• Burst Suppression Brings the 90s Noise
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    BurstSuppression2You know the expression “They just don’t make ‘em like they used to?” Well, sometimes they do. If you’ve been longing for the days when rock was alternative, guitar riffs were dirty and melodic, and lyrics straddled the line between abstract poetry and storytelling, I have good news for you, and it’s called Burst Suppression.

    Bringing an undeniable and refreshing dose of nostalgia to the table, their debut album and most current effort, Cro Magnon, seems as if it could be found on a mix tape from the 90s alongside Foo Fighters, Sublime, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Soundgarden.

    They describe themselves as a modern rock band, and have certainly managed to harness the raw, high-gain crunch that many post-2000 “rock bands” lost when production conventions steamrolled them. Although their music has a hint of familiarity, the melodies ring of originality, with vocals a cross between Eddie Vedder and Jakob Dylan, with a Shannon Hoon sensibility.

    Burst Suppression formed in 2011 with Nate Hileman (vocals and lead guitar) and Silcox Richards (drums) covering punk-era and 90s alternative bands. Shortly after that, they started writing their own songs and added Damian Lynch (bass guitar and vocals) in 2014. Lynch and Richards live in the Corvallis area, while Hileman lives in Portland.

    All three members are seasoned musicians that have played in other successful projects prior to Burst Suppression. According to Richards, the momentum of the project is bigger now than at any point over the past five years. “We’re still growing our sound, but have gotten to a place where we have a great show and a lot to offer,” he said.

    With plans to drop their second album, Left Over Flood, in the near future, you can catch the band at Cloud & Kelly’s on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 9:30 p.m. They’ll be playing mostly original music with some crowd-pleasing covers from the alternative rock era. It’s a show that will definitely be worth checking out, especially if you’re an alternative rock fan.

    Check out Burst Suppression’s website at http://burstsuppressionmusic.com or its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/burstsuppression/, for upcoming shows or booking information and listen to their music on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/burstsuppression.

    By Hannah Darling

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  • Oregon Changes Police Body Cam Rules
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    body cam police womanLast June, the Oregon Legislature voted to regulate standards for the use of body cameras worn by state police officers. House Bill 2571, first introduced to the House in January 2015, took seven months to pass the House, Senate, and finally be signed into law by Governor Kate Brown in the beginning of July. The House voted in favor of body camera regulation with a vote of 59-1. These laws are now in effect.

    Body cameras are similar to the dash cams that exist on police cars and motorcycles, but are instead worn strapped to an officer’s chest. Many Oregon officers have worn these devices for years, but until last year no laws had been made to standardize their use.

    HB 2571 does not require officers to wear body cameras, and despite overwhelming support for the cameras by both officers and members of the public around the country, in order to help prevent incidents of police brutality and civilian violence, officers are only required to use body cams if requested to do so by the individual agencies they serve.

    This bill did receive some amendments—one notably states that any agency to equip an officer with a body camera would have to ensure that the officer follows a set of strict rules.

    Officers are required to turn on body cams as soon as they have probable cause that a violation is being committed. The cameras must be left running until interaction with a civilian— criminal or not— has been ended or resolved. Officers must inform citizens that they are being filmed, unless officers are trying to prevent a crime that is already being committed. Law enforcement agencies must later collect, retain, and store every recording for at least 180 days, and unless a judge or court later requires footage, the recordings must be destroyed after 30 months.

    The Senate’s amendment regulating camera use, HB 2571-B, clearly states that if body cam recordings are released to news outlets or the public, the faces of both police and civilians involved must be blurred in order to be unrecognizable to viewers. The City of Portland also backed a section of an amendment that requires citizens involved in any video footage to cite the date and time when the recordings are taken.

    “The Oregon house,” read a press release issued by the State in reference to House Bill 2571, “approved two bills designed to improve trust and credibility between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.”

    The Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association, the City of Portland, and the American Civil Liberties Union all supported the bill, though the ACLU initially had some concerns that that facial blurring could contest the transparency between officers and civilians that HB 2571 was designed for. Eventually those reservations were dismissed after the latter organization decided that it would still be possible with additional analysis to determine which police officers’ faces were blurred and to identify them by comparing footage with other police reports and records.

    The Senate’s companion amendment, HB 2571-A, simply allows the public to record video of police at the same time as they are being recorded, if they choose to do so. Whether involved directly in a cop-civilian interaction or just standing on the sidelines, any member of the Oregon public can legally videotape the actions of a police officer with any video recording device or cell phone.

    HB 2571-A does state that the public must not interfere with police while videotaping them, but protects the right of any citizen to film an officer, and to give the footage to law enforcement, courts, or judges if that party believes that the body cam footage from an officer shows events from an unfair or unobjective angle.

    Whether or not the actual body camera footage that is later stored will help to improve relations between Oregon officers and citizens remains to be seen, but it is undeniable that the mere presence of such devices will help lessen the extent of conflicts between such officers and civilians.

    Curious to find out how the presence of a body cam would affect a regular interaction between the police and the public, the Advocate interviewed a local woman about her encounter with one body camera-outfitted officer who spoke to her while she sat in the passenger seat of her car when her boyfriend was pulled over for speeding on Highway 34.

    The young woman described a comfortable and drama-free interaction with the police officer, who’d also noticed that the young couple’s taillight was out and came to the passenger side of the car to address the situation.

    The officer followed every rule in the book, and both the man and woman felt comfortable and at ease, making the interaction a positive one.

    “He stated his name and immediately said that he was wearing a body camera and the interaction was being recorded and would be used in court if needed,” said the woman, who asked the Advocate to keep her name private.

    “I think that having a body camera made the conversation/interaction a lot more civil. Both the officer and my boyfriend were nice to each other,” she said, explaining that if there wasn’t a body camera involved, the two might not have been as polite to each other. “In this situation I was glad there was a body camera because it made the interaction go quickly and smoothly for both us and the officer.”

    Lebanon and Sweet Home reported outfitting all their officers with body cameras early last January, and even before the regulations of HB 2571 were put into action, areas in Central Oregon, such as Bend, followed in step.

    Though the presence of cameras in subsequent interactions between the public and police have proved to be very helpful, one cause of concern which still affects those communities, as well as those with agencies which have began to standardize officer camera use more recently—Portland, Eugene, and Corvallis, to name a few—is how to cover the cost of collecting and storing the videotapes. Though the technology used in body cams is no more expensive than any regular personal camera, most Oregon law enforcement agencies still don’t know how they will come up with the funding for all the time and resources it will take for police stations to collect, store, organize, and blur-edit thousands of hours of camera footage.

