Friday, April 07, 2017

Another opening, another show!

I've got a longer post up about this at the MilPub, but I couldn't help laughing at the latest in Little Theater at Camp Runamuck; the Great Syrian Air War!
Because the Thursday cruise missile strike on the Syrian government airbase at Shayrat is such an utterly perfect summation of the U.S. "foreign policy" in the Middle East as to be a tiny little exploding jewel-box-like portrait of foreign policy derp that it just makes me want to walk around smiling all day in that grim, sickly, "isn't that fucking special" kind of smiley way.

Militarily useless? Check. Because, although he may be a grifter with the soul of a can of Chef Boy-ar-dee Spaghetti and Meatballs, the Tangerine Toddler isn't clinically insane his administration is reported to have warned the Russian government prior to the strike to ensure that we didn't send any random wingwipers of the Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily Rossii home in a box. The Russians, unsuprisingly, passed the warning on to their Syrian clients. So it's extremely likely that what the strike did was flatten some empty hangars and scatter bits of the buildings across the runways.

Tomahawks, so far as I know, are not equipped with delay-fused runway cratering warheads, so this couldn't have acted as an airfield-denial strike.

In fact, I'm hearing reports that the Syrian Arab Air Force operated out of Shayrat today. You'd think that Assad would have at least pretended to limp around a little after getting up to make it looked like Trumpwar had given him an owie, to help out his pals Pootie and Trumpie, but nooooooo. What a buddyfucker.

Geopolitically worthless? Check. Even supposing that this DID attrit the Assad government's ability to fight the civil war. Late on Thursday both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster made it clear that these strikes wouldn't have any major effect on the actual political situation in Syria.

And, of course - as we should have learned in Libya, the enemy of our enemy isn't just not our friend but is probably a bughouse crawling with vicious factional hatred and political dysfunction. A handful of damaged Flankers won't make the Syrian rebels any less rabid, the Islamic State any less gonzo, or the hatred between the first two and the Kurds any less toxic. The vicious civil war will roll on.

A fat paycheck for our defense contractors? Check. At about $1.5m a shot 59 Tomahawks set the Navy back about 88 million bucks. This, of course, isn't an actual loss-leader but a promissary note to Raytheon-McDonnell-Douglas for 59 new units.

Just a fiscal note: the 2017 budget request for the National Endowment for the Arts was about $149 million. It's kind of nifty that although the current Administration has publicly stated that it intends to zero out that budget that it's willing to throw down about 60% of the expense for an equally useless piece of political theater.

A big happy piece of domestic dick-waving? Check, and double check! The real value of this stunt appears to be that it has convinced the media outlets that His Fraudulency is "presidential", since nothing says "Chief Executive" like blowing dusky savages up, and has excited the sorts of voters whose fourth-grade "understanding" of the Syrian Civil War is limited to imagining the place as some sort of dytopian Agrabah populated by various species of "headchoppers".

What's really sad is how little this nonsense depends on the juvenile personality of the current President. From Obama's droney pursuit of Afridis where they run to Dubya's Mess-o-potamia to Clinton's Operation Desert Fox to what seems like every administration back to Eisenhower defenstrating Mossadegh and storming ashore in Lebanon...it just seems like this crap is what the U.S. does, and particularly in the Middle East.

If I thought that the Orange Napoleon had some sort of "strategy" in mind...yeah, I know. Who are we kidding?

The real bottom line, though, is that there really IS no "strategy" short of Full Roman that would "work" in Syria, even if His Fraudulency's crew could find one without both hands and a flashlight. Assad with sarin is only a degree more loathsome than Assad without sarin. The rebels are largely takfiri bugnuts. They all hate each other and the vicious civil war has poisoned whatever well of goodwill existed before the kiling began.

In other words, there's less chance of a random one-off bombing raid on Syrian government forces helping lead to a stable, peaceful, non-dictatorial Syria than I have of being elected Dragon King of Bhutan, and we've already been over the likelihood of that before.

WASF.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Half FOX and half free

I follow a blog called Stonekettle Station. It's written by a crusty old squid by the name of Jim Wright, and I enjoy his curmudgeonly and iconoclastic take on most things.

But since the election of the Tangerine Toddler Jim has been banging this drum about "compromise".

