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Showing posts from June, 2007


There probably aren’t a lot of things worse than death, but the onset of dementia or a sudden diminishment of mental functioning - so severe that your ‘you’ is lost - might be two of them. That’s why, when evidence shows that I can still learn by experience, I feel exceedingly pleased with myself. For this hike (the directions to which I found in Douglas Lorain’s 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon: ) I made sure that the entire route was well below the 6000 foot level, and I mentally prepared myself to test any gate I should encounter, closed or not. (See my June 11th entry about how I lost an encounter with a closed gate: ).

While there were no gates to worry about on this trip, possible future lessons to learn might have something to do with just how far you should go into the wilderness with a two-wheel drive vehicle on really crappy dirt ‘roads’, especi…

FISHING for SHAD: Instinct, Cultural Transmission or Therapy?

I don’t spend a great deal of time imagining why extraterrestrials might be interested in visiting Earth. But if they did somehow manage to visit, even though they would be piloting advanced ships that bend space/time, probably the first thing they would want to do once they finished with their obligatory survey is to try driving our cars, boats and planes.

Our vehicles are wonderful examples of evolving form following function. We’ve developed cars that are excellent at hauling families, going very fast around oval tracks, and even some that compensate for tiny genitalia.

Boats fill niches in transportation, entertainment, research, defense, and also fill a critical role in harvesting food from the ocean. In each case, the function of the vehicle has much to do with its final shape and appearance. For example, over the course of history, the sportsman’s fishing boat has evolved to hold enough beer to satiate two, sometimes three fishermen during the course of an entire afternoon.
I’m no…

The Road to Cloud Cap Trailhead

I was lured to the Cloud Cap Trailhead with promises of time travel back to the ice age. The information I read on the internet from the Portland Hikers field guide (an excellent hiking resource!) promised spectacular views of Eliot Glacier from high atop Cooper Spur. The time travel part comes into play if one can imagine Mt. Hood’s most massive captive river-of-ice escaping its high altitude prison and joining its northern siblings in a steady southern migration. An ice age.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Eliot Glacier, which is why this blog entry is called only the Road to Cloud Cap Trailhead instead of Cooper Spur Hike or Eliot Moraine Hike. I’m an idiot, but don’t take my word for it. Read on and see for yourself.

The instructions to the trailhead(s) were simple enough. Go to Hood River. Take highway 35 south. Follow any signs that mention Cooper Spur Ski resort, then follow Cloud Cap Road to the trailhead area. Cloud Cap …

Perceiving Time at Smith & Bybee Lake(s)

I sometimes think I can remember back to High School. Every classroom had a uniform, institutional-style clock about the diameter of a large pizza high on the wall. At certain stressful moments, say Mr. Rubin’s oral Algebra quizzes, my attention would be transfixed on the clock’s minute hand, all my powers of will focused in a hopeless telekinesis experiment to accelerate time and perhaps escape the grand inquisitor’s sarcastic wrath as he methodically and relentlessly worked his way from victim to victim on his master seating chart. I don’t think I ever saw the minute hand go faster, but I’m fairly convinced I saw it stop a few times just long enough to grant my classmates a smug sense of superiority as I proffered another ridiculous answer.

Depending on the clock, you may or may not be able to see the minute hand move. Sometimes minute hands click to the next minute-mark increment once the second hand completes a circuit, but I don’t think you can really see it move while you’re watc…