    Hopefully, a budget will be made possible, and soon, because this new policy of transparency, understanding, and accountability between police officers and civilians could be just what Oregon, as well as other states, needs in order to separate their law enforcement systems from those in which police violence and brutality have become commonplace. When cops and the ACLU agree, that says something.

    Many Benton County officers are wearing cameras now, but the city still hasn’t come up with a budget to suit all of our officers.

    By Kiki Genoa

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  • OSU Harnesses Personal Computers for Climate Research
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    resources_750_2At the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI) at Oregon State University, the power of thousands of personal computers was harnessed in one of the highest-resolution simulations of the western United States ever performed. OCCRI director Dr. Phillip Mote and his colleagues performed this computation through an international project called Weather@Home, which is administered by www.climateprediction.net. Weather@Home is run through the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (or BOINC, to be cute), which utilizes the computing power of thousands of volunteers’ personal computers from across the world.

    BOINC unites volunteers interested in supporting science with researchers. Since users can select which projects to donate time to, this system allows the public to have a say in the direction of scientific research. There are more than a billion personal computers in the world. At any given time, a huge number of these computers are idle. Volunteers all around the world have donated this idle time to scientific computing projects, enabling massive projects to get done without having to compete against projects like nuclear weapon design and espionage for time on standard supercomputers. Currently there are close to 40 projects using the BOINC platform, furthering human knowledge in fields such as cryptography, molecular biology, astrophysics, and pure mathematics.

    How can these thousands of computers work together on the same problem? BOINC is an example of parallel computing. Parallel computing is effective in cases where a problem can be split into parts. For example, suppose you had a bucket full of loose change and wanted to count it. It would take a long time for one person to sit and count the coins one by one. But if you recruited 10 friends, you could split the money into 10 piles, have each person count a pile, then collect the totals and quickly produce an answer.

    To get accurate statistics, you need to have a large sample size. A major challenge for climate modeling is that because global climate models take such enormous resources to run, it’s only generally possible to run a handful of repeat simulations. The computing resources available through Weather@Home have allowed Dr. Mote and his colleagues to make significant progress in this direction. “When you have 30,000 modern laptop computers at work, you can transcend even what a supercomputer can do,” said Mote in a recent OSU press release.

    Even though global climate models are run on some of the most advanced supercomputers in the world, they are limited to grid sizes between 50 and 300 kilometers. Suppose you have a global climate model of a respectable resolution of 100 kilometers (62.5 miles). If you wanted to provide an estimate of total precipitation for Corvallis, you would get one number to summarize the weather in a box going from Salem to Eugene and from Lebanon to the coast. On a global scale, that’s good enough. But if you need to make a recommendation to city planners, that isn’t going to be very useful—the weather on the coast is very different from the weather in the valley.

    By limiting the study region to the western US and taking advantage of volunteer computing power, the OCCRI researchers were able to both reduce the grid size to 25 kilometers (15.6 miles) and greatly increase the sample size. “With this analysis we have 140,000 one-year simulations that show all of the impacts that mountains, valleys, coasts, and other aspects of terrain can have on local weather. We can drill into local areas, ask more specific questions about management implications, and understand the physical and biological climate changes in the West in a way never before possible,” said Mote.

    The Weather@Home simulation results are in general agreement with observations. However, there are regions where the model needs to be improved—Weather@Home tends to be too cool in a few mountain ranges and too warm in arid plains, including the Snake River Plain and Columbia Plateau, especially in summer, as detailed in a paper published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

    New participants in the Weather@Home project are always welcome. Instructions are available at www. climateprediction.net; just click “Join!”

    By Daniel Watkins

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  • Corvallis Bike Polo
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    bike poloOn Tuesday and Friday evenings, bike enthusiasts in Corvallis come together to play a game on Lincoln Elementary School’s tennis court. Hammocks hang from the chain link fence, music plays out of an old cat litter box stereo covered in stickers, and bikes get jimmy rigged with pieces from a beer can. It’s good fun, and it’s called bike polo.

    Bike polo is a sport in which two teams of three ride bicycles and use mallets to pass and strike a ball into a goal. Before the action starts, the players throw their mallets onto the court to claim a spot in the next game. Next, the mallets are randomly placed on each side of the court to determine teams in a way that makes it “friendly [and] with less rivalries,” according to participant Anthony Sereni.

    There are not too many rules to the game. You can use any part of your mallet to control the ball but may only score by using either end of the mallet, not the sides. If you put your feet down, you must go to center court and touch the fence, which the players refer to as “dabbing” or “tapping out.”

    When it came my turn to give bike polo a try, I was enthusiastic.

    As it turned out, the players in the game before had made it look easy. For me, not so much. Though trying to control a ball with a mallet while riding a bike is difficult in and of itself, you must also be aware of the other players on the court, stop suddenly on a regular basis, and try to balance without putting your feet on the ground. It’s safe to say that I fell one or two times, and may have even crashed into the fence. I believe that the “pics or it didn’t happen” rule might apply.

    The Lincoln Elementary School court will be getting a small remodel soon, which means that any sport that uses a hard court rink can now use the space. Currently, a rachet strap is wrapped around the existing tennis nets and poles which keep the ball within bounds. With the support of neighbors and a community survey, Corvallis Parks & Recreation will be installing new tennis equipment that will allow the nets to be removed. Permanent boards will also be installed on the ground, making the court even better for the bike polo folks.

    If it at all sounds interesting, give it a shot! I’ve been told that practice makes perfect.

    Corvallis Bike Polo meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m.
    at Lincoln Elementary School in Southtown. The group has extra bikes and mallets for newcomers and is very welcoming. For more information about bike polo, visit www.corvallisbikepolo.com or look for “Corvallis Bike Polo” on Facebook.

    By Kara Beu

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  • Buy Nothing Project Grows
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    cash registerFree stuff is the spice of life, and we want as much of it as we can get. The Buy Nothing Project is a bit more ambitious than free stickers and key chains, though. The idea is that we have everything we need in our community, so what if we started sharing instead of selling?

    The Buy Nothing Project explains itself on its website: “Our local groups form gift economies that are complementary and parallel to local cash economies; whether people join because they’d like to quickly get rid of things that are cluttering their lives, or simply to save money by getting things for free, they quickly discover that our groups are not just another free recycling platform. A gift economy’s real wealth is the people involved and the web of connections that forms to support them. The Buy Nothing Project is about setting the scarcity model of our cash economy aside in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us.”

    The local chapter of the gift economy is connected largely through Facebook. If you’d like to join, you have to meet two requirements.

