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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Going South: Why San Francisco is still THE CITY

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2009 at 4:44 PM

If there ever was a homer newspaper columnists it was the late Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle. Caen loved his city its grandeur, its people and its unique way of life. He called San Francisco "Baghdad by The Bay", the reference being to the Baghdad of long ago, a wondrous cosmopolitan paradise.
After a recent trip to San Francisco, it is clear The City (as Caen also called it) remains a special place. Special its proximity to so much natural beauty within and so close to heart of the city.
Nowhere is that more evident at the Crissy Field. Butting up against the Marina Green to the east and Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge to the west, this old World War II Naval Air Base has been converted into a parkland.
Gone is the airstrip I recall from my childhood. In its place is a combination of wetland and open space laced with trails. In short, a spectacular new natural resource.
One well used by throngs of cyclists, runners, moms with strollers, walkers, dog walkers and more making their way along the waterfront as ships go in and out of the Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge.
As part of the complete revision of the landscape, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy has turned the old airplane hangars and headquarters buildings into museum, office and recreation space. For example one old hangar is now a spacious climbing gym; another is an indoor sports complex.

Directly across the Bay on the Marin County side, another form of incredible restoration of a World War II site has taken place. The site is Cavallo Point, the former officers housing and parade ground on a point of land jutting out into the Bay less than a quarter of a mile below the northern terminus of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Like so many old military enclaves around Bay Area, the old houses and headquarters buildings at Cavallo Point saw little or no use for decades. Now, they have become a spectacular new resort complex with all the old buildings renovated with a new ones (a spa for example) in a space that is remarkable for its tranquility and spectacular views.
A short drive from Cavallo Point on the Marin Headlands hundreds of people were gathered at Hawk Hill as part of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory's ( annual raptor count.
There were more expensive telescopes, spotting scopes, binoculars and camera lenses on Hawk Hill than I've ever seen in one place. Those manning the expensive glass would yell out things like, "Juve Kes at four o'clock," and a recorder would note down the sighting of a juvenile Kestrel.
While all this was going the view from Hawk Hill towards San Francisco was stunning on a crystal clear day with the fog lazily rolling through the Golden Gate.
A bit further north of the Golden Gate is a natural wonder of a different sort. It's called Cornerstone and is noted for its gardens. Twenty gardens to be exact that have been turned over to landscape artists and designers from around the world to create a garden of their choice.
The gardens are remarkably different in theme and design from a maze with a reflecting pool to one that starts with a lush thicket of trees that leads to a culvert that ends in the nearby vineyards.
Along with the gardens, CornerStone has a series of hip boutiques including a salvage store that specializes in large-scale pieces from old estates and buildings.
Being that this is California, the food at the small CornerStone café is exceptional in that it looks as good as it tastes.
CornerStone is free to the public as are all the wineries on the property and the hundreds along route 121 heading up the Sonoma Valley.
Judging by the crowds everywhere during or trip all seems healthy economy wise in the greater Bay Area, "We've gone from no business to being booked solid, "say a stonemason from Oakland I met on Hawk Hill.
And while there is a glimmer of recovery hope, like so much of California these days, especially at the parks and places like CornerStone, much of the economic oomph is coming from tourists. The Europeans, especially, are coming in droves due to the Dollar/Euro imbalance.
Along the trails at Crissy Field you could hear French, German, Dutch, Flemish, Catalan, Finnish, Farsi, Swedish-you name it was being spoken. A Belgian couple took our pictures near Fort Point. Dozens of college-aged Brits sped by on bikes. The scene was an amazing mix of peoples. For a final stop, we headed to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art crowded on a Monday afternoon. Again, people from all over the world were wandering the exhibits with a polyglot of languages were being spoken.
Herb Caen used to call San Francisco, "The City That Knows How." It certainly does and it hasn't lost its allure.
"Travel," noted Mark Twain, "is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.'

