• Hard Truths: Things, They Happen
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    HardTruths_7_2_15Marriage Equality Achieved

    Now let the madness begin.

    Last week, in a monumental decision that will likely rank up there with Roe vs. Wade among the titans of decisions people retroactively blame for the fall of Western civilization, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for any state to not recognize an otherwise lawful union between two people of the same sex.

    I’m mostly pleased about the whole thing, because I don’t see a single thing wrong with a same-sex couple. And if they want to be married, I think they should go right ahead. That said, I haven’t got a clue why we still let the feds have a say about marriage at all, and this case will simply ensure we continue to let that happen for a long time to come. But to be perfectly clear, I think homosexual couples should have all of the same rights as heterosexual couples, including the right to a life of misery and indentured servitude.

    But obviously not everyone was going to be so laissez-faire about the debate. Opponents, ranging from the frothy-mouthed and bigoted to the reasonable but disagreeing, are all throwing in their two cents and prescribing proscribing as an answer.

    Governor Mike Huckabee went a step farther and is advocating civil disobedience. Which raises the question of how one civilly disobeys another person’s right. Nobody is requiring Huckabee, a private citizen, to do a single thing. Not even “accept” gay marriage. Huckabee and his ilk can feel absolutely free to continue not approving. But rest assured they won’t, and they’re going to continue shrieking about this issue until not even my pith can make it seem interesting in summary.

    And in case that’s not obnoxious enough for you, if I see another one of my Facebook friends letting the world know they were “on the right side of history” via emotional status updates, I’m afraid I’m going to self-harm. It’s like a humblebrag, but more insulting because it’s actually a serious topic that matters.

    Stop patting yourselves on the back for being so tolerant. It’s not a good look, and it doesn’t come off half as sincere as you think it does by the time you’re posting your seventh status update about how beautiful Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in the case was.

    How about we make a grand compromise: If Huckabee can stop crying about gay marriage every three seconds, I’ll see what I can do to get all of my friends to stop clamoring to show off their gay-friendly bona fides on Facebook.

    How Has This Never Happened Before?
    A jury in Fairfax, Virginia, awarded a guy $500,000 after he sued the anesthesiologist who put him under for a surgery. The surgery must have gone horribly wrong, you’re probably thinking to yourself. What did they do? Attach a third arm? Damage a second kidney? Remove a first penis?

    No, what they did that was worth a half a goddamn million dollars to a jury was make fun of him while he was under.


    The procedure came off without a hitch, but the patient had his iPhone recording sound from inside his pocket, and when he listened to it later, he heard the doctors having a grand old time at his expense.

    And this is worth $500,000 dollars?

    Does everybody not have a job? Are we not all well-aware of what is said about the client when their back is turned, when they’re on hold, when they’re in the bathroom, or yes, even when they’re under anesthesia? It is universal across all fields. Yes, we have to serve you, but no, we don’t have to like you, to quote Kevin Smith.

    I already assumed doctors did this when we weren’t looking, and figured everyone else did, too.  They’re humans, and they don’t like you nearly as much as they pretend to. If that’s worth $500,000 in this day and age, I don’t know what to say.

    The worst part is that they awarded the money under the premise that the cruel jokes constituted slander, even though he would have never known about them if he hadn’t recorded them, and nobody else would either. That’s right, in an ironic twist, the only reason we know what the doctors thought of him is because he brought it to the world’s attention.

    Which is also not to say the doctors deserve no disdain. They’re obviously unprofessional and deserve to lose business for such sloppiness, but a half a million dollars? Don’t let anyone ever tell you the truth is easy.

    By Sidney Reilly

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  • Legal Weed Used to Be Sci-Fi
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    bugjackbarronDay by day, our world is coming to resemble the science fiction of previous generations: pocket telephones, home computers, a black president, and now comes the commercial sale of legal marijuana.

    These are all things that aren’t necessarily the subject of science fiction stories, but part of the “furniture,” the elements in a scene which are there to remind us that the story is taking place in the future. As one sci-fi writer pointed out, there are thousands of SF stories in which a character goes somewhere in a flying car, but there has never been even one which was about the invention of the flying car. The cars that fly and the doors that dilate are simply there. And so, often, is cannabis, legally sold and openly used.

