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Urine samples and bike trailers: Legislators' strange priorities

I sure wish I knew how to make those little plastic cups where you deposit your urine sample.

Although in truth the list of things I wish I knew how to make is encyclopedic.

The plastic pee cup is merely the latest addition.

As you’ve no doubt guessed, my newfound interest in this type of receptacle, and in particular its manufacture, is purely capitalistic.

Hillary's raw deal, and the feds' appetite for social tinkering

Hillary Clinton had the worst luck of any First Lady in the past 40 years.

Oh sure, she’s had a pretty good run since she moved out of the White House, racking up an impressive record of First Lady firsts.

U.S. Senator.

Presidential candidate.

Her current job has a certain prominence as well.

But Hillary had a bad time of it back in the ’90s.

And not merely because of her husband’s high-profile philandering.

Charging into a greener future with a Leaf and a Volt

The year 2011 could turn out to be the most significant in America’s love affair with the automobile, an infatuation well into its second century and showing no sign of abating.

The reason is a Leaf.

And a Volt.

Reminiscing about 2010, and missing a great Duck fan

We’ve been assembling the Herald’s annual special section that chronicles the major news of the past year, a task which requires that we forego our normal obsession with timeliness in favor of a quest for the timeless.

(Although I was assured that there is, nonetheless, a deadline to be met. The proof that we succeeded is the 14-page publication tucked inside today’s edition.)

Time pressure aside, this job makes for a pleasant diversion each December, rather like snooping about in the scrapbook you find while rummaging in the closet for a wool watch cap.

Only with less chance of running across an embarrassing photograph from elementary school, when the only thing more prominent than your front teeth was your eyeglasses.

Government poking around in my intestines, grocery habits

I knew the government was looking out for me but only recently did I learn that its concern extends all the way into my intestines.

When government officials talk about consumer protection, they mean protection not merely at the personal level, but at the cellular.

Speaking on behalf of my cells, I appreciate this.

Winter looks like a prodigy; the state mars holiday fun

The winter is as yet just a precocious tot, but its potential for noteworthy accomplishments is as obvious as that of a three-year-old who produces credible crayon likenesses of the family cat.

It looks as though it might be one of those winters.

You know the kind of winter I mean.

Wallowa-Whitman moves ahead on Travel Plan

As acting Forest Supervisor on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest until a permanent replacement is selected, I want to bring you up to date on the status of travel management planning on the Forest.

One of the most important issues facing the Forest Service is managing all types of recreational activities. Over the past several years the Wallowa-Whitman has engaged in a public process to designate roads, trails, and areas for motorized use as required by the 2005 National Travel Management Rule. The Forest has focused on identifying a system of routes that provides recreational opportunities and access for public motorized use, while providing protection to national forest resources.

Journalists and official secrets: An unhealthy alliance


Journalism, despite its occasional intellectual pretensions, is a blue-collar job.

You don’t need a license to practice it.

You don’t have pass a test or fill out a form or in any other way satisfy the edicts of government or industry before you gather information and then convey it to an audience.

It’s sort of like carpentry, except you hammer together clauses instead of boards.

This is as it should be.

When mourning war dead, be careful who you honor

The great bloody stain on civilization that is Adolf Hitler’s legacy continues to leak through the decades, leaving splotches in unexpected places.

The Portland Police Bureau, for instance.

Last month, Chief Mike Reese suspended Capt. Mark Kruger for 80 hours without pay and ordered him to attend “Tools for Tolerance” training.

Kruger’s offense, now almost a dozen years in the past, was nailing five plaques to a tree in Portland’s Rocky Butte Park, each marker honoring a German soldier killed during World War II.

(Kruger removed the plaques several years later.)

Another owner with an eye — and a heart — for history


The loss of any historic building saddens me, but the transformation of a structure from landmark to eyesore seems to me an even worse fate.

This process — and I’ll veer here briefly from an architectural to an automotive analogy — is akin to parking a vintage Ferrari in a drafty old barn and letting the packrats soil the fine leather and gnaw the spark plug wires.

I would rather have only memories and photographs of such a thing, at the apex of its beauty and utility, than to have to watch it decay.

It is, of course, vastly easier to lament such episodes than to prevent them.

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