The heat barged in, the genuine article, and in the manner of a boorish house guest who was not invited, the heat has stayed on.
This summer has seemed to me especially oppressive because it arrived with all the subtlety of a John Bonham drum solo.
June was cool, but pleasantly so, with most afternoons ideal for pulling weeds or taking a nap in a lawn chair.
The temperature topped 80 on just two days that month. June concluded with a week of highs in the 60s and 70s.
July, by contrast, betrayed its nature immediately.
July 1 was the hottest day of the year — 89 degrees — but it retained the title about as long as Clubber Lang did in “Rocky III."
Mosquitoes dead, but what about the other bugs?
Last Tuesday evening I stepped on to my front porch and noticed the dead and dying mosquitoes, bees, ladybugs, moths, spiders and other small insects. So now we are mosquito-free in Baker City for at least a day or two, thanks to vector control and the pesticide sprayed in my neighborhood.
But what about the honeybees, bumblebees, yellowjackets, flies, ladybugs, moths, spiders and other crawly things too numerous to mention? Weren’t these little casualties supposed to be dinner for a variety of birds and larger insects?
It appears the bird population has diminished considerably in the last 20 years. I’ve not seen a robin in my yard yet this summer. Is it because we are eliminating their food chain? Is there no alternative to simply killing what we find pesky and bothersome?
“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos”
— E.O. Wilson
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”
— John Muir
Next year I will request no spray be applied in my yard and I will use the numerous repellents available to me for my bodily comfort.
Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said last week he’s worried about the possibility that Oregon State Police will close its Pendleton crime lab, the only such lab in Eastern Oregon.
We’re worried, too.
To that reaction we add another: disgust.
OSP officials said they have made no decision about the Pendleton lab.
The potential problem, they said, is money.
Specifically, there might not be enough of it for the state’s 2015-17 biennium to avoid cuts in State Police.
This problem has a simple solution.
Care about environment? Vote for Democrats this year
Global warming and climate change are caused by more and more heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. According to Wikipedia, the current concentration of this greenhouse gas is the highest in the past 800,000 years and likely the highest in the past 20 million years.
This man-made pollution results from the burning of fossil fuels beginning with the start of the industrial revolution. It is the foundation for projections by climate scientists of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events. These events are already occurring here and around the world, causing widespread damage and hardship. They include both floods and droughts, tornadoes and hurricanes, fires, melting glaciers and rising sea levels.
These scientific facts are widely recognized and accepted. The only reason they have become a political issue (the Herald’s editorial of July 25) is that most Republican leaders deny their existence.
A striking example is Republican Rick Scott, the governor of low-lying Florida, directly endangered by rising sea levels. In May, Scott repeatedly stonewalled questions about the threat of global warming by declaring, “I’m not a scientist.”
We have that same willful ignorance here in Oregon, where Republican candidates are advocating the extraction and burning of even more fossil fuels.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dennis Richardson criticizes Governor Kitzhaber for opposing coal exports, saying “Coal is a fact of life, and exporting coal is a fact of life.” (Record-Courier, June 26).
Republican Representative Greg Walden advocates increased energy production beneath federally-owned lands, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring crude oil to the United States from Canada’s tar sands, and increased exports of natural gas (his newsletter, June 26).
And Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby opposes regulation of greenhouse emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency, while also urging approval of the Keystone XL pipeline (Oregonian, July 20 and July 21).
We can’t vote in Florida, but we sure can vote in Oregon. If you care about the environmental health of our country and of Spaceship Earth, you will strongly support and vote for Governor John Kitzhaber, Senator Jeff Merkley, and Democratic Congressional candidate Aelea Christofferson this November.
We don’t take many weeks off during the summer in Baker City.
A season that just 15 years or so ago featured but three main events — Miners Jubilee in July and the County Fair and Shrine football game in August — now scarcely pauses for a siesta between the solstice and the equinox.
The two-wheeled twins — the Baker City Cycling Classic and the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally — each bring crowds to town, the former in late June and the latter in July.
The latest addition to the hectic summer schedule happens next week when 10 Babe Ruth baseball teams converge on the Baker Sports Complex for a regional tournament.
In the world of 13- to 15-year-old baseball, this is a big deal.
Motorcycle Rally a boon for Baker High School
I want to personally thank the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, organizers and sponsors for their ongoing contribution to Baker High School. The financial impact and support of this event will be felt long after the sound of twin cam engines dissipate from our community. In total, Baker High School welcomed nearly 400 riders/campers for the four-day event and generated nearly $10,000! All money generated from the campers along with the FFA barbecue and Cheerleader Hogwash goes to support our student activities/athletic programs for the upcoming school year.
The campers that stayed at Baker High School were very kind and courteous during their stay. It was my pleasure to welcome them and I look forward to having them all back next year.
Thank you Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally. With your support, our students and programs benefit greatly. Keep up the good work.
Baker High School principal
To solve problems we need to sit down and talk
Agreements are difficult to reach when we take positions on most anything. Rather than start with positions like supporting or not supporting a living wage that raises workers above the poverty level, we should examine supporting assumptions and reach even further to consider our basic beliefs. At the bedrock of our belief systems is a view of how we see ourselves and how we see ourselves in relation to others. If we see ourselves as an equal member of the human society, we are apt to believe in equality, leading to sharing and caring for others. Contrastingly, we may assert that each of us is responsible for ourselves, and we should plan and work toward self-sufficiency. We should be able to stand on our own two feet.
