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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Monday was a day of tumbleweeds.
The spring norther had come out of hibernation to perform impromptu bouiffant surgery on unprotected heads and sandblast exposed corneas with grit.
We call it March around here.
Also April and May, as the calendar and the Pacific cold front dictate.
My commute along Auburn Avenue passes the Ellingson Lumber Co. mill site, a flat and open expanse where the gales can propel tumbleweeds to a respectable speed.
The big numbers painted on the outside west wall of the Powder Valley High School gym tell the story of Badger basketball.
Each pair of numbers denotes the year a Badger sports team won a state championship.
Powder Valley has been a consistent contender competing against Oregon’s smaller high schools, those with an enrollment of 105 or less.
The Cub Scouts were few in number but when the doors were closed they seemed to expand until the room, which can comfortably accommodate at least twice as many adults, felt full at the atomic level.
I fancied that I could hear the faint rasp of electrons colliding as they tried to carve out a little elbow room.
Actually I couldn’t hear much of anything except nine young voices, all going at once and sounding like a natural disaster, albeit one that doesn’t hurt anybody or knock down any buildings.
I used to write off registered voters who don’t vote as lazy, but my antipathy for their apathy is increasingly being shoved aside by sympathy for their plight.
Three recent examples from Oregon show that sometimes when you win at the ballot box the victory is fleeting.
I’m not referring to cases in which the electorate, fickle group that it is, changes its mind at a subsequent election.
That can be frustrating, to be sure, but it is at least consistent with democratic principles.
I’m much more troubled, though, when voters are in effect betrayed by the very people we elect to represent us.
During the past few years Oregon voters have had their will thwarted, to varying degrees, on three issues:
• Whether to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the state
• Whether condemned criminals should be executed
• Whether the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages will be defended against legal challenges
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