Fighting back against Trumpism

I started a computer folder shortly after the election called “Trump Era.” Inside are 11 files so far. They deal with FACTS I’ve gleaned on various subjects.

One of the files is named “Jobs.” Another is named “Big Business” and contains info on Trump’s corporate welfare deal with the Carrier Corp. My favorite is a near-empty one, “The Wall.” I plan to start another soon called “Land Grab,” regarding public lands particularly in the West where I live.

Knowledge.  This  is my initial way of fighting back at what appears the New Dark Age of America.  The presidency of Donald Trump.

If anything was clear to me during the election it was this.  Many Americans have not a clue on how our government works and its place in the world.  Facts no longer matter.  The era of easy “information” is as dangerous as it is simplistic.  Find a website that agrees with how you feel about an issue, and that becomes truth.  Few know how to research.  Even fewer know how to think logically.

You have only to look at the advisers and cabinet members Trump has chosen to understand you need to be vigilant, to know FACTS about everything the new administration is going to do after the inauguration on January 20.

Americans who do not support the Fascist policies of Donald Trump need to be more alert than ever, to get over sulking about the election very quickly and begin thinking about the mid-terms in 2018.  Those elections can over-turn a Republican-led Senate where Supreme Court justices go through the nominating process.

This is not the time to go beddy-bye. Knowledge, even in this era of a largely fact-free society, can be turned into power.

Irrationality takes over

Our class valedictorian did not attend homecoming in October this year. But a copy of his published letter to the editor of the Kansas City Star did.

Merrill Stiles, a retired physician, asked readers to think logically before casting their ballots for president and provided a list of considerations.

I was reminded of Merrill’s letter today in reading Donald Trump’s tweet of yesterday. The tweet said that in addition to winning the decisive Electoral College, he had also captured the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Trump offered no proof of illegal voting. He seemed to have pulled “the fact” out of the sky. Hillary Clinton by all reliable accounts leads the popular vote by 2 million. And the number is growing.

Not only that but Clinton is seeking a recount of votes in Wisconsin. And the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, is raising money for recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Trump has no strong mandate going in to his presidency.  He seeks a stronger voice by saying he won the popular vote so that he can rule America like a king. But the important thing is not what he said. The important thing is that half of America will believe him, nodding that millions cast illegal ballots. Half of the country will suspend logical thinking in favor of fiction, an unproven assertion that would get you a Big Fat “F” in Logic 101.

While I agree with Merrill’s concern, I think it comes a bit late. America has already reached the tipping point where irrational thinking is the standard. Trump is not the enemy. The enemy is us. We have perhaps reached critical mass with the election of Trump. Faith is winning the war with science and fact.

We no longer seek a president but some sort of white man’s messiah. Trump’s election is just another example of America in decline.

Gassing up in Albany

Our attendant in Albany. In gassing up in Waldport, an attendant greeted us in red uniform.
Our attendant in Albany. In gassing up in Waldport, an attendant greeted us in red uniform.

In Oregon, law has it you can not pump your own gasoline.  You must have an attendant do it.

We recently filled up our rental car, a little Chevy Sonic, at a Mobil station in Albany. The attendant soon appeared and took over.  Even washed the windshield.  She had to hustle, taking care of three other cars at the same time.  Took our credit card and read it via a hand-held computer and had time to chat.

This was like in yesteryear when it was the common practice.  This layed-back form came easily with me, having lolled through life having a gas jockey pump your gas while you slipped inside station to buy a Root Beer.

Our attendant in Albany said she also manages this one-person operation, and her husband manages another. Not only that, Her son also recently entered the field. She is convinced the Oregon law was meant primarily to create jobs.  Her family seems to be the living proof.

Maybe this is a good idea, a government solution to more jobs for workers displaced by computer world and obsolete and environmentally destructive industries like coal mining.

Let your mind wander.  Surely you can come up with some weird, unnecessary jobs to help the economy.

 

Walking along the Columbia

The Riverwalk. Looking east.

The Riverwalk. Looking east.

In Astoria, Oregon, at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River, you can walk along the shore on an asphalt path.  The path is called the Astoria Riverwalk and runs almost 13 miles from one end of town to the other and beyond that to the east.

The Riverwalk runs parallel to railroad tracks layed down more than a century ago. A 1913 trolley regularly rumbles down these tracks, noon to 6. The single car is usually crammed full, standing room only.  That’s one of the reasons Nebra and I chose one late afternoon to travel the Riverwalk by foot into town for supper. It is only about a mile and a half from the lodging on 34th Street and Leif Erickson.

Tanker in the Columbia.

Tanker in the Columbia.

The air is invigorating, cool now in the 60s with a light westerly breeze in our faces. We wear wind-breakers. Unbelievable that in 48 hours we have gone from an inferno in Phoenix to this in Oregon.

Only  a few pass us on the Riverwalk.  Some afoot, some jogging, a few on bicycles.

Season for harvesting wild berries.

Season for harvesting wild berries.

The Columbia has little activity. Several huge tankers are anchored in mid-stream waiting for what I do not know. Across the river to the north, the hills and mountains of Washington rise up as an emerald wall.  To the west, the horizon is broken only by the 4.1 mile Astoria-Megler  bridge that leads to Cape Disappointment and other interesting and historic places in Washington.

A tug boat ushers a tanker under the bridge, guiding it around the treacherous sandbars. The Columbia’s mouth is known as “The Graveyard of the Pacific.” A sign listing those sailors who have perished in these waters rests at the side of the Riverwalk.

IMG_2116Between us and the river is a lush strip of wild bushes and a few trees.  Nebra stops to examine wildflowers and patches of blackberry and huckleberry.  My camera is busy shooting the mossy-coated, green piles sticking out of the water. At one spot we see gulls (or are they terns?) resting atop of every one, all facing west to the setting sun.