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mount Bachelor Looks To The Future: Opening The East Side

Posted By on Sat, Oct 24, 2009 at 12:08 AM

The cat is out of the bag ( as to Mount Bachelor's expansion plans and they focus primarily on opening the mountain's eastside.
This is not a new plan. In fact, it goes back several years when it was first put forth by then Mount Bachelor president, Dan Rutherford.
Now the plan has been fleshed out and includes: 1) a new lodge at Sunrise, 2) a new lift that will take skiers up the east side of the mountain and 3)the creation of a network of trails on the east side.
I've always enjoyed backcountry skiing Bachelor's eastern flanks for several reasons. One, there's some wonderful tree and open glade skiing. Two, there are some lava ridges lower down on the slopes that make for interesting obstacles. Three, because the east side is the leeward side of most storms, it seems to accumulate deeper snow and hold it. Also the wind is much less of a problem when you head east.
I first skied the east side of the mountain back in the dark ages when Bob Mathews ran the Nordic Center. He and I would ride the lift to the summit and then head east. Most of the mountain might be covered with windpacked snow but there was often knee-deep powder on the east side.
The problem then was the slogging back out on what passed for telemark skis in those days (read thin and unstable) to the Cascade Lakes Highway and a thumbing a ride back to Sunrise.
Later, and with fatter skis, I'd take a Summit lift ride and then, after a descent to the east, skin back up to run favorite sections again.
So, while I'll miss the solitude of skiing the east side, Mount Bachelor’s plan, on the face of it, will  open some fun new terrain for skiers. And, after all, that's what skiing the mountain should be about-fun.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bend's Historic Beautiful Couple: George Palmer Putnam and Amelia Earhart

Did you know Amelia Earhart's husband lived in Bend?

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 5:39 PM

Hollywood's hype machine is currently running on high touting Amelia the upcoming biopic on the life of famed 1930s aviatrix Amelia Earhart. From interviews with actress Hilary Swank, who plays Earhart, it's clear the film tries to be true to Earhart's rise to fame and eventual disappearance over the Pacific on her 1937 around the world flight.
That sounds perfect especially if the fimmakers included Earhart's Bend connection via her husband George Palmer Putnam whom she married in 1931.
The heir to the G.P Putnam and Sons publishing empire, patrician New Yorker Putnam was a 23-year-old public relations flack in New York City when he read about the on-going battle between railroad barons James J, Hill and Edward H. Harriman to build a rail line from the Columbia River to Bend. To the winner of that battle would go the spoils of shipping timber to markets in the Midwest and East.
Fascinated with the battle, Putnam headed west arriving in Bend in 1910. Within days, he’d signed on to cover the railroad wars for The Oregonian.
Shortly thereafter, he started working for the Bend Bulletin and within months bought a half interest in the paper. He would later become Bend's mayor at 25. Local wisdom at the time was that since Putnam was smart enough to have graduated from Harvard, he was smart enough to be mayor no matter his age.
As Mayor he approved the laying of Bend's first sewer lines. As majority owner of The Bulletin, he turned it from a weekly into a daily paper.
Putnam's marriage to Earhart was a much publicized event, and according to books on her life was, a very modern "open" marriage. Open or not, Putnam was a big supporter of Earhart’s career and a major financial backer of her various flights leading up to her final flight in 1937.
As to their life in Bend, Putnam and Earhart set up residence at 606 NW Congress Street. The house still stands.
Now as far as I know, no film crews were seen filming along Congress Street during the past couple of years, so perhaps there will be zero about Earhart's Bend life in the new movie. That noted, perhaps there will be some mention of the town and the Putnam connection which will give rise to more discussion of him as well. In his own right, Putnam was as fascinating a character, albeit not as famous as his wife.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Strolling Shevlin

