Let’s have a plan to deal with cell tower spread
Recently it has come to our attention that yet another telecommunication cell tower application has been received by the Baker County Planning Commission. This tower, as we understand it, is to be 199 feet tall, a separate tower construction in the vicinity of Coyote Peak, highly visible to anyone in the Baker area.
The recent past has seen the construction of a tall tower on Highway 30 at the edge of town, two towers on Spring Garden Hill and area, an expanding Internet facility on the same hill, a facility on top of the Baker Towers with another application for co-located equipment on that hotel, and several additions to existing facilities around Baker City.
According to the National Business Institute, the sheer number of telecommunication sites is estimated to reach 200,000 in the next five years, this up from about 60,000 today. This is a very disturbing picture and we should be very concerned about this direction and how it affects Baker City and County. It is critical to be have a conscious awareness and make prudent decisions about the continual string of requests for additional towers.
We encourage the County and City planning commissioners to have a plan in place to protect our environment as well as provide services for growing communication needs. We must be proactive in keeping this spreading metal forest and ugly supporting structures from dominating our viewshed.
We have reviewed a “Draft for Wireless Communication Facilities,” chapter 740, that was written by the county commissioners back in April 2010. Almost three years old, this draft contains much of what is needed to address this problem. We are asking the commissioners of 2013 to please revisit this draft and make it a priority for dealing with the spread of wireless communication facilities. Also, goals 3 and 5 in the “Introductory Guide to Land Use Planning for Small Cities and Counties in Oregon” need to be reviewed and enacted.
Other cities and communities have taken a proactive stance, such as Boise, Bend and Eugene. We must do the same here in Baker City and County.
Linda Wunder Wall
There is at first glance a certain gastronomic symmetry between Oregon’s recent flap over a gay couple who wanted to buy a wedding cake, and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s.
One of the great symbols of the latter was, of course, the lunch counter — specifically, the prevalence of “whites only” restaurant sections in the Deep South.
But given anything more than a cursory look, the validity of this comparison withers.
For one thing, the segregated lunch counter, and other restricted public accommodations, were the norm in those days, whereas we know of only one Oregon bakery whose owners won’t bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples.
For another, the activists who defied the lunch counter segregation had as their ultimate goal guaranteeing for themselves fundamental rights, chief among them suffrage and access to public universities, which are not denied to Americans based on their sexual orientation.
Aaron Klein, who owns Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham with his wife, Melissa, said he refused to make a cake for Laurel Bowman and her fiancée because he’s a Christian and he doesn’t think gay couples should be able to legally marry. Klein said this wasn’t the first time he has declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
Bowman’s decision to file a formal complaint against Klein with the Oregon Attorney General over a wedding cake, a product readily available at dozens of businesses in the Portland area, seems to us a clumsy attempt to achieve the worthwhile goal of securing for gay couples the same legal rights, such as hospital visitations, afforded to heterosexual couples who are married.
The dispute over the wedding cake does, though, raise an interesting question about what seems to us a conflict between Oregon’s Constitution and one of its laws.
Here’s what the Constitution says: “No law shall in any case whatever control the free exercise, and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.”
But then there’s a law passed in 2007, ORS 659A.403: “all persons within the jurisdiction of this state are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation, without any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status....”
The law’s definition of public accommodations includes private businesses.
The Constitution seems to us intended to protect Klein’s right to express his religious opinions by, for instance, not making a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage.
Yet the law makes it clear that if he bakes wedding cakes for heterosexual couples — which he does — then he can’t refuse to do the same for a gay couple because they’re gay.
The ideal solution to this apparent legal conundrum is not to be found in a courtroom or in the Attorney General’s office, however.
What’s needed is a dollop of tolerance.
Bowman and her fiancée should tolerate Klein’s constitutional right to adhere to his religious views.
And by doing so, of course, Klein loses not only the couple hundred dollars the couple would have spent on a cake, but an unknown amount of money from other potential customers who no doubt will patronize a different bakery because they don’t agree with Klein’s stance on gay marriage.
Ultimately, we think gay couples will be more likely to gain the legal rights they want, and deserve, by focusing their efforts on legislative and electoral remedies rather than worrying about one bakery.
