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Fair and Balanced Discussion from Southern Oregon
Monday, March 28, 2005
VacationBlog - Plants
At the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory - St. Paul, MN
VacationBlog - Animals
At the Como Park Zoo in St. Paul.
photos by me, now hosted on
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Helping Animals - Wild and Domestic
The Raptor Center has been in the news lately with the rash of great grey owl injuries (collisions with vehicle grills - their low flying hunting style doesn't mix well with traffic). The owls are ranging further south as their prey goes through cyclic decline. As they get into more populated territory, they are encountering more motor vehicles, breaking wings, beaks, etc... when one is found injured, volunteers will drive out to get them, or in some cases, Polaris (a snowmobile manufacturer) has donated use of a company helicopter to help transport more remote injured birds.
In addition to looking at the facilities set up to help wild animals, Jen also walked me through the large and small animal wards at the VMC, where I met Hercules - a draft horse who resides at the center and helps as a hands-on subject for some of the teaching, but primarily serves as a blood donor. He's a sweet, HUGE fella who enjoys a kind word as you pass his stall.
Friday, March 25, 2005
A Study in Contrasts
My thrill at locating a soft drink stands in stark contrast to the other things bouncing across my skull tonight.
One thing that has my mind churning was covered far more effectively in a couple of diaries at dKos - the level of response to the Red Lake school shootings by our nation's leader. The first notes the Clinton responses to Littleton (Columbine), Jonesboro, Paducah, and Springfield (Thurston). The second gives time intervals for major administration statements re: Columbine from Clinton and VP Gore. Both provide links to original sources... for me, the most telling contrast is this: unprompted, the Clinton adminstration had already issued an on-air statement from the President WHILE the Columbine event was still underway. (2:33pm, five minutes BEFORE the lockdown of the school was completed), while the Bush administration responds only when prompted by a directed question, during a spokesperson briefing given the following day.
(The President) was briefed on it last night. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were killed. This is a terrible tragedy. I think it's difficult for anyone to fully understand how something like this could happen. And our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones. Anything else?How hard is it for a compassionate conservative to show some compassion in a timely manner? How hard is it for an administration with a renewed committment to deal with youth and violence (remember the State of the Union and the naming of Laura Bush to lead this effort) to address the second worst single incident of youth violence in the history of the nation in a timely manner. President Clinton's first Saturday address following Columbine was entirely on the topic. Bets on tomorrow's address from the current President? UPDATE: President Bush actually does devote the bulk of his address to the shooting, after a lead-in re: Easter and the troops, both appropriate, given time of year and geopolitics, he then gives Red Lake four pararaphs. The topic takes about half of the total address.
The other thing that I am sitting here stewing about is the Terri Schiavo situation. That has components on so many levels I am not sure where to start.
SCORE!!! My Favorite DRINK!!!
How happy am I? Back in the day, I would join up with friends at the Black Sheep in Ashland. I usually ordered rarebit and bangers & mash and the thing that made the occasion complete was Stewart's Ginger Beer. And then one day, I ordered ginger beer and they brought me Reed's instead. Now nothing against Reed's (their Spiced Apple is my #2...and their CANDY & Ice Cream (but that is for a different time...)), but it ain't Stewart's.
I started cruising the places I used to be able to find it... the most reliable source was the wonderful little Quality Market on East Jackson in Medford. But alas, it was no longer available from the distributor! As Charlie Brown would say: "Auuuuuuugh!!!"
So I am in St. Paul (thus making the Charlie Brown reference more apropos) and doing a quick shopping run in Kowalski's (which for you Southern Oregon folks is kinda like Cantwell's used to be)... and lo and behold, STEWART'S!!
The plan now is to bring a case or two home to Oregon for the summer. :) And they make a Birch Beer, too - something I haven't been able to reliably find from any bottler since I was in college in Connecticut. YUMMMM.
DogBlog - the Spring Break Edition - with Bonus Lizard!