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 7:36 PM

There are probably people who, like me, who tend to take some of our local special places for granted. Special places like Shevlin Park.
The Park is an amazing resource, a haven I've always appreciated but gained renewed respect recently when I took a couple of hours with a friend to just wander the Park marveling in the warm glow of sun on the aspen leaves and the Tamaracks now adorned  with their furry yellow needles.
In truth, it was like it was like being a whole new space. A space I really hadn't taken the time to slow down and appreciate given that I'd always either run or mountain biked along the rim trail or used the Park trails as an access to the Mrazek Trail.
But there the Park was resplendent in the bright sunlight of a perfect Indian Summer day. Paradise regained.
One of the more interesting new aspects of Shevlin Park is the number of huge trees that were downed in last year's big windstorm. Huge is not hyperbole here. Some massive old lodgepole pine came crashing down and the stumps that remain after the clearing work are impressive.
A bit about the history of the Park. It was given to the City by the Shevlin-Hixon timber company in 1921 in honor of the company’s late president, Thomas L. Shevlin.
Unfortunately the terrain around the then 280-acre park had been heavily logged and the starkness of the resulting clearcuts discouraged Bend's citizens from using the new park. It fell into disuse.
That changed in 1931 when the City purchased the trout hatchery (site of the current Aspen Hall) and added it to the Park. Now the Park became popular with locals.
Sometime in the mind-1970s, the recently formed Bend Metro Park and Recreation District took over Shevlin Park from the City and grew it into its present size of over 600 acres.
600 acres that sees, on a typical day, runners, walkers, hikers, birders, photographers, mountain bikers and gaggles of moms with strollers enjoying its confines.
May it always be so.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Keep The Wimp

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 11:12 PM

Currently there's a brouhaha brewing over Deschutes County’s intentions to close down NW Wimp Way thereby eliminating an alternate access route into and out of Crooked River Ranch. If you don't know NW Wimp Way it's the roadway that heads west off Highway 97  just north of Terrebonne and just south of the Rex T. Barker Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Crooked River.
 While Deschutes County is responsible for the roadway and its maintenance, the Crooked River Ranch development is in Jefferson County.
Deschutes County says it has no money or desire to keep the road open to Crooked River Ranch while Crooked River residents say that having Wimp Way access to and from their development is crucial.
It’s an interesting dilemma, but frankly I’m more interested in the fact that, yet again, Wimp Way is thrust into the headlines. More exposure to this best named of all Central Oregon byways could lead to problems.
Problems like people saying that Wimp Way isn’t an appropriate name for a thoroughfare here in paradise by the Cascades. What the street needs, they might suggest, is a name that’s more powerful sounding like Strong Lane or Manly Way.
There’s a historical link to Central Oregon’s past in the Wimp Way name, but even that’s not a concern.
What is a concern is that we who consider ourselves to be card-carrying wimps have always enjoyed knowing that there's a street named in our collective honor.  And let me tell you, that honor hasn't come easily. The Wimp Way sign at its intersection with Highway 97 has been stolen countless times. And probably as many pictures have been taken of people standing beneath the sign with smirks on their faces as have been taken of the impressive rock formations in nearby Smith Rock State Park.
There’s even a website ( that shows the Wimp Way sign as “if we didn’t show it to you’d never believe it,” joke.
So, while I'm sympathetic to the access problem the residents of Crooked River Ranch face and appreciate what Deschutes County faces due to lack of maintenance funds, I am concerned that by dragging Wimp Way back into the news that people will start, as noted, calling for it to be re-named.
No matter what happens regarding the negotiations between the County and the residents of Crooked River Ranch, leave the name Wimp Way alone. It makes us wimps feel proud to be Central Oregonians.wimp

