Wednesday, January 28, 2015


My official retirement began on the 1st of January 2015.  I have received congratulations from many people on this occasion.  Following is a brief inventory of my thoughts about this new phase of my life.

The Spanish term for retirement is "La JubilaciĆ³n".  If this sounds festive it is.  I must say it felt great to awaken to a new year in which "Every Day is Saturday".  For the first time since Kindergarten I may now awake without the requirement to attend class, go to work, or Obey the Man.  It feels as if a ponderous mantle has been removed from my shoulders.  Yeah!

Of course I went right out and began lining up an array of activities to ward off the ennui of this new found freedom.  I signed up for a Spanish Class at Reed College,  began a major landscaping and gardening project, volunteered for the Public Speakers Bureau for the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, increased my tennis participation, and began a study of the ancient game of Go.

I plan to take advantage of as many benefits available to senior citizens as possible.  These include:The Golden Pass - good for life this grants me and anyone in my car free parking and access to all National Parks, campgrounds etc., Honored Citizen - I can now ride the Tri-met Bus for $1.00, Oregon Pioneer Fishing License - I have lived in Oregon for 50 years and now have a lifetime fishing license.  It is true however that since said retirement I have not visited a National Park, ridden the bus, or gone fishing but I intend to do a least two of these.

Despite my glee at having achieved my retirement there are a few factors that perforce give me pause for thought.  I am not writing to advise anyone on their retirement but you may draw your own conclusions.

1.  I made the mistake of taking a look at my body in a full length mirror on exiting the shower.  My skin seems to gradually corrode under the onslaught of a variety of lumps, bumps, scabby bits, age spots and growth of curly grey hairs where they clearly do not belong.  I cannot touch my toes, while my feet, knees, hip, elbow and shoulder hurt.  My night vision is poor and my wife keeps sending me links on the latest technology in hearing aids.  This is not going to get better.

2.  I am supposed to receive my first Social Security check today.  It will not be enough to fund this operation.  My retirement fund will help but still not to the level one would need to finance an idle life of travel and adventure.

3.  Outside of having the required will, advanced directive and such in place I try not to think to much about how this all will end.

I have a few "hopes" that I will work to achieve.  I want to spend time with friends.  I hope to visit, in order, my Best Friends in Japan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Mongolia, China, and Iraqi Kurdistan.  Ya'll know who you are.

I know that my car will continue to break down, it will continue to rain in Portland, and I will not be able to achieve everything I have dreamed of but all in all I have never felt more content and happy. With Jenny, Bobby and Marie life is good.  Thanks to all for putting up with me!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Reed Canyon - I Was Wrong (mostly)

A number of years back the enviros at Reed College took it upon themselves to restore the Canyon.  The good part of this was the elimination of exotic invasive species such as blackberry and English ivy.  The bad part was the elimination of the swimming pool which was constructed in 1929.  My kids learned to swim there.  It was important to our summers.  The reason for this heinous act was to replace it with a fish ladder from Crystal Creek providing access to the lake for trout and salmon.  I was pissed!  What trout and salmon?  How could they survive in the lake which is shallow and heavily silted in if they could make it up the ladder?  I bloviated about this for years.

Yesterday I visited the Canyon with Zac Perry.  Zac is a graduate of OSU in Botany and Horticulture. He wrote the original plan for Canyon Restoration, which did not envision either the fish ladder or the restoration of steelhead and salmon runs in Crystal Creek. Zac set me straight on a couple of "issues"

1.  The Reed blog describes the pond as the only naturally occuring lake in the Portland area.  I pointed out that the pond is held in place by what is clearly a man made earth fill dam and has been since 1929.  Zac responded that while this is true the original dairy farmers who cleared the site used the pond for irrigation.  Apparently there was an impoundment held in place by a beaver dam.  OK it is "more or less" a natural lake, albeit not a geologic formation. 

2.  True, neither salmon or steelhead can spawn in the lake.  They require clear, cool water and clean gravel beds for their redds.  Why then was the fish ladder built?  Zac advised that the lake is serving as a rearing pond for smolts hatched in the creek below.  A camera is mounted at the base of the fish ladder and provides fish counts on a 24/7 basis.  A number of adult steelies have visited the pond but subsequently retreated.  The salmon of course spawn and die in the creek.  Smolt do move up into the lake.