    In John Brunner’s 1969 Stand on Zanzibar, hemp has more or less replaced tobacco: it is sold in brand-name packs of pre-rolled cigarettes and smoked by businessmen in their offices (smoking at the office—imagine!). One of the characters is an executive of a cannabis company who is being blackmailed by criminals who want him to sneak cuttings of the newest genetically engineered strain out of the lab so they can grow a pirate edition of it—sort of the way people are trying to find ways to work around Monsanto’s patents on GMO crops.

    In The Tomorrow File, almost the only sci-fi piece written by Lawrence Sanders (much better known for his Deadly Sin mysteries), people might very well feel the need to light up a joint of Bold (distributed by the Federal Department of Public Happiness, formerly Health & Human Services), to help them endure the pain of being denied a permit to have a child, or to choke down the foul-tasting food made from petroleum. Or they might want to try the legal government-distributed heroin…

    If the government wasn’t going to hand out weed, then surely corporations would deliver it in plenty. In Norman Spinrad’s 1969 Bug Jack Barron, the most popular talk show on late-night TV is sponsored by “Acapulco Golds, America’s Premium Marijuana Cigarettes” (imagine—cigarettes advertised on TV!). At the time, Acapulco Gold was a variety praised so much by pot smokers that even the least hip readers would recognize the name. In David Gerrold’s 1972 When Harlie Was One, for instance, a character bums a cigarette, hoping for an Acapulco Gold but settling for a Highmaster. Harlie, by the way, is an AI program who communicates with his creators through a teletype—a printer whose keys clatter out text onto endless rolls of paper.

    There was a widespread rumor in the ‘60s that one of the country’s major tobacco companies had quietly registered “Acapulco Gold” as a trademark—you know, just in case. Other brand names seen in sci-fi stories include Panama Red, Foxy Lady, Happening, and Too Much. This is one area in which sci-fi writers were, if anything, too cautious: brand names are proliferating rapidly in areas where pot is legal, with probably far more brand names than there are actual varieties available.

    Finally, here’s a funny item: When I mentioned I was writing an article about SF stories in which pot was legal, almost everyone mentioned Robert A. Heinlein’s 1965 Stranger in a Strange Land. Now, that novel contains what was at the time considered some forward-thinking stuff and it was a favorite among college students, but in fact the book’s only reference to hemp is in a line where a wise old man expresses the fear that the hero may be tempted to join a particularly creepy cult group, declaring, “I’d rather see Mike smoking marijuana than converted by Digby.” Public nudity and a casual acceptance of gay politicians was one thing, Heinlein seemed to think, but pot smoking? Unthinkable.

    By John M. Burt

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  • Mama and Daughter Share Weed Recipes
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    chocolate-chip-cookiesDear ganja enthusiast, some disclaimers…. Dosages are based on a series of calculations not knowing precise information about the THC content and weight of the product you use. If you are concerned about precise medicating, proceed with extreme caution.

    Every person is different. For example, our Matron Saint can eat one 12 mg cookie and be stoned for six hours, while I, the prodigal daughter, could eat four and barely start to feel the comfort. Remember, you can always have more, but you cannot un-eat later.

    With this in mind, the following recipes are functional for all levels of THC, CBDs, and all the other acronyms we’re learning to love. These recipes are for mid-level dosages—you can increase or decrease potency based on your desires, so user discretion is advised!

    Coconut Cannabusted Oil

    Tools and Ingredients:

    Heat-proof container

    Slow cooker

    Straining cloth (We use old pillowcases.)


    Amount of dry cannabis, preferably decarbed

    Coconut oil

    For this recipe, we’re using a ratio of 1 cup coconut oil for every ¼ ounce of product (approximately 7 grams). Let’s pretend we know our product is 13% THC. If we follow our recipe carefully and release the optimal amount of said THC, then our net final product will contain up to 910 mg.

    1. Mix your coconut oil and product together in your slow cooker. At room temperature, we can expect the oil to be solid; this is fine.

    2. Heat on warm or low for two to three hours, stirring every half hour. Make sure that your slow cooker does not heat the oil mixture above 160 degrees.

    3. Cool for 20 minutes.

    4. Set spout over container. Line the spout with your cloth. Slowly pour your oil mixture into the cloth until it fill the spout, squeezing your oil through the cloth. Take as many rounds as necessary. You must use your muscles. Substitute for any recipes calling for coconut oil.

