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Publishing change proves a winner

Since June 1 of last year, the most frequent question I hear is, “How’s that three days a week working for you?”

In short, it’s working very well, thank you.

A year ago this month we reduced our publishing schedule from five days a week to three in order to cut our delivery and newsprint costs, but also retain our resources — our people — so as not to reduce the quantity or quality of local news or customer service to our subscribers.

And it’s working. Support of our subscribers and advertisers has been terrific. We have increased the page count in each of our issues and provide a two-section newspaper instead of a one-section paper each publishing day. That has given us more color pages, and added more advertising and inserts to every issue. Subscribers get three beefy issues now instead of five thinner ones.

We kept our subscription price affordable, the same price as in 1997, but increased the price of store and rack copies to 75 cents. Although simple economics would say that we should lose customers by raising the price, every single issue of our rack and store copies have sold more than the previous year.

Admitting my small role in the demise of the movie rental store

The demise of the movie rental shop is nearly complete, and for the consumer another minor thrill has been replaced by a few dull taps on a keyboard.

I lack any legitimate grounds for lamenting this trend, however.

In fact I am as complicit as anyone in the eradication of a business that once seemed ubiquitous.

I have a Netflix account.

I have not browsed the aisles of a rental store for at least a couple of years.

(Although in my defense, neither have I ever acquired a DVD from a large, inanimate box.)

The recent announcement that Movie Gallery is closing its Baker City rental store saddened me largely because it reminds me that I have lived long enough to experience a commercial and cultural trend from its infancy clear through to its current death throes.

It’s not that I feel old, exactly.

But I’m more aware that 40 years (almost) is a pretty fair spread of time.

I imagine people were afflicted by a similar twinge a century ago when Ford really started cranking out Model T’s and the dominance of the horse was clearly on the wane.

Reading about Adolf Eichmann during Israel’s latest turmoil

The Israeli commando team’s deadly raid on a flotilla delivering aid to Gaza happened, coincidentally, just a couple of days after I started reading a book which influenced my reaction to the tragedy.

The title of the book, by Neal Bascomb, is “Hunting Eichmann.”

In case the name Eichmann is not familiar, the subtitle explains the context: “How a band of survivors and a young spy agency chased down the world’s most notorious Nazi.”

That being Adolf Eichmann.

Although Eichmann did not conceive the Holocaust — that infamy belongs, of course, to a different Adolf — he was beyond question the most prolific practitioner of the Final Solution.

Eichmann was to genocide what Henry Ford was to the manufacture of automobiles.

Hoping for, but not expecting, a close race for governor

I’d like to believe that Chris Dudley can help to etch a couple more wrinkles on John Kitzhaber’s rugged face before Nov. 2.

It’s not that I’m rooting for Dudley.

I am in fact registered as an independent. My vote likely will remain in play until the cottonwoods have started to tinge yellow.

And anyway blowouts, whether in football or gubernatorial races, bore me.

Yet as much as I pine for a healthy tussle, I just can’t silence the interior voice which insists that Dudley, who couldn’t poll a majority from among his own party in the primary, has little chance to pull the monumental upset over Kitzhaber.

Maybe I could believe otherwise if the Democrats had gone for Bill Bradbury.

Or for anybody, come to that, except the denim-clad doctor who has a deft touch with a fly rod and who leaps to the aid of seizure-suffering debate watchers.

(Neither Karl Rove nor Rahm Emanuel has ever arranged a scene so serendipitous as the one that played out during a Kitzhaber-Bradbury debate in Eugene last month. Although I remain skeptical that somebody actually hollered, verbatim, “Is there a doctor in the house?” after a man in the audience fell ill.)


A distant warning from Tijuana

From 1981 to 1991 I served as Chief of Police in Coronado, California. The southern limits of that city were just one mile from the international border with Mexico. The problem of illegal immigration existed then, though it pales by comparison to what exists today.

Because my city was impacted by the downsides of illegal immigration we met regularly with Mexican officials, including the Tijuana, Mexico, police chief and Mexican federal officials to discuss the issue.

