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Home arrow Opinion arrow Columns

A killer goes unpunished; and snow recedes

The sentence “The body was found in a shallow grave” bothers me in a way few others strings of words do.

I’ve read it, or something similar, dozens of times.

Ditches and dams: Putting our water to work

Like a lot of people I’d enjoy living where I can hear the soothing music of running water.

Sadly there is no stream near my home.

I have to settle for a toilet with a flapper valve chain that’s prone to getting bound up.

Wait for a book? Not in the era of the Internet

Amazon and its Kindle e-reader have made me a bitter and impatient man.

I now share the wretched trait, common to medieval monarchs and certain modern celebrities and politicians, of demanding that my needs be fulfilled immediately.

And ideally with the sniveling deference appropriate of an underling.

Rethinking my opinion on background checks

That Oregon’s government should require almost everyone who wants to buy a gun to first undergo a background check is a legislative idea that sounds good.

But there are plenty of good ideas that make for bad laws.

Or at best, unnecessary ones.

For instance, more people die in car crashes in Oregon than are killed by someone who bought a gun illegally.

Backroad Oregon, but at least there’s Corn Nuts

There is no country store so remote that it can avoid Corn Nuts.

The place might stock one loaf of bread that looks as though it came out of the oven during the Clinton administration.

Its canned goods might shed a thicker layer of dust than artifacts at an archaeological dig.

You might have trouble telling the milk from the cottage cheese, what with their similarly chunky textures.

Best-buy date labels that don’t include the year are of little value.

Ready to give late-night scammers a nice shock

I would swap every app on my cellphone for a single feature on my home phone.

Remember those tear-jerker TV commercials that AT&T aired in the ’80s, with the catch-phrase “reach out and touch someone?”

Well I don’t want to reach out and touch someone.

I want to reach out and shock someone.

And I don’t mean a figurative, emotional shock.

I’m talking physical shock.

Amps or volts or whatever it is that makes your eyes bug out and the fillings in your teeth ache.

Specifically I want to shock the person responsible for my phone ringing after 10 o’clock four nights running, jolting me out of REM sleep each time.

I don’t want to cause permanent damage or anything.

Oregon’s desert: Beauty, silence, and hot soup

The warning sign was silent on the matter of heating soup, which got me to wondering.

Would the BLM mind if I plunked a can of sirloin and hearty vegetables into one of the steam-belching vents at Mickey Hot Springs and waited for the broth to commence to bubbling?

I suppose using these publicly owned taps into the Earth’s molten mantle for something as banal as preparing a hot lunch must violate some federal statute or another.

And probably more than one, what with the ample supply.

Spring arrives, but this year who really noticed?

I stepped onto my back porch at noon of a recent day and instantly regretted that I had donned my down jacket.

This reliable garment, my faithful companion and protector during Baker County’s generally chilly and occasionally arctic winters, was suddenly superfluous.

At least it seemed sudden to me.

Just an hour or so before, when I got home for lunch, the early March sunshine brought only the weak warmth customary of the season.

Yet now that sun, at its daily zenith, jolted me ahead clear through the balmy spring and into torrid July.

Portland buildings wearing Baker County faces

I learned recently that quite a number of Portland buildings have Baker County faces, as it were.

I’m referring here to stone faces.

Specifically I’m referring to something geologists call “rhyolite breccia” but most everyone else, whose tongues are not familiar with words such as “breccia,” probably knows as “moon rock."

Half my life at the Herald, and I’m still loving it

It came to me, in one of those rare and random numerical epiphanies, that I have worked at the Baker City Herald for more than half my life.

These occasions are rare for me because numbers and I have had a troubled relationship. A long one, too, that dates to my introduction to algebra, which was roughly akin to a teenager who throws up on his date’s dress while trying to pin on a corsage before the homecoming dance.

This relationship — the math one, I mean, not soiling a poor girl’s new gown — might have contributed to the early retirement of multiple math teachers.

It certainly emptied a lot of red ink pens. Although the teachers eventually resorted to the ink-saving tactic of just scrawling a question mark next to my answers. It was as though my attempted solution to the problems veered so far from any recognizable principle that even the experts couldn’t figure out what I was trying to do.

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