    Choco-chunk Coconut Oiled Hunks

    Makes 24 nubbins


    ¾ cup melted Coconut Cannabusted Oil

    ½ cup light brown sugar, packed

    ¼ cup raw sugar

    1 egg

    2 cups flour (I use all-purpose)

    1 small packet instant pudding (any flavor you like)

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    12 ounce chocolate hunks

    ¼ to ½ cup coconut shavings (optional)

    You have to cool the dough for at least four hours. Deal with it.

    1. Combine butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Beat until well-mixed.

    2. Add your flour, pudding mix, and baking soda. Beat these together until just combined.

    3. Add your chocolate pieces. At this point, the dough should be shaggy; oily in some

    places, dry in others. That’s normal, I promise.

    4. Now squeeze these sweet hunks into 24 nubbins of love. Flatten these nubbins into

    disks on a baking sheet/cutting board/other wide, flat surface and place in the fridge for


    5. After you COOLED YOUR DAMN JETS for four hours—you’ll regret it otherwise—preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    6. Take the cookies from the fridge and place on foil-lined cookie sheets. Now, if you like,

    you can dust them with coconut chunks of love.

    7. Place in oven and cook for 11 minutes, until the edges don’t jiggle when you give them a light press.

    If we are using the same potency of oil that we have made in the last recipe, we can then assume that this recipe will yield up to 30 mg of THC per cookie. Go slow!

    Spliff These Biscuits


    2 cups self-rising flour

    ¼ cup solid Coconut Cannabusted Oil

    ¾ cup cold milk (plant milks work)

    1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

    2. Bring the oil and flour together in a bowl with your hands until they form a crummy


    3. Fold in milk until soft dough is formed. At this point, your dough should be sticking to

    itself, not to the sides of the bowl. Knead until just combined.

    4. Take your shaggy dough ball out of the bowl and toss it onto a floured surface, pressing

    and rolling it until it is half an inch thick.

    5. Using a glass turned upside down, cut the dough into eight circles and place on a lightly

    greased cookie sheet.

    6. Bake for 10 minutes.

    If we assume we have used the same Coconut Cannabusted Oil as before, these biscuits have the potential to be up to 29 mg per biscuit. I’d butter that bread!

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  • Farmer Behind the Market Stand
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    Julia Sunkler 02In the 1980s, the 1000 block of Jefferson Avenue was occupied by several charmingly decrepit Victorian apartment houses. Almost every spare inch of ground between the buildings was worked by one of the residents, an energetic gardener named Julia Sunkler. The first money Julia made from farming was the reduction in rent her landlord gave her for the produce and the improvement in the looks of the block.

    My wife and I were sorry to lose her as a neighbor, but Julia was moving on to bigger and better things. Through years of working on other people’s farms, she accumulated enough money to buy five acres of land and then to put a house and barn on what she named “My Pharm.”

    Julia rises each morning at 6 a.m., has a cup of tea and then is off to feed the animals. She makes sure that the pigs, lambs, chickens, ducks, and rabbits look healthy and have enough food, and by 8 or 9 a.m. she has a chance to have breakfast herself. After breakfast, she’ll be about the tasks of the day, which are liable to be many. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, she has to get up at 5 a.m. to be ready to set up her stall at the downtown market by 7:30 a.m.

    The land had been part of a Christmas tree farm which was being broken up into lots. When Julia arrived there was only grass and a couple of leftover conifers on the land. Now the property has apple and pear trees, and those stray Christmas trees have grown to an impressive size.

    Julia planted vegetables for market, and built a chicken coop that rested on runners so the chickens could eat fresh grass and bugs. The coop could be moved periodically so the grass could recover and benefit from the nutrients in chicken manure. Julia learned what worked and what didn’t work, and learned what she preferred to do with her land.

    All this while, Julia had been caring for her terminally ill mother. In 2005, after her mother died, Julia began working her land full time, and My Pharm became her sole source of income. Recently, I went out to see how she does it.

    People sometimes ask Julia why she doesn’t have a budget or a plan. She explains that to have a budget, you have to have money, and that plans are what things never go according to. She prefers to speak of setting goals, which she clearly tends to accomplish.