    First of all, one must be over 21 to join. This is because alcohol can be gifted and that makes it too easy for minors to slip through the cracks.

    Second, one must be within the hyper-local region of the group. Buy Nothing strives to pull communities together, and so one must be a part of the community.

    Cheryl Baker is the current admin of the local group, but is searching for another admin to take over.

    “I’ve recently taken on the role of Regional Admin for all of Oregon, so my responsibilities have changed. I still help to keep an eye on my own local group, but I also get to help other Oregon groups, too,” she said. “Some of the things I now do include: adding/removing admins to groups, getting new groups mapped out and started, helping any Local Admins who may have questions, and helping orphaned groups that may have lost their Local Admin for some reason. In fact, that’s why I’m helping out with the Buy Nothing Corvallis group right now. I’m trying to keep the group going while searching for some local volunteers to help out.”

    When asked about what can be gifted, Baker quickly shut down any hopes of pot brownies or bazookas. “Everything offered or asked for must be legal at the federal level. There can be no restricted items like firearms or prescription drugs,” said Baker.

    Visit https://buynothingproject.org for more info or join the local group on Facebook.

    By Moriah Hoskins

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  • Tree House Boom: Move Over, Tiny Homes
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    OutNAboutTreehouse(NicolasBoullosa)_LabledforReuseHumans and trees are the perfect counterparts. We are so completely inverse that we have come to rely on each other in a variety of ways throughout our history. Aside from obvious practices like modern mechanized timber harvesting, humans cultivate trees for food and medicinal qualities as well as the aesthetics provided by flowers and shade. We plant trees to stabilize land, absorb runoff, and block the scouring winds that whip through our fields. And often enough, we opt to live within the security of their mighty boughs.

    The Korowai Tribe of Indonesia, whose first exposure to outsiders may have occurred as recently as the 1970s, make their homes in the trees. A Korowai tree house is made from massive ironwood stilts that protect inhabitants from flood waters, arson attacks, and enemy raids.

    Here in the States, tree houses have also been growing in popularity. More than the rickety platforms from childhood, this new generation of tree houses has everything from bathrooms and kitchens to second-floor guest rooms. In fact, on the heels of the tiny house boom, tree house B&Bs, tree house resorts, and even tree house contractors have found a market in and around Oregon.

    The Out ‘n’ About Treehouse Treesort, located near Cave Junction, sits on 36 acres near Siskiyou National Forest and offers river rafting, horseback riding, zip lines, hiking, and plenty of fresh air relaxing. Thanks to owner Michael Garnier of Out ‘n’ About, the trend in tree house retreating owes its origins to the Pacific Northwest, holding the highest concentration of tree houses worldwide. Garnier even designed a “Garnier limb”—a sliding bracket support system which allows the tree to grow and withstands the test of time, lasting decades instead of a few measly years.

    Also in the Cave Junction area is the Vertical Horizons Treehouse Paradise. Rated one of the top 10 coziest B&Bs by Yahoo, make sure to get your home-cooked breakfast before hitting the trees for a lesson in technical climbing, or just enjoying the day from your private tree deck.

    Not interested in taking a trip? Check out the Portland-based SQFT Studios where co-founders Schuyler Silva and Eli Green specialize in creating fun and unique private spaces for your property, tree houses included. Otherwise, hit up the web and scour overloads of DIY information for building your own.

    By Anthony Vitale

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  • Oregon Tree Climbing: Research, Recreation, and Ecotourism
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    IMG_5923Please tell me you have climbed a tree at least once in your life. If not, let me tell you—you are certainly missing out. Questions of ancestry aside, we can all agree that humans do indeed resemble apes and it may come as no surprise that we enjoy similar activities. What is a McDonald’s play area or a school jungle gym if not monkey training for kids? Unfortunately most people grow up, become aware of their mortality, and deem climbing trees an unworthy risk to life and limb.

    However, some have taken this childhood hobby to the next level and built an entire career on the practice. Tim Kovar, founder of Tree Climbing Planet (TCP) located in Oregon City, has been climbing trees for over three decades and teaching recreational and technical tree climbing for over two. In that time he has served as chief instructor for Tree Climbers International, the first recreational tree climbing organization in the world, located in Atlanta, Georgia. Through Tree Climbers International, Kovar helped develop the standardized curriculum being taught around the world.

    Ten years ago, Kovar brought his tree climbing expertise to Oregon where he spent four years working with climbing gear innovators New Tribe, located in Grants Pass. With them, Kovar co-founded the guided climbing company Tree Climbing Northwest before starting TCP, now in its sixth year of operation. Since then Kovar has trained myriad unique individuals, traveled around the world climbing and teaching, and helped develop some much needed alternative income for tropical communities.

    Tree Climbing Planet
    So what does TCP do exactly?

    “We get a variety of different types of students that are interested in learning how to climb trees for a wide range of reasons,” explained Kovar. While some are your traditional environmental enthusiasts, Kovar also trains cinematographers, photographers, arborists, and tree workers, people interested in “vertical hiking and camping,” and even those just looking for inspiration.

    Another important aspect is that of the ecotourists.

    “We do a lot of international expeditions where we take people down to the Amazon jungle and into Central America and we do all-day climbs in these giant, emergent trees,” said Kovar. As it turns out, these trips are having an important impact on local communities, but more on that later.

    Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy or wheelchair-bound? TCP finds ways of getting almost anybody into the trees, and doing it safely. “To date, we have put up over 10,000 people worldwide with no accidents—a few rope burns, blisters, and bad haircuts,” said Kovar. Pro tip: If you have long hair, keep it wrapped up lest it get sucked into a friction knot on the way down.

    TCP offers a variety of classes for noobs up through training geared for world-class tree climbing instructors. Kovar teaches tree rescue classes, canopy research techniques, and minimalist techniques to increase your connection to the natural world. While one- and two-day classes are available for those looking to learn the basics, TCP offers week-long stints that include camping in the trees. In fact, Kovar was late to the interview because he almost forgot to come back down to earth from his tree boat.

    The Decision to Teach
    To call professional recreational tree climbing instruction a niche market is a bit of an understatement, so how does one end up in that position? The decision to follow this path was an easy one for Kovar. It all began in Atlanta, Georgia when Kovar was in his fifth year as an arborist. He explained that the whole time he was doing that work, there was a certain tinge of guilt which came to a head one 90° afternoon in Georgia.