What compromise? Well...his premise is that there is this critical mass of "good people" out there who have been fooled (or stampeded, or sidled) into voting Republican because they have fears, and the Left just pooh-poohs their fears. So they go out and vote for the Republican who may (or may not) do "something" to change what it is they fear but as often as not simply uses their fear-vote to advance the GOP agenda of more Gilded Age.

The trick, see, is that:
"It seems Democrats have a historic opportunity, a moment when moderate conservatives could be given a choice other than dogmatic partisanship, if the left can pull together, can reach out, can compromise, and can but convince them that their guns and their bibles will be safe. If Democrats can address those fears up above in an honest manner and put them firmly to rest, then now, this moment right here, is an opportunity to prove that the alternative is better."
And y'know what?

I completely agree.

I don't want to take anyone's kid and convince him that his or her faith is a bunch of Bronze Age claptrap. I think it is, but, hell, I also think that french fries are good with mayonnaise.

I don't want to take anyone's Mossberg. Their AR-15? Yeah, maybe. But "their guns", as in ALL the guns? Christ, I'd be a lunatic to think it could even be done; We the People have chosen to offer up a blood sacrifice to the God of Weaponry rather than to disarm and I just have to suck that up.

But...here's where I think Jim hits the wall. He says that"
You find the people, whatever their politics, who believe civilization is better than the alternative."
Which is a great idea, a terrific idea.

Just one little problem...what if the people you're trying to compromise with would rather wreck the joint rather than accept a "civilization" that's not on their terms?

There was this guy. Kind of a liberalish dude, really a mainstream corporate-capitalist sort of politician but in the liberal tradition that believes that governing is to "get things done" for the majority of the citizens. Sorta wonky. Hawaiian dude, funny name, can't quite remember it. But he was president back in the day. Remember him?

Remember how he tried to "compromise" with these people? Offered them all sorts of private profits, all sorts of corporate goodies, tried to defer to their "sensibilities" about things like religion and sex and gender and all that guff?
And remember how they "compromised" with him?

Yeah. Me, too.

Tell me, Jim; how the flippin' fuck do you "compromise" with people - and I'm talking your bog-standard Republicans, your soccer moms and Home Depot dads, not the shoutycrackers and the Stormfront bros - who think and thought that Barak Obama was a Kenyan commie out to destroy their freedoms? Who thought that living through eight years of having to press "1" for English and not being able to use the word "faggot" at PTA meetings was sheer tyrannical hell?

I'm serious. This is getting ridiculous. Jim keeps on and on about "compromise" as if the Left hasn't. Even. Tried. While that's about all the left HAS done. Given ground on abortion. Given ground on equal rights. Given ground on health care. Given ground on "terrorism".

Sweet Christ, these wingnuts have gotten damn near everything they've whined about...but did that motivate them to moderate their insistence that the queers hide back in the closet and stop getting all "married" and the blacks stop getting pissed off about being shot by cops and the wogs be fine with getting carpet-bombed and tortured and the uppity wimmen shut up and lie there and plutocrats get the tax cuts they need to better buy and sell government?

Ummm...no.

And much as I hate to be a "die, die!" libtard (Jim had a post talking about the war of extermination with the aliens in Independence Day and how that's where we're going if we can't compromise...), but equal justice and equitable democracy and other details like clean air and water aren't really negotiable.

They're starting points; from there I'm fine with arguing the details of potty time with people who are terrified that they will be assaulted in the ladies' can by a Cambodian ladyman in a Balenciaga cocktail frock.

Here's what I think.

I think Jim's got the fundamental relationship wrong. It's the fundies and wingnuts that are doing the "die, die!" thing here. They're fine with destroying the U.S. of the New Deal if they can't get white supremacy and plutocracy and corporate oligarchy. They'd rather fight liberalism to the death than compromise with it; their insane furor over the ACA and the other ridiculously moderate liberal institutions of 2017 America - their "fears", as you label them - pretty much gives them away. To them we're "babykillers" and "dhimmicrats" and "libtards".

They don't want to compromise with us. They want to destroy us. Those aren't MY words, they're theirs.

So sorry to spoil the fun. But I think Jim - and my other lefty friends and pundits who keep going on about how we just have to understand and reach out to the poor frightened rubes who went all-in for Trump - are preaching to the wrong choir.

I agree; the nation cannot long survive half FOX and half free; it must become all one or all the other. But I see no reason why those of us who object to becoming serfs to our corporate overlords need to give anything more to the ridiculous fears of Scary Brown People and fifteen bucks an hour and solar power and gay wedding cakes.

