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Political ambivalence, and pondering the Porsche 911

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 long ossified.

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.

Preparing to blast some unwanted visitors to smithereens

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.

On Oregon's death row, trying to die with dignity

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.

A slightly chilly parade that warms a parent's heart

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.

The salmon return (sort of), and Harry Potter departs

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.

Government turns to corpses to cure recalcitrant smokers

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."

Interrupting coyote family time, and some local geneaology

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 cute gait.

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.

Pot paradox: A little more rock concert, but perhaps less fear

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.

Pioneers had it rough — but they had great ground clearance


The emigrants who plied the Oregon Trail lacked all sorts of amenities, but one thing they had in spades:

Ground clearance.

Now I understand that crossing half a continent without air-conditioning sounds like an unpleasant way to pass the summer, and probably was.

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.

Oceanside or in a sea of wheat, small town football is special

If you ask a traveler who has recently visited a small town what it is that best symbolizes the spirit of the place, he’s apt to name a prominent building, or perhaps a park.

I like to have a look at the local high school’s football field.

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