    Kovar and a partner were blocking a massive tulip poplar. Blocking a tree is the process of ascending to the canopy, removing all limbs, then taking down the trunk in large, manageable chunks. Kovar, who had climbed first and removed all the branches, returned to the ground for a rest and let his partner climb up to begin removing the trunk.

    “He hit what we call a water pocket which must have had 20 gallons of water stored inside the trunk of the tree,” explained Kovar. The sound that ensued has stuck with Kovar for the rest of his life. “I heard the tree kind of scream and I looked up and saw all this blood pouring out of the tree, which was the water, and right then it was like, ‘What the heck am I doing?’”

    The tree, likely 150 years old, was removed in order to extend the people’s driveway in the backyard. “I was thinking this tree has been here longer than we have been here, it probably would have lasted longer—after we’ve left [this world], as well. Right then, I had to change my attitude for why I am climbing trees.” Within three weeks Kovar made a lifestyle change. He retired the chainsaw and dedicated himself to teaching other people how to climb for other reasons.

    “The main goal now is to help to educate people about the environment, the forest, and the trees without preaching about it, but giving them that actual experience to be up in the trees themselves,” said Kovar. “Hopefully that didn’t sound too wu-wu, but it was a pretty intense moment.”

    Broader Impacts
    According to Mongabay.com, an environmental science and conservation news site, tropical deforestation has reached a rate of about 8 million hectares a year. That is about the state of South Carolina disappearing each year. This should concern you as tropical forests cover only around 8% of total dry land on Earth. Furthermore, temperate forests cannot even hold a candle to the biodiversity found within these tropical wonderlands.

    “The canopy is one of the true last frontiers on the planet, especially down in the rainforests,” said Kovar. Obviously monkeys in branches come to mind, but Kovar explains that along with removing the trees themselves, deforestation is killing all the life inside the canopy—the epiphytes and the unique habitats created by the layers upon layers of branches. “The majority of the lifeforms, plant and animal, are up in the tops of trees and we just don’t know what’s actually happening up there.”

    Consider that in just one park in Peru, there have been 900 more species of butterfly documented than on the entire European continent. With up to 480 species of tree within a 2.5 mile radius, it should become more salient how little we actually know about these ecosystems. In fact, earlier this month Mongabay.com posted an article in which researchers, using tree climbing techniques to reach the canopy, collected 1,201 records of 24 arboreal mammals. Six of those species were detected only through cameras the team embedded in the canopy.

    “Myself, I’m not a scientist, but I work with quite a few of them,” explained Kovar, “so my goal right now is trying to get just the general public aware of what’s happening so they can make those choices about hopefully protecting the environment.” While training researchers and participating on expeditions is part of that mission, Kovar also supports the rainforests through ecotourism.

    Often deforestation is attributed to logging activities and urban development. However much of the damage in tropical rainforests is due to agricultural practices. With both small- and large-scale farm holders competing with ranchers for usable land, it is often the common folks and the forest that shoulder the heaviest burdens. Kovar said, “Some of them sell their property just to make money to feed their family for a month, and you can’t blame them for doing that.”

    Currently Kovar and TCP are working with groups in Central and South America to create sustainable ecotourism businesses for the locals. Other groups they work with in the Amazon pay landowners a fee to let climbers and tourists climb in remote areas. “The landowners are now really like, ‘Wow, wait, we are getting paid a couple times a year now from tree climbers coming down here versus getting paid one time from a farmer who wants to log and clear-cut their lands,’” said Kovar. The ultimate goal is to make it fun, sustainable for everyone, and educational.

    Considering an Oregon Climb?
    So now you’re wondering if you should go climb a tree. Kovar recounted a story that illustrates the power of the experience. While working in Georgia, Kovar was leading a group into the trees. He remembers looking up to see “this very right-wing conservative guy sitting next to this liberal hippie chick next to this punk rock kid next to this 75-year-old woman—none of them knew each other before they went up, but once they got up there, they were all just talking and connecting.” For Kovar, it is this unique magic that allows people to just be people and that pulls them together.

    Climbing is also a solo activity for the well-practiced. Many people climb for inspiration while others climb for a sort of meditation. There may be no research to back this up, but Kovar suggests that 30 minutes of “tree time” can be like two hours of meditation. Some even set up a tree boat, or hammock for hanging out in trees. These are what TCP students use to camp in the trees during the week-long class.

    Think you might not be up to climbing a tree? You may be surprised to hear that Kovar just took a 73-year-old woman up during his last class. Impressive, yes, but wait till you hear that Kovar’s friend took a 101-year-old woman up for her first climb before that. “Climbing in the oak trees, I work with physically challenged folks, and getting them out of wheelchairs and into trees,” said Kovar. In other words, you can climb a tree.

    However, once you are ready to climb a big tree, Kovar highly recommends taking a training course. “If you get stuck in the tree—something happens 200 feet in a tall Doug fir tree and you drop your rope—you’re stuck, you can’t really call 911.” As we know here in the Northwest, weather can move in fast, temperatures can drop, and hypothermia can set in before help arrives. Thus learning safety for your own well-being and ways of preventing accidents is key to becoming a responsible climber.

    Along with responsibility comes respect. “How do you move within that space of the tree top, so you are not stepping on a moss mat that may have taken 300 years to produce?” contemplates Kovar. Likening climbing in the tops of old growth trees to scuba diving in a coral reef, Kovar attests that one careless kick could shatter a tiny ecosystem. This is yet another important aspect of TCP classes.

    Many of Kovar’s students don’t feel the need to reach the tops of the trees. Instead they just hang out in the mid-crown and take in the experience. “We try to think about tree climbing always more as a place to be rather than that thing to do, so that’s kind of the mindset,” explained Kovar. However if having a place to be is a thing you like to do, Kovar explained that after a week-long class, most of his students have the skills and confidence to climb most of the trees around here with the exception of the really big trees like redwoods.

    Where to Climb
    Finally, if you have all the gear and the know-how, where can you climb? The easiest and most obvious answer is private property, with permission. National parks are completely off limits. Often they have research taking place in the canopy which is easily disturbed. If caught, you will be fined and have your gear confiscated.

    While climbing in national forests is allowed, state parks are a little different. It is often up to the rangers whether they will permit it or not. “Just make sure if you get the thumbs up from one of the park rangers, you know when that ranger gets off work so when the next ranger comes in, they don’t make you get out of the trees,” advised Kovar.

    Since recreational tree climbing is relatively new, the activity falls into somewhat of a grey area in terms of whether or not it is tolerated. “We hope in the future there will be a little more credentials for people climbing so they are not damaging the trees they are climbing and so it’s safer not only for themselves, but for the trees,” said Kovar.