Instead, I think all y'all guys need to tell the Right all this "compromise" stuff.
I'll be here with the popcorn to see just how far you get with that shit.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Nuke 'em 'til they glow and then wander around in the dark: TMI 1979

In the spring of 1979 I was pretty much what most 22-year-old guys are; clueless yet unabashed, barbarous in an oversocialized, post-industrial sort of fashion. I was also attending a small private college in south-central Pennsylvania. Like many of my peers I was concerned with my social life more than learning, with getting laid more than getting educated. In short, I was what a young nomad would have been had he been de-loused and shoved into Topsiders and a polo shirt and told to stop riding across other people's grazing lands.
What I was not was particularly aware of my surroundings. I paid as little attention to the world's business as I had just half a dozen years earlier when I was approaching draft age and the war in Southeast Asia was winding down...which says something about how gormless I was, given that I had not the slightest assurance that my government might want me to go to proof-test the Domino Theory with my body when I came to legal adulthood.

I was a dope. A fairly socialized, relatively educated dope, but a dope nonetheless.

So I can't say it was surprising that I hadn't the slightest idea on this day 38 years ago that as I was lazing about sleeping in my old bedroom in my parent's house on a Spring Break vacation Wednesday that about sixty miles to the northwest, at the Three Mile Island power station, reactor TMI-2 was melting down.

It was four in the fucking morning; who was getting up that early on a vacation weekday..?

Here's the sad, funny part of this story, though.

You can read the accounts of "Three Mile Island" to get the history; it's a bit beyond this post, which is just a personal momento nuki. The accident was more frightening than actually dangerous but it was frightening, and a fairly broad swath of central Pennsylvania (and, I think, even a bit of north-central Maryland) was warned that a deadly radioactive cloud might descend at any time in the manner of one of those Fifties mutant-monster films. The governor of Pennsylvania issued some sort of evacuation order which was widely ignored, and the public response was entirely determined by individual threshold levels of nuclear panic.

Young Chief, being, as noted above, a clueless git, had no panic because he had no clue. Literally; I didn't turn on the news or bother to read the newspaper. I had no idea what the fresh hell was going on along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Armored in that impervious ignorance I bagged up my clean laundry and shoved it in my father's secondhand Ford Pinto station wagon (all I could afford as college transportation and quite the babe-magnet it was, I tell you. Ugh.) that Friday. I had a couple of exams early in the next week, and my plan was to return to the dorm to get a weekend of studying in away from the fleshpots of Kennett Square, PA.

I won't pretend that my college, even in the coke-and-disco-fueled Seventies, was the sort of girls-gone-wild party school of college films so I wasn't really surprised that the campus was dark and quiet on an end-of-break Friday night. What was surprising, however, was that the outside door of my dorm was locked.

The exterior doors of dorms were never locked. They just weren't. Not only was it some sort of fire code rule there were always at least a handful of people who needed to go in and out. I recall yanking on the door handle in a sort of irritated disbelief. The fuck..? Who the hell locks a damn dorm door? Must be some sort of prank; the north side door will be open.

Except it wasn't. And on the walk around the outside I began to wonder. My school was pretty dead socially, but...not this dead. West of my dorm was the broad open space hemmed with classroom buildings, underclass dorms, and the student union. Even on the deadest of dead evenings there should have been someone walking across the oval; a couple going to the U, random library-seekers. Someone.

Not that evening.

I don't recall exactly what tuition was running in those days. Certainly much less than the current nearly-quarter-million it costs for four years there today. But for 1979 the costs were steep, so you'd think that after three years I'd have received enough of that expensive education to have figured out that something wasn't right. But you'd have underestimated the thickness of young Chief's skull. I ambled over to the union to find it dark and locked. The geology building? Locked. The freshman dorm across the oval? Yep; darkened and locked.

Finally I did what I should have done first; I wandered over to the campus cop shop. There, finally, was a light, and open door, and an extremely indifferent looking guy in a uniform.

"Ummm...where the heck is everybody?" I whined.

The law, in its impartial majesty, lowered his newspaper and looked at me with a perfect combination of boredom, amusement, and irritation.

"Not here. Campus is closed."

"Closed? What? Why?"


Irritation and boredom were replaced with mild disbelief.

"Because of the nuclear plant blowing up. You don't know about that?"

"Uh, no. What nuclear plant?"

