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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.

When it comes to City Council write-ins, experience counts

Baker City voters value experience in their city councilors.

But not necessarily current experience.

For certain voters, past incumbency seems to be a more valuable political attribute than present.

County Clerk Tami Green this week faxed me a tally of the write-in votes from the Nov. 2 election.

The spreadsheets, which show the vote totals for everyone whose name showed up on more than three ballots, make for interesting reading.

Overall, residents cast 1,021 write-in votes.

Which isn’t very many, really — barely 10 percent of the total votes cast.

The urban-rural divide in Baker County; and eating crow on Dudley

There’s a common lament heard around here which has it that those infernal city voters, on account of their superior numbers, run roughshod over us in the hinterlands like a schoolyard bully.

Take last week’s election.

(Or leave it, if you’d rather.)

Almost three in four Baker County voters wanted Republican Chris Dudley to be Oregon’s next governor.

Yet it’s Democrat John Kitzhaber who will be hauling his luggage to Mahonia Hall, and the reason is that a slightly higher percentage of Multnomah County voters said it should be.

And there’s 417,000 of them as against 10,000 of us.

But what if “those city voters” in this case live not in Portland, nor even in the smaller but still substantial urban centers of Eugene, Salem or Bend?

What if they live in Baker City?

What if Baker City were that urban liberal bastion jutting arrogantly from a conservative rural sea?

Well it is.

Sort of.

All right, barely.

It's noisy out there, but the truth keeps getting through

Another election has passed, and the predominant sentiment among Americans, or so it seems to me, is that we’re exhausted and could use a vacation.

Preferably to some place in the tropics which is not at present having its topography rearranged by a hurricane.

Our commonest complaints, as we languish in the post-election malaise, are that the campaigns were slimy, and the media’s appetite for the vitriolic stew was insatiable.

This ability of Americans to rediscover our disdain for politics every couple of years, to react to its ugly but utterly predictable excesses with the innocent wonder of a child discovering some previously unknown aspect of the world, tickles me as always.

An amusing scene in the woods; and a new threat in the hills?

We came across an amusing scene the other day in the pine woods on the north side of Phillips Reservoir.

Although whimsical is perhaps the more apt adjective in this instance.

There is no surplus of whimsy in the world, certainly. And it seems to me that we would be well off were our lives to incorporate a little more of the fanciful and the silly.

It was a Sunday. The morning was chilly but clear and so we decided to hike  the dirt path that traces the reservoir’s shoreline.

This is a nondescript route by local standards. It is in the main flat, a rarity in a county which would make a swell testing ground for the makers of emergency brakes.

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