3.  The Canyon has become somewhat of a wildlife preserve and opportunity for study.  The addition of the Environmental Studies Program at Reed has been greatly aided by this living classroom.  When I suggested that the pond might be dredged and planted with black bass and crappies you can imagine the look that Zac gave me. 

With the elimination of the blackberries and the release of native species in the canyon the site is more beautiful, accessible and interesting than before.  Recently a pair of river otters have been spotted dining on freshwater muscles, beavers continue their campaign of destruction, turtles are making a comeback and the bird life is quite varied.  Zac Perry has done a great job of managing the site and leveraging the enthusiasm of the students in the effort.  Kudos to Zac.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Mantra

I must confess to having a secret. In the summer of 1969 I was a student at UO in Eugene OR. I was on the verge of somthing, threatened by Vietnam and the draft, lacking funds to continue school, and essentially adrift. I met an attractive young lady who introduced me to Transcendental Meditation.
I remember my introduction to TM very clearly. It consisted of meditating with a "guru" (young blond hippy guy). There were lots of flowers and incense. The key to the practice seemed to be the receipt of my mantra. The mantra is a simple two syllable sound silently repeated during the meditation practice. He whispered my mantra to me. It imbedded itself on a permanent basis.
I never became a true devotee of TM but I have used the meditation practice throughout my life in order to reduce stress, relax, and free my mind of the cacaphony of daily existence. It seems that the quiet and disciplined repetition of the mantra combined with deep breathing is very effective at isolating the thought processes from the world at large. This is a private and solitary pursuit.
My mantra is the only pure secret I have. I have never shared it with anyone. I have the feeling that if I were to do so it would be somehow diminished. I wonder if there is anything to this or if I am jealously guarding a "secret" simply because I am able. Perhaps it is not even wise to admit that I have a secret. Oh well, the cat is out of the bag now...

Friday, January 14, 2011

New "Iconic" Floor

The University of Oregon has unveiled the floor de-sign of the new Matthew Knight arena. You are forgiven if you "don't get it". I don't either. At least we can rest assured that it cost a lot of money. Following are highlights as I understand them.

1. Graphics of Douglas-fir trees surround and overwhelm the floor creating a dizzying if not muddy image. The orange and brown color gives the impression of a stand of trees dying from a bark beetle infestation.

2. Slogan - Deep in the Woods. Does this refer to the plight of the visiting team or the tax payer?

3. Other Slogan - Kilkenny Floor. This is an obscure homage to the other rich guy (aside from Phil Knight) who has "contributed" to the university. For those lacking local knowledge this might well be misinterpreted as an advert for the manufacturer or installer of the floor.

4. Best Confusing Image - Thingy bob under the big O. While at first glance indecipherable, I am informed that this is a creative styling of the name MATT referring to Matthew Knight, deceased son of Phil Knight and namesake of the arena. An untutored reading of this might be TAT or MAM. According to the official explanation this image is constructed of two Japanese Torii (gates) bracketing the letter A. I didn't see this until it was explained. What the image of the Torii has to do with basketball, Matthew Knight, UO etc. is a mystery. My impression is that it is a rather fuzzy attempt at a display of spirituality. Perhaps the designer is not aware of the close relationship of the animistic Japanese Shinto religion and its close ties to militarism and the cult of the Emperor.
5. On a Practical Note - Where is the center line? Can the players see it? I can't. What is the effect on the psyche of visiting players? Is this an effort to render them disoriented?

In summary it is the humble opinion of this author that the design of this court is confusing, inconsistent, and excessively ambitious. My suggestion would be to sand it down and start over. How about a simple image of a Duck? As a UO alumnus I would find this preferable.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Courtesy of Jack Bog's Blog

At a time when the nation could use some cheering up -- and the need for civility in discourse is on everyone's minds -- here is a collection, sent to us by a friend last week, of high-class insults:

The exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor: She said, "If you were my husband I'd give you poison." He said, "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease." "That depends, sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He had delusions of adequacy." - Walter Kerr

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." - Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." - Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." - William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." - Moses Hadas

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." - Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." - Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend... if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second.... if there is one." - Winston Churchill, in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." - Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." - John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." - Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." -Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." - Paul Keating

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." -Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." - Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" - Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." -Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.." - Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination. " - Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." - Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." -Groucho Marx

Vitriol, Violence, and the American Politic

We (or at least the great majority) of Americans were greatly saddened over the weekend by the senseless killings in Tucson Arizona. America's body politic has again been tested by our proclivity towards vitriol and violence. Following are some thoughts we would do well to consider:

1. We do not agree as a nation on a wide variety of issues. This is hardly new. States rights vs. Federalism, the role of religion, gun rights, foreign policy, and immigration will continue to be subjects of debate and hopefully compromise.