"That one over by Harrisburg, on the river. Something happened, there's a warning, campus is closed until the warning is cancelled."

"The...what the hell? What am I supposed to do?"
Now Officer Friendly looked at me with a frown that matched his increasing contempt for my stupidity.

"Go the hell home, kid. Before your balls start to glow in the dark."

So I did. My parents were surprised, and immediately called my kid sister (going to school at another small private college some ways to the north and west of Three Mile Island) to ensure that she was not in immediate danger of nuclear irradiation. She wasn't.

Nobody was, as it turns out.
(As a technical aside, one of the things that has always amazed, irked, and amused me about my country's private nuclear power generation is the ridiculously pre-industrial fashion that U.S. commercial nuclear plants have been typically designed and built.

Military reactors, and most commercial nuclear plants in Europe as well as Japan (where the cost of and access to fossil fuels mean that nuclear power is a much larger part of the power grid), are typically made as part of a mass-produced, standardized series. Reactors and their controls are alike - or identical - in the same way that automobiles of a particular model are alike or identical. Construction is simplified, operations are predictable, and lessons learned from failures can be quickly standardized and disseminated through the production run.

Most U.S. commercial reactors are one-offs, designed and constructed individually (or, at best, very small series of two or three or modifications from an earlier design) for each plant. So Massachusetts' Connecticut Yankee plant's reactors are different from Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island that are different from Oregon's Trojan. Every new plant reinvents the nuclear wheel, making the opportunities for design or operating flaws much greater.

Ironically, TMI-2 was an 879 MWe pressurized water reactor designed and constructed by the firm of Babcock & Wilcox. This type of reactor had a failure identical to the 1979 accident two years earlier at the Davis-Besse plant in Ohio. The Ohio reactor was running at a very low level compared to TMI-2, so the core didn't melt down...but the valve failure wasn't recognized as a design flaw or the problem diagnosed and that diagnosis sent to the other plants operating this type of reactor.

So two years later I got to wander around in the dark wondering where the hell everybody had gone.

If there's a lesson here, I'm not sure what it is, other than "young men are stupid".

But recruiting sergeants have known that since Ramses' regimental sergeant-major bought the village plowboys their first jug of palm wine.

Perhaps it's "Contractors whose sole purpose is profit are stupid so long as it profits them to be."

Although I'll bet pharoah's sergeants could have told you that about contractors, too.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

¡Fuera de acá, abuela!

Frank Moraes makes a good point that draws me back to the Trumpkin War of Wetback's Ear currently now being waged against Scary Brown People that I talked about last month.

Frank's post itself is worth reading, but he makes a hell of a great point; one huge reason that the Immigration troopers just luuuurve this Trumpy open-season so much is that it makes their jobs ridiculously, like slam-dunk easy, because:
"...they don’t have to go looking. It’s also easy because they don’t have to worry that the person they are arresting is violent. Just imagine if 90 percent of the work you have to do in your job was lifted. You’d be very happy.

For the managers at ICE, this is fantastic. Now they can catch more people and get credit for doing a great job. They’ll hear, “Wow! You doubled the number of people you deported!” And they’ll think to themselves, “It was easy! I used to have go after violent criminals, but now I capture housewives and grandfathers.” There will be nowhere on the reports they file to indicate what percentage of the people they captured were “bad hombres.” A 55 year-old father of four with no criminal history is as good as a gang leader captured after shooting the graveyard clerk at the local 7-11."
My conclusion in the earlier piece was that this Mexican ratissage would do very little other than make some innocent people's lives pretty miserable. But Frank's conclusion is, now that I think about it, even more likely to come true and even less palatable when it does; that people will be harmed because fewer ICE resources will be used to try and catch MS13 gangsters when nabbing old granny from the corner bodega counts just as much.

AND...that when one of these MS-13 "bad hombres" does something predictably awful it will just provide the Tangerine Toddler and the Fraudulency Administration with more justification to kick granny back to Sinaloa.

It's the lickiest of self-licking ice cream cones.

Isn't THAT fucking dandy..?

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Fifteen

Well.

It's that day of the year again, isn't it, love?

That day where once, or twice, or a handful of times I stop and really think about you.

Not in the usual sort of passing way that has become your visits to me of late; the random idle wonder at the sight of a dark head in a gaggle of teenage girls, or the fleeting memory of a still small bundle of yellow flannel jammie.

But a dead stop remembering you as you were, and remembering me as you were to me.