We’ll never know, with absolute certainty, why Jadin Bell, a 15-year-old sophomore at La Grande High School, decided to end his life.
But we know that he had not hidden that he was gay.
More importantly, we know he complained that he had been bullied recently at school.
That bullying can play a role in pushing teenagers to attempt suicide is beyond dispute.
The risk is considerably greater for young men, who are six times more likely to die by suicide than young women are.
As we assess the terrible equation that sometimes results in a teen’s death, some elements will likely forever remain beyond our grasp.
But bullying we can do something about.
Which is not to say we can eliminate it.
That some people enjoy humiliating and intimidating others — in particular those who are “different” in some way — is a sad fact of human nature.
Yet we must not ignore bullies or even trivialize them, either of which response is tantamount to condoning their actions.
We must instead subject bullies to the same harsh light of unwanted attention which they cast on their victims.
We must punish bullies, both by disciplinary measures at school and through legal means if they commit crimes.
We must make them understand, as best we can, that what they think of as innocuous heckling can in fact have dire consequences.
Indeed, sometimes fatal ones.
And that, even if you ultimately decide you need to deliver a heartfelt apology to the person you demeaned, you might never get the chance.
And finally, we must recognize that bullies’ bravado often is bluster, an attempt by a person who feels powerless to exert control over others.
Multiple studies show that many bullies suffer from the same problems that make their targets vulnerable, chief among these being low self-esteem.
Reducing the incidence of bullying by helping bullies see the error of their ways, in addition to punishing them, would be the ideal result.
I went to school with a boy who was different.
He was my classmate for 12 years — 13, actually, if you count kindergarten — and he was, for the whole of that time, different.
Even when I was a 5-year-old who could barely tie his shoes I recognized this.
He didn’t talk like the other kids.
He didn’t act like the other kids.
I was going to write that indeed he didn’t even look like the other kids, because my memory insists this is so.
Except my mom was a faithful keeper of memorabilia and so I have, wedged into a corner of a closet, a stack of my birthday cards and elementary school artwork (all of it wretchedly executed, even accounting for my age) and school class photographs.
I looked at a few of the latter and I realized that this boy, who was different in many ways, in fact smiled pretty much like his classmates smiled, which is to say with the unique innocence of the pre-pubescent.
If you hadn’t spent a couple thousand days in school with the boy, as I did, your eyes would pass over his face in these photographs and detect nothing abnormal there, nothing to prompt a question.
He was, like me, one of a couple dozen kids who spent their entire childhood in our bucolic little town. We were kindergartners together and we got our driver’s licenses around the same time and finally, the last time as a group, we walked across our high school gym and stepped onto a podium and collected our diplomas.
This long period — to a kid, life seems without end, and a weekend almost as immense — was for me a time of tranquility, even banality.
There were no great dramatic episodes, no scandals, nothing that can fairly be described as traumatic.
Of course things happened which seemed to me then of great consequence; but these only emphasize the essential quiescence of the period. When some minor gaffe on the baseball diamond, or a painfully clumsy letter to a pretty girl that fails to provoke the desired response, stand out as memorable disappointments, then life is progressing more or less as it’s supposed to.
But for the boy who was different, childhood was nothing like the pleasant and uneventful period I breezed through.
I don’t presume to speak for him, of course.
But I saw what happened to him — sharing classrooms and hallways and cafeterias with him for many years, it could hardly have been otherwise — and the ordeals he endured far exceeded, in sheer nastiness, anything in my experience.
I don’t know, medically speaking, what made this boy different.
It wasn’t Down syndrome.
I doubt he even would be described, today, as developmentally disabled.
He was smart, particularly in math and science.
A story went around that he was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and perhaps that’s true.
Whatever the cause, he struggled to speak clearly — he stuttered, for one thing, and when finally he yanked the words loose they were garbled by a severe, saliva-slurred lisp.
But what made the boy especially vulnerable was his temper.
He seemed to have had no more control over it than he had over his obstinate tongue.
A single taunt sometimes spurred him into a tantrum that only a teacher could quell — and even the teacher often failed at first to calm the boy.
A few of my particularly boorish male classmates — every school, I suspect, is infected with such characters — recognized the boy’s weakness and they pounced on it with a sort of mindless, predatory cunning.