    Take-Home
    It is amazing to think that despite all of the scientific research, the cameras and sensors, the tons of gear one could own, ultimately it is just climbing a tree. Just like the primates on National Geographic, we like swinging around in trees, climbing, and walking out on branches to get the best view. Kovar and TCP offer some of the best training around, but they are only one of a growing number of tree climbing trainers and climbing tour guides here in Oregon.

    Whether you want to learn the techniques to climb massive redwoods, develop the coolest PhD thesis ever, or learn how to set up a tree boat in your own backyard, there has never been a better time than now. That’s because we like to think of tree climbing as a place to be, not a thing to do. As Kovar put it, “It’s a good place to go up to and be inspired and kind of leave your worldly problems back on Earth.”

    Check out The Wild Trees by Richard Preston—Preston was inspired during one of Kovar’s classes in Georgia. He then requested Kovar’s help in learning how to climb redwoods in California…

    By Anthony Vitale

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  • Here Comes the CAW: Arts Walk Aug. 18
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    Anna-Fidler_Majestic_Cascadia_3MFresh picks await almost everywhere for this month’s Corvallis Arts Walk, and even returning regulars are showing new work—a number of them in meaningful departure from their prior efforts. In other words, one of our favorite Corvallis freebies looks to be especially interesting this month.

    Pro tip: Bring sunscreen, you’ll wanna walk the whole of this month’s walk.

    2nd Street 

    MAJESTIC THEATRE
    115 SW 2nd St. • 5 to 8 p.m.

    Visual works juxtaposing the mundane aspects of everyday reality with the divine, magical, and mythological.

    ART IN THE VALLEY • 209 SW 2nd St.
    4 to 8 p.m.

    Edges of Nature features Jeff Gunn, inspired by nature’s cycles, structures, and textures. Asian cultures, from the simplicity of bamboo stems and leaves to architectural features of lanterns and pagodas also influence Gunn’s pieces. Hand-built and wheel-thrown, functional and sculptural, both porcelain and stoneware, there are also transparent glazes, such as Shinos and Celedons under-glazed brushwork.

    PEGASUS GALLERY • 341 SW 2nd St.
    4 to 8 p.m.

    Organics in Glass & Metal. In 2014, Corvallis artist Jeff Hess set out to formally approach photography like a painter might, developing a palette of colors and textures produced with the long exposure of moving organic materials so that he could later combine them to “paint” composite images within the field of view of the camera, all captured in a single exposure (no Photoshopping). During a 2015 exhibit of work from this series, Philomath glass artist Nena Bement was intrigued by the images and proposed the idea of creating her own work in response.

    BRITTNEY WEST STUDIO
    340 SW 2nd St., Ste. #3 • 4 to 9 p.m.

    New works. Come view over a decade of Brittney West’s oil paintings and mixed-media drawings as well as view her recent activist artwork, exhibiting thought-provoking imagery. Snacks and wine.

    AZURE • 341 SW 2nd St. • 4 to 9 p.m.
    Terry Inokuma’s “connection” sculptures… a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else.

    Madison Avenue

    BISON BISON • 354 Madison Ave. 5 to 8 p.m.
    Abba Zabba Griot. Selection of work by Christopher R. Adams depicting his most recent project. Portraits from a distant, potential future where the remnants of humanity cling to meaning through recreations of spiritual pasts. Utilizing the detritus of a disposable, corporate past, they attempt to connect to what is left of the Earth.

    STUDIO262 • 425 SW Madison Ave., Ste. H-1 • 4 to 9 p.m.
    Temporary Artists’ Guild offered the show that opened this gallery; their return finds the venue with significantly expanded space. See the latest work from Hollie Murphy, Tim Blackburn, as well as several other members in the show.

    LIVING ROOM GALLERY
    425 SW Madison Ave. • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Koa Tom, Nothing New. This will be new work of used materials and old ideas by Koa Tom.

    Voices Gallery • 425 SW Madison Ave., Ste. J1 • 4 to 8 p.m.
    Orange. Let us refresh our vision of the color orange through the inspiration of the artists at Voices Gallery. Seven artists display works from multiple mediums exploring the color orange.

    THE ART CENTER
    700 SW Madison Ave. • 4 to 8 p.m.

    Reception Pacific Time Zone, an exhibit of contemporary tapestry. This show is curated by Tapestry Artists of Puget Sound, with Layne Goldsmith from University of Washington serving as a juror. A 29-artist show of abstract and representational tapestry pieces from the Northwest.

    6th Street 

    STUDIO BEATRICE • 230 NW 6th St.
    4 to 7 p.m.

    Pleine Air Ladies. Long-time plein air painters Dee Yarnell and Katy Grant Hanson reveal their vision of Oregon. Music by Marshall Adams, wine tasting.

    4th Street

    ARTWORKS GALLERY (CEI)
    408 SW Monroe St., Ste. 110
    4 to 8 p.m.

    Hester Coucke, Gathered Sculpture, a deliberate departure from her illustration style of drawings. Couke said, “With the sculpture I want to investigate an entire different range of thought. It is a much more abstract world, where occasionally we can recognize familiar elements, but where in the end things are unknown and not knowable.”

    Campus

    FAIRBANKS GALLERY • Fairbanks Hall, 220 SW 26th St. • 4 to 8 p.m.
    OSU Art Faculty work by Evan Baden, Michael Boonstra, Julia Bradshaw, Kay Campbell, Anna Fidler, Julie Green, Stephen Hayes, Yuji Hiratsuka, Shelley Jordon, Andy Myers, Kerry Skarbakka, and John Whitten. A broad array of styles and approaches to creating art will be featured in photography, painting, drawing, mixed media, printmaking, and video.

     

    Above Photo Credit: Anna Fidler at the Majestic Theatre.

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  • A Fresh Face in the Board Game Biz: Mark Starr
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    MarkStarrLimited to three words, Albany resident and artist Mark Starr would describe himself as creative, competitive, and adventurous. Starr graduated from George Fox University with a studio art major and a computer science minor, and also earned a Master of Arts in Teaching. Presently, when Starr’s not taking care of his chickens, sculpting, or painting, he’s traveling the world with his wife, Amy. His newest adventure, however, involves something he’s always had a passion for: board games.

    If he had to choose, Starr’s all-time favorite game is Bang!, the first Euro-style game he ever played (although he added that the enjoyment of a game really depends on who you’re playing it with). Starr’s first crack at the board game biz was when he created an expansion to an already existing game. After communicating with the game’s original creator, he realized the best way to get his work on the market was to design his own game, which he did.