    Besides the laying hens, Julia also raises fryers, tiny quail (which lay tiny, speckled eggs), and enormous, meaty ducks.

    In a long, narrow hutch Julia keeps 80 doe rabbits and 15 bucks. Like the coop, the hutch has no floor and is periodically moved on its runners to greener pastures.

    When Julia moves a coop or hutch to a new location, the vacated ground is free of grass and fertilized, ready for planting. Usually there is no need for plowing. By breaking the ground as little as possible, she reduces erosion and keeps more of the nutrients in the soil. She can often plant two crops in succession without plowing: potatoes or tomatoes first, peas the next year. To plant a patch of ground that hasn’t been weeded and fertilized by a coop, she can usually clear it in a short time with black plastic. Lack of sunlight and trapped heat will kill grass and weeds without any need for plowing or herbicides.

    Julia also raises steers in two pastures, one being grazed while the other recovers. In her barn, she raises lambs and hogs. The different species of animal make the Pharm’s income more secure; if one population doesn’t make money, another will.

    Julia takes the same approach to the plants she raises: salad vegetables like lettuce and radishes; cooking vegetables like fava beans and Jerusalem artichokes; tree fruits like apples and pears; vine fruits like Marionberries and blueberries.

    Cane borers, a hard species to evict, got into her raspberries, so Julia just quit raising raspberries. This is typical of her approach to farming—try something, see if it rewards the effort and money put into it, drop it if it doesn’t. Unlike managers of immense corporate-owned farms, she somehow manages to make a living without having to squeeze every last nickel out of the land.

    Besides the Pharm’s own grass, Julia feeds her livestock on food production waste, such as stale bread, whey, and beer mash. She also buys bagged feed and vitamin supplements to provide all the nutrients the animals need. As I looked at a stack of empty bags, I noticed that some of them had really beautiful labels printed on them, like the labels on 1930s wooden fruit crates.

    Winter was traditionally the time for farmers to mend their harnesses. Julia has no draft animals, and thus no harnesses, but she makes good use of free time making shopping bags and purses from those beautiful feed sacks. Like the Pharm’s meat and vegetables, these bags can be bought at Julia’s regular stall at the Saturday Market, along with rabbit pelts and whatever else she thinks is likely to sell.

     Julia has one more current project that does not involve raising, but rearing: she is the foster mother of 12-year-old Madison, who is herself raising chickens through 4-H.

    By John M. Burt

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  • Three of Our Watery Fun Holes… You Know, For Swimming
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    ToniswingsLast week’s heat wave has left anyone lacking air conditioning or a sufficient number of fans desperate for relief, and now more heat is on the way. Luckily, the Willamette Valley is home to some excellent natural swimming pools to help you beat the sweaty heat. And the best part is they’re cheap, close by, and fun for all ages to cool off on a blazing summer afternoon. If you’re new to town, looking for a new spot to swim, or just need a break from the heat, here are three of the best swimming holes in our area for you to choose from.

    If you can’t go very far then Avery Park is your best bet in Corvallis. It lies just south of the OSU campus and is home to a multitude of these refreshing getaways as it borders the snaking Marys River (Just watch out for poison oak). The most popular of these swimming holes lies just behind the Parks and Rec office on the northwest side of the park. If you follow the path on the building’s left side and then keep left along it for about 200 yards, you’ll come down onto a rocky outcrop with full access to the river. The area boasts its own rope swing, plenty of room for relaxing in the sun, and multiple shallow and “deep-ends” that are perfect for kids and pets to play in. The area is popular and can get pretty crowded, but it’s only a short swim up or down the river to find a less crowded spot.

    Having reliable transportation opens up the options a fair bit. Foster Lake is the nearest big body of water and only takes about 45 minutes to drive to. Lewis Creek Park is a day use park on the far side of the lake from Highway 20, and is home to plenty of picnic and barbeque space and amenities, plenty of grassy field for games, and a large, cordoned-off swimming area protected from boats. To the east of Lewis Creek is Sunnyside County Park, the main campground on the lake. Sunnyside has a boat ramp and plenty of access to the lake, as well as showers and bathrooms for overnight camping.