Which is to say they provoked the boy because they knew they could, and that he would respond in a way guaranteed to attract a crowd.
These episodes — most of them, as I recall, happened during junior high — ended, inevitably, with the boy crying and red-faced and, rarely, screaming in a way that was almost feral. It was frightening, really.
A teacher would lead him to the office. Maybe sometimes he even went home for the rest of the day. I don’t remember.
I never instigated any of these assaults — for that is what they were, even when there was little or no physical contact between the boy and his tormenters.
But neither did I ever try to stop one.
I’d like to be able to explain this away by saying I wasn’t physically capable of intervening in any effective way; and this is, in a sense, the truth.
The bullies, as bullies often are, were bigger and stronger than I was.
But the excuse doesn’t hold.
I could have waded into any of these frays. I might have ended up with a black eye, to be sure, but in doing so I would have broken the spell that seems to come over any group that’s watching a spectacle.
I don’t mean to imply that I think often about the boy who was different.
He’s married now, and successful so far as I can tell.
Maybe you could even say he’s fortunate. He made it. He didn’t hurt anyone. Or himself.
What caused me to think recently about this boy was reading about another boy who was also different.
But the story of Jadin Bell, a 15-year-old sophomore at La Grande High School, hasn’t the happy (or anyway not tragic) ending that my classmate’s does.
Jadin died Sunday in a Portland hospital, the result of his suicide attempt earlier this month at Central Elementary School in La Grande.
Jadin, who was gay, told friends he had been bullied at school.
I didn’t know Jadin.
I have no idea what he might have endured.
But I have watched a boy suffer for no reason other than he was different.
Which is no reason at all.
That I still feel a nagging sense of shame, 30 years and more later, attests I think to the pervasive power of malicious acts.
Yet even now I could do something. I could contact the boy, could apologize for my cowardice. This would be a meager gesture, of course, a token more likely to assuage my guilt than to help my former classmate.
But it is a luxury I have, and one that is forever lost to those who knew, and loved, Jadin Bell.
Alternative energy isn’t just a bunch of hot air
Well, Baker City’s biggest romance novelist is back at it. I have read many of Pete Sundin’s pot boilers and I must admit I did enjoy reading his fiction. I have seldom enjoyed reading his letters. I wish he would write more books and fewer letters. However, to listen to the politics of Pete Sundin one would think he sold more books than Louis L’Amour and owned a national chain of supermarkets rather than a run down deli.
Unlike the wind, Pete blows hard all the time. His latest epistle dealt with alternative energy. And, like a fiction writer, Pete sometimes makes stuff up. Several people I know in Eastern Oregon live off the grid. This means that they rely on solar and wind for electrical power. But, unlike Pete’s scenario, these folks take their solar and wind and store the energy in batteries. Then at night, when the sun doesn’t shine, and the wind doesn’t blow these doughty pioneers take the power out of the batteries rather than run generators.
To hear Pete tell it, once the poles are up and the windmills are churning, the power is free. I do wonder how much the windmills cost, but Pete didn’t tell me that. He did tell me that the alternative energy costs way more than the regular kind. I naturally assumed that if windmills are anything like the modern house, it’s going to take many years to pay off the construction costs. Even after the mortgage is paid off, living in the house isn’t free. Personally, I’m glad that some people are testing and developing alternative energy sources. If in fact the world does run out of cheap energy someday, it would be nice to have something ready to fill up our houses with hot air.
Consequences of being wrong on global warming
In response to the letter by Pete Sundin on Friday, Feb. 1, on alternative energy not a panacea to problems. I would like to start by saying I would never try to get Pete to agree with me, we are polar opposites on most of his opinions and getting Pete to agree with me would be like getting the Congress to compromise and get something done. I could talk until I was blue in the face and accomplish nothing, so I won’t try.
This is one time, however, I would like Pete and the people like him that don’t believe in alternative energy, global warming or the consequences of it to at least consider this.
Would you rather err on your side of the argument or mine? The consequences of which are as follows.
If you are wrong and we all follow your argument, then the world in 100 years will have oil shortages, food shortages due to drought and the lack of water, excessive heat and disease, and continuous resource wars leading to more and more killing. In short it will be an ugly world. That is to say only if you are wrong.
