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A winter’s day, sharing the trail with a coyote

I followed the tracks of a lone coyote through snow for better than a mile on a recent sun-dazzled Saturday, and when I turned back I felt a kinship with this cunning omnivore.

Mainly, though, I felt tired.

More tired, I’m sure, than the coyote was after covering the same  ground.

Coyotes rarely top 35 pounds, and being both relatively svelte and possessed of well-furred paws, they can often stay atop snow without foundering the way people, who typically bid the 35-pound mark farewell before they’re enrolled in first grade, are apt to do.

(I was wearing snowshoes to offset my natural disadvantage, but the principle holds.)


Which ‘people’ are Refuge occupiers helping?

I treasure my right to visit public lands.

Being a member of the public and all, I consider it a sacred thing that even within my own modestly sized county there exist hundreds of thousands of acres where I can go to have a picnic or take a nap beneath a ponderosa pine or shoot at a jackrabbit.

(And like as not miss — my rights as a citizen don’t include, unfortunately, the right to shoot straight.)


Do I hate Mega Bloks? Let me count the (421) ways

I’ll tell you why I hate Mega Bloks.

And I have 421 reasons.

So this might take a while.

Although not nearly as long as my wife Lisa and I labored, the Sunday morning after Christmas, to assemble a device so sinister in its complexity that the task would have had Oppenheimer and Von Braun bickering within 20 minutes.

This Lego-like creation, a Christmas gift for our son, Max, who’s 4 and a dinosaur fan, is a Tyrannosaurus rex.


Christmas spirit that’s costing me precious sleep

The Christmas lights began to twinkle, an off-key, electronic version of “Deck the Halls” blared from the kitchen, and I was certain an intruder had blundered onto the premises.

An intruder infused with the holiday spirit, apparently.

But at 3 a.m., the possibility that we were being menaced by a maniac who at least has an affinity for classic carols and multicolored bulbs eased my anxiety not a whit.

There’s nothing holly or jolly about a home invasion robbery.

(Which phrase seems to have inserted itself into the jargon of American journalism, especially the televised variety, editors apparently having decided that “break in” isn’t dramatic enough.)


Driving a car ought to be a hands-on activity

Hand gestures, and in particular one which requires the full extension of a certain centrally located digit, have long been part of the motorist’s lexicon.

But nowadays a driver can do quite a lot more with a single finger than express his disdain for the guy in the Camaro who just cut him off.

For instance, ordering the stereo to cut off Air Supply in favor of Twisted Sister.

(Which in most circumstances is a worthwhile change. Actually in all circumstances, now that I’ve thought about it for half a second.)


Annoyed but impressed by a bull elk's skills

My hatred for elk is exceeded only by my admiration.

I suspect most elk hunters share my ambivalence for this species.

Although most hunters, unlike me, occasionally return from the hunt lugging a more tangible part of the elk than the mental image of one fleeing through the forest while my rifle hangs from its sling, as useless as a five-iron.

Such scenes are memorable and not altogether unpleasant, to be sure.

But they’re not so tasty as, say, a summer sausage.


Is America focused on curbing its greatest threats?

Mass shootings have something in common with airliner crashes besides killing innocent people.

Both types of disaster garner considerably more attention, from the media and elsewhere, than another tragedy that’s much more common in the U.S., and that kills many more people — traffic accidents involving drunken drivers.

The vast difference in how our society reacts to these disparate but deadly events intrigues me.


My affinity for the tire store just keeps rolling on


When I was a kid there was little I enjoyed more than going to the tire store with my dad.

(Riding my BMX bike and pretending I was getting major air off every curb comes to mind as a competitor, but that’s about it.)

I could have — and quite possibly did — spend an hour or more wandering the dark aisles while dad was off discussing ply ratings and steel belts and whatever else had to do with the transaction.

I didn’t care about the mechanical aspects of the tire business, largely because I didn’t understand the mechanical aspects.


A century in Pine Valley: Marcella Taylor’s great life

What a life Marcella Taylor lived.

It’s not merely the longevity that stands out to me, although Marcella, who was 101 when she died Oct. 22, belonged to an extremely exclusive club.

The number of Americans who survive for a century is considerably less than 1 percent of the population.

Considerably less than one-tenth of 1 percent, come to that.


Wi-fi robot that vacuums? Sounds painful to me


I have trouble getting around my house in the dark without barking a shin or stubbing a toe, even though I’ve lived there for 20 years and none of the objects that bruise me is capable of moving on its own.

Yet some entrepreneurs want me to buy a device that, so far as I can tell, would have the run of my place and could at any time ambush me.


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