As we close in on Astoria’s downtown, a concoction of museums, like the Maritime, restaurants and brewers pop into view. The main drag, Commercial Street, is up a few blocks on the left.

Astoria Megler Bridge.

Astoria Megler Bridge.

At 8th Street, we swerve south into the main part of Astoria. It is at this point of departure from the Riverwalk, we find at the Buoy restaurant. It’s No. 2 on Trip Advisor, says Nebra, who venture inside to check the menu.  She says there is a window in the floor looking down on the docks where a sea lion lazed.

Night on the river.

Night on the river.

And so the walk ends. It has been pleasant.

The Riverwalk, I think, is an ideal way to become acquainted with this little logging and fishing city at the edge of America near where the Lewis &  Clark Expedition made history.

The way a writer flies

Arrival at Portland International.

Arrival at Portland International.

A writer is a writer. You don’t have to write a novel.  Or get a magazine article published.  It’s the way you think. That’s what makes a writer a writer. It’s the way you fly.

I remember a story about the humorist James Thurber.  James is sitting at a supper table with his wife and some friends.  James is not eating and he is not conversing.  Wife looks over at James and sees his lips moving.  “James,” she says, nudging him,  “Stop writing.”

That’s a real writer for you. Always composing.

Taking notes, writing actually, filled up much of our flight to Oregon. It’s a little crazy, I suppose.  But this is how I fly.  Somehow this info may regurgitate into something special. Maybe no more than a line in an entire book I may write someday.

A label-maker has written “Oregon 2016,” and I have stuck it to the cover of a skinny 4″ x 8″ reporter’s notebook. I number the inside pages in red ink, upper right corner.  I am ready to begin.

I started Day 1 of our journey with the date and a little drawing. It is a circle with little lines radiating from it.  Everyone knows that means sunshine, which is the state of the weather right now in Phoenix.

It is Saturday, Sky Harbor Airport.  I have paid a Yellow Cab driver $15.25 for delivering us from the house.  In truth, I fling a $20 bill at him and say, “Keep it.”

Saturday afternoons are slow at airports generally.  It sure was today. We checked bags, got  boarding passes and sailed through security in all of 30 minutes. We arrived at Gate C-1 at 2:32. A screen behind the Southwest Airlines counter says it is sunny and 75 in Portland. Very good news. This is all in my notebook.

We lift off at 4:12. Forgot to note the time the plane pushed away from the gate. I usually do that. Two and a half hours to PLX, which is airlines shorthand for Portland International.

Hours and some sleep time later, just as I see the snowy top of Mount Hood west of Portland, a huge mountain emerges on the port side of the plane.  It is so close to the plane that it fills up most of the window.  I later ask the lead stewardess, “Do you know what mountain that was?”

“No,” she said. “You’ll have to ask the pilot. We’re not allowed to look out the windows.” Really? Now that’s valuable stuff.

This stew is pretty silly.  I hear one of the passengers across from me, a tall, long-legged blonde in shorts, call this “a party flight.”

At one point, this middle-aged stew asks us to sing “Happy Birthday,” to 6-year-old Ryan who is sitting near the front of the plane. Not only that but we are asked to make candles for an imaginary cake. Everyone turns on their overhead lights.  Soon, Ryan is requested to blow out the candles.  And so off go the lights, or most of them anyway. Ryan will no doubt treasure this moment forever.

Touchdown at PDX at 6:31.  Arrive at Gate, 6:33.

And suddenly we are in the airport proper, heading for baggage claim.  Welcome to Portland! Our escape to Oregon has begun.

These are valuable notes. Anyone can see that.  Should you read a book someday and notice any of the above information in them, I hope you will give me a call.  I’m not against suing someone for stealing my notes.

 

 

Escape to the Oregon coast

A coastal trip in the Great Northwest.

A coastal trip in the Great Northwest.

It has been a dreadfully-hot summer here in the arid lands of Arizona.  We are closing in on a record number of days in which the temperature has reached 110 or above.  That number is now about 25 days with no end in sight. The record is 33 days, in 2011, and, not eager to further punish ourselves,  Nebra and I plan to do what millions of other Arizonans have done over the ages.

Run for cover in the cool climes of the Pacific Coast.

For us, it’s a sea-change from the sunny beaches of Southern California.  We’re Oregon-coast bound. Think 60-degree weather, clouds and, hopefully, not much rain.

We have only a passing acquaintance with the Beaver State.  I’ve driven through Portland a few times and seen a few episodes of ” Portlandia.”

Our itinerary takes us to Portland by air, then rental car to Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River, then south along U.S. 101 and numerous seaside towns.  I count 30 of them on the visittheoregoncoast.com map, Washington’s border to California’s.  A friend of Nebra’s tried to play down the negative by simply saying the coast is “uh, very busy” in the summer.

The 101 highway, by the way, is a famous route, now diminished by Interstate 5, an hour’s drive to the east. It runs almost the entire width of the nation, north and south, Olympia, Washington, to Los Angeles, a distance of 1,550 miles. In California, it is known as El Camino Real (The Royal Road).

Oregon, I read, has 363 miles of “enchanting” coastline, but our idea is to travel no farther than 237 miles of it, to Coos Bay, the largest of the coastal communities.  Coos Bay, an old but still active fishing port, is far from a village, population about 16,000.  From there, we go inland and begin doing the second part of our three-pronged trip.  Visiting the college towns of Eugene and Corvallis and walking up the steps of the capitol in Salem.  The third part is hiking around Portland and in the Mount Hood region.

How our heat-wracked bodies adapt to a 50-degree drop in temperature is a mystery I’m eager to engage.