I‘ve been known to travel with a laptop computer. I’ve also been known to write and store on its hard drive the most private of thoughts, not to mention personal financial information.

Now I read that the Department of Homeland Security has bestowed upon itself the right to search computer hard drives and other digital storage devices belonging to people entering the country. Without probable cause. Read More


Punctuation for the dead

August 4, 2008

Some news stories I can’t get out of my head. They keep reverberating with questions.

Take the post-mortem wishes of two men, one an astronaut wanting to return to space, the other an actor astronaut wanting to go there for the first time. Read More


Dogs back in the picture

August 3, 2008

Two dogs and water. Enough to bring to mind my dogs, not in a Portland fountain but following me forever ago as I race off a boathouse roof. A kid leaping toward a Florida lake below, the dogs airborne too. Read More


Holed up in memory

August 2, 2008

Big news about the definitive confirmation of water’s presence on Mars dispatches my mind not to the Red Planet but back in time. Back to a dark hole at the edge of a Florida orange grove.

When we were kids growing up in Maitland, my two brothers and I dug down five feet through the sandy soil. It was behind a hedge in back of our house. We put plywood over the hole, left a small opening beneath the hedge as a door, and covered the plywood with dirt. Instant underground fort. Read More


Drummer points the way

July 31, 2008

“You just changed the course of my son’s life,” I tell Phil Bondy.

Phil’s a young guy pounding away on a full drum set at the corner of Northeast Alberta and 13th in Portland. Atticus, who turns three in less than two weeks, is enthralled.

The occasion is Last Thursday, the once-a-month event when the stores and galleries on Alberta stay open late, artisans and vendors hawk their stuff on the sidewalk, and a festive atmosphere envelops everyone. Read More


Fish feast of memory

July 30, 2008

The media feeding frenzy over tiny carp performing pedicures strikes me as gluttonous as the fish themselves. Then again the story’s a talker, an offbeat news morsel. (How many bad food puns can I stuff in these sentences?)

At the gym today, I couldn’t escape the story. It beamed from two TV screens. But I wasn’t going to end my workout just because watching the fish dine on Kathy Lee Gifford’s feet and thinking about her calluses as food made my stomach churn. Read More


The surge demystified

July 29, 2008

Many people want simple answers to complex situations. They don’t care that the truth is a many layered thing, defying reduction to slogans and sound bites. What’s happening in Iraq is a crucial example.

With that prelude, I recommend two commentaries on the U.S. troop surge, an issue that John McCain muddles and twists for political gain. If only he would read the commentaries. They’re online here and here, but the man who could be president doesn’t know how to use a computer.


It’s hard not to spot a woman riding a bike and wearing a skirt. I mean that strictly from a safety standpoint. After all, it’s a benefit given how cyclists and motorists in Portland struggle at times to share the road.

Don’t believe the safety bit? You shouldn’t. Read More


Nothing stops more people along our precious corner of Northeast Portland than these towering July beauties. I sit on the porch, unseen by passersby, and eavesdrop on the oohing and ahhing.

Luckily, the flower thieves haven’t struck; some regal lily blooms were snipped last summer. Read More


Doomsday cookout

July 27, 2008

He’s no wacko. This friend of a friend is rational, educated, and well read. Personable, too. Yet his vision of the world’s immediate future, though short of apocalyptic, is bleak.

We’ve met several times in small social settings. At the first I learned he was an avid proponent of the Peak Oil school of thought and liberally shared his views: the world is beginning to run out and we’ll soon see the effects, not just in soaring fuel prices but food shortages and, eventually, economic collapse. He spoke not grimly but with the determination of someone certain of the road ahead. That was three years ago. Read More


Shame on McCain

July 25, 2008

I’m at the gym today, listening to the Avett Brothers‘ CD Emotionalism as I pant and sweat. CNN is on the TV several feet away. I vow not to read the closed-caption transcription of John McCain’s speech and look away. But my eyes betray me.

McCain excoriates Barack Obama for not supporting the surge and brands him as an opponent of “victory.”

First thought: Karl Rove is playing a larger advisory role in the McCain campaign than reported. Read More


Losing it

July 24, 2008

As I pedaled south on the bike trail, I heard him behind me, louder than the bleat of children at a nearby amusement park. His shouted curses, accompanied by the occasional clanking of cans, nearly made me swerve off the blacktop. Read More


Gnome finds a friend

July 24, 2008

The Gnome’s lonely vigil, which I commented on last week, isn’t so lonely anymore.

A little buddy has joined him in watching the world pass by in Northeast Portland’s Irvington neighborhood. Read More