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Obsessed with the garbage truck


My 2-year-old can hear the refrigerator door opening from across the house, but it’s the distinctive squeal of a garbage truck’s brakes that makes her drop everything and race to the door.

Every morning when she wakes up, she asks “Garbage truck coming today?” in a hopeful little voice.

Six days of the week she’s disappointed. But when she goes to bed Thursday night, I get to say, “The garbage truck will be here tomorrow.”

Her eyes light up as she exclaims, “It’s Friday!”

(Repetition is everything in a toddler’s world.)


Looking backward to find the route toward a cooler future

Quite a lot of people insist that the cure for certain afflictions which plague our planet, chief among them its increasingly fevered brow, is technology.

I happen to agree.

Yet implicit in this attitude, it seems to me, is the belief that this technology will inevitably be of the “new” variety.


The unforeseen effects of pot; and a clunker that fails to qualify

If any reasonable doubt remained about the absurdity of the claim that smoking marijuana is a victimless crime, one toppled tree has crushed it.

The same tree that crushed the life out of Steven A. Uptegrove.


Hitler, Stalin are long dead: Why must we keep rattling their evil bones?


Hitler died 64 years ago, but his name — or at least his moustache — gets in the news so often you’d think the old monster was still kicking around.

Although he’d be 120, and so possibly incapable of the sort of evil that defined his life.

Probably you’ve noticed that Hitler has become a favorite, albeit a posthumous, tool of propagandists who endeavor to make their political foes look especially nasty, but who disdain devoting a lot of time to assembling a logical case to bolster their allegations.

These lazy molders of public opinion seem to have decided that it’s a silly exercise to exhaust themselves with hours of tedious research when there’s a perfectly good four-letter word available.

That word being “Nazi.”


PETA takes on Portland, and horse poop takes center stage

I can go along with PETA for some distance but I keep getting distracted, and well short of applying for membership, by the group’s loony pronouncements.

Which, in defense of my ability to concentrate, is pretty easy to do when it comes to PETA.


Traipsing across Washington, a heat wave on our heels

I was pursued recently, and quite doggedly, by a heat wave. This experience intrigued me, as my interest in meteorological matters is boundless, but it was also a plain old nuisance.

The latter was due mainly to all the changing of shirts.


Government should settle for simpler alternatives

President Obama appeared on what seemed like half my channels the other evening, pitching his prescription for health care.

The president had plenty to say about the American people. Politicians have in recent years taken up the American people in a big way, and we are as a result getting quite a lot of press coverage.


Rowling proves that magic doesn’t happen just on the big screen

Watched the latest episode of the Harry Potter series Sunday at the Eltrym, and the film erased two and a half hours as effortlessly as did the five movies that came before it.

Even without malted milk balls or red vines to sweeten the experience.

I expected as much.


Good-bye to all these great people


Public goodbyes aren’t my thing, but in the newspaper business they sure can be efficiently handled.

In one column I can wish you all well and say nice things about the people I’ve worked alongside the past nine years.

Both are easy tasks, but neither is a job I tackle with relish. Except for the nice-making part.

First things first.

You people — you know who you are, because you’ve graced our Page 1 over the years — have been wonderful, a privilege  to profile. Ned Steele told me the moving story of his Marine Corps service during the Battle of Guadalcanal — a story so painful he’d just started sharing it with family members in August 2002, the 60th anniversary of that fierce battle.


Losing a really good reporter — and a really bad French accent


Saying goodbye has never been easy for me, but a particular melancholy has come over me in recent weeks at the prospect of watching my colleague Mike Ferguson leave the Baker City Herald building for the last time as he prepares to move his family to Iowa.

I won’t say that I’ve enjoyed every day of working side by side with Mike. You see, I like a quiet work environment.

Mike, on the other hand, is a thespian and a storyteller. He even fancies himself as something of a song-and-dance man. On more than one occasion, upon arriving at the office with a less-than-enthusiastic attitude, Mike’s voice has been the first thing I’ve heard as I walked through the front door. Never mind that he’s still two rooms away at that point.


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