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I live in Portland, Oregon.  It's a city both defined and divided by a river.  The Willamette River carves a path from the south of the city up north, where it joins the Columbia River, separating Downtown Portland from its eastern bedroom communities.  There are at least 9 bridges which traverse the Willamette within Portland's city limits.  One of them, called the Sellwood Bridge, was built in 1925, and is currently being rebuilt.

I'd like to compare and contrast this rather mundane infrastructure project with another bridge that was built between 1933-1937.  None other than the Golden Gate Bridge, connecting San Francisco and Marin County.  There was nothing mundane about that project.  And it remains to this day one of America's foremost civil engineering and architectural achievements.  

Portland's "new and improved" Sellwood Bridge will not make any such splash, or garner such accolades.  People won't pose for pictures with it as a backdrop, nor will postcards be mailed to family or friends by vacationers, regaling in shorthand how they visited the Sellwood Bridge while vacationing in Portland.  It will simply be a utilitarian, two way span over a lazy, muddy river, spanning about 1,200 feet of water that is, at the deepest point in the channel, perhaps 30 ft deep.  

Here's the Golden Gate Bridge:

Golden Gate Bridge

And here is a link to what Portland's new Sellwood Bridge will look like when it is completed.  When you get to the web page, just click on the upper middle pic and prepare to have your breath taken away by its utter lack of majesty.

http://www.sellwoodbridge.org/...

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The water contamination crisis in Charleston, WV, has generated some well deserved attention here.  It has created a disruption in the personal and economic lives of those affected that is hard to wrap your head around in some ways.  I thought I would post some photos for those of you who are unfamiliar with Charleston and its environs, in order to show what the area looks like, and depict the degree to which both the coal and chemical industries are entwined in both the landscape and the economy of the place.

Here, for example, is the DuPont Chemical plant, located in Charleston.  The night setting makes it look nicer, perhaps, than is deserved.

Moon Over Parador

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I just finished reading a very good article from The Guardian's Environment section.  (The Guardian, IMO, does the best job of reporting on environmental issues of any major newspaper currently)  The article described an emerging trend in some U.S. cities to make biodiversity and the the enhancement of urban wildlife a prominent concern in decisions surrounding the kinds of trees planted on city land, such as streets, parks and even schools.  While it might seem like an obvious criteria, the fact is that over the past several decades most urban planners, and most private residents living in the city, have given little to no regard to such concerns when choosing what variety of trees to plant for ornamental purposes.  In many cases, the primary factor has been a tree's aesthetic appeal.

There has been a remarkable level of disregard, when it comes to urban landscapes, to the interrelationship between tree species and urban wildlife.  Consider this fact:

Of the Audubon Society's list of the 20 common birds in decline here in America, all of them have seen their populations decline by at least 50% just since 1970.  Of 800 bird species, about 17% are in decline.

Much of that population decline is the result of habitat loss.  The mistake we often make, however, is thinking of habitat loss strictly as a function of urban development, as in the Joni Mitchell song

They paved paradise, put up a parking lot
While the physical loss of habitat cannot be discounted as a factor in the decline in wildlife populations, the composition of tree species in what habitat that is left also plays a huge role in the ability of birds and other wildlife to survive and thrive in the urban environment.
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West Virginia is one of those states that doesn't get much attention here on DailyKos, and when it does, it's almost always in a poor light.  I thought it would be nice to do something about that.

You see, there's more to West Virginia than coal trains, mountaintop mining, Joe Manchin or Bible Belt poor folk who vote against their own self interests.  It really is a gorgeous state.  I have driven many a back road through West Virginia, and let me tell you...there are few places in this big old country of ours that can match its beauty.  

Here is the West Virginia I have seen in my travels, in a better light.

Late afternoon light on a hayfield

West Virginia Farmer

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2013 was a big year for Hollywood collectibles sold at auction.  Back in September the famous statue from "The Maltese Falcon" sold for a hefty $4 million and change.  That same month saw the white Lotus Esprit S1 "submarine car" from the Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me" sell for $862,000.

Lotus Esprit S1 from The Spy Who Loved Me

When the Delorean DMC-12 that was memorialized in "Back to the Future" came up for auction, it fetched a respectable $541,000.  What's ironic is that Delorean Motors was, you might recall, struggling financially at the time that movie was made, and a brand new DMC-12 could be had in their showroom for just $30,000.

DeLorean DMC-12

Of course, both of those auctions pale in comparison with 2 of the most famous cars to ever go on the auction block.  The Aston Martin DB5 with ejector seat, tire shredding mag wheels and oil slick from "Goldfinger"?  That one could have been yours if you had a checkbook enabling you to bid $4.6 million.

Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger)

And then there was the Batmobile.  Who wouldn't love to pick up a lady on a first date in the Batmobile?  That fantasy could have been made real had you coughed up the final bid of $4.2 million.

Original Batmobile

Even a relatively pedestrian car like the 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible used in "Thelma and Louise" sold not long ago for the pittance of $65,000.  Mind you, not the one that drove over the cliff.  They used 4 different T-birds to shoot the film.

But there's one car made famous by a movie that has never come up for auction, and has been the subject of much rumor and speculation for decades.  It didn't have the bells and whistles of the Aston Martin or Delorean, but it was used in what is probably the best chase scene ever filmed, with Steve McQueen behind the wheel:

For years and years, movie and car aficionados alike have wondered...whatever happened to that green 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 Fastback?

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I've never done a book review before (at least not since Elementary School).  And Patrick McGrath wrote this particular book almost 20 years ago.  So what's the deal? Why this book?  Now?

There are a few deals.  It's an excellent book.  Most of you, I'm betting, have never heard of Patrick McGrath.  He's typically referred to as a "writer of modern Gothic literature."   Whatever that means.  His books are moody.  Atmospheric...in the sense that they create an atmosphere that you can see, smell, hear...almost touch.  They are a bit dark. in that they describe Man and his passions in an unflinching manner.  And yet...beneath all the layers of darkness, there is a veneer of romanticism.   Is that what defines Modern Gothic?  I have no idea.

I only know I couldn't put this book down when I read it...and 20 years later I could write a Cliff's note version of it from memory.  Perhaps it seared itself into my mind due to circumstances in my life at the time I read it...though I think not. It was just good writing.

Dr Haggard's Disease is a book about obsession.  It is a tale of adultery, and lust, passion, desire...betrayal...the inability to rid oneself of those feelings.  The frailty of the body, and the perseverance of emotions...both the healthy ones and the unhealthy.

It's a tough read for the faithfull amongst us...it's a painful read, at times, for those of us who have ever gotten caught up in an affair.  There are moments that you may not recognize yourself in...but then there are passages that may have been lifted from your own private diary, if you keep one.

Then again...maybe that's just me.  That's the pleasure of literature.  Sometimes it is profoundly personal, and other times it is unmistakably universal in its appeal.  There are, no doubt, numerous novels that deal with "The Affair."  Graham Greene's "The End of the Affair" comes to mind...and I have read that book at least 4 times.  I have read this one 3 times.

I beg that you read it once.

Take a trip with me back in time.  The year is sometime in the early years of WWII.  The setting is a small town on the coast of England.

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It's funny how the major narrative surround a current event can turn on a dime.  In the past few days there have been 2 suicide bombings in the Russian city of Volgograd, killing some 34 innocent civilians.  That toll may rise, as many are still hospitalized.  Not too long ago the major buzz surrounding the Winter Olympics in Sochi was whether or not Russia would allow openly gay athletes and their partners to participate in the Games.  At least for me, that narrative is now overshadowed by security concerns and the threat of terrorist attacks.

In addition to the most recent suicide bombings, Volgograd was also rocked last October by a suicide bombing on another public bus, which killed seven people.  In all three cases, the attacks were carried out by Chechen rebels.  (One bomber reportedly was from Dagestan, the country of birth of the Boston Marathon bombers)

Dokku Umarov, the leader of the Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus, issued a statement six months ago promising a strike on the Olympics in Sochi, urging his followers to use all means to derail the Games:

they are planning to hold the games on the bones of many, many Muslims buried on our land by the Black Sea. It is incumbent on us as Muslims not to permit that, resorting to any methods Allah allows us.
In his first public comments since the latest terror attack in Volgograd, Putin had this to say:
I am certain that we will fiercely and consistently continue the fight against terrorists until their complete annihilation
The opening ceremony for the Sochi Games is less than six weeks away and security measures, which have been a primary concern ever since the Munich Games of 1972, are now at the forefront.

As I read through the news articles concerning these attacks, and the measures that Putin is planning to put into place, I can already anticipate some grumbling, perhaps, by those who see the Russian response as too heavy handed.  It has caused me to wonder what our own response would be if this was happening on American soil, and to American civilians.  What would WE do?  What would YOU do?

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Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 08:53 AM PST

The Winter Orchard, a Photodiary

by Keith930

There's an austere beauty to an orchard after the blossoms of Spring, the lushness of Summer, and the abundance of fruit give way to the deep sleep of winter...

Apple Orchard winter

Winter Orchard

winter orchard

Winter Orchard

Winter orchard BW

winter-orchard

Winter Pear Orchard ~ Cashmere, WA

Winter Orchard

Orchard

Winter Dreams

Winter orchard sun

Discuss

Warm yourselves up with some bluegrass stylings by Peter Rowan and Friends...








