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The Baker City Herald is now online in a Replica E-edition form and publishes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Current subscribers have full access to the E-edition.

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Home arrow Opinion arrow Columns

Mr. Silvers’ generosity will long be appreciated

The new trees cast only thin shadows over the sidewalks north of the Fairgrounds rodeo arena but their significance, it seems to me, looms much larger than their meager shelter.

We who love trees must of course leaven our affection with patience. Much more patience, certainly, than we invest in the sowing of a vegetable garden or an expanse of grass, either of which yields its final products in a matter of weeks or perhaps a few months.

Trees are nothing as ephemeral as a row of peas or corn, but the greatness of a tree accumulates only over many years.

There is I think a slight similarity in this respect between trees and children.

Neither arrives fully developed. We watch as they grow into their potential, striving always to give them all they need to prosper. We rejoice when they achieve milestones (first autumn display of brilliant foliage, first straight-A’s report card) and we despair when they falter (first wind-snapped limb, first time late bringing the car back and with a dent in the fender).


Portable newspaper launches

For those of you who have been asking to receive your Baker City Herald subscription online, today’s the day you’ve been waiting for.

Our readers are increasingly interested in receiving local news delivered to their computers, notebooks, iPads and smartphones. We’ve included some news stories on our website, www.bakercityherald.com, since 2001, and share local updates on Facebook and Twitter. But in our mobile world, it makes a lot of sense to have a “portable” subscription that delivers the entire newspaper digitally — you can read it while on the road, vacation or before you get home from work. 

So, for the last two years, we’ve been planning delivery of the full version of the printed Baker City Herald to our subscribers to be accessed online and via mobile devices.

Finally, it’s here.  In today’s print edition you’ll find a Readers Guide to the Baker City Herald that includes information about how to use your subscriber account number to login, create a password and view today’s newspaper ... every page. Your monthly subscription now gives you the option of having both the print and online edition at no extra charge. You can also choose just to receive the online edition, or never login and just keep receiving the print edition of the newspaper delivered to your home. Any way you choose, you pay the same subscription price as you’ve been paying ... no additional charge.


Faith-healing book alternatively angers, saddens

I made it five pages into the book before I got so mad I had to put it down.

I figured the library wouldn’t appreciate it if I returned the book with half the pages dangling from the binding like rotten shingles from a neglected roof.

I picked up the book a few hours later, determined to finish it without so much as dog-earing a single page.

Over the next several days I read the remaining 445 pages with emotions ranging from anger, which never totally dissipated, to bewilderment to sadness.

I’m grateful to Cameron Stauth for writing “In the Name of God.”

But that he was able to write it — although it seems to me that he felt he had to write it — is a tragedy.

The subtitle for Stauth’s 2013 book explains the topic: “The true story of the fight to save children from faith-healing homicide.”

Except most of the children Stauth writes about weren’t saved.

They died.


Dandelion defense, and edging toward trouble


The clouds and the sunshine have finally worked out their customary spring schedule, and my grass is greening nicely.

Not so nicely as the dandelions, of course.

I despise dandelions, and have employed all manner of weapons to eradicate them from my modest expanse of turf, yet I can’t help but admire their tenacity.

This war I wage, like almost all wars, is a needless conflict.

My disdain for dandelions brands me as the product of a culture which venerates some vegetation and abhors others for reasons which aren’t altogether rational.


Riddle of the smashed lighter: Why do we litter ?

Big problems rarely lend themselves to easy solutions.

We can’t reverse global warming by twisting a thermostat.

We can’t make Vladimir Putin behave himself by yelling at him to lay off Crimea and Ukraine.

We can’t balance the federal budget by....

Well, actually we could do that by playing hide the checkbook with Congress, but first we’ve got to get our hands on the thing.

There is, though, one widespread mess that we could clean up today, and we’d probably save energy in the process.

Littering.


Saluting Lynette Perry, the Herald’s own Easter Bunny


Saturday marked the 20th-annual Baker City Herald Easter Egg Hunt. It’s an event that draws hundreds of local children each year to gather free eggs and toys in Geiser-Pollman Park.

But it almost disappeared in 1995.

That year the Baker City Jaycees, who had been the organizer of the annual event, disbanded. It looked as though the Easter Egg Hunt would not go on, for lack of a sponsor.


A first handshake that felt immediately familiar


The first time I shook Sid Johnson’s hand I felt an instant sense of familiarity.

His hand was my grandpa’s hand.

It was rough with sandpapery callouses, the fingers thick and gnarled like oak limbs, but it was also protective, in the manner of a wool blanket that is itchy but will keep you warm on a January night.

It was the hand of a working man.

A hand made to grasp a hammer, to plane a board, to build structures that would endure for decades.

It turned out that Sid and my grandpa had quite a lot more in common than well-weathered hands.


The post-9/11 generation; and an electric future


I was in a Boise hotel the first weekend of spring break, watching my two younger kids frolic in the swimming pool with half a dozen others, when I realized that none of these children was alive on Sept. 11, 2001.

This thought struck me with some force.

At least one of the swimmers looked to me to be 11, although he might be a precociously tall 9 or 10.

But I’m as sure as I can be, without getting a look at boy’s birth certificate, that he isn’t as old as 12 1/2.

Time, of course, gets away from us no matter how closely we think we’re tracking its progress.


The most important man hardly anyone knows


Philo T. Farnsworth should be as famous as Thomas Edison or Alexander Graham Bell.

That Farnsworth is, if not unknown then certainly obscure compared with Edison and Bell, seems to me both a pity and the basis for a fascinating story.

It is debatable, but hardly hyperbolic, to claim that Farnsworth is the most significant inventor of the past 200 years.

What’s not in question is that Farnsworth invented electronic television.

Which is a technology that’s about as ubiquitous as the lightbulb and the phone, but vastly more influential.


Watermelon’s PR campaign rivals a politician’s

I did not realize that watermelon has the sort of public relations apparatus normally reserved for heads of state or platinum-selling rock bands.

Nor did I know that watermelon exudes citrulline and arginine, which sound like components of gasoline but which apparently are natural substances that confer health benefits.

But now I do know those facts — and much else besides about this truly miraculous fruit — thanks to the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

This organization, I was disappointed to learn, is not based in Hermiston.

That city of course is associated with watermelons in these parts much in the way that Walla Walla is known for onions.

In fact the promotional arm for the watermelon has its headquarters in Orlando, Fla.


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