Columns

The 30-Second Ride of the Spruce Goose

McMINNVILLE, OREGON – On a rainy late-winter morning, my buddy Glenn and I headed southwest from Portland to McMinnville, about 35 miles away. The town is roughly the size of Lufkin and is home to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, three large buildings (one is a movie theater), across from the airport and surrounded by a vineyard. The museum was founded by Evergreen International Aviation, known mainly for commercial helicopter operations. The company went belly-up in 2013, but not before founding the museum about two decades earlier, in 1991. The following year, Evergreen won the bid to buy the Spruce...

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It Was a Gorgeous Journey

ALONG THE COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE – Forgive me for saying this, but this place is gorgeous! (Pun intended and likely not original.) I first encountered the Columbia River in North Portland while wandering around with our buddy Glenn, while my Beautiful Mystery Companion and daughter Abbie took a Lyft to shop at a mall. We ended up crossing that wide river into Vancouver, Washington, searching in vain for a restroom in a driving rainstorm. We finally gave up looking in Vancouver and snuck into a McDonald’s on the Oregon side. It turns out my peeps were at the mall beside Mickey D’s, so we gave...

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Portland is Definitely Staying Weird

PORTLAND, OREGON — We were hanging around the Saturday Market in Old Town Portland, vendors set up beneath one of the bridges that spans the Willamette (emphasis on the last two syllables, which rhyme with dammit) when a short scrawny fellow holding a soft drink cup began jawing with several security guards. He was highly agitated, screaming and cursing, jabbing his finger into the air. The guards, armed only with truncheons, calmly stood in front of him while he vented his rage. The subject matter of his ire was not readily apparent. Finally, he started walking across the one-way street into...

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Going Cuckoo Over a Clock

We are now the proud owners of a cuckoo clock, a Valentine’s Day present to my Beautiful Mystery Companion from yours truly. We began talking about getting a cuckoo clock while in Germany just before Christmas but did not really look for one. As it turned out, daughter Mere and son-in-law Matt were headed to the Black Forest to spend Christmas right after we left. The Black Forest is in the southwestern part of Germany, near the French border. It has been the home of authentic cuckoo clocks since 1737, when Franz Ketterer, a clockmaker in Schönwald, in the Black Forest, built what is believed...

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Spring Peeks Around the Corner

Spring is poking its head around the corner here at Three Geese Farm. In late February, the willow trees began budding out, followed by a few of the hardwood trees in the woods behind Pancho’s Pond. Driving to town, I notice the misnamed redbud trees (they are violet, or purple) are blooming nicely, while the tulip trees have already lost their exquisite blooms, petals carpeting yards along the way to work. Each day, more trees begin leafing out. Back home, I replenish the backyard bird feeders almost daily, providing sustenance to the red-winged blackbirds, chickadees, cardinals, and an occasional...

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Creepy Chatbot and Predictive Text

This is creepy. That is the single sentence in an email to which my Beautiful Mystery Companion attached a New York Times article, titled A Conversation With Bing’s Chatbot Left Me Deeply Unsettled. She was right. It was deeply creepy and disturbing. The writer is Kevin Roose, a technology columnist who the previous week had written that the new Bing, a search engine from Microsoft powered by artificial intelligence, had replaced Google as his preferred search engine. I had read that piece and resolved to try Bing when it became widely available. It is still in the testing phase and only a small...

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It’s Officially Now ‘Three Geese Farm’

The farm at last has an official name: Three Geese Farm. In the past few weeks, a trio of Canada geese have taken up residence in Pancho’s Pond. We have named them Moe, Larry and Curly after an iteration of the Three Stooges, one of my favorite shows as a child. When a fourth goose showed up one morning, he was quickly dubbed Shemp by daughter Mere, in for a quick visit from Germany. When a total of seven Canada geese were seen cruising the pond or pecking the ryegrass, I gave up naming them. I can’t tell them apart anyway. If we get too close to them, we are liable to scare them off. So we enjoy...

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Reluctantly Using the Oxford Comma in Grad School

I am having to get used to using the Oxford comma while writing. It is not an easy transition for someone reared on the Associated Press Stylebook. The Oxford, aka the serial comma, is the last comma in a list — as in red, white, and blue. See that last comma? Those of us taught to consider the AP Stylebook as the Bible of writing always leave it out. That is the style dictated in the punctuation guide of the venerable handbook, which turns 70 this year. It is two years older than me. Now I am enrolled in two online graduate courses in the University of North Texas College of Information,...

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A Fine Evening at the Jefferson Carnegie Library

JEFFERSON, TEXAS – This town of about 1,850 residents dates back to the early 1840s. Jefferson, in Marion County, is about 40 miles northeast of Longview, and was named by its founders for Thomas Jefferson. It quickly became an important riverport, sitting on the edge of Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake. The first steamboat to arrive in Jefferson was the Llama, which traveled from what is now Shreveport across Caddo Lake and into Big Cypress, there into town. The steamboats shipped cotton and other products downstream to New Orleans, coming back with visitors and potential settlers. These...

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Gatsby and I Attend Obedience School

I mentioned last week that I have started graduate school to obtain a certificate in archival management from the University of North Texas. I have also been enrolled in another type of school. Graduation is next Friday, then the next session begins. The six-week dog obedience course that Gatsby and I have been enrolled in has made huge changes in both of our behaviors. Gatsby is the latest member of our family. He is nearly 11 months old, a cavapoo, which is a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a poodle. These are normally high-dollar dogs, and Gatsby is a beautiful dog with...

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