    If lakes aren’t your thing and you’d rather just lie back and let the current steer you, a river float starting in Willamette Park might be the best option. Floating the river takes a little planning as it requires floatation devices and supplies for a journey downstream, but if you’re up to it it’s an excellent way to cool down and relax with friends and family. Willamette Park is located at the end of Southeast Goodnight Avenue on the southern edge of Corvallis. From the parking lot it’s only a stone’s throw to the water, and any of the many pre-blazed trails off the walking path will lead you right to the water’s edge. The float generally takes between two and three hours, but there are plenty of sandbars and beaches to stop at if you need more time in the sun. The end of the float is easiest at Michael’s Landing, which is located at the northern end of 1st Street, behind the Old Spaghetti Factory. Be sure to park a car at Michael’s Landing or arrange a ride prior to getting in so you don’t have to walk all the way back to Willamette Park.

    By Summer Noller

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  • Students Move Out, Dumpster Dive Begins
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    dumpster-diving-3Anything you can imagine being sold at a garage sale has at some point been thrown away. Moving away, spring cleaning—there are plenty of reasons for people to get rid of their stuff. A couple weekends ago was graduation weekend at OSU, which meant a cleaning of house for all of the students who are moving away. That meant that the dumpsters of Corvallis become their own metal-rimmed treasure islands, full of whatever you’re willing to take. During my days of dumpster diving this week I saw three printers, too many mattresses and chairs and couches to count, and enough cookware to run a bed and breakfast.

    The items I found uniquely rewarding to take home were an archive bag full of drawings, including some blank paper and art supplies, three belts, a duffel bag, a chef’s knife, a kettle, and a baseball bat. I also took home a pair of seriously sunburned shoulders, three dirty latex gloves—I will explain—and my exhausted and dehydrated self.

    I am not a dumpster diver. By that I mean that I have not in the past made a habit of it, and I might almost say that my adventure on Monday was my first time surfing the blue boxes. I love garage sales, but dumpster diving, as it turns out, is an even more rewarding pursuit.

    My day began with a meeting at 10 a.m., which was over by 10:15, leaving me with some unexpected freedom. I started biking home and began to notice a greatly increased density of “free stuff” signs, chairs, bookshelves, and curbside giveaways of all descriptions. After stopping at a few such collections of loot, I came across my first dumpster of the day in an alleyway between a frat house and a residential apartment building. There I found a leather belt, which I strapped around my waist. I also found cables, DVD cases, and a giant sheet of memory foam. I was hooked. I biked along the alley, heading north between more dumpsters, but I didn’t stop at any of them. The next time I did stop was several blocks closer to campus, off of Harrison. Here I got off of my bike and climbed up to the rim of a dumpster to root through the top layer of discarded implements, at this juncture still limited by my bare hands. I didn’t grab anything here either. Then, at the next blue box I found my first gold. Dictionaries, notebooks, and art supplies are what I grabbed from that heap; it was a corner just off of Van Buren.

    I headed home then. I was tired and so far I was still thinking of this as an exciting diversion. That changed as soon as I realized I had nothing to do until 4:30 p.m. I thought about it for maybe 15 seconds before deciding what I wanted to do with my day. I found a gray bandanna, three pairs of latex gloves, a pocketknife, and a junky cheap backpack whose origins I have forgotten. I got on my bike, and began my adventure.

    I started out by sweeping east. My house is northwest of campus, and that seemed like the logical path to follow. Originally I stuck to searching the dumpsters outside of fraternities, but then I realized that the multiplexes were likely to have much better refuse. I found a baseball bat, notebooks, and many other things which I did not grab but that astonished me nonetheless. Along the way, the glove on my right hand broke open, so I added a second one from the back-ups in my pocket.

    If there is anything I can tell you about dumpster diving, it’s to follow your gut. That is what will guide you to the richest cubes, rectangles, piles, and bins of various descriptions. People throw things away when they’re in a hurry, but people also throw things out when they decide selling them is too much trouble, or they just want the cleaning to be over. Keep this in mind as you search, and if you’re willing to stick with it, I guarantee that you’ll find something to take home and be 10 times as proud of as any object you’ve ever bought.

     And here is the best news: many students will not even be leaving until the end of the month, so there are probably about two good weekends of hunting left.