    Starr created Vegetable Race, a board game for 2 to 8 players. The game pieces are all culinary vegetables and a single fruit, and the artwork on the cards and game board was all done by Starr. The majority of the cards are basic movement cards that move either you or one of the other players a certain amount of spaces, and participation is continued even after you’ve completed the race. The end goal is constantly changing depending on each player’s secret objective, which is achieved by maneuvering oneself and others around a racetrack.

    I recently sat down with Starr and a few friends to try out a prototype of Vegetable Race and was surprised by the game’s accessibility. It was pretty hard to stop once we started; we played until the dark and mosquitoes forced us to quit. The concept of the game sounded confusing at first, but the learning process was speedy, and every round is something new so we were always engaged. I loved having a secret objective that earned me more points in the end—that way no one knew who was winning until each completed round.

    Starr already has another game in the works, which he plans on releasing after Vegetable Race. It’s called Little Dudes and features small people figurines you can take anywhere and play a variety of quick mini-games with.

    Vegetable Race is not yet available in stores. However, support for Starr’s Kickstarter campaign, ending on Friday, Aug. 26, can earn you a copy of the game at www.kickstarter.com/projects/566954393/vegetable-race. For more information on the game’s progress, follow Starr on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/vegetablerace.

    By Hannah Darling

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  • PRIDE Corvallis Returns!
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    PRIDE_logo_color_JPGPRIDE Corvallis is back this summer, after a two-year hiatus. The Queervallis Family Reunion will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Avery Park on Saturday, Aug. 27. Rather than the standard Pride Parade present at most celebrations around the world, Corvallis’ event is all about bringing the community together, picnic-style.

    The celebration is put on in part by Rainbow in the Clouds, a monthly dance party held at Cloud & Kelly’s for the LGBTQ+ community. Hillary Fishler, one of the lead coordinators, said, “We are trying to encourage people to build an active LGBTQ+ presence in Corvallis that is not confined to university students and affiliates. We want to create more cohesion.”

    Activities at the gathering will include yoga, a community kickball game, flower crown making, mural painting, drag queen meet and greets, lawn games, multicultural and children’s activities, informational booths, and local LGBTQ+ vendors. Live music for dancing will also be provided with DJ Doc Holiday.

    PRIDE Corvallis encourages you to bring your own dish to share, some blankets, chairs, and a friendly spirit. The gathering is alcohol- and substance-free, but the Avery Park Townsend Shelter is ADA-accessible as well as dog-friendly.

    “It will be a very relaxed vibe, with the expectation that people use PRIDE to connect with one another, do some activities, spend a day in the park, and represent and support their queer community in Corvallis,” Fishler said.

    Since PRIDE Corvallis didn’t receive enough support and planning in 2015, Fishler and local LGTBQ+ youth organization Out N About have put a lot of care into making sure that this family reunion is all inclusive and will help build a stronger community. With the various LGBTQ+ organizations and support groups in and around Corvallis, it’s tough to gather them all together on a regular basis.

    “We are mostly interested in forging partnerships and making events in the Queervallis community more communal,” Fishler said. The PRIDE celebration for next year is already in the works. If the Queervallis Family Reunion goes well, it will pave the way for an even larger celebration in 2017.

    For more information, check out PRIDE Corvallis 2016 on Facebook, or visit https://www.facebook.com/events/590463357794282/

    By Gina Pieracci

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  • Winter Is Coming for Corvallis Homeless
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    homelessThough the August heat is on full blast, the cold nights of fall and winter will soon be upon us, meaning many of the people in Corvallis without homes will be looking for ways to keep warm. In previous years, Corvallis Housing First (CHF) opened up doors to a downtown men’s cold weather shelter beginning in November and extending through March. But given the elevated crime levels, lawsuits, and overall dissatisfaction around last year’s shelter, plans for a new shelter are expected to arise.

    At the beginning of August, Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber sent the city council a letter declaring “the city has reached a crisis point,” because a strategy to open a shelter had not been agreed upon. With less than three months until November, there is worry that there simply won’t be a shelter this year.

    Brad Smith, the Board President for CHF, said that the city council will have to make a decision, but “as long as they are holding on to the funds I don’t think any group will be able to run a shelter.”

    While funding is definitely an issue, proposals have not yet been put forward. Kari Whitacre, executive director of Community Outreach Inc. (COI), said that COI and CHF will each be submitting a proposal to city council soon for what a shelter could look like.

    “An ideal to me would be a collaborative approach from multiple agencies,” said Traber.

    According to County Commissioner Anne Schuster, “The main stumbling block is trying to find a site different than the one downtown. Time is short so there is a lot of pressure.” She added that any help is welcomed and anyone who has a suitable place, such as a warehouse, for an emergency shelter can contact her at anne.schuster@co.benton.or.us.

    By Gina Pieracci

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  • Death au Naturel: Exploring Natural Burial and Cremation
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    Grave-1Losing a loved one is tough. Families are usually tasked with making end-of-life arrangements and other not-so-fun decisions as they’re grieving and mourning. A good number of funeral service businesses encourage people to fill out their end-of-life requests and wishes before they die to help make the process easier for all parties involved. But, death can happen unexpectedly, or financial situations can change, which can impact the amount of money someone wants to—or can afford to—spend on funeral and burial services.

    The price tags for funeral services can be alarming for those who aren’t aware of average costs. A traditional funeral in the U.S., which usually includes funeral home services, burial, and a headstone, costs between $7,000 to $10,000, according to Parting.com. The average cost of a direct cremation, which doesn’t include funeral services, runs between $600 and $3,000.

    Factoring in all those expenses can be alarming for a person who is still alive, or for families who are left to pay the funeral bills. On top of it all is a growing, alternative trend: natural burial and cremation. To be buried “naturally” typically means that a body doesn’t go through the embalming process and that the casket, urn, or vessel for the body or cremated remains is placed in the ground without a vault or grave liner.

    The costs of a natural burial or cremation can run you about the same amount of money as a traditional burial, according to Rachael Folger, one of the friendly funeral directors at McHenry Funeral Home in Corvallis.

    “A regular burial is about $3,000, which is what you’d pay for a casket and vault,” Folger said. “There are a lot more ‘green’ cremations than ‘green’ burials.”

    Burial vaults surround a casket or urn in the ground or in a tomb, and are made of concrete or other materials. The vaults are used in most “traditional” funerals, according to the Federal Trade Commission. While some cemeteries may require vaults or grave liners to be used, they’re often not required by state laws.

    Burial methods using wooden coffins or urns made of natural materials, for example, are “more nature-friendly,” according to Folger.