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Faux Pros

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 1:06 AM

In a town where everyone is either: a) a former Olympian/World Champion, b) a really important big deal someplace else before they moved here, and c) wealthy beyond your wildest dreams, add professional photographer to the list. If my calculations are correct, there are more professional photographers in Bend than there are medical professionals.
The problem is these professional photographers aren't professionals. They're dabblers. People who work regular jobs, with benefits, and moonlight as photographers hoping to make it in the glamorous (see the film Blowup) and sexy (see the film The Bridges of Madison County) world of photography.
Real professional photographers earn the majority of their income making photographs. They're not pulling down $200k a year as a doctor, more than that as a stock trader, not nearly that much, but still a lot, working in a legal office, etc. No, they are professionals in their trade and that's how they make their money.
Which leads me to the conversation of getting paid a fair wage for work performed. Bend is notorious as a horrible marketplace for professional photographers. Simply stated, local advertisers and publications simply will not pay what's considered the going rate for photography. Hey, they can get photos for free or for nothing because there are so many pseudo pros out there who are willing to give their work away or just happy to see their byline under a photo.
Seeing their byline, the pseudo pros lay instant claim to being a professional. And in giving away or selling their work on the cheap, they undermine every true working pro. Those who rely on getting a fair price for his or her work in order to continue in the profession.
To be honest, Bend wasn't always such a terrible market for photographers. That was back in the film days when those who used photography for illustration had to rely on people who could make good in-camera images.
Then along came digital and everyone who yearned to be the next Richard Avedon or Robert Frank, found out they could produce crappy images and turn them into wondrous ones via Photoshop.
Voila, the era of making images became one of enhancing images. "Hey, can you get me one of the Three Sisters in the background with Elizabeth Taylor and Mohammed Ali in the foreground standing in front of the Sunriver Lodge? No problem.
Meanwhile, the real pro tells the person requesting said trumped-up image to get lost. And, as the Kurt Vonnegut's character Kilgore Trout often said: "so it goes." Life marches on and many true local professional photographers are re-thinking their careers while those in the pseudo professional photographer class continue to undercut them in price and quality.
It's a sad state of affairs to be sure and one that will never change since the precident for cheap, overly manipulated work has been established.
So, you might ask, who are Bend's true professional photographers? We can start with Andy, Pete, Rob, etal at The Bulletin. They are true professionals. That's their line of work.
Apart from them there's a short list of locals who have devoted their lives to the study and practice of photography. These gifted photographers now mainly work with out-of-town art markets, publications and advertisers because they know how bad the local market is and will remain.
Last year, a local frame shop advertised a display of work by "Bend's Best Photographers". I have no idea what criteria the shop owners used in the selecting the "best" because only two on the list were true professionals. The rest were dabblers.
But more power to the dabblers. Please continue to enjoy your avocation but don’t go around calling yourself a professional until your tax statement is such that most, if not all, of your income comes from making images.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Damn Yankees

Posted By on Sat, Oct 17, 2009 at 5:54 PM

From age eight I lived for baseball. The kids in my neighborhood took over two adjoining vacant lots and created a diamond where games were played almost daily from when the snow melted in April through until late October. And when October rolled around and it was World Series time, I was in heaven.
Later I played in my town's Park and Recreation leagues, a small town version of Little League thankfully without the nagging win-at-all-cost parents in the bleachers. It wasn't that our parents weren't supportive of our playing, they just decided to not interfere.
Then there was America Legion ball in high school and a workout in front of a Pittsburgh Pirate scout. A workout that led to a handshake and him muttering, "thanks for showing up" and nothing more.
After college I followed the Giants at Candlestick Park and later, when living in Berkeley, the A's at the Oakland Colesium which was a short BART rapid transit ride away from my house.
And all through these baseball loving years, I thoroughly disliked the New York Yankees.
I starting disliking them as a kid when they seemed to win the World Series way too often. All my best childhood pals disliked the Yankees as well. The Pirates, the Cardinals, Giants, anybody but the Yankees.
The heck with Joe Dimaggio. His brother Dom playing up in Boston was a better player. Forget about Reggie Jackson's four homers in a Series game for the Yankees, he played way better when he was an Oakland A.
And so we come to the 2009 American League Championship Series and the Yankees facing off with the team with the longest name in baseball history-the Los Angeles Angels who play in Anaheim but want you to think they're from L.A.
I like the Anaheim cum LA Angels’ red and white uniforms; can't stomach the Yankee pinstripes. I like the Angels' Vlad Guerrero. He looks mean and takes a wicked cut at the ball. The Yankees Alex Rodriquez is too pretty.
Then there's the Yankees Derek Jeter, who I had to admit to a friend yesterday, that I admire, albeit begrudgingly.
Jeter shows up to play every day, plays hard, isn't in the tabloids and has impressive career stats. He's an admirable baseball player.
Just writing those words in praise of a Yankee player is a clear indication that I'm getting old and soft. But maybe it's good that my lifelong dislike of the Yankees and anything to do with them is breaking down.
Go Angels.

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When Is Too Much, Too Much?

