas lights began to twinkle, an off-key, electronic version of “Deck the Halls” blared from the kitchen, and I was certain an intruder had blundered onto the premises.

An intruder infused with the holiday spirit, apparently.

But at 3 a.m., the possibility that we were being menaced by a maniac who at least has an affinity for classic carols and multicolored bulbs eased my anxiety not a whit.

There’s nothing holly or jolly about a home invasion robbery.

(Which phrase seems to have inserted itself into the jargon of American journalism, especially the televised variety, editors apparently having decided that “break in” isn’t dramatic enough.)


Driving a car ought to be a hands-on activity

Hand gestures, and in particular one which requires the full extension of a certain centrally located digit, have long been part of the motorist’s lexicon.

But nowadays a driver can do quite a lot more with a single finger than express his disdain for the guy in the Camaro who just cut him off.

For instance, ordering the stereo to cut off Air Supply in favor of Twisted Sister.

(Which in most circumstances is a worthwhile change. Actually in all circumstances, now that I’ve thought about it for half a second.)


Annoyed but impressed by a bull elk's skills

My hatred for elk is exceeded only by my admiration.

I suspect most elk hunters share my ambivalence for this species.

Although most hunters, unlike me, occasionally return from the hunt lugging a more tangible part of the elk than the mental image of one fleeing through the forest while my rifle hangs from its sling, as useless as a five-iron.

Such scenes are memorable and not altogether unpleasant, to be sure.

But they’re not so tasty as, say, a summer sausage.


Is America focused on curbing its greatest threats?

Mass shootings have something in common with airliner crashes besides killing innocent people.

Both types of disaster garner considerably more attention, from the media and elsewhere, than another tragedy that’s much more common in the U.S., and that kills many more people — traffic accidents involving drunken drivers.

The vast difference in how our society reacts to these disparate but deadly events intrigues me.


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