Hey all - as my only other post this week may have hinted, I am not 'home', but am instead visiting Jen in St. Paul - meeting the other half of the dog pack and generally having a fun time (as long as I don't pay too close of attention to the world). Today's entry is a tribute to the collected animals of the vacation, from Indy (left) and Sallah (top right) at Fish Lake while Jen was with me in Oregon, to Nelson and Tess (below right) in the living room here in St. Paul.
And for a extra bonus, this nice Southern Alligator Lizard (below left) found in the middle of the Southgate Fred Meyer parking lot (not a long-term viable habitiat choice) and released into the scrap wood pile on Foothill Road (at Jen's dad's place)
We MAY supplement with a second animal blog tonight, after I visit the UMN College of Veterinary Medicine and the Raptor Center later today.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
As Trends Continue - Pessimism Abounds
I have long lamented that growing up in the Rogue Valley (something I did a couple of decades ago) doesn't offer much in the way of fun and exciting passtimes for the local youth. In Southern Oregon, teens were (and still are) making a lot of our own entertainment - for some, it is productive - FFA, 4H, sports, reading, music, etc... For others, it may be substance use, sex, or apparently driving fast.
I've written about it before, so I can't say I am surprised. I can't say I am pleased. And I am (for now) at a bit of a loss re: a solution. I generally reject legislating to ban behaviors. The alternative is to a: effectively model expected behavior and b: provide access to acceptable consumptions of time.
We have cut funding for schools, for school-based extra-curriculars... we have raised the costs of recreational pursuits to the level that socio-economic "average" families cannot afford to involve their kids in things. We have forced the norm of a two-income household to maintain socio-economic viability, so there is far less parent/child contact time during the average day / week / year. And we have somewhere, sometime, when I wasn't looking, radically re-framed accountability and expectations - WHO is responsible for what Junior is doing?
As I sit here in the lobby of a college building in Minnesota, enjoying my spring vacation in sunny 40 degree St. Paul, local news is dominated once more by a school shooting. Columbine, Jonesboro, and Thurston are now joined by Red Lake. National coverage isn't as prominent as Columbine - I suspect because the recent event is on a Reservation. Coverage aside, while shootings and speeding seem unrelated to some, I think it speaks volumes that we are so disconnected from youth that such incredible disregard of life is displayed in so many variations.
I read somewhere recently that we (society) can blame liberals - specifically "culture of death" pro-Choice liberals - for "teaching our kids to not value life." Sorry. That is a red herring - a distraction of unsound reasoning and poor (if any) logic. I think a far stronger case can be made that we (society) is teaching kids that we don't value THEIR lives - we won't fund their schools, we won't protect the environment they will inhabit when we are dead, and we will leave them with all the bills for the things (wars, tax cuts, anti-ballistic missile systems, etc...) we have decided were higher priorities. Very few of these choices were made by or supported by liberals, btw. If you tell (directly or implicitly) someone that they have little or no value to you, don't be stunned if they assign little or no value to life themselves.
Speeders in Medford, Shooters in Minnesota - both are a product of an America that has devalued life - not life of the unborn, or the terminally ill, but the life of the downtrodden - the tired, the poor, the huddled masses - the life of the young, the brown, the gay. My country.
I am on vacation. I spent yesterday looking at Omni and 3-D movies of Antarctica and Mars and thinking "I'd like to go there" after both presentations - I think the common thread is the utter lack of people in both locales. I suspect I am turning into a pessimistic cynic or something. Could it be because so many of the humans I see on my TV or read about in my newspaper are blaming ME (ie: a liberal) for all of our current problems? And all the while, I am blaming them?
I must ponder this. Something vacations are good for.
UPDATE (by John 12:25am, Weds): A fund for Red Lake High School is being coordinated by Wells Fargo Bank - specify The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Memorial Fund - any branch, including those in Southern Oregon can accept donations. If an online mechanism is established, I'll get that link up, too.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Iraq - Two Years
"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."
This is a stray dog in Iraq. The photo was included in Bramish's comment in today's "Cheers and Jeers" at DailyKos. It's as close to dogblogging as we are going to get today.
