Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rolling Along

With so many people going to electronic reading devices, is it any wonder that Amazon reports that more "book"s were downloaded last year that actually purchased as hard copies. The funny think about being in the middle of a revolution is it's often too slight to notice. Real change often moves even slower than we think. So many people my age proudly declare that they'll never give up books. Perhaps. I think that eventually many of those resistant to the inevitable will make the switch. Consider some of the things most of us no longer do. Writing a check is a long-gone necessity any more for most things. Little by little, we'll all be transferring numbers electronically. Even now, I swear there are some folks who never touch cold cash any more. What's next? This got me thinking about the choice to swim ahead or go against the current.
Imagine a sub culture where, not unlike the Amish, people consciously choose to eschew man of the electronic replacements for objects/possessions that have be revolutionized by the impact and encroachment of computers on our psyches. A land of books, and currency. A place with bank tellers and all manner of pencils and pens. It's fascinating to think about what other rapidly vanishing things might be added to this world of the unimpressed.
Oh I know it'll never happen. Probably the closest we'll ever get is the opportunity to live in the past for either a reality (unreality) TV show or a public broadcasting series. You know, those programs where people try to live just like it's 1850 all over again.
With this in mind, I suggest we all notice some of the things we'll soon find missing from our lives. Things like snail mail delivery, used book stores, coin operated parking meters, the penny, perhaps even the schoolyard. Soon? Maybe not, but possibly within 100 years. It's all relative.
Oh yeah, here's one more. The other day I took my niece's 8 year old in my truck to get some ice cream sandwiches for dessert as Katie and I were baby sitting her and her two younger siblings. It was the first time she rode in the cab of my pick-up and she was excited about buckling her seatbelt and ridin' shotgun. On the way home form the grocery store, she began fiddling with anything close by.
"What's this thing?" she asked.
"Oh move it around and see what happens," I said.
She had never seen a window that wasn't electric. My 2002 Toyota Tacoma actually has windows that have to be rolled down. Not sure why, but that's the way it came.
I told her to remember this day because she needed to tell her family and friends about doing something that they may never get a chance to do.
She liked that.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


The state of Oregon contains more covered bridges than most other states. Like everything else from the past couple of centuries, they are endangered. Fortunately, most if not all of them are on smaller, less used roadways and valued by both the local population and just about everybody else who finds these wonderful structures.
With all the hoopla surrounding the 100th anniversary of some of Portland's best know bridges, there has been much talk of bridges in Oregon lately. Closures, celebrations, new design competitions and the like. Fortunately, some of the musing has filtered down to covered bridges.
On a local radio program a Lane County expert shared some of the folklore about covered bridges. The key question, of course, is why are they covered. Answers and theories abound. Three ideas are most popular. One school of thought goes back t the days of horse transportation. Since most of these structures are over or close to a hundred years old, the original vehicles over them were horse-drawn. In order for the horse to feel comfortable going over the rivers and streams below, a barn-like structure was built giving the illusion of entering a barn and thus getting whatever was being pulled, (people, hay, barrels, lumber...) to the other side of the river. But covered bridges continued to be built well after the automobile. The second theory suggests that the cover was for fishermen who needed a way to take refuge from sudden storms and lightening strikes. Having fished a couple of Oregon rivers when lightening suddenly streaked the sky, this makes good sense to me.
The final and most widely held theory is all about the wood. Lane county, Oregon (near Eugene) has perhaps the most covered bridges of any county. It also is home to many lumber mills. The trusses of covered bridges are magnificent pieces of timber. If covered they weather and wear less than if not. Covered, they can last up to 70 years. Mystery solved? Maybe. Each theory has it's merits. Take your pick; here they are.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So Close

