Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Human Caused Climate Change - Another View

I blame myself. The Midwest Flood of 1993 was a direct result of my decisions and actions. It's a burden of guilt I have borne for too long now. The critical action was purchasing a three-room cabin tent from Cabellas and erecting it in our back yard in Lincoln, Nebraska. Within hours we spawned a tornado.

We bought that tent after being flooded out of campsites throughout the arid West in the summer of 1991. Wanting the kids to experience the joy of camping, our new strategy was to purchase a giant tent to use as a base camp. How giant? Giant enough to house a family of five, a dog, and numerous Leggo sets during the occasional rain experienced by campers. We bought a giant tent, and brought on a giant rain event. The Great Plains suffered as a result.

We're at it again. Only just now dried out from our last camping attempt, Sally and I have spent $1,200 to embrace the Simple Life that backwoods camping affords. I can't remember the exact amount we paid for that Cabellas tent, but it wasn't $1,200. Given the ratio of dollars we spent to the financial losses sustained in 1993, I'd guess that the meteorological reaction to our latest camping investment might even convince the most stubborn Republicans as to the reality of human-caused climate change. Coast lines will change. Micronesia is at risk.

Batten down the hatches and brush up on the definition of cubits. We're going camping.

Friday, May 25, 2012

To Whom Do I Owe the Gratitude?

A couple weeks ago Sally lost her hat, again. It's a knitted cap that our daughter, Erin, made for her, and one that she wears often. A month or so ago she misplaced it, but it turned up. This time Sally wasn't so lucky.

We were on a walk on a typical Portland day - it started out cool and damp until the sun broke through - Sally had already taken off her hat and put it into her jacket pocket, and then removed the jacket. That's when the hat went AWOL. Sally missed the hat before we got home, and suspected the location where she had dropped it. We jumped into the car and drove there, to no avail. The hat was not to be found. Later we rode our bikes over the route with the same result. The hat was gone. Sally told Erin, who graciously knitted another hat.

Fast forward to yesterday.... I was returning home from the Post Office on my daily constitutional when I saw Sally's hat perched in a bush by the sidewalk. It was beyond surprising, almost surreal. We have walked by that spot at least ten times in the last two weeks without noticing the hat. And there it was.

As I walked home, hat in hand, I thought of the person who picked up the hat and laid it on the bush. I thought of all who left it there as they walked by. Scores of tiny kindnesses led up to my being able to interrupt Sally at a meeting with the welcome text, "found your hat".

I'm uncertain as to the efficacy of being grateful in general, and don't know who to thank in particular. So I'll thank you. Thanks for the kindnesses that you do, expecting nothing in return other than the satisfaction of having done the right thing. Your acts matter to someone. They matter.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Gun Raffle

I wish I were making this up....

A former Oregon legislator now running for the Clackamas County Commission raffled off a Glock 9mm handgun to help finance her campaign. (You're probably wondering about her party affiliation.) The gun was subsequently won by a man recently ejected from a Clackamas County Commission meeting for disruptive behavior!

Of course, any wacko can obtain guns without a direct supply line from elected officials. And wackos can carry concealed weapons in many states, including Oregon, thanks to the efforts of other elected officials. Did we need all of this highlighted for our attention?

I know I feel safer now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Feast of St. Honore

Today is the feast day for St. Honore, a sixth century bishop in northern France, and the patron saint of bakers. Alas, we did not buy anything from Portland's St. Honore Bakery... today. Indeed, it's been a week and a half since we ate anything from there!

We did have some lovely croissants from Delphina's that we picked up on our bike ride home. They were lovely and delicious.

I am thankful for the bakers in my family and in our community, and for all such artisans who perform the magnificent alchemy that gives us bread and cakes, apple fritters and croissants, biscuits, muffins and scones. Bless you all, and bless the legacy of St. Honore.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Simple Question....

So, in the reality I inhabit, the Earth is larger than the humans who dwell on it. Earth is larger than human endeavor, including economic activity. Earth is really big, quite magnificent, and also finite.

In the dominant economic model of our era, the economy is larger than the planet we (currently) occupy. Nature is reduced to "natural resources".  Planetary capacity for absorbing our waste materials is not even considered. The economy can continue to grow at an increasing rate toward infinity without ever reaching a limit. The limiting factor, Earth itself, has been defined as being within the economy, rather than external to it.

So, there follows a simple question: Which planet are you from?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Getting My Head Examined

Today was my long anticipated visit to a new dermatologist. I have been experiencing some strange symptoms in the place where I had a basal cell carcinoma removed last summer. My new doc also thought it strange, and so injected the spot with lidocaine, which caused it to swell and pop up, and then sliced it off to be biopsied. Tonight I have a bit of a headache, which is not surprising.

I should have known better. I should never have gone out without a hat or sunscreen, no matter the impact on my free-spirited good looks. I was warned about skin cancer, but it just didn't happen quickly enough. Had the really negative consequences followed my behavior immediately, I might have changed my habits.

Sally just told me of a climatologist who said that, had we started in 2005, a 3 percent carbon dioxide reduction would have sufficed. Now we need a 6 percent reduction. In 10 years, a 15 percent reduction will be required. Somewhere, some day, someone will be thinking, "We should have known better."

We all need our heads examined.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Silver Falls State Park

Very nice hike yesterday with Sally and Erin at Silver Falls State Park east of Salem. It was an 8.7 mile hike with 10 major waterfalls and a host of smaller cascades. Lovely! Last evening we spent with Megan, AJ, and his folks at Toji Korean Grill on SE Hawthorne. Megan and AJ wanted to buy dinner as a Mothers/Fathers Day gift. We finished the evening off with delightful pastries and coffee at La Petite Provence on SE Division. Superb!

Friday, May 11, 2012


The last time "Bully" was associated with the White House, it was an exhuberant expression by Theodore Roosevelt. Should Mitt Romney be elected this November a very different sort of "Bully" will reside on Pennsylvania Avenue. A brief note to Mitt: Those subjected to bullying rarely refer to the incident as "youthful hijinks". Further, those who suffer humiliation at the whim of another most likely will not forget the incident as quickly and easily as you apparently have.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Sal and I watched a really good program on OPB Tuesday evening. It was Oregon Experience: The Grapes of Place, an account of the beginnings of the modern wine industry in Oregon. There were several aspects of the program we found compelling, including the fact that we once resembled the bearded, Bierkenstocked subjects in the photos of those 1970's pioneers.

I was especially taken with the concept of Terroir, from which the name of the show was derived. Terroir is a French term which pertains to the soil, but also to region. Every aspect of a place that goes into the make up of a grape - the soil, precipitation, terrain, climate - is the Terroir. No two places are the same, and the grapes reflect that reality.

Those wine-making pioneers transplanted grapevines from California and France and wound up with some really fine Pinot Noirs. As we watched the program I was overtly aware of my own status as a recent Oregon transplant, hoping that I too will flourish in this unique and beautiful environment.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Time Flies

I can tell it's been too long since I posted.... My blog hosting site has been "updated" to improve my blogging experience. I am left wondering what teenaged wunderkind decided my experience needed to be improved. In one of my last posts I wrote that Spring was in the air. It remained a possibility, just beyond grasp, for the past two months. Turns out that Portland is cool and wet in March, April and ________. Still, the flowers, shrubs and trees are stunning, and we are pleased as punch to be here.