Friday, March 11, 2005
Open Letter to Senator Gordon Smith (R- Oregon)
Oppose Myers, Boyle, and Griffith and the “Nuclear Option”
I am writing as a concerned constituent who fears loyalty to party has trumped loyalty to Union, Justice, Tranquility, Defence, general Welfare, the Blessings of Liberty, and our Posterity in recent years.
In this morning's New York Times, three of President Bush's Judicial Nominees are profiled as part of an OpEd that provides context for why Democrats are opposing them. From the piece (emphasis mine):
William Myers III, one of the seven filibustered nominees, has built a career as an anti-environmental extremist. He was a longtime lobbyist for the mining and cattle industries. Then, as the Interior Department's top lawyer, he put those industries' interests ahead of the public interest. In one controversial legal opinion, he overturned a decision that would have protected American Indian sacred sites, clearing the way for a company to do extensive mining in the area. Mr. Myers has been nominated to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco. That court plays a major role in determining the environmental law that applies to the Western states.I cannot begin to express how critical it is that as a REPUBLICAN, you insist on the President sending suitable, qualified candidates forward. Each of these gentlemen fails critical tests of character and/or quality. That they were appointed by a man who has (R) after his name do is immaterial. Wes Cooley has an (R) after his name, too - would you act blindly on his policy proposals and appointments?
Please make it clear behind the scenes that these nominations are wrong for many reasons and that you will side with preserving procedural traditions of the Senate, even if it means they will not be confirmed.
Yesterday, Senator Hatch cited numbers to support an argument of how unprecedented the current filibuster rates of Judicial appointments are, but consider Disreali’s "lies, damn lies, and statistics": Is it possible the increase in filibuster represents some unprecedented change on the part of the character and nature of the opposed nominees? Is it fair to say procedural specifics prevented similar filibuster numbers against Clinton appointees because they were snuffed in committee and thus avoided filibuster?
You are my Senator. Weigh my advice before you consent. Oppose changes to Senate procedure and oppose Consent of unqualified candidates for the Federal Bench.
DogBlogging... Google a world of wonder :)
Those of you following this site are well aware of my sweet Indy and her CCL surgery last month. But you didn't know about Indy, and her CCL surgery in 2002. Now lest you get confused, Indy seems to not be an overly unique dog name... recall Dr. Henry Jones, Sr. uttering, "We named the *dog* Indiana," to which Sallah replies, incredulously, "The dog? You are named after the dog?" (those of you keeping a scorecard might note that Indy is NOT the only name in that sequence you have seen applied to one of my pack...). How does one find two CCL injured Indys? Google...
The Indy pictured (clickable) at the right is a happy resident of the Tomorrow Hill Farm B&B (a VERY cool place regardless of their dog) in Grand Junction, Colorado. She was, at the time of injury, significantly older (+5ish years) than my Indy. Her people elected a procedure called a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) which is the thing mentioned in the comments (here? dKos?) as an option for my girl when my Indy's injury was first diagnosed. My vet preferred the artificial ligament replacement, given her age and weight.
THF's Indy (a sweet border collie of wonderful, fuzzy, white and black border collieness) is also a retired therapy dog - something we are also considering for my Indy (a fuzzy, muttly Chowish Aussie of fuzzy, splotchy-tongued Chowish muttliness), given the wonderful impact her presence had on my classroom full of at-risk teens. She is still an active B&B host as she moves into the honored role of senior dog. If summer plans go right, my Indy will meet THF's Indy while Jen and I are driving one leg of the Oregon/Minnesota route to or from school.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Problem: White Power in Eagle Point, Oregon
Earlier this month, I went to a meeting organized by some local residents. One of my students tipped me off to it - knowing my politics and involvement with youth, he thought it might be something I would take an interest in. He hadn't seen my rather jarring venture into discourse on bigotry several weeks back on Blue Oregon.
