Archive for October, 2008

A Beautiful Day for the Eagle Creek Trail Hike

October 26, 2008

Today was a beautiful day to hike the Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge. This six-mile trail (12 miles out and back) begins at the Eagle Creek Fish Hatchery on Interstate 84, forty miles east of Portland. Four of us hiked about 8 miles round trip today, with a lunch at the half way point. I will try to do the whole thing next time.

After the hatchery, where we saw hundreds of spawning salmon and loads of dead and decomposing salmon nourishing the creek, the trail begins a moderate climb in altitude that continues most of the way in. The route alternately passes under thick canopies and into open sunny spaces.

After a while, the trail passes Punch Bowl Falls. There is a spur trail down to the water, but only half of our group took it. Because of a missed turnoff on the way up, I did not.

There are several sweet bridges that traverse Eagle Creek as you make your way farther along.

We saw some stunning places where Eagle Creek comes crashing over waterfalls and collects in deeper pools between sheer rock gorges.

There are other waterfalls here and there.

We stopped for lunch at this bridge in the sunlight at about mile 4 before beginning our return trip back to the trailhead.

There were some amazing fall colors going on today.

When the trail was built, parts were blasted out of rock cliffs with steep drop offs very close to the trail.

Try it sometime.

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Portland Harlequins

October 26, 2008
Portland Harlequin

Portland Harlequin

Sometimes I like to exit my bus a few stops early on the way to work in the morning so I can walk through the Portland Park Blocks. These miniature busts are about 4 or 5 inches tall and can be found topping the sidewalk posts on SW Main Street between Broadway and Park Avenue, right outside the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. I have heard them described as harlequins, storytellers or characters from different cultures.

Click here to see the rest of them.

George Soros on Bill Moyers Journal

October 10, 2008
George Soros

George Soros

This is, I think, the third week in a row that I have posted up video and text of an interview from Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday evenings on PBS. Click to watch tonight’s guest, George Soros, who spent 20 minutes dropping major bombshells about the state of the economy. As I write this, the program is still running, but here are some lowlights that have gotten my attention: “hopefully capitalism will survive”, “we are in a downward spiral”, “it’s the end of an era” and so on.

Soros clearly explains the reasons for the problem: Excessive credit expansion at two to three times the rate of the economy for the last 25 years and the sale of millions of mortgages as Wall Street securities, resulting in the warrantless skyrocketing of home values, and the credit that was given out based on those values, beyond all reason. Those securities generated a lot of wealth and fees along the way, but they were practically worthless as soon as they were sold. Unfortunately, they were sold and resold on markets around the world, gaining paper value at each stage, but they were still worthless. Bundling these mortgages, which was supposed to lower risk for all by spreading it around, actually resulted in much greater risk for everyone.

The whole system is in the midst of a massive correction. While Soros says that the recent reactions by Congress and the Treasury have so far been both too late and wrong, he believes there is still time (but not much) to take the right actions to stanch the bleeding. He suggests that banks will have to readjust mortgages to reflect real values and avoid massive foreclosures; that the government inject large amounts of capital into the markets to get things going again (before market dynamism is irretrievably lost); and that we revive the economy in the long term by refocusing the nation on rebuilding our infrastructure and developing new sources of renewable energy. (Remember global warming?)

This is going to one wild ride.

Wall Street’s Shadow Market

October 5, 2008

Interesting story on 60 Minutes tonight discussing how serious this market meltdown really is. The key culprits? Astounding greed, incompetence and market deregulation. Watch it here.

Wildwood Trail from the Oregon Zoo to Pittock Mansion

October 5, 2008
Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail

I posted an earlier piece that alluded to my Saturday hike on Wildwood Trail from the Oregon Zoo to Pittock Mansion here in Portland. This is one of my neighborhood trails, as I live only 3 miles from the trailhead, and I have fallen in love with it this summer. Earlier this afternoon, I spent some time wandering around the Internet while the cable TV guy rooted around the place trying to figure out why my cable was out. I came across “Dotti and Al’s” great featurette on the route from the Zoo to Pittock Mansion during summer. The same folks have another page featuring another of my favorites, the MacLeay Trail.

The Anger Management-Challenged

October 5, 2008

I was taking a hike on the Wildwood Trail from the Oregon Zoo to Pittock Mansion between Saturday afternoon rain showers when I came up behind a man and woman in their 50s. As I prepared to pass them on a long uphill section of the trail, a woman came down the hill behind her smiling, spastic, unleashed Border Collie.

When the dog trotted by the man and woman in front of me, the woman in the pair suddenly stabbed at the dog with her open umbrella and screamed, “GET AWAY!!” The dog yelped and whimpered and flailed off the trail into some bushes before regaining its balance and looking back with a “what-the-hell- just-happened?” kind of look.

There was a brief exchange between the dog’s owner (“She wasn’t going to hurt you! You shouldn’t hit a dog with a sharp object!”) and the other woman (“Dogs are supposed to be on leashes!”).

So, trying to keep up my pace and get out of the vicinity of these people and back to my meditation, I prepared to go around the three of them when the man with the umbrella woman screamed, at top volume, in all caps, “YOUR DOG IS SUPPOSED TO BE ON A LEASH!!! CAN’T YOU READ THE SIGNS OR ARE YOU BLIND, YOU STUPID BITCH!!??”

What is wrong with people?

President Bush’s Grandfather Involved in Fascist Plot to Overthrow FDR in 1933

October 5, 2008
Prescott Bush and his son, former President George W. Bush

Prescott Bush and his son, former President George H. W. Bush

This is a story that did not get much any press here in the United States when it first ran in 2007: George W. Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, among other prominent American businessmen, was involved in a 1933 plot to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt and install a fascist dictatorship in America allied with Hitler and Mussolini. Here is the story from the BBC. (Story begins at 20 seconds.)

Devastating Post Mortem on the Vice Presidential Debate and the $700,000 Billion Bailout

October 3, 2008

Bill Moyers

Once again, Bill Moyers interviews a couple of guests on Journal that present a much clearer picture of the events that are so distorted by the mainstream media. Two key ideas I took from this discussion of last night’s vice presidential debate and today’s national mugging by Henry Paulson were these:

  • Sarah Palin got a free pass in the debate. The rules said that each candidate had 90 seconds to respond, with no followups and no questions from the other candidate. Palin, or virtually anyone, with training, can answer a series of basic policy questions with 90 seconds worth of catchphrases, code words and talking points. The reason Palin got tangled up with Katie Couric was because Couric could ask any question she wanted and follow up on the same topic two or three times for more detail.
  • The same senators and congresspersons that just robbed every single person in the US of several grand apiece, to be paid with interest forever, are now in their various planes, helicopters and limousines on their way back home to tell us how important it is to send them back to Washington for another term.

There Are But Three Things Men Respect

October 3, 2008

“There are but three things men respect: The lash that descends, the yoke that breaks, and the sword that slays. By the power and terror of these you may conquer the world.” — Grand Vizier Jaffar to King Ahmad in The Thief of Baghdad (1940)