     By Whitman Spitzer

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  • Oceanside in Philomath… Yes, There’s a Surf Shop in Philomath
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    20150529_161409When I drive to the coast on Highway 20, I generally curse the tiny town of Philomath under my breath for forcing me to slow to a crawl. By the time I’ve passed the Dairy Queen, Ixtapa Mexican restaurant, and Eats and Treats gluten-free cafe, all I can think about is making it to the paper mill and the 35 mile per hour sign. As I roll impatiently through downtown, I’m more interested in scanning intersections for state troopers than I am in the shop windows of small businesses. But if I were to pay closer attention, I might notice a fabric store, an art gallery, an acupuncturist, a guitar builder, and a surf shop. That’s right. Landlocked Philomath, about 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean, is the home of Pura Vida Surf Shop. I made the short drive to Philomath to find out why.

    Shop co-owner Robert Rube carved out an hour away from board construction and repair to explain why his shop has survived for 10 years in Philomath.

    “Man, Philomath is kinda cool,” he said. “Everybody who goes to the central Oregon Coast goes through Philomath. We get Eugene residents. We get Corvallis. We get Albany, Lebanon, Sweet Home. We even get them down from Salem.”

    When I look at a map, I can’t help but notice that Corvallis is also strategically located on the way to the coast. Our fair city also has about 50,000 more potential customers and a major university. For those reasons, Robert considered Corvallis as a possible location before deciding on Philomath a decade ago. But he found out what some of us already know: Corvallis can be expensive.

    “The price of real estate is pretty high. When I looked at the cost of leasing property in Philomath, it was an ‘aha’ moment.” He went on to explain another concern. “I don’t want to focus strictly on the Corvallis resident or the OSU student, even though we want to service those folks.” In its current location, Pura Vida catches the college kids on their way to the beach, but isn’t vulnerable to the seasonal business drop-off common in Corvallis.

    Pura Vida is on the way to the coast. But why wouldn’t potential customers just take their business to surf shops at the coast? According to Robert, there are no less than seven such shops in Seaside, Lincoln City, Newport, and Coos Bay. But he explained that his shop is better in one key aspect.

    “We’re Oregon’s only one-stop surf shop. We build surf boards, repair surf boards, and sell surf boards all on the same site.” Robert explained that other shops do repairs off site or farm out the work. “Here, you can be part of the process the whole way through.”

    Robert taught himself how to build and repair boards through trial and error, and became an expert along the way. In 1998, he formed Robert’s NW Surfboards, and plied his trade from a rented workshop near the Corvallis airport. In 2000, an unusual business opportunity presented itself and changed everything. “I signed a contract with Taco Del Mar. It started in Corvallis; I started building boards for them for interior display. They have a beach surf theme on the inside of their restaurants. I built about 250 of them, shipped them all over Canada and the United States. It was a pretty cool gig. It helped fund my dream of opening up a surf shop.” Counting the very real boards built to be displayed, he’s now made almost 700.

    The dream came true on June 6, 2005 when Robert and his silent business partner Al Krieger opened the Pura Vida Surf Shop in its original Philomath location, just across the street from where it now stands. The shop managed to ride out the recession, thanks largely to the repair side of the business.

    “People weren’t buying surfboards, but they sure as heck wanted their surfboards fixed. Which was good for us. Business went to the back of the shop, fixing boards. That’s what pretty much carried us through. At the end of every month, as long as I didn’t have to pull money out of my wallet and throw it at the shop, I was stoked,” Robert explained.

    In 2014, Jim Dagata became the third partner. Co-owner of Animal Crackers in Corvallis, Dagata brings additional business acumen to the shop. He does marketing, sales, interior design, tech support, and networking. This allows Robert to focus on the repair and construction side of the business. With his help, Pura Vida has shown immediate growth. The shop posted its best January and February ever. They anticipate a 50% increase in sales this year over last.

    What’s the one constant for the last decade? According to Robert, it’s how they treat their customers. “Everybody who has walked through those doors has felt as if they were family.”

    At Pura Vita, you can buy or rent body boards, wake boards, skin boards, and stand-up paddle boards. You can buy repair kits, and they’ll teach you how to use them. They also carry and service skateboards and skateboard equipment. They have flip-flops and ukuleles, too.