The quick upshot on the new situation is Eagle Point is having some ongoing issues with White Power folks and some of the other locals are getting fed up. The latest meeting was spurred by a youth wearing a swastika with the red circle/slash superimposed - "no Nazis" - and getting harassed, threatened, and physically attacked. That event and a followup event have inspired the group I met to start a flyer and sticker campaign to raise awareness of racism in Eagle Point / White City (no really - that is the place's name - used to be a military facility "Camp White"). Their hearts are very much in the right place and they have some good ideas of what they want to do next.
I am not sure exactly what all will happen next, but I have agreed to offer what limited advice and wisdom I might have - I have agreed to try to be a voice of advocacy to what people I know - and I have agreed to relay their efforts via this site, as progress is or isn't made.
One of their first efforts is to call attention to the chronic nature of the problem. The players involved in the recent events are some of the same people catalogued in this series of stories from about two years ago, starting in late January of '03 here & here, and moving on through that year (Feb, Feb, Oct, Nov, Nov). The new activists constructed a flyer from the headlines of these seven articles asking "How many headlines will it take?" Based on what has happened recently, I suspect the answer will be, "More than it should..." but mean time, we work to raise awareness however we can.
One thing I was particularly struck by in reading over the old articles is that something repeats itself here that we saw in Arizona immediately after 9/11 - a hatred so blinding that people target ethnicities mistakenly...not only are they going out to hurt or kill someone because of who they are, they are so ill-informed that they are hurting and killing for who they aren't but might be if someone is too ignorant to know better.
High-speed incidents a disturbing trend
Today's Mail Tribune includes this story of a third high speed incident involving an intoxicated teen driver in Medford. This particular event didn't involve police pursuit (like the incident on February 11), or was it apparent if a second car was involved like a two car chase in late February.
As someone who lives and drives in Medford and who has family and friends who live and drive VERY close to all three incident locations, I am not at all pleased to see this as a trend. It certainly doesn't help when those who take part are commemorated by having friends encourage "do what [Kevan] would have done and live life to the fullest," as Ashland High's Jamin Burchard offered over the school PA to classmates in the aftermath of the two fatality incident February 11. Sorry, Jamin, but dying at age 17 while also taking the life of an innocent father of three is NOT living life to the fullest. It's living life to a foolish and extremely premature end. And it should never be emulated.
In the summer of 1986, I was just out of high school when the kid who was likely going to take over for me as varsity goalkeeper for Phoenix HS's soccer team flipped his Jeep on Colver Road, killing himself, putting a female classmate into a coma, and injuring two other passengers. If I never hear of another senseless loss of teen life...
Friday, March 04, 2005
dog blogging - the real thing!
We are now well past 2:30 pm, but we have Pics! Chiens-n-fleurs!
Indy's face (tl), closeup on the herb garden (tr), and over-wintered primrose (bl), and Indy's scar(br)!
Something I'd avoided...
... on February 11, there was a violent car accident in downtown Medford. An Ashland HS student driving at extremely high speeds with alleged police pursuit, ran a red light at the Riverside / Jackson intersection and collided with another vehicle, killing the other driver immediately and losing his own life shortly after the event. Passengers in both vehicles survived.
I did not immediately connect the name of the innocent crossing driver with anything... not until the following weekend when his photo was on the front page, did I recognize a former student.
Charles Bench had looked forward to taking Psychology at Phoenix High with Mark Wolfe, but Wolfe elected to go on sabbatical that year and Bench got me instead. He made it clear during the first week that I was not the teacher he expected, but that he was willing to stay in the class. At the end of the term, he thanked me for a great semester, indicating he was glad he got to take the class from me. Charles was taken from his wife and three children that night, senselessly.
Now the investigation goes forward. Jackson County has recused itself and Josephine County's DA is leading the effort. Today, the Mail Tribune sued for release of the transcripts of communication between the police vehicles and dispatch. Regardless of what they find, and if the 'blame' spreads from the intoxicated teen to share with the local police, the only fact that matters to me is someone who used to sit in my classroom is dead. He isn't the first. I hope he'll be the last.