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A little lake in the Elkhorns has gone nameless long enough

A lake ought to have a name, mainly so I can tell people where I was when I got pierced by a gaggle of mosquitoes.

Or swarm, or whatever you call a bunch of ill-tempered mosquitoes.

Freedom in decline? How to explain all the guns and beer?

The notion that freedom is on the wane in America seems to have gained widespread currency these past several years. This is an alarming prospect at any time, but it seems to me particularly so as I ponder the matter on this eve of America’s birthday.

On July 4, more than on any other day, we celebrate our shared belief that freedom is not merely desirable but necessary, the granitic foundation which underlies and supports the grand and noble construction that is the United States.

The possibility that the bedrock beneath us might in fact be riddled with cracks after 233 years, which is no great span in the life of a nation, troubles me greatly.

'Quiet' study has a lot to say about recreation on the forest

A report bearing the intriguing title “Economic Impacts of Non-motorized (Quiet) Recreation on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest” reached my desk recently.

It was that little word — “quiet” —which caught my attention. The word itself didn’t interest me especially, as I learned some time back what quiet means.

What piqued my curiosity, rather, were the author’s use of quiet to describe recreation, and his decision to confine quiet to the grammatical quarantine that is the parentheses. This suggests to me that the author, Dr. Kreg Lindberg of Oregon State University’s Cascades Campus in Bend, isn’t confident that either quiet or non-motorized precisely conveys the sort of recreation he studied, so he put them both in the title.

Suddenly, the sting of a nettle seems a small matter in the Elkhorns

I blundered into a patch of stinging nettles while hiking cross-country in the Elkhorns a few weeks back. This unplanned encounter, which happened in the sort of squelchy spot where nettles often lurk, annoyed me slightly. My bare calves, which bore the brunt of the prickling, were somewhat more put out by my lack of attentiveness.

At the time — despite the short interval, the event has already acquired the nostalgic patina of a bygone and more innocent era — I presumed that nettles were about the most dangerous plant I’d be apt to step on in the mountains.

(And I felt fortunate at that — I’m clumsy, and so prone to stepping on, and in, most anything, including thunderstorms that pelt me with hailstones the size of marbles, except the hail, lacking the smoothness of a marble, leaves welts. )

Your opinions needed on Forest's road plan

As many of you may know, over the past several years the Forest Service has been engaged in a public process to designate roads, trails, and areas for motorized use on all national forests throughout the country.

The use of motor vehicles, particularly off-highway vehicles, is one of the fastest growing forms of outdoor recreation on national forest lands. The efforts are focused on looking at a system of routes that provides recreational opportunities and access for public motorized use, while providing protection to national forest resources.

The pros and cons of keeping a journal

I wish sometimes that I kept a journal.

I don’t mean a diary. I have no need for a cute little volume with flowers on the cover and whose pages I would, I fear, clog with cloying poetry inspired by a pretty vista I had seen in the mountains.

Nor am I conceiving of a Twitter-like (Twittery? Twitterish?) document which records every banal aspect of my daily routine. The Internet is quite full enough without adding to it my tally of jelly beans consumed or phone calls made and received.

What I’m thinking of, rather, is a simple chronicle that preserves for each day one or two events, the details of which I might want handy so as to revive my failing memory years later.

State workers need to pitch in

Please forgive our indulging in an overused nautical analogy, but as Oregon’s economy has been foundering these past several months, it seems to us that state workers have more than their share of reserved seats on the lifeboats.

For instance, according the Oregon Employment Department, private sector wages in the state rose an average of 2 percent in 2008.

New ways to get you the news, now

I’m in my office waiting for a text to my cell phone.

As I write this column, Baker High School’s baseball team is playing Henley near Klamath Falls for a berth in the state championship game. Kial Richardson, sister to Baker player Trace Richardson, is texting game updates to a whole bevy of Bulldog faithful, including me. I’m updating the score to the breaking news section of our Web site, www.bakercityherald.com, as soon as I get them.

Lay the blame for murders on the people who pulled the trigger

Two Americans were murdered this week because they chose careers that some people don’t approve of.

On the list of ridiculous reasons to kill somebody, this ranks right beside “hey, he looked at me funny.”

From a fast drive to the final class: 17 years goes by in a blur

On the day my older daughter was born I broke at least one Oregon law and possibly a few federal statutes.

The former could have cost me a couple hundred bucks, a bail I would have gladly paid. The federal rap, though, might have had serious repercussions — my own FBI file, for instance.

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