     Pura Vida Surf Shop is located at 1327 Main Street in Philomath and is currently open Wednesday through Saturday and also Monday. On Tuesdays, they’re out surfing. For info, visit www.pvsurfshop.com.

    By Dave DeLuca

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  • Hard Truths: This Week in Yikes
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    HardTruths_6_18_15On Touchy Subjects

    Please tell me I don’t need to update you on the Rachel Dolezal affair. OK, superfast version: the president of a local NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington, Rachel Dolezal, is a Caucasian lady who has been self-identifying as black, and making up or manipulating the facts of her past to better suit the narrative that she’s of mixed heritage, specifically including African heritage. Now things are getting thorny for everybody because her parents did an interview where they threw cold water all over her lifestyle choice by pointing out that they’re very white and don’t have a shred of African heritage.

    And out come the wolves…

    What, did you think the commentariat would stay quiet on this one? Even though it’s a rather unremarkable story beyond its local interest points, this is a story ripe for the pundit picking.

    Obviously, liberal commentators found themselves in a bind. By the very clearly documented rules of class hierarchy as it applies to narrative journalism, woman > man, but minority > Caucasian, and both women and minorities are clearly protected classes. So how to judge this situation? And more importantly, who is to blame?

    Meanwhile conservatives wasted no time going right to the red meat; if it’s OK for a man to self-identify as a woman and then become one, why isn’t it OK for a white person to self-identify as black and then take steps to become a black person?

    The answer is that I’m not really sure. It would be simple and much easier if one could just write this question off as the trolling it is. Because to be certain, the impetus behind such a question is not that it is OK. It’s that it obviously isn’t and thus we must extend the same logic to transgendered people.

    But trolling though it is, simple it is not. There is no easy answer to such a question.

    Most black people I’ve seen comment on the issue seem to share one sentiment, regardless of whether they are pro-Dolezal or not, and it’s that one needn’t be black to support black causes. And on this point they are 100% correct. At the end of the day, if all Dolezal was looking to do was advance the cause of African Americans, she certainly could have done so without pretending to be black.

    But that’s not all a person cares about. Her career choice may have been in advancing the cause of African Americans, but her life choice is independent of that, and it clearly said become an African American to Rachel Dolezal.

    A lot of black people, particularly entertainers and pundits, also seem slow to judge Dolezal, which is to say, they probably aren’t nuts about her masquerade (the lying about having a black father, and the stories of racial persecution she suffered particularly) but they also don’t seem eager to devour the woman who seems to have a genuine affection for their community and desire to see it succeed. And why should they?

    But therein lies part of the problem, and the reason con-trolling may be more genuine than it appears on first glance. Does the black community have to accept Dolezal for the greater community to accept her? We certainly don’t hinge societal acceptance of a woman who becomes a man on other men accepting their choice. Nor should we. We instead use a metric of human compassion. Similarly, while we may all be confused by Dolezal’s choices, and we may all resent her ill-advised choice to lie and be generally horrible at sounding credible in interviews, we might stop and consider that she’s the next frontier in the ever-changing landscape of how we define the human condition.

    People already born will probably grow up in a world where everyone chooses everything: their race, their gender, their eye color, the whole shebang. And odds are that 25 years from now the idea of a Caitlyn Jenner or a Rachel Dolezal being news is pretty much nil. People can try and thwart that progression, but the odds aren’t on their side in terms of success. The question is, are you ready for the future or not?

     The fact, of course, is ready or not, here it comes.

    By Sidney Reilly

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  • More Pedicab: Make the Bike Lanes Wider!
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    IMAG1124Roy Crowe is the founder of Corvallis’ third and newest pedicab company, People Power LLC. His mission is simple and community-centered: “I would like to see the world move away from fossil fuels. I think pedicabs are a fun, enjoyable way to get out and see the community without having to burn fuel to do it.” He joins the ranks of Corvallis Pedicab, established in 2009, and Andy’s Bike Cab, which began operating earlier this year, but said he doesn’t see himself as competing against them. “I see it as us competing against cab companies,” he said. Crowe will be showcasing his shiny, red two-seater at the Arts Walk this Thursday, so people can “ride the CAW.”