Neither of these views is complete. Parts of each are needed to form a sustainable and workable system. After all, we can see how difficult compromise is by looking at our legislature. A big step in reaching compromise is to make agreements at the base level. As an example, let’s say that workers should not have to live at the poverty level. Once this is agreed, then we can discuss just what is the poverty level and how much a worker needs.
Invariably, the subject of welfare comes up, and rightly so. Do able-bodied people take advantage of our welfare system. Yes, they do, but only a few. How do we get around this? Well, it seems simple: People who are physically and mentally unable to work should be taken care of. Able-bodied individuals should be required to work if they want to get the benefits of the welfare system. Yes, this would require an expanded government program, but one with accountability, and one that rewards personal responsibility.
I further believe that we could work towards solutions of most of our problems if we just would sit down together and have honest and unemotional discussions.
My mind maintains that there’s no reason, with UV light now illuminating every drop of Baker City’s water, for me to fret about cryptosporidium.
My intestines beg to differ.
This reaction from my digestive system is not entirely rational, to be sure.
But a week-long bout of stomach cramps and watery diarrhea — a distinction from regular diarrhea that I would have discounted as redundant until I experienced it — is not conducive to sober contemplation.
A year has passed since Baker City’s drinking water, previously celebrated for its purity, turned on us, in the manner of a well-loved dog driven mad by a brain tumor.
I was among the residents afflicted with those unpleasant gastric symptoms in late July and early August of 2013.
Drum and Bugle Corps makes it a parade
I was so happy to once again see the Drum and Bugle Corps perform in the Miners Jubilee parade. They made my day!! It is my belief that if they aren’t in it, it isn’t a parade!!
Grateful for a lady’s kindness
On July 24 at checkout stand of a local grocery store, I inadvertently dropped some currency on the floor.
The lady behind me called my attention to it, picked up the dropped currency and handed it to me. Her act of honesty restores my faith in human nature.
She is an employee of Baker City’s newly established “Bee Hive” facility, and her name tag showed “Terrie.” I’m deeply grateful for her kindness.
You can watch them roll by, showroom-shiny, during local parades, but in our view the trucks from rural fire protection districts never look so good as when they’re coated with dust and pinstriped with scratches from sagebrush.
When they’re out doing what they were designed to do, in other words, which is protecting homes and valuable rangelands and crop fields from flames.
Fire will always pose a threat in our arid county.
But we’ve never been better equipped to deal with the danger.
The proliferation of volunteer-run rural fire districts over the past 15 or so years has added significant muscle to the county’s firefighting capabilities.
12 ways the Motorcycle Rally benefits Baker
Here are 12 little-known ways that the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally contributes to our community:
• We promote and collect money for camping at the Baker High School. This year they made almost $10,000!
• The FFA club held a tri-tip barbecue at the school Saturday night as a fundraiser.
• The Baker High School cheerleaders wash bikes and made $2,000!
• The Baker City VFW serves breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. It is their largest fundraiser of the year. Also on Friday night the bar revenue was the best they have ever had.
• In Halfway they sell buffalo burgers to help pay for their annual fireworks show. Last year they made over $2,000. Their most important fundraiser of the year.
• The American Legion Post No. 43 Poker Run brought in over $1,600.
• Relay for life and the Scouts also had fundraisers.
• The Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally is a dues- paying member of HBC (Historic Baker City) and the Baker County Chamber of Commerce.
• We supported the purchase of “Turbo” the drug dog for the Baker City Police Department and for his continuing care. This year we have donated $500.
• For the second year in a row we have given $500 to purchase bicycle helmets for Baker City kids.
• This year we stepped up and paid $2,000 to purchase electrical equipment from the Chamber. We could have rented the equipment to meet our needs but we felt that it was important that this equipment be available, free of charge, for local community events such as the downtown Christmas Tree Lighting and Miners Jubilee.
• We purchased two off road motorcycles for local law enforcement.
Hells Canyon Motorycle Rally operations manager
Minimum wage laws not as good as they sound
Minimum wage laws are another of those ideas which sound good. After all, why shouldn’t a worker have a salary high enough to support himself in a decent manner? Conesquently most Americans support minimum wage laws. But this is an idea which, when you look closely at it, has some nasty side effects. Teenagers are especially adversely affected by these laws.
It works like this: There are certain job skills necessary for being a good, productive employee for all jobs, even for entry level jobs. One must show up for work on time, remain on task, do assigned duties to the satisfaction of one’s boss, phone in when sick, etc. Employers naturally want to hire those who already possess those job skills. But most teenagers who’ve never worked haven’t developed them yet.
In an ideal world, employers could take a chance on hiring teenagers by offering them lower wages than they’d pay older workers, and teenagers who want to work could accept those lower salaries. Then, teenagers would have jobs where they could learn the basic skills needed to become successful employees. But this is not possible today. There is a minimum which employers can pay, and a minimum which teenagers can accept. Consequently many teenagers are priced out of the job market. This is a big reason why teenage unemployment rates are consistently much higher than the average. And regardless of what the minimum wage might be, their salary is $0.00, as they have no job.
Many black teenagers face an even worse job situation than their fellow teens. They come from dysfunctional, failing big city school systems, and so are even more inadequately prepared for the world of work than their suburban and rural counterparts. Their unemployment rate is thus even higher.
The unemployment rate in the United States today is 6.1 percent. Teenage unemployment is well above 20 percent, and black teenage unemployment is an incredible 38.7 percent. It’s easy to see why noted economist Milton Friedman called the minimum wage laws the most anti-black laws on the books.
Minimum wage laws don’t sound so good now, do they?