Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Under gray skies...


“If humanity does not opt for integrity we are through completely. It is absolutely touch and go. Each one of us could make the difference.”

~ Richard Buckminster Fuller



I sure hope Barack Obama is as real as he comes off. I’ve just watched his interview on CBS' 60 Minutes. He definitely is smart and for sure has a sense of the everyman about him. But the weight of his responsibilities, man, he has far more than a full plate, I sure wish him well... and his obvious disdain for Dick Cheney is heartening! I see nothing I like when I see Dick on TV. But it was so very refreshing to see a real smile and hear intelligent speech coming from the mouth of our President - for a change.

I’ve often thought that what we needed as a President was an everyman... a practical, smart, open hearted man. Being able to throw a football, shoot hoops or even to get an opening pitch to the catcher without bouncing it... would be a sign for me. Well here he is.

Brother Marty actually alluded to the proposition that I’d probably lose a one-on-one basketball game with Mr. Obama. I don’t know... sure, he’s younger, taller, played college ball... plus he’s black... Me? I’m a short longhaired Scandinavian who wonders what the best route back to the old country is. With a pretty good 3 point shot.

Really tho’, is Barack Obama a common man’s man or is he another corporate shill? A lot of voices out there are saying that the megacorporate banking/financial industry has just screwed us big time. I’m inclined to agree, from my blue-collar, forklift driving, busted and broke perspective.

Which is a point Obama made that I liked. He said that a worker in (he named several states) would be glad to make $75,000 a year - without a bonus. Amen to that Mr. President, amen to that...

I swear, our obsession with stuff... with plastic googaws and shitty fast food and big fancy houses... I don’t get it. Comfortable I understand. But there is a facade we construct that allows us to fool ourselves into believing that we are it. That we are the be all and end all of life in the universe and lordy we’ve reached the pinnacle, look at us we’re just hot! But that’s my cynical view.

My real view is that mostly we are just folks. It is unfortunate that in but a few short generations we have become so dependent upon the sysyem for all our needs. From a country that for 150 years had a population that was in majority rural and lived on a subsistence lifestyle. But family farms have gone the way of the dinosaur. And it is too bad. One of the nice things about living in Oregon is that we have such a large rural population and there are a lot of small farms and ranches. This - in my mind at least - is the level of living that is sustainable.

I mean really... rich is ok. I spend a lot of my working hours these days in the homes and businesses of folks making far more than $75,000 a year. And I say thanks. I appreciate rich folks. They keep a lot of us in the service industry working. And they have lots of windows... (I clean windows, really...) and some mighty nice views!

But there comes a point with wealth. I just can’t believe that executives in a failing industry can justify million dollar bonuses. But this is an old rant (which I know I will return to) and I actually had started out just intending to post some more photos. So, without further ado...


Wayne Eastburn

I've seen Wayne around Eugene for years. When I started shooting for the Eugene Emeralds he was a fixture and knew all the sweet spots in Civic Stadium. I always defered to Wayne... if he was in a spot that I wanted, I waited until he had moved. Standing down near third base, over the Visitors' dugout, I stopped one day to say Hi to Wayne and a fan sitting there noticed the size differential between Wayne's huge telephoto lens and mine. Wayne is of course using the Register-Guard's top dollar cameras and I'm using my affordable camera gear. Anyway... that led to a bit of guffawing as "lens envy" became the topic for some barbs directed my way. I've snuck in a couple of shots of Wayne here and there (one of those things that seems to be common among photographers is that we like being behind the camera, not in front of it). This is one shot last summer at an Emeralds' game. Wayne retired in 2008 and I've run into him a cuppla times since at the local Fred Meyer store (now owned by Kroegers). Just a real nice, old guy, with a great eye and a lifetime of experience behind the lens.

For the birds:

This isn't a photoshopped image, it is as it was. Several options for titles come to mind...

