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Food, food everywhere, but how to get it onto my plate?

I’m all for eating local food, but the trouble is nobody around here makes Milk Duds or licorice whips.

Not that I know of, anyway.

I do on occasion consume things that contain actual nutrition. And certain of these foods — unlike sugar, cacao beans and high-fructose corn syrup, all of which I relish — are grown in abundance hereabouts.

Beef, of course.

But also potatoes and wheat and peaches and apples and much else besides.

Benign-looking PVC pipes proving deadly to certain birds

I have, it seems, been misled into believing that a 12-gauge shotgun is an especially effective weapon for killing birds.

Turns out I should be lugging around lengths of PVC pipe instead.

Which, besides being comparatively light, aren’t likely to cause grievous wounds should you drop one while trying to climb over a barbed wire fence.

I bring up the slaying of birds not to poke fun at my ineptitude as a hunter, a trait which surely needs no embellishment.

(I am to upland birds what lightning is to the general public; a threat so remote that it can be rationally dismissed.)

In fact the topic is quite a serious one.

A den of iniquity in Eugene, or just a lot of blowing smoke?

So apparently quite a few football players at my alma mater, the University of Oregon, smoke marijuana.

I spent four years on the campus in Eugene, and I seem to recall the subject of cannabis consumption coming up now and again.

In fact, before I ever scrawled my name on the U of O application I had an inkling that the place had a reputation for, well, permissiveness as regards the demon weed.

There’s a reason the Grateful Dead favored Eugene over, say, Corvallis.

And it’s not because Jerry Garcia was afraid of livestock and disgusted by bad football.

The quaint era when our trust in technology was universal

The recent commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy, besides being a fascinating historical remembrance, was for me also a preview of sorts.

Two years from now marks the centennial of another epochal episode from the previous century: The outbreak of World War One.

These two events, due in part to their proximity in time, have come to represent a glaring, and disastrous, plunge from what had been a steady rise in the belief that technology would inevitably enrich the lives of most people.

Smartphones ready to save dumb drivers from hefty fines

I’ve never been so glad that my teenage years happened well before anybody thought to put “smart” in front of “phone.”

Back in the ’80s a lot of phones were sort of stupid, frankly, what with waiting for the rotary dial to plod back to its stop so you could put in the next number.

Calling someone who was encumbered with a lot of 8’s and 9’s could induce carpal tunnel syndrome.

And those extra seconds were pure torture when you were already engaged in the mentally exhausting, and ego-destroying, exercise of phoning a girl to see if she’d go with you to the homecoming dance.

Egg hunt absent assaults; and returning to a great museum

I like candy as much as the next guy, but I’m not belting some three-year-old with a forearm shiver just so I can get a chocolate egg or a handful of jelly beans.

Even my sweet tooth, which has all the moral fiber of Robespierre, balks at assaulting children.

(Possibly as little actual fiber, too, what with the nutritional deficiencies of both candy and French cuisine.)

Moreover, I refrain from pushing around wee people with the sole goal of making sure my kids get (more than) their share of the spoils.

Paying more for nothing; and TMP effects aren’t equal

Got a call the other day from a local hunter who doesn’t think much of having to spend 8 bucks for the privilege of being informed that he didn’t get the tag he applied for.

Can’t say as I blame him.

It was just three years ago, after all, that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) version of a “Dear John” letter would set you back only $4.50.

Speaking up for talkies; fickle winds, and a secret juniper


A silent movie, shown in black-and-white, was judged the best film of 2012.

As an occasional cinema patron, I hope this does not mark the beginning of a trend.

I haven’t seen “The Artist.”

But I don’t need to see it to know that when I shell out the best part of a sawbuck for a couple hours of entertainment, I expect to be entertained in full rich color.

The world comes that way, after all, and I can go out and look at it for free.


Did you hear? Congress passed jobs bill



If I told you that Congress came together during an election year to pass a bill that will help create hundreds of thousands of jobs, would you believe me?

Congress recently put the finishing touches on a bipartisan agreement to extend the “middle class tax cut” for 10 months, which knocks down your payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. The plan also extended unemployment insurance with commonsense reforms, like giving states the option to screen for drug use.

Also included — and what you may not have heard about — is a framework I designed to free up vast swaths of wireless broadband (or “spectrum”) for innovation that would produce $15 billion in revenue for taxpayers and help create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Those pioneering ranchers really knew about predators



I’d like to know what the first generation of cattle ranchers around here would make of the current debate over wolves.

I’m inclined to think our 19th century forebears might not be altogether sympathetic to their modern counterparts.

In that bygone era, after all, the government, having only recently managed to hold itself together, had neither the inclination nor, likely, the money to reimburse livestock owners whose animals became wolf entrees.

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