    McHenry Funeral Home offers a selection of natural coffins and urns to clients. And funeral directors can help families find cemeteries and memorial parks that permit natural burials, like Oaklawn Memorial Cemetery in Corvallis, in certain areas of the cemetery.

    Natural coffins vary in price, but, according to a quick Google search, you can buy a simple and natural pine box on Etsy for around $625.

    “There definitely are a lot more options, even with ‘green’ burials and memorial parks, since the mid-2000s,” said Folger.

    Another option for those who are into the “natural” way of passing is to forego the placement of a headstone at a gravesite and place a rock, tree, or flowers near the grave instead.

    Cynthia Beal, the founder of the Natural Burial Company, located here in Oregon, says the choice to be buried or cremated is a personal decision. She has worked in sustainable agriculture and natural foods all of her life, and said it was a natural next step to enter the trade of burying people naturally, the way they were born.

    People can choose from a wide selection of products on the Natural Burial Company website. A shroud, for example, is a frugal and simple alternative to an urn or coffin. The Natural Burial Company sells an organic cotton shroud for less than $300 at funerals.naturalburialcompany.com. There are also biodegradable urn options for those who choose the cremation route. You could go with a Himalayan salt urn, a box made from pressed recycled paper, or an urn shaped like an acorn made from recycled paper and other natural fibers. Once buried, the fibers decompose rapidly. The salt urn is supposed to dissolve within four hours when placed in water, and the cremated remains are dispersed according to the product description.

    In addition to founding the Natural Burial Company, Beal operates Rest Lawn Memorial Park. She’s also working on a program for sustainable cemetery management with Oregon State University. The program, which Beal says is the first of its kind in the world, will help to address the complex issues of cemetery management in the 21st century. Beal works with students and researchers at the university’s Sustainable Cemetery Studies Lab.

    “There’s a scientific way to answer questions about bodies being checked for contaminants, chemicals, drugs, etc.,” Beal said. “I would say that the goal of the lab at OSU is to identify the questions [to ask] and to interest researchers into looking into answers, because we have not yet asked the most important questions.”

    With so many options for natural burial and cremation at one’s fingertips, it seems like a nice thought to leave this world naturally, which could in turn help out the Earth and our environment, and ease pressures like the need for more property for living populations. But it’s your death, your funeral, and your burial—or lack thereof—so do it your way. (Come on. We know you’ve been eyeing that biodegradable, handcrafted turtle vessel made from recycled paper …)

    By Abbie Tumbleson

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  • Petextrian Death Trend Threatens America’s Youth
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    Zombies are walking our streets. But unlike the zombies we’re used to seeing on TV and in the movies, these day-walking numbskulls rely on digital technology.

    According to numerous studies conducted over the past year, pedestrian deaths are at an all-time high. But unlike the street-walking casualties of old, these people are not getting run over by drunk drivers. Due to an overwhelming obsession with their smartphones, and, more recently, the phenomenon known as Pokémon Go, they’re tripping over sidewalks, walking into signs, into oncoming traffic, and sometimes into each other.

    Coined “digital deadwalkers” in a series of PSAs that have been distributed via TV and radio since last year which humorously, though perhaps not effectively, attempted to stress the dangers of so-called “distracted walking,” this army of young tech-savvy idiots put themselves in danger with every step they take. After decades of decline, pedestrian fatalities are once again on the rise, but this time, “petextrians” are to blame.

    A 2015 study conducted by Ohio State University reported that the percentage of pedestrians killed while using cell phones increased from less than 1% in 2004 to more than 3.5% in 2010. A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that pedestrian deaths have increased 15% since 2009, and walkers distracted as they text on mobile phones are one of the main causes for this increase. Since 2010, two million pedestrian injuries were related to cell phone use while walking. In 2013, 4,735 pedestrian fatalities were recorded.

    Cell phone use has increased eightfold over the past 15 years. The rise in deaths caused by a phenomenon called “distracted walking” has paralleled this increase, suggesting that distracted walking deaths and injuries are likely a direct result of increased cell phone use.

    The term “petextrian,” coined recently by users of the Urban Dictionary, combines the words pedestrian and texting to describe, in the libretti of one wordsmith, “someone who’s texting while walking, and is completely oblivious to what’s going on around them—people [who] have a tendency to walk into things like parking meters, light poles, and fall down stairs.”

    Several cases of horrific petextrian deaths gained publicity in recent months. On Christmas Day, 33-year-old Joshua Burwell of Indiana fell to his death after using his smartphone to photograph a sunset on the edge of a 60-foot cliff while on vacation in San Diego. Nearby lifeguards reported a man who wasn’t watching where he was walking and instead was concentrating on his phone.

    Last May, a 68-year-old Texas woman visiting Philadelphia crossed a busy Chinatown street while looking down at her iPad and was promptly hit by an amphibious duck boat filled with tourists. She died of head injuries soon after.

    Significant efforts have been made on the part of both the U.S. government and national organizations promoting public safety. The nationwide spike in deaths caused by walking and texting prompted the federal government to offer $2 million in grants to various cities to combat what they called a “minor epidemic.”

    One such city, Philadelphia, launched a rather humorous campaign last year called “Road Safety, Not Rocket Science.” Campaign workers urged pedestrians, particularly young people, to stay safe on the streets by giving them the message to “pick your head up and put your phone down,” while issuing over 400 mock tickets to people they found walking “distractedly” around the city.

    In June, which was National Safety Month, several nationwide organizations worked to reduce deaths by texting by improving distracted-walking awareness, and last year, the National Safety Council or NSC— America’s leading authority on the endless dangers present in everyday life— published a section on the safety threat of distracted walking for the very first time in its annual Injury Facts Statistical Report.

    It’s unclear whether the well-meaning efforts of various do-gooders can truly convince even one of these zombie millennials to look up from their cell phones in time to escape a grisly death.

    One problem may be the fact that it’s not just jaywalkers sending tweets who end up in the emergency room. According to some widely reported and rather baffling statistics released by the 2015 NSC report, more than half of unintentional deaths and injuries from distracted walking involving mobile phone use actually occur at home. Apparently all multi-tasking is dangerous, which the NSC has stressed in various publications. A paper entitled “Understanding the Distracted Brain” was included in the NSC’s 2015 Accident Analysis and Prevention Report, describing multitasking as a “myth” due to the fact that it takes our brains a few tenths of a second to switch gears, thus slowing down reaction time when trying to perform two or more actions at once.