Not the tiny day-old baby girl that was all that you would ever be. That was your mom, who carried you all those long and fretful months. But to me; the gangly girl you might have been, or the petulant and angry teenager I hoped you'd avoid becoming, or the compact dark young woman who would one day stand over my grave and remember me.

Instead I got to stand over yours, and now I am almost all there is; your mother and I and a handful of our friends, to remember you.

I'm sorry you never got the chance to grow up into all those dfferent people, darlin'. I miss those people and all the other people you might have been but never could be. I wish that I was going home tonight to find you pissed off and arguing with your sullen little brother and pushing aside your goody-goody little sister and shouting at you to lighten up and lay off your siblings, which says something pretty brutal about how much I miss the you I'll never get to know.

I do enjoy our little visits on this day, troubling as they are at times.

I wish you could stay for a while longer. But tomorrow you'll be gone. Again. As you were, and as you always will be, even though in your quiet and ephemeral way you'll be here as long as I am. That doesn't really count. Not next to the you that isn't here with me.

And, look; it's time to go already. Yes, I'll miss you. No, I'm sorry, you can't stay longer. Yes. I'll think of you again.

I always do.

Goodbye, love.

Goodbye.

Bryn Rose Gellar
March 1, 2002 - March 2, 2002

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

¡Fuera de acá!

I hate to even admit this.

But.

I'm not TOTALLY hating on the totally-expected roundup-the-wetbacks directive from the new Administration.

Yeah, yeah, I'm a Trumpkin. I want to Make America Great Again. Ugh. I know.

Bear with me for a moment, though.

Now. Don't get me wrong. This thing will suck for millions of people whose crime is trying to get a piece of the American Dream for themselves and their families. I hate that on a purely personal, I-don't-like-to-make-things-suck-for-innocent-people level. As a person, I hate it.

As a citizen, as someone who thinks about politics and governing...well, let's start with this; to be a stateless person, a non-citizen, in a foreign nation is not a good thing.

It's not good for the person, who has no civil rights, who is outside the protection of the civil law, and who is, therefore, hideously vulnerable to all sorts of malefactors.

And it's not good for the nation, that has this indigestible mass of non-citizens within it prey to crime and violence, exploited by employers and living in fear of taking part in the civil life of the community.

So. The bottom line really is; if you are a citizen of Mexico, or Ireland, or Bali...you belong in Mexico, Ireland, or Bali unless you are a legal resident or visitor of where-ever-it-is-you-are; in this case, the United States.

In case you're interested, I wrote a loooooong post at this joint three years ago where I discussed what I see as the vast, almost insoluble complexity of this problem, which concluded with the following:
"The real issue - the one Which Dare Not Speak Its Name - is that the institutional poverty, misgovernance, and social maladjustment of most Latin American countries is so profound and so destructive that to address it would take every penny that the U.S. has spent on poorly planned foreign adventures and more. Much more.

So instead we get this idiotic argument that all we need to do is fence these little heatherns out and everything will be Good. God will once again be White and in His Heaven, the food will magically get harvested, processed, cooked and served by "Real Amurikans" (that is, legal citizens) who will suddenly, magically, want to work for the pittance we want to pay for these jobs to prevent our food, clothing and service costs from reflecting what it would cost to pay humans actually living wages to do these things."
But this post isn't about those things; it's about the Trump-promising-to-deport-the-beaners-and-going-ahead-and-doing-it.

As opposed to the ban-the-raghead rule, which really was poorly thought out and complete geopolitical foolery, the idea that the United States should police its borders and return those who have entered the country illegally to their homelands is not, on its face, as freakishly boneheaded as most Trump stuff.

But...

(...and you KNEW there'd be a but, here, right, because, well...Trump.)

Here's the problems I DO have with this.

First, I can see a gajillion ways that this is going to be a fucking total shitshow. American citizens will be grabbed up and deported by mistake. Sweeps will result in a seething mob of people shoved into FEMA trailers without any sort of organization or preparation. Screening will be a disaster. The optics - "jackbooted ICE agents handcuff adorable tiny Latino kiddies" - will make the Land of the Free look like the Land of the Assholes. People will get stranded in Mexico City airport with nowhere to go and no hope of relief.

I can see about a dozen ways this will be a smoking crater - it's Trump, for one thing, who seems to have a gift for employing people who couldn't run a child's birthday party - that will make the Iraq War look like VE Day.