In the mid 1980s, Tijuana was blessed with a very well-educated, ethical and professional police chief who was quite knowledgeable concerning crime problems in his country, demographics, and what the future might hold in terms of the illegal alien problem. In our conversations he made a number of predictions, many of them dire, and most of which have come to pass over the years.

Fish and Wildlife takes a subtle dig at my hunting prowess

My futility as an elk hunter has finally attracted the attention of Oregon’s wildlife managers.

And if I may be so bold, belated attention it is.

Although I suppose they have wolves with a taste for mutton and veal to worry about, and those sea lions munching salmon, and the occasional coyote snatching suburban cats.

Still, the scale of my ineptitude in the pursuit of elk had some years back attained the status of legend, at least in my view, and so I can’t help but feel that the biologists have failed to give my constant failure the recognition it deserves.

I’m not talking about buck fever, either. Or bull fever, as the case may be.

Any hunter can miss an elk at 500 yards.

(And many have.)

A pleasant reminder that I might be the worst singer ever

I rated myself as a pretty fair singer right up to the indelible instant when I heard my naked voice, the protective filter of accompaniment by actual musicians stripped away.

For some years previous I had often amused myself, as I suspect most people do, by crooning along with the stereo while I was driving alone.

Which is about as realistic as playing Tiger Woods golf on a Wii.

Harmonizing with Lennon and McCartney, suffice it to say, ranks on the difficulty scale right beside bisecting the fairway with a 300-yard drive.

(Although Tiger isn’t staying on the short grass all that often these days, either.)

One day, for some reason I’ve forgotten (although a reason no doubt spawned by the same hormone that leads high school students to use Bunson burners for unorthodox purposes), I decided to try what you might call an experiment in a cappella.

What resulted was a sort of auditory shock treatment that cured my naivete, as regards my lyrical ability, instantly and irrevocably.

While I was belting out the chorus to some ’80s anthem — I think it was Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian,” although possibly it was “The Final Countdown” by Europe — I punched the radio’s “off” button.

Coming up with a fresh reason for walking across Oregon

Ted Carlin intends to walk clear across Oregon this month, and I’m jealous.

He also plans to spend a couple nights at the Sky Hook motel in Mitchell.

This guy is really trying to goad me.

Not intentionally, perhaps, seeing as how we’ve not met.

But I don’t care about that.

The Sky Hook is my favorite motel.

At least it’s my favorite motel that I’ve never stayed in.

There is, most obviously, that name.

I’ve driven past the Sky Hook probably half a hundred times, and whenever I see that neon sign I think briefly of Kareem, flicking the ball softly, just high enough to foil Walton or Gilmore or Lanier.


The compulsion that comes with owning an off-road rig

The thing about owning a four-wheel drive rig is that without even trying you can get into situations that you would avoid like the hantavirus if you owned a lesser vehicle.

Many of these situations, sadly, involve a significant risk of multiple fractures.

The current crop of off-roaders, I’ll concede, is somewhat less malignant in certain ways than its predecessors.

Computer-controlled nannies such as traction control and anti-lock brakes can extricate clumsy drivers from predicaments that would have left their forebears high-centered on somebody’s front porch.

As a result, four-by-fours, if they can’t actually defy physics, can temporarily stun it with a sharp blow to the chin.

They can also, to put the matter in less pleasant terms, get you into a mess which no stack of microprocessors can make right.

Boy Scouts strive to protect kids

As I meet with people throughout our council, I have been asked why I, or we, did not respond to the editorials and stories about the recent verdict against the Boy Scouts in Portland.

At the court’s direction, we have been, and continue to be, restricted in communications about this case. Because this matter continues, the Judge has asked that the Boy Scouts of America refrain from comment on the specific allegations.

However, I must comment and respond to the mischaracterization in a recent editorial (in a different publication) that we are not concerned about protecting youth.

As a movement Scouting does care very deeply about the safety of our members and all youth, and always has. Abuse is a huge problem in our society. According to Childhelp.org there are 3.2 million reported abuse cases in the United States every year. We are one of only a few agencies that has a rigorous, nationwide system of background checks of every registered volunteer leader and employee — conducted through an independent service — which attempts to keep out of the program those individuals who should not be leading youth.

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