I spent a few hours at Trillium lake yesterday. This small gem in the shadow of Mt. Hood is very popular because it is only a little more than an hour from Portland, but it is still possible to have something akin to a wilderness experience there. Most of the people who fish at Trillium are either bait dunkers who hurl their offerings off a small pier, or an occasional kayak, canoe or row boat. I was the only float tuber there yesterday.
The lake is usually stocked with "catch able size rainbow trout" and a few trophy size fish and there are holdovers from previous years along with a small population of self-sustaining brook trout. I caught a few rainbows yesterday, but they were the cookie-cutter rainbows they put in there. Only a few other fly fishers visible but nobody seemed to be catching much...except for a pair of osprey who continued to entertain me the entire four hours I kicked around the lake. One of the skillful predators even got one of the rainbows I released. There vision is exceptional. From hundreds of feet above they circle, they fall out of the sky at top speed with their legs and talons coiled up, and then they strike deftly lifting a fish from just beneath the surface of the water. I'm going to get up there a few more times before the snow returns to Mt. Hood because of the osprey as much as the fishing. Weekdays tend to be better for all things connected to Trillium.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bread and Chocolate

He wants money. Trouble is, you'd never know it because he's got an original scam. He operates with the element of surprise. You are minding your own business or lost in a newspaper, or simply walking down the street lost in thought. A sudden glance, your eyes meet his and he smiles and charges toward you first waving and then extending his hand to shake.
He's Southeast Asian. His accent, appearance, say Laos or Cambodia. Maybe Vietnam or Thailand.
"Heeey, How you dong?
If you talk to him for any length of time he'll ask for a dollar. In the time it takes to realize you don't know him at all, he runs his scam. And then he's gone. Sometimes, if you keep him in eyesight, you can see him walking down the other side of the street and then like a bull that suddenly realizes the fight is on, he'll charge. His smile flashes, he waves, his arm extends like a boom and in the distance, "Heeeeey"

Last Wednesday I went to the Carolina Chocolate Drops concert at the Zoo in Portland. This red hot string/jug band heated up the already 95 degree weather. It took the crowd a bit to give them their props. Probably baked for a couple of hours, they finally got into the spirit of things. These 3 super-talented African-American musicians go all the way back to roots music. Fiddle, jug, bones, banjo, kazoo, vocals, guitar, and probably a few more surprises.
At this point in their career they are bathing in the glow of their popularity. Nice folks too, as they stuck around to sign copies of their CDs and posters. Sold out to T shirts too.
This group is original in so many ways, but the thing that gets me is that they'll make you move and smile. Their music is so old (Old Timey) that it seems new to many. They remind us of our history since any look into how African-American first learned to play many of these instruments, hell, even got many of these instruments, is quite a story.
Most of all, in an odd way, the Chocolate Drops are authentic.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Being There

After watching all the bad news from the gulf for a month now, I was wondering what it is that people who want to help can do aside from actually cleaning up the oil. Then it hit me. Go there. This holiday weekend, all the big news outlets did stories on how the business of hotels, motels, restaurants, and resorts is down. In fact, it's next to nothing. NBC news did another story on the wave of depression moving in with the tide also. For folks who were just beginning to get out from under Katrina, this tragedy is the knockout blow.
What if various organizations planned to have their conventions there. OK maybe a little too late for that. What if families looking for reunion sites, or groups, organizations, clubs, couples, individuals all made a point of going to the gulf to support these failing businesses? True, no swimming, but the beach is still there. The climate remains the same. The facilities are in good order. By going there, helping these small business folk survive it's be quite a statement. I suggest it would be a rather memorable and one of a kind experience too.
Just a thought.
And while I'm thinking...
The one phrase that keeps coming up since the beginning of BP's attempts to do damage control is "make things right." Sometimes "make this right" takes its place. I wonder...just what would that be? What exactly makes something like the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history right? Does that mean that the Gulf will be completely as it was, completely healed? Does that mean that everyone concerned will be compensated? Is any of that actually possible?
Maybe it means that offshore oil drilling will cease. Maybe it means that the people and interests involved in this catastrophe have learned something and will act accordingly.