Posted By on Sat, Oct 17, 2009 at 3:01 AM

"Man," noted a Canadian journalist who called this week with some questions, "for a town that's the poster child for a depressed economy due to the fallout from the housing boom and greed era, Bend sure has a lot of entertainment going on all the time."
Ah yes, this is the town with the endless array of entertainment possibilities from downtown fairs/festivals that are interchangeable no matter what season they celebrate to concerts galore, a glut of music in general, art walks, you name it, we got it in  spades. So much so, that Bend just might be the most "over-evented" town in American. It could be argued that Minneapolis and Chicago have fewer annual events, concerts and art offerings and both are very cultural metropolises.
I figure that if you attended every "major" concert, play, literary reading, "indy" (the most overworked word in current English)) film debut, you'd be out of pocket about $10,000 a year and that's not including money fro pre and post event dinners, baby sitters, gas, etc.
Bend's race into over-eventing began back in the boom times. The way I figure it those in the event and concert business colluded with local movers and shakers to create the endless entertainment. They did so thinking that if they didn't do so they'd lose all the newbies to town who were used to being entertained all the time in the places they had recently left.
It wasn't good enough to mountain bike, trail run, fly fish and have a martini or local micro-brew at sunset and watch the alpenglow over mountains. No we've got to offer people something to keep them occupied so that they become oblivious to the fact that paradise by the Deschutes just may have a few flaws.
Another major factor in the current over-eventing was those who arrived, looked around, and felt sorry for longtime resident Bendites for having to suffer for decades with mediocre entertainment choices.
These folks decided to save the our populous by bringing "world class" entertainment to town. "We will,” I suspect their thinking went, "lead you to the cultural trough and open your eyes to the wonders of great art, music, literature, theater and more."
And while we're at it, we'll create a cultural arts center in Juniper Ridge where you can pay $50 to $75 per person to the see all matter of world class (there's that phrase again) entertainment.
Soon, one suspects, the bring-culture-to-the-culturally-deprived and mega-performing arts center gang felt that when the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) scheduled its summer tour it would include Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and, of course, Bend.
Back in the pre-boom town dark ages, Bend had only a few festivals, concerts and events. And we, the great unwashed and uncultured looked forward to the small number of events every year. You marked them down on your calendar. They were special and all the more so for being essentially one of a kind.
Was there ever a better summer event than the Pickle Family Circus in Drake Park? I doubt there will ever be anything to match that wonderful troupe's annual performances.
Then there was the old Cascade Festival of Music, the one that included jazz, latin and other musical forms along with the classics. There were some memorable performances at the festival and certainly, despite the current misperception, performed to knowledgeable and hip audiences.
How about Ray Charles at the Inn of the seventh Mountain, Ricky Skaggs at COCC, jazz giant Charlie Byrd at the now long gone Pat and Mikes.
There was also some very good theater at the Community Theater of the Cascades. Now there are six theater companies in town. That's more than Ashland boasts and Ashland is nationally and internationally recognized theater town.
So Bend is heavy on quantity and some could argue weak on quality. But more importantly, how do all those in the local entertainment business make it when there's only so much discretionary income to spread around on entertainment.
It's an even bigger mystery when you consider all the other exceptional, and some truly "world class", entertainment opportunities that lure people to spend their entertainment money outside of Bend. Events like the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Oregon Bach Festival, The Sisters Folk Festival, the Newport Jazz Festival, the Oregon Festival of American Music the Oregon Ballet Theatre, the Oregon Symphony, etc.
Perhaps the local scene will soon become so glutted with events, concerts, festivals etc that it'll finally implode and we'll be back to a dozen good events a year. It'll be cheaper for those whose lives revolve around being entertained. Also those presenting the event/concert/play will potentially make more money.
Until them, layer on the entertainment. And might I suggest a festival called The Mid-Winter Solstice Festival of Lights For Those Who Missed the Umpteenth Other Clone Festivals During The Rest of The Year"
 Entertainment, festivals,events

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's With The Weather?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 4:57 PM