2. We seem to forget or overlook the value of government. I believe that the more recently expressed hatred for government is quite likely the result of a lack of understanding and consideration of both the proper role of government and the benefits resulting. With a democratic representative government we are responsible for the election of representatives who write and pass the laws. Complete rejection of the value of government is it seems a clear case of self-loathing if not just ignorance.

3. There seems to be a cycle of rhetoric which results in violent outbreaks. The effect of whoever shouts the loudest and makes the most extreme points has the result of gradually increasing the level of anger and feelings of isolation among those espousing the views. This has been exascerbated greatly by the freedom of the internet, but is fueled by leaders in our own government. A recent example has been the tenor of the Republican campaign against the Democratic opposition. Please consider for example Sarah Palin's use of a map with targets overlayed to demonstrate actions which she would have us take:

4. Our political leadership should take as much blame as the fringe groups. Personal attacks on the opposition whether from one party or the other, lead the electorate to believe that our Representatives, Senators, and administration are bad people with evil intent. This is made worse by the use of simplistic sound bites and marketing phrases used to increase the level and fear and anger rather than to inform the issue. A good example is the use of the expression "Death Panels" to describe end of life care provisions in the new health care law. If you hear this repeated enough times it soon becomes the definition of the issue, regardless of its lack of actual content or accuracy.

5. The expanded reach and freedom of the media has thrown more fuel on the fire. Fox News, MSNBC, and the blogosphere in general have contributed greatly to the lack of respect and personal attacks on leaders from both sides. I have been a long time reader of a local blog here in Portland. Jack Bog's Blog ( has been an excellent source of information about state and local politics and economics. However, recently the quantity of personal attacks against everyone from the President to the Governor to the our Mayor have increased to the point where I decided to cease reading it. A good example was Jack's coining of the name Mayor Creepy to describe Sam Adams, the Mayor of Portland. I found that I was no better than Jack or many other readers when it came to heaping scorn and personal attacks on the Mayor. No, I don't agree with Sam Adams on a range of issues and culturally we are worlds apart, but is anything positive gained by the constantly increasing personal attacks? I don't think so.

6. It is time to reel in the anger and provide role models based on respect and civil discourse. Leadership will be required to accomplish this. I wonder if Jack Bog could go for a full week without using the expression Mayor Creepy, or describing our President in such negative terms. Would this have a positive effect on the tenor of the comments to his blog?
You can take personal action now by not giving in to the urge to "pile on". You can refrain from personal attacks on our elected officials and government workers. This does not mean you have to agree or condone all positions and actions. As a nation we can decide to work together for the best solutions to our problems or we can take the approach recently demonstrated in Tucson. It is up to you.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Our City At Work

Portland OR, led by Sam Adams (aka Mayor Creepy) and his happy band of sustainable bicycling, mass transit enthusiasts has opted for redistributing our property taxes via a mass printing campaign.

Yesterday I came home from work and found this colorful reusable shopping bag waiting for me on my front porch.

Inside the bag there was a veritable cornucopia of brochures, maps, guides, guide books, and more. There were materials from the local bicycle consortium, the department of transportation, Tri-Met, the Water Bureau, Office of Sustainability ad nausium. I am guessing there was at least $75.00 worth of printed materials. Of course this doesn't include the cost of the production, not to mention the massive employment rolls of the City required to produce this.
At first I was outraged at this absurd waste of money by our City. Then the Lady Wife pointed out that all this largesse was FREE!. When I reminded her that our taxes paid for all this, she pointed out that she had actually requested this material, and was delighted that the City could provide all this great information for FREE!
I guess it is FREE but I would prefer that we could fund our schools, patch the holes in our streets, replace the Sellwood bridge, and provide police and fire protection. At least now I have plenty of fuel for lighting the barbeque...