Now if my side is wrong and we all follow my argument then the world may be a little warmer, but we will have cleaner air, abundant water supply, less disease, hopefully fewer wars, at least they won’t be resource wars. We will have by then replaced oil and coal as our source for electricity all together. In short a healthier and cleaner planet.
Now I know you have children and no doubt will have great-grandchildren alive 100 years from now. Consider this then, would you rather err on my side or your side of the argument? Do you want those great-grandchildren to say grandfather cared about me, or grandfather didn’t give a damn about me?
The crisis afflicting Oregon’s public education system looks pretty severe if you take a statewide view of the matter.
But narrow your perspective to focus on Baker County and North Powder schools, and you’ll have more reason to be pleased rather than dismayed.
The vast majority of students in our local public high schools earn their diploma within the normal four-year period.
Baker High School’s four-year graduation rate, for instance, was almost 78 percent for the 2011-12 academic year.
That’s 10 percentage points better than the Oregon average.
(And, incidentally, Baker High’s graduation rate equals the most recently calculated national average, for 2010, which is the highest in almost 40 years.)
In a related statistic, and one that’s also worth celebrating, fewer than 1 percent of BHS students dropped out of school last year — just five of 535 teenagers.
Pine-Eagle, North Powder and Burnt River schools posted even higher graduation rates. And Baker County’s other district, Huntington, had six of eight students graduate within four years, although a record-keeping discrepancy, related to the district’s discontinued exchange student program, resulted in an official graduation rate of just 38 percent.
The story behind the numbers is that with rare exceptions, our students don’t get left behind, or fall through the cracks, or any of the other clichés typically used to explain failures.
They earn their diplomas and in doing so vastly increase their chances of going on to a productive career and life.
Much of the credit goes of course to the students, who write the papers and take the tests and do the homework, and to their parents and guardians, who make sure their children are fed and clothed and ready to learn.
But these statistics are a tribute as well to our schools and to the professionals who work in them.
To ensure that most of our children successfully reach the vital milestone of graduating from high school requires a consistent effort in our homes and our classrooms.
We are fortunate indeed to live in an area where failure in this crucial endeavor is not treated as inevitable.
Gun control no way to stop gun violence
The concept of gun control to stop gun violence is very simple. It’s like trying to stop a schoolyard bully by all the little weak kids agreeing that they won’t fight back. The concept of Second Amendment gun rights is also very simple. It’s like all the little weak kids having the opportunity to walk to school with their big, football-player brothers.
If the idea of gun control to stop violence really worked, we wouldn’t want to stop there. We could end all crime by getting rid of our police and sheriff departments and we could end all fires by getting rid of our fire departments. We could also end war by getting rid of our military. How can people honestly think this might work? Where would we be today if, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we had just thrown all our weapons into the Pacific Ocean? We fought back then and as individuals and a nation, we need to fight back now. We need to refuse to be victims. The bad guys have firearms and they won’t stop using them just because the rest of us quit. And our self-protection weapons need to be as big and capable as what the bad guys have.
The campaign to curb the use of studded tires on Oregon highways rolls on.
When legislators convene Monday for the 2013 session in Salem, they’ll have at least three bills to consider.
Two would add a fee for each studded tire sold in the state. HB 2278 sets a $10 per tire fee, and HB 2397 calls for a fee to be established later.
HB 2277 would require drivers to obtain a permit before driving with studded tires. The state would calculate the cost of the permit by dividing the estimated cost of damage to roads caused by studded tires, by the number of vehicles equipped with such tires.
HB 2277 deserves a categorical rejection. Gauging damage caused by studded tires is little more than a educated guess.
HB 2278, though, has merit.
Although we’re studded tire supporters, it can’t be denied that these tires accelerate the wear of pavement compared with non-studded tires.
A modest fee — we like 5 bucks a tire rather than 10 — would help to pay that extra cost without putting studded tires out of financial reach for Oregonians who benefit from their unique qualities.
Alternative energy not a panacea to problems
Electricity from wind farms costs around four times as much as that produced by conventional electrical generators. Ever wonder why? After all, once the towers are in place, their fuel is both free and inexhaustible. Why is it so much more expensive?