I went for a drive a couple of weeks ago, with the sole intent of shooting some pictures. I went west out of Junction City on High Pass Road, then doubled back and went north on Peoria Rd (which cuts from Hwy 99E in Harrisburg, over to Corvallis. A real nice - but short - drive. Anyway, here are three of the images from that day:

As always, photos are © Allan Erickson, use with permission only.

“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”

- Gary Snyder


Thursday, March 19, 2009



“This is an impressive crowd: the Have's and Have-more's. Some people call you the elites. I call you my base.”

- George W. Bush

Ok... I'm not anti-capitalist, I don't disagree with people amassing wealth. What I do disagree with is amassing wealth while others go hungry, cold and unsheltered. The recent bonus fiasco at AIG is a prime example. Personally I think Steven Colbert has the right idea... an angry mob with torches and pitchforks.

There is something very mockish about the state of our economy. Millions are unemployed and financial folks at AIG and Merrill-Lynch (right before it was sucked up by the B of A mothership) are getting bonuses larger than my total lifetime's gross earnings? Please... knowing how hard I've worked throughout my adult life it rankles just a tad that my tax money is going to reward failure. I mean it is certainly not unusual. After all we've been paying for a drug war that now costs around $70 billion a year and the only success that Prohibition II has created has been for the drug cartels and the drugwar-prison-industrial-complex.

Sure, sure... had I not dinked around in High School and ended up ith a decent grade point average and then gone on to college and studied business instead of liberal arts... I may have ended up receiving my own million dollar bonus for failure. Sigh...

But isn't it a tad disgusting that some folks own multiple homes (mansions to me), some *cough-John-McCain-cough* not even aware of how many homes they own? Is it narcissism that drives people to live lifestyles that are beyond extravagant? Or is it as normal for them to be super-rich as it is for me to be super poor? Are the labor and efforts of some people really thousands of times more valuable than the efforts of blue-collar employees? And what about the 30,000 people that die from starvation and malnutrition every day around the planet? Surely... surely there is something very unhealthy in our collective (un)consciousness that has gotten us to this point where we celebrate while innocents suffer and die? Perhaps when we spend as much feeding the hungry as we do waging war and creating weapons of mass destruction... perhaps then... sigh...

And don't dare call me a bleedingheart liberal. It is just who I am that makes me ask these questions... I have a strong sense of empathy (and fortunately an equally strong sense of humor) and ever since I was a kid and would get teary-eyed watching Lassie I've never been able to avoid that compassionate sorrow that feeling others' distress brings. And thats funny in a way.

When I was working for Western Building Maintenance in Boise I was one of the few who was willing to work cleaning up after suicides and homicides. It didn't affect me in a negative way seeing the gore, the blood and brains... but a movie or story intended to tug at heart-strings and I'm teary again.

These days I am more than a tad worried. Employment is hard to find, money is losing value, my kids eat more and just keep growing... and the government seems to be stuck on stupid.

What part of broke don't they understand? In providing these bailouts they are spending money we don't have. And where will the money be coming from? Hmmm... you and me maybe? Ya think? Government wants to tax everything they can get their grubby, greedy, overfed fingers on. What they aren't saying is where they plan to cut their own fat. Our government is hardly trim and fit. Neither are we rolling in dough. In fact we're beyond broke, we're in hock up to our ears. What? $10 trillion? Without work I can't dig out of the hole I'm in. And if I take a $9/hour job? The hole just gets deeper.

I know it'll work out. It always does. One way or another...

“Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality”

- John Fitzgerald Kennedy


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tibet, Darfur, and me...


“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

~ Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama and Tibet are back in the news:

Dalai Lama: Tibet in 'constant fear' under China (Wash Post)

This piece from the New York Times' The Lede blog:

The Dalai Lama’s ‘Hell on Earth’ Speech

provides several links worth following. The Dalai Lama's words:

We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. Fulfilling the aspirations of the Tibetan people will enable China to achieve stability and unity. From our side, we are not making any demands based on history. Looking back at history, there is no country in the world today, including China, whose territorial status has remained forever unchanged, nor can it remain unchanged.

