Baker Valley battled the invaders with rare courage, stubbornly
resisting even as its allies fell, one after another, before the mild
But the juggernaut of slush was irresistible.
Surrounded and vanquished, its situation hopeless, the valley at last
laid down its thermometers and surrendered to the meteorological
Which is to say it warmed up around here Wednesday morning.
Warm fronts bluster into our mountain valley pretty regularly during
winter, and predicting their snow-softening progress requires little in
the way of scientific prowess.
This I appreciate, as my knowledge of science is, well, limited. (Which
is akin to saying that Baker County is limited in its allotment of tide
Except sometimes the jet stream plays a prank.
The trick the atmosphere pulled off earlier this week was clever
indeed, making fools not only of amateur prognosticators like me, but
also the professionals from the National Weather Service.
If the Senate’s action this week foreshadows the future of public land
legislation under Democratic control, that future could be interesting
And potentially disappointing for advocates — and we included ourselves among them — of an equitable federal policy.
Senators had hardly arrived at the Capitol when Majority Leader Harry
Reid, D-Nev., introduced the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009
(S.22). The act would, among many other things, designate as wilderness
five areas in Oregon, totaling about 203,000 acres of public land (none
of those areas is in Northeastern Oregon).
We don’t oppose creating any of those wilderness areas.
The government’s getting ready to tax cow flatulence and burps.
Sure it sounds ludicrous.
But the government’s involved, a fact which makes plausible even the most hare-brained of schemes.
We certainly won’t try to convince anyone that the government’s incapable of imposing nonsensical and economically ruinous laws.
But neither do we want Baker County ranchers to worry unduly that
they’ll lose their operation if they can’t teach their herds some
Here’s what the government has actually done:
Last July the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced what it
calls an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” regarding “potential
regulatory approaches” to dealing with greenhouse gases.
The great thing about snow is that it melts.
Glaciers are rather more persistent, of course, but there aren’t any of those in Baker County.
Yet the temporary nature of snow is small consolation to anyone whose
car is marooned behind a chest-high wall of congealed slush.
Or to someone who lives along a street where the blacktop hasn’t been visible for a couple of weeks.
Both situations have happened this winter in Baker City.
Both have happened in plenty of winters past and, barring a radical shift in climate, both will continue to happen.
On balance, though, the snow that accumulates on our streets is more an
annoyance than the near-disaster that some critics of the city’s
snow-control strategy seem to believe it is.
In general the city deals with snow and ice in an appropriate and competent way.
I used to think, as I suspect most people do, that a chain saw posed a greater threat to eyesight than a contact lens does.
Recent events have forced me to reconsider the comparative danger of the two items.
The thing is, it’s easier nowadays to procure a chain saw — or for that
matter pretty much any powered implement with sharp metal pieces that
spin really fast — than it is to replace the contact lens you washed
down the drain.
Or snapped in half, as I did last Saturday.
I was cleaning the lens, too, which amplified my frustration.
Few things annoy me as completely as preventive maintenance that backfires.
It’s like changing the oil in your car and then blowing a piston because you forget to tighten the drain plug.
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