As I write this it's cold and rainy outside. That’s cold, according to The Weather Channel, as in twenty-five degrees below normal for this time of year. Rainy as in near record breaking rainfall for a single day in October.
Meanwhile down in the San Francisco Bay Area where they normally get a tenth of an inch of rain in October, they've had over two inches of it already with more to come and two weeks to go in the month.
So what gives with the funky weather and what's to follow?
As to what gives, I blame it all on the Obama administration. Just kidding, but the current administration is does a popular target when it comes to things going wrong.
But if the "O-Man" and his team aren’t the problem, what's is -global warming; global climate change? Even our local all-knowing weather sage Bob Shaw doesn't have the answer.
So what should we expect over the next few months? It's my humble opinion that we'll have a mild winter. This is based on my thirty-two years in Central Oregon. During that period, every time we've had lousy weather in October the ensuing winter months were mild.
I recall flying home in early October years ago from Salt Lake after getting snowed out of a multi-day mountain bike trip in the Moab area and arriving in Redmond to 18 degree temps and snow flurries. Come New Year's Day a group of us went hiking at Smith Rock State Park in bright, sunny 65-degree weather which was typical for most of the winter.
So, I'm betting on a mild winter which will be a comfort to those who moved here recently expecting Bend to have mild temperate (read no snow) winters and those fabled "300 days of sunshine a year."
State climatologists have, in the recent past, said that we should be soon experiencing warmer and wetter winters. If that true, skiing will become an over 6,000 feet in elevation experience and Bend might experience more Portland-like weather.
But then we’re talking about the weather. A subject Mark Twain took up in an 1876 speech. Addressing England's weather, he noted: "I have counted one hundred and sixty-six different kinds of weather inside of twenty-four hours"
Sometimes it feels that way here in Central Oregon as well.
Twain added: "one of the brightest gems in the New England weather is the dazzling uncertainty of it."
That applies to Central Oregon as well. So, welcome to an early winter with more or less of the same to follow.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Troubled Waters

Posted By on Sun, Oct 11, 2009 at 8:43 PM

We, my friend Steve and I, went in search of big rainbow trout. Destination Diamond Lake where the successful ridding the lake of chubs and assorted crap fish has helped bring back a healthy rainbow population.
Back big time as in large fish but not classic torpedo-shaped rainbow but those of the slab-side, football-shaped variety. Rainbows that suddenly realized they didn't have to compete for food since the invading trash fish were gone and have been at the bug smorgasbord with unfettered appetites ever since. In truth, Diamond Lake rainbows are obese.
Well as fat as they might be, none fell for our enticements or, for that matter, those of hundreds of other fishermen who were casting to or dangling bright lures and bug-like flies in front of them. We got skunked.
No matter it was a gorgeous October day-cool and clear with just a hint of wind on the water. And there was Mount Thielsen to the east and Mount Bailey to the west forming a magnificent backdrop. It was even quiet despite the throng of powerboats.
It was a wonderful day until it wasspoiled by the fact that shiners and other bait fish, who didn’t get there by themselves, are starting to reappear in Diamond Lake ( This after the huge, and expensive, effort to get rid of those fish and return the lake to its former self.
Which raises the question-why do the get-a-fish-at-any-cost types feel that they’re beyond the rules barring live bait fishing? Is it a sense of entitlement they feel as in, "I'll get my limit even if it costs the body of water I'm fishing on to deteriorate. My catch is more important than yours and for that matter the health of the lake, river or stream.”
In his new book, "River Teeth", Writer David Duncan talks of a fly fishing friend who calls fishing guides, "lunker pimps." Pimps, "who see trout, salmon and steelhead not as prey, or challenge or mystery or blessing but as potential as potential ads to push their  guided float trips, books, and autographed rods and flies."
The numbskulls reintroducing bait/trash and non-native fish species into Diamond Lake and other bodies of Oregon are worse than the pimps by a long shot. They’re like a human virus killing many great places to fish.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bashing Season

