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Oswald West made sure Oregon’s beaches belong to us all

Tom McCall almost certainly would rank as the most beloved of Oregon’s 36 governors were a poll taken today.

But I harbor a special affinity for Oswald West.

He is not so well known as the flamboyant and ever-quotable McCall, who in his most famous pronouncement encouraged people to visit Oregon but admonished them to not even consider moving here.


Wolves’ first foray into Oregon livestock leads to troubling questions

I would like to hear a wolf howl from a dark glen in the deep woods rather than from the stereo speakers in my living room.

But I haven’t thought much about how many lambs or beef calves ought to be sacrificed to make this happen.

Nor have I considered who should suffer so that I might enjoy a brief, shivery thrill while sitting beside a campfire.


O’Reilly has it in for Europe, and Portland goes after a sign

Listened to Bill O’Reilly give Europe a good verbal whipping two nights in a row this week. I was at the same time entertained and dismayed by his treatment of the continent.

I watch at least part of O’Reilly’s program most evenings. In the main I enjoy the show, even when, as happens perhaps a third of the time, I disagree with the host.

O’Reilly lambastes liberals often but he is no kept apologist for the Republican Party. Media pundits sometimes describe O’Reilly as though he were an ideological clone of Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck, but I think such comparisons result from shoddy research rather than piercing political insight.


It turns out ticks have their place, including the washing machine

My wife Lisa is friendly, caring and nurturing.

Except with ticks.

Suffice it to say that if Lisa saw a tick drowning (I’m presuming here, as my knowledge of ticks is scant, that ticks can be drowned) she wouldn’t throw it a life preserver.

Well, now that I think about it she might throw a life preserver.


Lots of people are ticked off about taxes, but why waste a bunch of tea?


When I think about the income taxes I pay — and I do so as infrequently as I can manage — I feel a peculiar mixture of patriotism and regret.

On the one hand I know I’m contributing, albeit in a meager way, to the most generous country on earth. I know the modest fruits of my labor help to heal and feed kids who are sick and starving in some wretched place.

On the other hand I’m also paying for manure odor studies and Barney Frank’s salary.

Ponder that for a few seconds and see if you can still smile.

Still and all, my disdain for certain of the federal government’s spending habits is not so great that I think it’s appropriate to compare Barack Obama to King George III.


We have what we need for great schools

The closing of a school is, with rare exceptions, a sad occasion.

This is due, it seems to me, to the unique nature of schools.

No building seems as empty as a shuttered school, for the simple reason that no building seems so full as one occupied by children who are learning to add fractions and to subtract superfluous adverbs from their sentences.

Playgrounds look particularly forlorn when deprived of kids. The sight of a ball field with basepaths overrun by dandelions rather than sneakers is a dismal one indeed.


Snowpack might not set records, but you can still get stuck

This winter has gotten a reputation, around here anyway, as something of a skinflint. This allegation, whatever its meteorological merits, sounds like the cruelest sort of lie when you’re stuck up to your armpits in a drift.

Nor does it add to the tale’s plausibility that your forearms have to endure their frigid submersion with nothing but skin for protection.

And skin gives up a lot, insulation-wise, to wool.


Pine returns to the mill, but its purpose is more humble

Strange to see ponderosa logs decked again at the Ellingson mill site.

Strange in a good way.

These trees, it’s true, aren’t destined for quite so noble a purpose as were the pines they used to stack on the property. Some of those logs were as thick through the middle as a bridge abutment.

The comparatively slender trees that trucks deliver to the mill these days, rather than becoming permanent parts of someone’s home will temporarily warm a room on a bitter day.


With the First Amendment, America’s already pretty fair

Politicians in Washington, D.C., have been saying some scary things of late.

They often do this, of course.

Yet recent rhetoric seems to me especially troubling because one of the words in fashion is “fairness.”

Besides, say, “taxes,” I can’t think of any word I would less like to hear from the larynxes of lawmakers.


Rooting for America rather than against its politicians

I hope the stimulus plan President Obama signed into law this week revives the American economy from its current bout of narcolepsy. And if it does, I won’t be bothered a whit when President Obama and the Democrats in Congress lay claim to the credit.

I understand this position brands me as unreliable, and possibly even a a traitor, in certain political circles.

Some conservative commentators — radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is the most prominent of them — are rooting for Obama to fail.


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