Second, I can also see how this could turn into something far nastier and far worse, along the lines of the Japanese internment of 1942. There's always been a hell of a strong strain of race hate and xenophobia in America (as there is in about...well, pretty much everywhere humans live...) that could take this from a calmly conducted law enforcement process into a screaming ratissage against every person or group of people that every whacko wingnut hates and freaks out over (Hello? Alex Jones? Hello?).

And, finally, I think that, even if this isn't a dumpster fire, that the results will be at best underwhelming. The promised Day of Alien-Free Jubilee will turn out to be a quiet monotone of unpicked crops, uncleaned hotel rooms, unwiped asses, and uncooked meals.

The result of all this huge slug of spending - surely paid for by a tax hike, right? - will be, outside of personal hardship for those involved, a vast expanse of...very little.


What do you think?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Falling Timber, Green Shoots

I've been working out of town steadily for the past several weeks, so my home life has been reduced to weekends.

The only problem with that is that, when I get home...I don't want to just sit at home.

My Bride, dearly as I love her, doesn't have "get-out-of-the-house" sorts of interests. She likes to sew, and she is part of one of our local rowing clubs. She loves "binning", going to the infamous GoodWill Bins that I wrote about back on '09. And re-arranging the living room furniture.

My kids have videogames (for the Boy) and crafts, stories, and all sorts of creative fun (for the Girl).

But I like to get out a bit.

So this morning we loaded up the car with wife and kid and friends-of-kid and drove up into the Coast Range, into the Deep Woods, to the annual "Blessing of the Log", the ceremonial Choosing of the douglas-fir Pole that will serve the Timbers soccer club's lumberjack mascot as a tally for goalscoring and goalkeeping (when a Timber scores - or a Timbers keeper keeps a clean sheet - the lumberjack saws off a slice from the log, a tradition going back to the Seventies).

The day was cool and damp but not raining, and the roads were quiet all through the farmlands that cling to the west edge of the Tualatin Valley and up into the wooded hills of the Coast Range. Dark firs and bare maples dripped steadily as we passed through the Sunset Corridor, as the state calls Highway 26 that is named for the old 41st Division of WW2.

I have been this way many times and it has changed very little in the almost thirty years I have lived here. The clearcuts wander about, appearing suddenly where a stand of heavy timber was the winter before, then gradually blurring away as the new crop of future dimension lumber, plywood, and paper pulp grows over the bare hillsides rugged with stump and slashpiles.

An early stop for coffee and cocoa help quiet the drive out to the morning's meetingplace at Camp 18.

As I was writing this I looked back through the GFT archives and discovered to my surprise that I have never really talked much about this joint. It's...well, it's a fascinating mashup of genuinely worthwhile roadside attraction, good restaurant, and kitschy tourist trap.

The building itself is a treasure, a huge log cabin complete with enormous single-tree ridgepole and massive old-growth timber front doors. The huge stone hearths help take the chill off a winter's day, and the food is plentiful and savory. If there's anything my Girl appreciates it's a good tuck-in, and she and her pal Lulu got around the outside of a hell of a lot of eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and the immense cinnamon rolls that the Camp is known for.

After the breakfast - and a visit to the gift shop and a stroll around the old logging equipment that serves as part of the museum to the old life in the Coast Range woods - it was time for the annual Blessing of the Log.
This event is the ceremonial start of the Timbers' soccer fan's season. A piece of a raw douglas-fir log donated by one of the local timber companies (this year it was Hampton Lumber of Willamina; thanks, guys!) is brought to Camp 18, where an assembled group of fans, and their friends, kids, and even their pets troop out into the chilly morning to offer up their hopes for the coming year. One of the song leaders - the capos - leads the group in the "blessing"...

"May your home be strong of beam,
Firm of wall and rafter,
Built with Timbers from a dream,
Girded well with laughter.
May your home have a winding stair
With a lovers landing,
Windows to let in fresh air
With the light of understanding.
May your home have a roof of faith
For every change of weather
And love upon your hearth
To warm your years forever."


...that concludes with a roar of "Go, Timbers!"

That was enough for my kiddos; they weren't prepared to stay longer and plant trees so full of lumberjack breakfast and companionship our group returned Bob the Subaru through the wooded hills and spitting rain back to Portland again; the kids to their busy-ness, my Bride to a nap, and I to a quiet afternoon, dreaming dreams of future glory.