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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Having fun with predicting the future: The view from 1968

By Jayson Jacoby
Baker City Herald

Lampooning people for the predictions they proferred almost half a century ago isn’t exactly fair.
But it surely is fun.

The Grinch shows up early, and I'm happy to welcome him

We were watching TV the other day — Nov. 13, to be specific — and a promo came on for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

The program (the original, and in my view vastly superior, cartoon version, not the decent Jim Carrey movie) was scheduled to air the very next day.

I glanced over at my son, Alexander, and my daughter, Rheann, who were sitting on the sofa.

Each of our faces showed a similar bemused expression.

“The Grinch already?” I said. “It’s still almost two weeks until Thanksgiving, for criminy sake.”

I probably sounded sort of disgusted — as though this premature pushing of the holiday season was an affront to my sense of tradition.

But later that day I got to thinking about this.

And I decided that rather than bemoan the trend I would celebrate it.

AHP allows hunters to blunder about in new territory



I’d like to publicly thank Oregon's Access & Habitat Program (AHP) for greatly expanding the geographic range in which I can embarrass myself as a hunter.

Used to be I had to flaunt my failures mainly on public land.

Doppler radar and tea leaves: Having a sense for weather

I went out walking Sunday afternoon and although the day came off bright and balmy, I felt a trifle melancholy.

The reason, I told myself, is that I sensed this was likely the last such day to grace our valley for a long while.

Not till March — or perhaps May if next spring is as tardy as the previous one was — will I be able to stroll around in short sleeves, as comfortable as a cat curled on a patch of rug beside a furnace grate.

Yet after a few more minutes of ruminating it occurred to me that my initial thought on this matter was not merely misguided.

It was pure balderdash.

Warmed by an act of kindness of a perfect autumn day

The man in the wheelchair had a problem.

He beckoned us as we walked west on the sidewalk. My wife, Lisa, and I were on the north side of Broadway, just across from the Middle School.

The man was also on the sidewalk, rolling east.

It was just past noon on a quintessential Indian summer October day. The sky was rich blue, the air calm, and the sunshine warmed exposed skin in that way peculiar to mid autumn — none of the unpleasant prickliness of summer heat, yet the warmth was somehow insubstantial, as things are which cannot last much longer.

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