Posted By on Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 6:44 PM

Bashing Time
In the not too distant future snow will fall in the mountains which will soon be covered with several feet of it. And when the snow gets to a certain depth, the ski lifts will begin operating at Oregon ski areas.
Locally, the start of the ski season will also mark the start of the annual ritual of Bachelor Bashing season. Ragging on anything and everything that has to with Mount Bachelor Inc has, for at least two decades, been a favored way to pass time with people over coffee, beer and cocktails.
It's amazing how Mount Bachelor gets blamed for things like crummy weather days, traffic jams going to and from the mountain, car wrecks, kids getting colds, mothers delivering babies early, older men running off with younger women, people's drinking problems and more.
Not that Mount B is perfect but give me a break, the corporation is just that, a for profit company doing, I think, a tolerably good job.
So, you might surmise that I'm an apologist for Mountain Bachelor Inc. Not so, I'm just a realist, and a a ski industry vet, who knows that the business of operating an alpine ski area is a tricky one fraught with the peril in the form of angry customers.
To be fair for everyone who calls Mountain Bachelor, Inc "the evil empire" that's ruining their lives there are an equal number of need-a-life Bachelor supporters who claim their lives and the lives of their families are nothing without the mountain to ski in winter.
Count me in the vast middle between the two poles when it comes to adoring or hating the ski area. Mount Bachelor is a cruiser's paradise. In fact one of the most all-abilities accessible ski areas in the country. So what it doesn't have the serious steep terrain of a Squaw Valley, there's plenty of fun terrain to ski and more to come when the east side of the mountain is eventually opened.
So what if the area doesn't get the cold champagne powder that makes skiing the canyons above Salt Lake City so memorable, Bachelor gets some very good snow. As good as it gets in a geographical region best known for its "Cascade Crud" snow.
One reason, with apologies to Hoodoo and Willamette Pass, Mount Bachelor gets ragged on so much is that it's the only game in town.
If you skied in the Lake Tahoe Basin say at say Squaw Valley and got peeved at the area's management or operations, you'd simply protest by taking your business elsewhere to Sugar Bowl, Heavenly Valley, Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood, etc, etc.
Here, if things aren't to your liking there's really no alternative for the "big mountain" experience. So the Bachelor bashers stew and spew.
And so it goes, the ski area and its management becom the focal point for hyper criticism. Criticism that I think Bachelor's management has been more than willing to listen to in the focus groups they've conducted during the late summer the past couple of years.
Mount Bachelor may never be the ski paradise some people think their entitled to by buying a lift ticket, but then what alpine ski area is?

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Death By Water?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 3:39 PM

One of the more fascinating bad consumer product sagas of recent memory has been that of sports water bottles. That’s as in bottles that don’t contaminate the water that’s put into them.
A little historical background is required. Not that many years ago, Canadian water bottle maker Nalgene came out with a line of what proved to be wildly popular plastic water bottles made from BPA (Bisphenol A).
You know the bottles. Almost every college kid, hiker and backpacker in North America had one. Many were personalized with colorful decals or clipped to one's person by means of a small carabiner.
Seeing this hugely profitable market, backpack-style hydration system maker CamelBak jumped in with their own line of BPA-made bottles.
The market potential for both company's product’s seemed limitless. That was until a scientific study came out showing that bottles made with BPA contained traces of cancer-causing carcinogens.
Oh, oh, the bloom was suddenly off the plastic water bottle business. Not for long. To their credit, both Nalgene and CamelBak changed the plastic used in making their bottles and forged ahead.
Ironically, several months after the initial BPA report and the changes in materials used in plastic water bottles, another study came out declaring that BPA was harmless. Not to worry the BPA horse was out of the barn and there was no looking back.
But there were still many consumers not sure about plastic water bottles not matter what the plastic used to make them. Sensing an opening, into the picture stepped the Swiss company Sigg, best known for their ultra lightweight spun aluminum fuel bottles designed for backpackers and campers. Sigg took the same spun aluminum technology added a synthetic material lining and offered people a true BPA-free, non-plastic water container.
Sales of Sigg water bottle skyrocketed. But even as the profits rolled in, many American retailers kept asking what was the plastic lining used to line each aluminum bottle. As the lining inquiries increased, Sigg's CEO told North American sales reps not to worry, the lining was safe and their retailers should feel secure in selling Sigg bottles.
Then came some independent tests on the Sigg bottle liners and it was revealed that the lining was indeed BPA plastic. Oops, un faux pas plus grande s'l vous plait.
Today, Sigg's CEO twists in the wind reviled by retailers and saavy consumers for outrageous lying all the while giving the BPA story new life.
Retailers are currently taking back all old Sigg bottles and replacing them with new, BPA-free we’re told, bottles or another brand of BPA-free product.
So what to do? If you're looking for a BPA-free water bottle, a local Bend company (Hydro, among several other water bottle makers nationwide, makes double-walled, stainless steel BPA-free bottles.
If you have an older plastic water bottle and want to know if it's made from BPA, look at its bottom. If you see a recycle symbol with a 7 in it, you've got a BPA plastic bottle.

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