Observed

I was a human dynamo today. Literally. Working out on a specially outfitted exercise bike, I generated electricity while burning calories. Sweat dripped from my nose at the Green Microgym whenever I glanced down at the flashing numbers showing how many watts I was producing. It’s too soon to call me Megawatt Man, but I […]

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Tree and Fish Fashion Show

November 6, 2008

In our yard, autumn turns elegant Japanese laceleaf maples into flashy look-at-me strippers. For several days each year, the tree hovering over the pond dons the color of the goldfish swimming beneath its branches. An exception is their recent offspring, little gray clouds that won’t brighten until spring. Cold has already induced torpor among the […]

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Election Bonds and Divides

November 5, 2008

Post-election observations keep washing over me, none more powerful than this: democracy worked when I had lost faith in it. The doubt was well-founded, I continue to believe, but today I’ve never felt better about the country. I’ll feel even better when the sins of the last eight years are reversed and daunting problems confronted. […]

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Iraq, Lest We Forget

November 4, 2008

Slipping from top of mind amid economic and election anxiety is the tragedy we call Iraq. But a soldier, a tiny plastic one in an unlikely place, reminded me today why Barack Obama appears on the verge of winning won the presidency. Only Obama among Democratic contenders voted against the war. Without that opposition, he […]

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Democracy Gone Awry

November 2, 2008

Sometimes I look at things too simply. Take, for example, U.S.-style elections. Because we live in a democracy, the people decide who gets elected to make the big decisions that affect our lives. Therefore conducting free and fair elections should be the most efficient and effective thing we do as a nation. Oh silly me. […]

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Taste-Bud Time Machine

October 30, 2008

People in their fifties sometimes long to be in their early twenties again. Now that’s a revelation. But do I want to wake up to remnants of this post-midnight snack on my night table: beer and chocolate ice cream? My chef-in-training nephew, living with our family for a time, might have been testing the palate’s […]

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Democracy Under Seige

October 29, 2008

Four years ago on Election Day, I saw the face of voter intimidation. It belonged to a tall thick-chested man standing outside the elections office in Portland. He glowered at the people waiting in line, looking them over head to toe. He was among Republicans dispatched to “protect” us against voter fraud. Of course there […]

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Street Scenes

October 28, 2008

My periscope breaches the surface in Northeast Portland and takes in the outside world: Larry the trash hauler introduces himself when he sees me photographing the Halloween decorations on his truck, which blocks my car on NE 11th Avenue. Until now we’ve been on a wave only basis. Larry poses for the camera and without […]

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Art Amid Gibberish

October 24, 2008

Consider me an accidental archeologist of urban blight. No academic journal will record my find yesterday during a trek through part of Portland where I don’t normally walk. But the thrill of discovery is reward enough. I was retrieving my car, in the shop for overdue maintenance. I turned onto NE Everett off Grand after […]

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Escaping the Giant Butt

October 23, 2008

In the throes of cardio exercise, the senses heighten. I guess it’s the endorphin rush. How else to explain the gym scene around me: twenty-five people on various pieces of fitness equipment suddenly appearing to move in choreographed rhythm to the Fleet Foxes blaring in my ear buds. The scene jars me from whatever world […]

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Evil Eyes Watching Me

October 23, 2008

The first time I walked by a house today, a cat gave me the evil eye. It was perched in a window next to a Halloween tombstone. I imagined the cat scanning the most private recesses of my brain and feeding off the dark thoughts hiding there. Several hours later, I passed the house again, […]

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Man at the Park

October 21, 2008

Assumptions are dangerous. That maxim was drilled into me years ago as a newbie journalist. But I’m not writing a news story. I’m speculating about a man at the school park up the street. He was sitting at a table, alone, surrounded by squealing kids and watchful parents. My son, Atticus, was playing nearby on […]

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City of Contrasts

October 20, 2008

In five minutes and eight blocks, contrasts assault me. At busy Burnside and Sandy in Portland, a young man holds a sign as tall as he is. A photo of an aborted fetus covers most of the sign. Above the photo are the words “Obama-nation.” A few blocks later, nature offers a visual antidote: a […]

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