It’s partly due to the nature of wind itself. Sometimes it blows; sometimes it doesn’t. Say a wind farm has the capacity to power 30,000 homes. But when the air is calm and still, those wind towers are generating absolutely no electricity. So that wind farm must be paired with conventional generators which can provide the missing electricity when the wind isn’t blowing. You see the problem: to provide that 30,000 homes’ worth of electricity, there must be two facilities with that capability, not just one, and that’s costly.
When the wind does blow, it does not do so consistently; there are sudden gusts, and sometimes lulls. So if you were getting all of your electricity from a wind farm, you would suffer a series of frequent power surges and/or brownouts, an intolerable situation and another reason for the pairing of wind farms and conventional power plants. The latter are needed to smooth out the erratic power generation of wind farms. Since the conventional generators must be ready to instantly increase power to alleviate wind lulls, they must be running all the time. This means that they are often burning fuel (and so giving off carbon dioxide) yet not producing any electricity whatsoever.
Still another factor is that the most dependable sites for wind power seldom are close to the metropolitan areas which they serve. So wind farm electricity must be sent long distances, and much is therefore lost through electrical resistance in the wires transmitting it.
The problems discussed above are intrinsic to wind power, and cannot be alleviated through engineering. Great Britain’s wind farms have been giving the English a demonstration of the above problems. Solar panels also use a free, inexhaustible fuel, but since the sun doesn’t shine all the time either, Spain’s solar power facilities have difficulties similar to those of wind power.
Time for Eastern and Western Oregon to separate
Either the gun control bill in Congress will pass or not. As I write this it appears there are enough votes to stop Dianne Feinstein and her army of banners from destroying the Second Amendment. Everything has been said on both sides. By now you should understand that the right believes owning firearms lets us defend ourselves and makes us capable of resisting tyranny and is essential to maintain freedom. The left is just as convinced that if they disarm us everything will be sweetness and light and evil will disappear. No more deaths do to violence or at least a lot fewer.
What pro gun people should understand is that even if this battle is won they will be back. Urban America grows and rural America shrinks as to relative size and make no mistake, banning guns is an urban idea. We see things in mirror images. We are red and blue states and red counties inside blue states. Deep cultural issues divide Eastern and Western Oregon and if you Google “state partitions” you will find that forming new state boundaries isn’t such a quaint idea. Washington recently had a bill in their state legislature to divide Eastern Washington and the idea has been proposed in numerous states, usually citing geographic and cultural differences.
I call on Representative Bentz and state Senator Ferriolli to introduce legislation to get the process started and Congressman Walden to introduce similar legislation in the House of Representatives. Our cultural differences in regards to guns, statewide land use laws, wolves and other issues aren’t just areas of minor differences they are at the core of life. If the same fire and zeal that is being displayed over the Wallowa-Whitman’s travel management plan would translate into a new state movement we could get somewhere. Think about it gun owners, you usually have a firearm with you while riding and firearms are at the very center of freedom. It is time that east and west went their separate ways.
Guns: Good for government but not for we the people?
The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. Independence was not won from deer and elk; it was won by shooting the British with the most advanced weaponry available at the time.
The Second Amendment is to ensure that we the people will always be on the same playing field as the government, and subsequently, the government would always fear us rather than vice versa. A citizenry with limited or no firepower is the first ingredient in a dictatorship or even genocide. Can’t happen here, you say? Consider Red China, the Soviet Union, Uganda, Nazi Germany, and Cambodia among others. Millions of disarmed people killed by their governments, all within the last century. I am sure they thought it would not happen to them.
Let’s say our all but already tyrannical government is full of angels and only has our best interest in mind in taking away/limiting our weapons. I take personal responsibility for protecting my family. Counting on police is a rather foolish option given factors like distance, availability and sometimes incompetence, as was the case in New York recently when two police trying to kill one man, at almost conversational distance, wounded nine bystanders. Not the type I want protecting my family.
The Department of Homeland Security wants fully automatic “Personal Defense Weapons” with 30-round magazines that collapse to from 30 inches to 20 inches. Good enough for the feds personal defense but too good for our defense? Is the government that much better than we the people?
The only problem related to guns is that we lack morals and consequences.
We slaughter millions of babies every year then act surprised when some teenager has no respect for human life. We release criminals after short jail times and act surprised when they commit the same crime again. People would think twice if the punishment for their actions were more like this: rape someone, you get hung on Main Street for a week, steal, you lose a pinkie, shoot up a school, get shot starting in the extremities until you die.