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All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.

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Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 01:24 PM PST

Music For a Winter Day: June Tabor

by Keith930

I'll never forget the first time I heard June Tabor sing.  I had fallen asleep on the sofa one night while listening to the radio, and awoke sometime around 1:00 AM to the sound of her singing.  But it wasn't so much that I happened to awaken at that moment, so much as it seemed her voice pulled me from my slumber, gently shaking my shoulder, whispering to me...wake up, I want you to hear this.  It was like listening to a Siren...had I been a ship's Captain I would have followed her voice until I wrecked my vessel upon the rocky shoals, it was that beautiful.

This is the song that pulled me from my sleep...an old Northern English ballad about a gardener who is smitten by a girl and promises to make her a gown from the flowers he grows.  The girl, however, wants nothing to do with him, and her rebuff is as cold and sharp as the dead of winter.

June Tabor's songs are often like this.  Dark.  Somber.  Moody.  Wintry.  It's no coincidence, then, that she was born on December 31 in 1947.  She has been singing folk music for more than 40 years now, and her voice seems only to get better with age.

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Sun Dec 22, 2013 at 02:54 PM PST

Quacking to the Choir

by Keith930

Does anyone here really watch Duck Dynasty?  Does anyone here really care what this Robertson guy has to say?  Is anyone here really supportive of his worldview?

No.

So why all of the diaries about it?  I can see two or three.  5 at most.  After that...what's left to say?  Not a damned thing.  It's just quacking to the choir.  And a pointless competition to see who can take the most umbrage from what a nobody had to say, in a tedious effort to prove their street cred as a bona fide progressive.

I get it...you disapprove of this yahoo.  But, please...can't we just quit flogging what is obviously a dead horse?

I don't care about Phil Robertson's political views.

I don't care about Lindsay Lohan's political views.

Nor Ted Nugent's.

Nor Glenn Beck's.

Nor Clint Eastwood's.

Nor Paula Deen's.

Couldn't care less about Kim Kardashian.  Or any of her sisters.  Or her mother.

I don't care who Kanye West has insulted lately.

I don't care about who George Zimmerman is currently sleeping with, and whether it's a healthy relationship or not.  That's between him and his partner.

I don't care about every kid in any given school that may get bullied.  You know why?  EVERYONE got bullied growing up, at some point or another.  It's not so much the bullying as it is how you deal with it.  The individual has to confront it, with the guidance of their parents...not the school system.  It's not in their control.

I don't care about Sheriff Joe.  He's an elected official, and it's a local matter.  Take it up with the people who vote for him.  Making him a piñata constantly on this site is just preaching to the choir.  Do you think it does anything except make you feel morally superior?

Michele Bachman, Louis Gohmert, Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn are pathetic jokes.  We all know that.  So...who might potentially challenge them?  That's worth writing about.

Nobody needs to be reminded that Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas are hostile to abortion rights, and everyone pretty much knows where their respective legislators stand.  See above.  What can we do about it?  Instead of seeing who can write the most dismissive and cutting profile of this legislator or that?  The people who vote for them aren't reading this stuff.  It's purely for style points in a rarefied community.

I don't care who got cut from Dancing with the Stars last night.

I don't care if Liz Cheney gets along with her sister.

I don't care what a washed up has been like Rick Santorum has been up to lately, or what his latest soundbite consists of.

We need to quit quacking to the choir and refocus.  And we should try to resist the lemming like urge to follow the latest bullshit outrage by piling diary upon diary upon diary on top of issues that are, admittedly, offensive...but that do not really lend themselves to some sort of action.

I wonder...how many of the 65 diarists that have written about Duck Dynasty have ever even watched the show, or heard of this Robertson guy before it became "news"?  I'm guessing not many.

I know I never have seen the show.  The first I ever heard about it was right here.

We got real issues to deal with folks.

Unemployment.  Both short and long term.

Hunger.

Lack of job opportunities for all Americans, and especially recent grads who have leveraged their education to the hilt and are looking at a job abyss.

A Military Industrial Complex that everyone has been warned about since Dwight D Eisenhower was in office, yet continues to grow like a cancer.

A Medical Care system that, in spite of ACA, seems to be growing in cost because...well, just because it can, and you either pay the price of fuck you.

A crumbling national infrastructure, that becomes more expensive to repair by the minute because of the grinding quicksand of present day politics and bureaucracy and the need for "consensus."

War and peace.

Climate change.

I know those are big issues.  And I understand the temptation to focus instead on the small, silly ones.  

Like Duck Dynasty.

But while it may feel good, it really doesn't do anything.  

Discuss
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