Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Wallowa Lake, Oregon

Thanks to Measure 37 this place may soon be filled with houses. Measure 37 was pushed through by timber interests as a way to market their cut-over land for vacation home sites. It basically gutted Oregon's land use planning laws. They were considered to be some of the most forward looking planning tools in the country. Angered a lot of folks who felt they should be able to build anywhere and anything they wanted. Voters are beginning to realize how big a mistake Measure 37 was. I only hope it's not too late for Oregon.

Christmas Thoughts

This evening is the day after Christmas and we are slowly recovering from the holidays. As usual, Christmas snuck up on us, mailed the Christmas Cards a little late, shopped for the last of the Christmas presents on the 23rd and finalized dinner plans on Christmas Eve. Wonder of wonders, we had a wonderful Christmas Eve service at church, lots of singing and lots of laughing and lots of good cheer. Christmas dinner was wonderful, we cooked the turkey and friends brought dessert and salads and we met at Char's to eat. Char was in California visiting her dad, but many of her friends met at her place and had a great dinner.

This was the first year that we didn't have some other members of our family to celebrate Christmas with. It was different, but it was good. Talked with family members on the phone and that helped. We don't get to see the kids and grandkids much because they are in Arkansas and Massachusetts. But we get to travel all over the country to visit them. Thanks to our kids we have been in nearly every state in the 50. Only missing the deep south.

It was interesting to consider the Nativity and the world that Jesus was to confront. The situation hasn't changed much since then. We still do not have peace in the Middle East after 2000 years of strife. We must continue to work for peace and understanding. We need to work to convince others to work for peace and not for war. The road to peace is seldom paved with bullets. I find it hard to understand why people don't know that.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Death and Taxes

Was talking the other day with a friend who is a business owner in a neighboring town and the subject of taxes came up. Now, he is a Republican and I expected to hear some rant about high taxes, but he shocked me by saying that he couldn't understand people who were opposed to taxes. He stated, and rightly, I think, that if you continue to cut taxes and let routine maintenance go it won't belong until everything grinds to a halt. He recognizes the need for a good infrastructure in his state and community to foster better business. If the roads and streets go to pot(holes) people will go elsewhere to shop. He uttered my favorite saying when it comes to taxes, "you can't get something for nothing." If you want good streets, schools, parks, fire protection, etc. you have to pay for it. I don't understand people who complain about high taxes and poor streets at the same time. Do they think that asphalt is free? With the oil crunch street paving has gone through the roof. I know, they want the city, county, state, federal employees to work for nothing, "after all, they're at the public trough".
I spent 6 years as the mayor of our little town and it was nearly impossible to get a budget passed because people complained about the high taxes in the city. ( About $500 for a $100,000 home) These same folks thought nothing wrong with spending $10 - $20 bucks a week on the lottery. I always called the lottery the stupid tax, because stupid people spent hard earned money on lottery tickets. I pay my stupid tax about once a year. I buy a $1 lottery ticket whenever the prize is over $250,000,000. I know I can't win, but somebody might win and donate a mil or so to the schools in the area. Pay your taxes folks that's the best way to support our democracy. Oh yeah, you can't take it with you. Now I've tied the death part into this masterpiece.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Winter Travel

Here in Oregon there have been several cases of people getting lost or stuck in the snow. Often these situations end badly. People fail to realize that mother nature can strike with a suddenness that is unbelievable. My mother-in-law used to always tell us to make sure that we have ample food and water aboard whenever we travelled across the state. We always pooh-poohed her concerns because she grew up in an era of bad roads and unreliable cars, but she really knew what she was talking about. We always carry warm blankets in the trunk, but seldom have food supplies with us. I think I could live off my fat for a week or two, but drinking water might be a problem. My wife always makes sure we have a lot of water in the car when we travel so we could be ok.

It's really easy to get into trouble on the roads especially when travelling in unfamiliar territory. A number of years ago we went to Phoenix, AZ for our son's wedding. It was spring break, the end of March, and we decided to take a different route home. We had never visited The Grand Canyon in all our trips to Arizona so this time we went north to Flagstaff and into the Park. After doing the tourist things we continued on our way and spent the night in Page, AZ intending to drive north through Utah to Interstate 84 and then home. The next day we left Page and drove through Kanab and then north on a highway that appeared on our map to parallel I 15. I figured that we could go all the way to I 70 and then over to I 15. After a while it started snowing heavily and the road we were on was soon covered with snow. We decided that the going would be better on I 15, so we turned on to the highway to Cedar City. Soon we were on a road walled in by snow 8 to 10 feet high on either side of the highway with no place to get off or turn around. I stopped in the middle of the road and put on tire chains and we continued on. After a while we met a snow plow coming from Cedar City so we knew the road was open all the way. We were soon over the pass and on the downhill side of the mountains on our way to Cedar City. Everything worked out fine, but we could have just as easily gotten stuck in the snow and stayed there until we were found frozen in our car. What we did was really foolish and it could have ended badly. What you see on a road map is not always what you get on the ground. I guess the moral is be prepared for any eventuality.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Package Sizes

Perhaps no one noticed but many of the package sizes that we have grown to know and love have changed. I don't know when it happened, I suppose that it has been going on all the time, but the packages of ice cream that most people buy, the half gallon, is no longer a half qallon, but rather 1.75 quarts. No advertising blitzes telling us, "now in a new reduced size", no nothing... Prices are the same, maybe even a little higher, but practically all "Half Gallon" Ice Cream containers are now 1.75 quarts. What's next? 1.75 pint quarts? I'm really suprised that no one has complained. I think that since the packages looki about the same size most people haven't noticed that they're getting screwed out of a quarter of a quart. I know thaqt you can't fight city hall, but I'm sure that you can't fight Wal-Mart.