I don’t hate train whistles.
Not all of them, anyway.
In the depths of an overnight blizzard, for instance, when the
curtain of snow muffles outside sound and the furnace hums softly
inside, the warning sirens from a passing locomotive seem distant and
Even, I daresay, pleasant, rather like the frantic yodels of coyotes heard at dusk from a desert camp.
The piercing blast from a passing freight at 2 a.m. in August, on
the other hand, with the windows open to invite the breeze, and the
only competing noise-makers an anemic cricket and a couple of
diminutive frogs, strikes me (and my cochlear region) as an altogether
By Jayson Jacoby
I keep trying to whip myself into firm political fighting trim yet I
can’t seem to escape the flabby state of ambivalence in which I have
It must be pleasant to confront the great legislative matters that
affect hundreds of millions of people and conclude, with the absolute
certainty of the zealot, which is the only correct and righteous course.
I’m convinced, at any rate, that dispatching weighty topics with such conviction is a lot more fun.
My allegiance in college athletics, for instance, is as stolid as a granite monolith.
I’m an Oregon Duck.
On any autumn Saturday, then, my outlook is crystalline: I yearn for
the Ducks to win. And this desire is not sullied by even the slightest
wonder about whether, just maybe, an Oregon loss might be beneficial.
This ability to distill any situation to two answers, whether those be win and lose, or right and wrong, is quite liberating.
The doctors are so exasperated with my failing body that they’ve decided the best option, medically speaking, is to bombard it with sound waves.
I was initially excited about this, despite the tactic reminding me of how you might go about curing a stubborn puppy of a persistent barking problem.
Just maybe, I thought, I can trick the insurance company into buying me a front row ticket for a rock concert — you know, so I can press right up close to the speakers and let the torrent of acoustic energy effect the needed repairs.
It’s a lot easier to kill yourself in government-approved fashion in Oregon if you’re a terminal cancer patient than if you’re a convicted double murderer.
Which seems to me a curious situation to prevail in a state that doesn’t trust people to handle certain other, rather less vital tasks.
Pumping fuel into our cars, for instance.
It’s not that I expect Oregon to treat a person on death row, and one who’s at death’s door, as identical cases.
That would be inappropriate, even a trifle silly.
The weather for the Miners Jubilee parade felt more like Halloween.
So did the bag of candy I was clutching.
I had to maintain a firm grip on the thing just to prevent it from
vomiting a glut of cheap paper and empty calories all over the sidewalk.
This single act, besides its potential for saddling me with a
citation for non-nutritive littering, would have obliterated the trust
I’ve accumulated with my daughter, Olivia, over her four years.
I haven’t seen her quite so excited since she figured out how to “steer” her grandpa’s powerboat.
(You don’t want to water-ski behind that vessel, let me tell you.)
Of course there are few four-year-olds, at least among those I’ve
run across, who can maintain any measure of tranquility when people
keep tossing candy bars and chewing gum right at their very feet.
I’ve never landed a salmon. Well, there was this one coho that I manhandled out of the cold case at the grocery store.
But in truth the coho wasn’t all that feisty.
Although I doubt I’d be able to raise much of a ruckus either if I were wrapped like a mummy, only with plastic instead of musty canvas.
And my head and tail cut off besides.
I don’t have any real prospect of filling this yawning gap in my anadromous angling resume.
I don’t own a fishing pole, for one thing.
Or a reel.
In concept, I’m all for cramming more corpses into the design of warning labels for carcinogenic consumer products.
And I have no problem, per se, with packages that show a person smoking a cigarette through a hole in his throat.
But I’m not convinced the federal government needed to go to so much trouble — I don’t expect it’s all that easy to arrange corpses for photo shoots — to explain to Americans that tobacco can kill you.
Which notion pretty much epitomizes the term “common knowledge."
I barged in on a family of coyotes the other day. I had to grin at the
sight of the four pups, scampering away in their clumsy but endearingly
I was reminded, except for the fur and the speed, of a toddler wobbling across a lawn.
I have had some experience of coyotes — all of a non-lethal sort — but this was the first time I’ve seen so many young together.
I saw only one adult. Being ignorant of the typical behavior of coyote
parents I don’t know whether both raise their offspring or whether the
mother is solely responsible.
In any case the dad might have been around too. But the sagebrush was
pretty tall and thick, and the coyotes, as I think I mentioned,
scurried off with some alacrity.
The site was on the north slope of Bald Mountain.
Specifically, the Bald Mountain that caps the divide between the Powder
and Burnt river valleys, a few miles west of Dooley Mountain.
(Bald Mountains are rather common on the landscape, so it’s best to be specific.)
If you’ve driven south on Highway 7 through Bowen Valley, on a day
without fog or heavy snow, you’ve seen this Bald Mountain. It’s the
vaguely pyramidal peak that dominates the southern horizon. Its upper
500 feet or so, as befits the name, is generally bare of trees.
I had started by driving the Denny Creek Road and then taking the spur
that goes up through Hervey Gulch. I parked on the ridge between the
gulch and Rancheria Creek and then hiked up the road that intersects
with the Skyline Road not far below Bald Mountain’s summit.
The campaign to legalize marijuana gets in the news regularly, yet none of the parties involved, pro or con, ever asks what seems to me to be the essential question:
Which is: Do we want America to be more like, or less like, an AC/DC concert?
Because if you want to sample a society that regulates pot the way America controls alcohol — which is to say, by less than draconian means — you don’t have to resort to hypotheticals or simulations.
Just buy a ticket the next time the Aussie hard-rock group plays Portland or Boise.
The emigrants who plied the Oregon Trail lacked all sorts of amenities, but one thing they had in spades:
Now I understand that crossing half a continent without
air-conditioning sounds like an unpleasant way to pass the summer, and
Not to mention the absence of an iPod jack on any prairie schooner’s dashboard.
(No dashboard at all, come to that. Or iPod.)
But it seems to me that too little attention has been given to how
fortunate our forebears were in being able to roll right over boulders
that would yank the oil pan clean off pretty much any of today’s
four-wheel drive rigs.
Including the ones with tires that are tall enough to hide a third-grader and that each cost as much as a used Pinto.
(The tires, that is, not the third-graders.)
Those metal-rimmed, wooden wagon wheels rode a tad rougher than a modern steel-belted radial, of course.
But a sore back beats a ruptured radiator.