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Home arrow Opinion arrow Columns

Sharing a scary story, and an ode to technology


Michael Hendriks doesn’t mind admitting that he was about as scared as he’s ever been while driving.

Scared enough, at any rate, to stop by the Herald office and tell me his tale.

I’m glad he did.

Hendriks’ story belongs to that category of precautions which, as the cliche goes, can’t be repeated too often.

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Please pardon us during construction

Notice anything about the appearance of today's issue of the Herald that seemed, well, unusual?

I suspect, if you've given the paper more than a cursory glance, that your answer is "yes."

Some of these differences probably were intentional.

Others, perhaps not.

The explanation, in a word: computers.

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Feeling better about the abundance of public land


I had of late been lamenting the “islands” of public land east of Baker City — those chunks of ground, some measuring in the hundreds of acres, that are surrounded by private property.

“Public,” as applied to these places, is a misleading adjective.

Because there is no general easement across the intervening private parcels, the public can’t get to these islands without trespassing.

This seems to me an awful waste.

(Except, perhaps, for the owners of the adjacent private property.)

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The waste of a bighorn sheep, and a wolf gets fawned over


Some cretin has illegally killed a bighorn sheep ram near Brownlee Reservoir.

This is like walking outside and shooting the neighbor’s cat.

Except there are too many cats as it is, whereas bighorn sheep are not so abundant around here that we can afford, biologically speaking, to sacrifice any to scofflaws.

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Strawberry slime, and the one-way minimum wage


My first paycheck was stained with a slime made of strawberry juice and Willamette Valley mud.

These ingredients were not combined in equal parts, though.

If the slime were, say, a martini, then the mud was the gin and the strawberry juice the vermouth.

I’m not sure where the olive and the swizzle stick fit here, but the analogy was of questionable taste anyway, so no matter.

At the end of the berry-picking season I had accumulated a stack of these tickets that seemed, to a 10-year-old, of impressive thickness.

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A tragic tale: The story of the Blue Mountains forests, well told


I’ve gotten around finally to reading a book which I managed somehow to avoid, as though it were an optional but probably unpleasant medical procedure, for better than a dozen years.

The book is Nancy Langston’s “Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares: The Paradox of Old Growth in the Inland West.”

Langston’s ambitious goal with the 1995 volume is to explain how the national forests in the Blue Mountains — the Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla and Malheur — got as messed up, ecologically speaking, as they were then.

And pretty much still are today.

Langston succeeded.

Her book is the most comprehensive, and cogent, examination of this complicated topic that I’ve read.

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Gun questions and Nativity scenes: Time to build a bunker?


I’ll bet you could make a pile by reviving those do-it-yourself, nuke-proof bunkers that were briefly popular early in the Cold War.

There is, it seems, much to fear these days, and myriad reasons for citizens to construct stout shelter.

It is the fashion to alert your ill-informed fellow citizens regarding certain of their sacred rights which are soon to be wrest from their apathetic hands.

You can detect in these warnings the low rumble of distant jackboots, glimpse the flash of brown shirts through a keyhole.

I’m intrigued by this propaganda campaign — not least because the purveyors seem to me to be distributed fairly equally across the political spectrum.

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With a wobbly baby, a foam-filled home would be perfect


My son Max has reached that stage when his mother and I dearly wish everything were made of foam.

I suppose we could lay in a goodly supply of Nerf footballs.

But those things are the very devil to stack.

And Max, though he stands barely two feet tall, has a considerable reach.

But stand he does.

Which is a problem.

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In line with teenage girls to watch "Twilight"


I have risked, and possibly have suffered, complete emasculation.

I went to see the latest cinematic installment in the “Twilight” series.

But that wasn’t the real danger.

I didn’t trudge into the Eltrym looking glum, a reluctant prisoner shackled to my wife’s affinity for saccharine love stories.

I wanted to be there.

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UO president's mistake: Getting it done, but not getting along


I’m calling it the “Kitzhaber rule.”

And it goes this way: Giving public employees pay raises is a noble goal — so long as the governor is doling out the dollars.

Ignoring this edict is a perilous act.

One that can cost you your job, in fact.

Richard Lariviere, the soon-to-be-ex president of my alma mater, the University of Oregon — which makes him, I suppose, a lame duck Duck — can attest to the potential hazards if you defy the Kitzhaber rule.

The Oregon Board of Higher Education, after apparently taking a straw poll — thank goodness for the state’s strict public meetings law, right? — made its decision official Monday when it voted unanimously to terminate Lariviere’s contract. Lariviere, who was under contract until June 30, 2012, is out on Dec. 28.

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