China's response was surprising:


Surprising only for being so east coast like. And that is a direct quote, I swear...

Seriously... Robert Mackey's NYT blogpost is full of links to follow. And I know, I know... if we don't know about a situation, we don't need to worry about it or feel guilty because we aren't doing anything because, well, "I didn't know" always plays better than "the dog ate my homework." Well, dammit, tough. Get educated. I don't know if you've noticed but there is a whole lotta shakin' going on out in the world these days. And I know, I know... its so much easier not paying attention. Well folks, I suspect not paying attention isn't going to work too well for us.

In pictures: Free Tibet rallies

Nothing will change for the Tibetans until the demand on China to give the Tibetans a great measure of autonomy comes from a collective clamor of world governments and an even louder exclamation from the citizens of the world.

Of course there are those who don't agree at all. On CNN's opinion pages comes this piece from Victor Zhikai Gao (Victor doesn't agree with me at all): Opinion: Tibet, the true and the false

"No single country or government in the world recognizes Tibetan independence. All the countries and governments in the world and all the international organizations recognize Tibet as part of China. Therefore, if anyone wants to achieve Tibetan independence, or use religion as an excuse to achieve such independence, he will challenge the collective wisdom of mankind."

Wow. The end of the world must be nigh...

Of course Tibet is almost a romp in the park compared to what is going on in Africa, particularly in Darfur:

`Millions of lives at stake' in Darfur - Aid agencies warn of starvation, disease after Sudan's president expels 13 relief groups

During a catastrophic six-year war, more than 100,000 people in Sudan's Darfur region have lost their lives to violence.

But humanitarian agencies say more are now at risk of a silent death from deprivation and disease, after the expulsion of international aid groups that supply half the region's needs.


"Millions of lives are at stake and this is no time to play political games," said Tawanda Hondora of Amnesty International's Africa Program. "By expelling humanitarian agencies, the Sudanese government is effectively holding the entire civilian population of Darfur hostage."

Amnesty warns that some 2.2 million people are at risk without adequate aid. The United Nations says the figure is up to 1.5 million – the number of Darfur people dependent on aid for basic health care, food and drinking water.


Nearly 400,000 Africans may have been killed in racially motivated, lethally destructive, state supported, and militarily unjustified attacks on the farms and villages of the Darfur region of Sudan. Using victimization survey data collected from Darfurian survivors living in refugee camps in Chad, and drawing on conflict theory, we present evidence that the Sudanese government has directly supported violent killings and rapes in a lethally destructive exercise of power and control. In the language of the Geneva Genocide Convention, these attacks have inflicted on African tribal groups "conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in whole or in part." The data include explicit evidence of the central mediating role played by racism in the attacks. There is little or no evidence from the surveys to support the claim of the Sudanese government that the attacks have been aimed at rebel groups as a counter-insurgency strategy. The Sudanese government claims are by this analysis not credible as self-defense arguments, but rather of the exercise of power and control through denial.

How do we manage to go forth each day as individuals, communities and nations and conduct our lives as if it is just business as usual? I swear we were more civilized when we lived in caves and painted ourselves blue.

“Science may have found a cure for most evils, but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all--the apathy of human beings.”

~ Helen Keller

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men”

~ Plato


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yep, more pics...


“I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast.”

~ Ronald Reagan

Still a bit tongue tied... although it is nice when I see others thinking like me. My fellow western Oregon rural blogger, Rain, over at Rainy Day Thoughts posted a nice bit on Sex and Old Age. Youngsters may not want to know that mom and dad -- or grampa and gramma -- are still... ummm... doing it, but Rain's is a thoughtful, musing post.

Anyway, nothing today but a few more photos. Again, just a random collection from my files. I hope you like them.


“Humanity needs practical men, who get the most out of their work, and, without forgetting the general good, safeguard their own interests. But humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit.”

~ Marie Curie