    Perhaps the most pertinent piece of evidence proving that humans are simply too stupid to walk and text at the same time is the fact that we are in denial that we even do such a thing on a regular basis.

    While 78% of adults surveyed in 2015 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery (AAOS) said they believed distracted walking is a “serious issue,” only 29% admitted to having ever engaged in such activity themselves. Three-fourths of Americans stated that only “other people” walked while distracted, and, similarly, while 85% claimed to have witnessed people using smartphones while walking, only 28% said they’d ever done so on their own.

    The trend in the AAOS study continued with 90% of people arguing that they frequently saw others talking on the phone while walking, and only 37% admitting to have done so themselves.

    What’s more, people don’t seem to take the issue seriously—and really, how could anyone? While 46% of Americans surveyed by AAOS said they thought distracted walking was dangerous, the exact same number felt that it was just “embarrassing, in a silly way.” Half of all millennials ages 16 to 34—and 22% of people of all ages—said they thought distracted walking was, quite simply, “funny.”

    One can only hope that improved public awareness of the petextrian danger phenomenon will eventually convince people that waiting to text, tweet, or snap a selfie till one can sit down in a safe place is the right thing to do. Don’t be a petextrian, guys. Even though not texting while you walk around might seem about as uncool to you as riding a bike with a helmet, it just might keep you alive.

    By Kiki Genoa

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  • Death by Editors: Reflections from Those That Make the Cuts
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    1440615777h4p4gThe old saw suggesting writers kill their darlings can lead to any amount of debate over variation and attribution, but in the end, you can’t pen for a living without some beloved passages being unceremoniously dispatched to the ether by an editor somewhere. And yes, we’re misappropriating said saw for the moment to suggest a writer’s revenge—an assignment only for editors, to write in restricted word count on death.

    Stevie_Take3Stevie Beisswanger, Associate Editor

    Death Open-Ended
    Death and beauty were themes strangely interwoven through my teenage years. My mom married Don the taxidermist, and my first love would become his one apprentice. I used to watch him salt the hides—scrape away life’s residues.

    Taxidermy is a curious art. The smell of death and the chemical covering of it grew constant. I became accustomed to piles of deer in the driveway, their suspended carcasses split open for all to see.

    I never once accompanied a hunt; I had a distaste for creature keepsakes, that king-of-the-jungle complex. Their fake, lifeless eyes did little to inspire me, yet a certain beauty presented itself in their faces and fashioned hides—traces of former grace.

    The loss of my young cousin was the first to feel undeserved. His casket revealed an unfamiliar face. His skin was cold, like clay. I felt for certain he’d gone somewhere else. Though I never cared to guess where.

    At age 14, I stumbled upon past life hypnosis and its mystical healing powers. I gorged on studies and techniques, and soon began practicing on my friends. Regardless of whether what they experienced was real, their tales were fascinating; Something numinous lingered there, where they traveled.

    In college I found familiarity in Plato’s accounts of Socrates, as he awaited and welcomed death row… If death begets nothingness, eternity is unbeknownst. If death brings transcendence, I would surely welcome the journey, while denying any road map. I’d rather death be open-ended—that my superstitions remain humble and uncertain.

    After a quarter century of living, I feel death impending—the inevitability of significant loss. I have yet to be weathered by a bitterness in wake, or to face my own mortality. (I’m counting on a few more years of illusory invincibility.)

    My only faith is in infinity—not in the trend of girls wearing the symbol on T-shirts or necklaces, but more like what drew me to M. C. Escher’s art work, his hands drawing hands drawing hands. I am only certain of the double loop of life and death, of polar ties and the crossroads of changing seasons. I don’t presume to know the meaning of life and death. My fragmented consciousness can only skim the sciences behind our being.

    SteveSchultz_PicSteven Schultz, Editor-in-Chief

    Reaper Be Damned
    Even as a child I never really approved of death and its petty, greedy hatred of limitlessness. In my 20s I would sometimes dare the reaper, but that only left me a hangover of stupid, colorful stories and survivor’s guilt.

    In my mid-30s, I was sick for a year, and there were tests for things that could have been awful, but there was also an enhanced appreciation of everything. As health returned, however, the banalities of life’s hot-diggity switch game again overtook whatever focus I had gained.

    In my 40s, I would lose my father at age 69, though both his parents had lived into their 90s. About a year before, he’d tried a surgery and chemo, but the lung cancer proved inexorable. He didn’t need to work, but he chose to continue. He also decided on a few things he wanted to do before dying—he kept it simple. If you casually asked him how he was doing, he would change the subject and ask you the same.

    While my dad was stoic about dying, he allowed my stepmom to drag him to a parade of specialists; he felt awful for her. We all endured my brother trying to take charge of things, or my step-sister trying to spin everything positive—my father’s patience with all of this was sublime. My takeaway at that point: our deaths are not personal, they are about how we remain in those that we leave behind.

    In my 50s now, and having adult children, I still think there is a large amount of truth in that. Conversely, I can’t reconcile the reaper having authority to end playtime at his or her own damn will, the motherf*cker; I do take that pretty damn personally. But then, I haven’t a clue how I’ll feel when my time comes.

    thatoneguyJohnny Beaver, Associate Editor

    Death’s Design
    My sister was in a car accident that killed her back in 2003. There’s not much I don’t remember about that day, or the following several weeks. Lots of food, the mind trying to feel better again only to be sucked back down into the understanding that this was real, it had happened. We had a party instead of a funeral; I didn’t attend. I haven’t grieved that hard over anything since. Was it because it was her, or because it was my first time?

    A couple of years ago my grandfather died of Alzheimer’s, having long since become somebody else, reduced to a nigh speechless shell of a person—a shell that ironically also become part of the family. At the time of his death, I wasn’t sure who I remembered more… him as he was in the past, or as he was right then. A bit later another grandfather died, who I barely knew; I can remember feeling disturbed at my lack of reaction.

    Last November, an ex-girlfriend I had been very close to lay down on some train tracks in Orlando and let herself be run over. She was a brilliant artist in possession of a one-of-a-kind creative mind, a mind torn apart by schizophrenia and drug abuse. In these sorts of situations people often question whether they could have done anything or not. I know that my personal answer here is no, but it doesn’t help.

    Within the last few weeks, a distant cousin’s two-year-old drowned in their pool.

    I was asked to write about death, and it seems my experience is just a series of events. I don’t feel like I have any insight or philosophical treasure to share. I don’t believe in the comfort of an afterlife. The only silver lining seems to be the fact that we are designed to eventually move on, and that one doesn’t have to forget to do so. I know I won’t ever take that for granted.

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