Michael

Hear the applause? It’s me praising this articulate defense of writing with passive verbs when they’re the most effective way to communicate something. Avoiding the passive in favor of the active, like many “rules” of writing, is a well-intentioned but misguided proscription that I followed for years. Teachers preached it in high school. It was […]

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Connected And Oblivious

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October 15, 2011

Blind trust or death wish? One or the other afflicts the many pedestrians using cell phones as they cross busy downtown streets. I see them often while driving in downtown Portland. They don’t see me. The increased risk of getting run over while using phones is well-documented. Now comes Siri, the virtual personal assistant on […]

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Fashionable Guerilla Kids

camo clothes

October 9, 2011

Some shopping malls can be dangerous places thanks to random outbreaks of violence, including at the one near my house. That doesn’t explain all the clothes for sale featuring patterns once the exclusive purview of battlefields and hunting grounds. Takeoffs on camouflage have infiltrated clothing lines for kids, judging from my recent shopping trips for […]

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Words and Water

September 13, 2011

Imagery that sticks with me often involves water. It’s also spare, several words that echo back in pictures of resounding clarity. For many months two images have replayed randomly, one from a song lyric, the other from a conversation. The Portland-based band Casey Neill and the Norway Rats sings: 2 a.m., swimming in the quarry, […]

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Face to Face

June 11, 2011

A few years ago I wrote here about a work colleague who disclosed that he had a chimpanzee. I remembered his disclosure while reading about a chimp ripping off a Connecticut woman’s hands and much of her face. Now comes news that the woman has undergone a successful face transplant, the tenth such surgery in […]

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A long-dead Oregon cowboy and rodeo star, whose life I’ve written about and continue to research, is finally receiving the recognition he deserves.

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To Know Or Not To Know

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April 17, 2011

Like one of my favorite bloggers, Jason Kottke, I was put off by the idea of parties for parents to learn the sex of their gestating child. Then a video he linked to choked me up. Guess I’m a sucker for such joy. Still, not knowing the sex adds to the mystery and suspense of […]

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Murderous Weather

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April 15, 2011

The Killing, an intriguing new TV show on AMC, ranks high on my edginess scale. The storyline is stark and disturbing. Grief of the victim’s family is palpable. The setting, gray and wet Seattle, adds to foreboding that permeates the show. But the ceaseless torrential rain and thunder remind me of my many years in […]

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Abuzz About Backyard Bees

Bee box built by Benjamin Alexander Clark

April 11, 2011

That stranger the sun came out briefly today, and hundreds of honeybees from our backyard hive streamed out to greet a world festooned with spring blossoms. They seemed to take as much delight as I do when the clouds break and the temperature rises. Of course for them this weather change is like a factory […]

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Unexpected Journey

David Bales, left

April 10, 2011

The serendipity of discovery on the web is old news, though it remains a hallmark. I was reminded of this recently when, as a longtime subscriber to Classmates.com, I received an email about the site getting a new look and name, Memory Lane. I clicked the link and immediately saw links to yearbooks from my […]

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Secret Meetings

February 12, 2011

A song lyric, courtesy of The National, perfectly describes where each of us leads another life, apart and utterly alone from everyone, including those we love: I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain. I wish I had fewer — or at least less contentious — such meetings. And how about an […]

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Tragic Truths Behind Glass

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February 5, 2011

I strolled the aisles at Walgreens recently while waiting for a prescription. A locked glass case containing medical test equipment stopped me. I wasn’t surprised to see monitors for blood sugar and the like. What surprised me were test kits for intoxication, marijuana and cocaine use, and paternity. For a modest investment, someone could reveal […]

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More Cinematic Injustices

February 2, 2011

Jennifer Lawrence portrays Ree Dolly

I’ve written before about a cinematic injustice that several decades later I can’t forgive. Maybe that’s why I’ve dawdled at seeing the updated version of True Grit despite positive reviews and an admirable cast. Now Salon weighs in with its Top 10 of Oscar oversights, eight of which I’m old enough to remember but doesn’t […]

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