I recently received, as an extra special gift for subscribing to Motor Trend magazine, a digital watch of spectacularly shoddy construction.
I mean this timepiece could cause widespread suicides if you brandished it in the fine shops of Bern and Zurich.
But it’s not the watch itself, which I expect will stop working properly along about St. Patrick’s Day, that intrigues me.
It’s the one-page owner’s manual that came with it.
At least I think it’s supposed to be an owner’s manual.
This publication, which is printed on the kind of flimsy paper that lines tins of Altoids mints, combines illiteracy and bad translation in a way that is both frightening and hilarious.
Its mistakes are so frequent and so outlandish that I wonder whether the whole endeavor is intended as a joke.
If so it’s a devilishly clever one.
The watch, I should mention, was made in China. Probably you figured that out.
The lunacy starts with the very name of the thing: “Waterproof Cold-Light Sportwatch.”
The waterproof part I understand — although I doubt the watch could survive even a heavy dewfall.
But I’m clueless as to the significance of “cold-light.”
The watch’s LCD digits do indeed illuminate at the push of a button. But I can’t detect any change in the temperature of the watch, or of its immediate surroundings.
Apparently the makers of the watch consider the cold nature of the light a valuable attribute, though, because the manual uses the adjective consistently.
In one instance it’s the “cold night” button but I suspect that’s just a typo.
And it’s not the only one.
• “moreng” for “morning”
• “lighr” for “light”
• “agarn” for “again”
These misspellings are as nothing, though, compared with the tangled syntax and at times incomprehensible diction that permeates the manual.
I am, for instance, cautioned against wearing the watch “in broiling or freezing environment.”
I try to steer clear of broiling environments as it is, whether I’m wearing a watch or not, so no problem there.
But even in the more temperate environments to which I am typically exposed, I sometimes sweat. Including my left wrist, which is where I normally attach a watch.
Unfortunately, “the resin-made watchband may ageing crack or break when bear sweat or damp.”
I take this to mean that my sweat could foul up the watchband, or at least its constituent resins, whatever those might be.
Except what if the watchmaker means, literally, “bear sweat,” as in ursine perspiration?
I don’t know if bears actually sweat. But I imagine that if they do they’d have to get pretty riled up first, and I don’t want to be anywhere near a bear that’s so agitated it’s sweating. I’ll bet the sweat’s erosive effect on the watchband would be the least of my worries in that case.
In fact the manual says “any rough use or hard shock may cause damage” to the watch.
I’m afraid a sweaty bear could get pretty rough, and administer quite a lot more than a hard shock.
It turns out, though, that even if I’m scrupulous in avoiding sweat and bears and the like, that watchband, and specifically those mysterious resins, could give me trouble.
“If you find any white powder in the watchband,” the manual tells me, “wipe them off with cloth, the powder would not cause any burt to your skin and clothes.”
I’m not comforted by this, and not just because the watchmaker writes “burt” when it must have intended “hurt.”
Frankly I’m suspicious of any watch that, in the ordinary course of usage, produces white powder, no matter how benign the white powder is supposed to be.
The possible presence of powder also complicates the task of disposing of this watch. And I might need to do this even before it expires, because the thing sounds a chime at the top of every hour, a sound that annoys my wife and which I can’t figure out how to turn off, if indeed that’s even possible.
The manual, needless to say, is no guide, offering as it does such crystalline statements as: “Different types have different patterns, but have same functions and operation ways.”
For the time being I’ve stuffed the watch beneath a stack of summer shirts in my dresser. The layers of cotton and polyester effectively block the hourly beeps, although I confess that I worry about the fabrics’ resistance to resinous white powders.
Whatever happens with the watch I intend to hold on to this manual. It tells me to do so, for one thing:
“Keep well the operation instruction and other attached files for necessary use in the future.”
The manual was not accompanied by other files, attached or otherwise, but keep it well I will.
I might want to tell someone about this slip of paper years from now.
And I’d much rather be able to refer to the genuine article than to try to dredge its amusing incomprehensibility from my memory, which lately is about as reliable as, well, a Chinese-made Waterproof Cold-Light Sportwatch.