    Art and community are important to Crowe, and inherent in community is transportation—you have to be able to meet to collaborate. But transportation itself can be a zero-emissions act of collaboration. Crowe said he believes the three pedicab companies work together to increase the visibility of alternative transportation, and he hopes others start driving pedicabs, too. He also wants riders to know a pedicab is a much more intimate way of experiencing the community. “When you get in your car or you get in a cab the world goes by so fast you can’t really enjoy it,” he said. “A pedicab’s slow! You get to take things in.”

    The pedicab is licensed through the City of Corvallis and insured through Oregon State Credit Union. Crowe is currently the only driver—city policy is that anyone driving a pedicab for compensation must receive a license from the police department—though he’s looking for new drivers, with the ultimate goal of operating 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week. He knows that there is a lot of business to be found downtown, ferrying late-night revellers back home, and he’s prepared. The pedicab is equipped with headlights, brake lights, four-way flashers, a car deck stereo, and a bumper—very visible at night. Crowe also has a PayPal card reader so potential riders don’t have to carry cash. As far as distance: “I’ll take them to Philomath if they’re willing to pay,” he said. But hills are pretty much the limit.

    In addition to a pedicab, Crowe is diversifying with a solar-powered ice cream tricycle that carries Oregon-made dairy and non-dairy ice cream treats. His goal for the ice cream trike is to reinforce a positive image of alternative energy for the new generations—“the kiddos. It’s the little kids who are really going to need to be way more creative than we need to be when it comes to sustainability,” he said. His next idea in the works is playground equipment that can generate electricity. He wants his business to demonstrate how we, as a community, can rely on “the effort of people to generate the energy we need.”

    Both the pedicab and the ice cream trike are available for events.

     Call or text People Power at 541-728-3602 or visit www.localpeoplepower.com.

     By Kelsi Villarreal

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  • OSU Press Last Standing in Oregon
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    Stack-of-BooksThe Oregon State University Press survived a fire which destroyed most of its assets, including the only remaining copies of many of their books. They’ve also survived a cultural climate in which every other university press in Oregon has had to shut down. They’re not only surviving, they are actively expanding their range, producing and promoting books which they feel are important for Oregonians to see, but which commercial publishers might not handle.

    Faye Chadwell, director of the Press, works alongside associate director Tom Booth. Chadwell has a background working in libraries, while Booth has worked in publishing for most of his career. Since the OSU Press is a publishing house with a special eye towards providing libraries with books on Oregon-related topics, their combined education and experience would seem to be exactly what the OSU Press needs.

    If there were any life remaining in the stereotype of a librarian, Chadwell could demolish it with one passionate declaration about the mission of the OSU Press. According to Chadwell, that mission is in line with the mission of the university itself: to educate Oregonians about subjects of particular importance to them,  the environment and landscape of the Pacific Northwest (Ellie’s Log), the history of the Oregon Country (To the Promised Land), and prospects for Cascadia’s future (The Next Tsunami).

    The Press’ authors look at that environment on all scales, from the immensity of Oregon’s wilderness (Listening for Coyote) to the growth of plants we may barely notice underfoot (Gathering Moss).

    That history includes stories we all know, but also many we do not, such as the robbery and murder of 30 Chinese gold miners in Hell’s Canyon (Massacred for Gold by R. Gregory Nokes), and the community built by the conscientious objectors of the Second World War (Here on the Edge by Steve McQuiddy). These are stories which had never been told before, and we have the OSU Press to thank for our access to them.

    Another aspect of history is memoir. Not the stories of the famous names who supposedly “made” history, but the ordinary lives of the people who lived through it. The OSU Press devotes a lot of energy to publishing memoirs like Fool’s Hill (“a kid’s life in an Oregon coastal town”), Light on the Devils (“coming of age on the Klamath”), and Now Go Home (“wilderness, belonging, and the crosscut saw”).

    Our future is always unknown, but we can expect it to include volcanic activity (Living with Thunder), political controversy (Toward One Oregon), new perspectives (Living with Bugs), new technology (Pedaling Revolution), and food (Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food).

    The press brings out between 20 and 25 books every year on topics ranging from a memoir of life on a hippie commune to the challenges facing Oregon’s forest products industry. (Yes, we do still have one.) The Press’ range extends beyond Oregon with books like the Holocaust memoir Therefore, Choose Life… and Among Penguins (the Never Cry Wolf of Adelie penguins). In 2010, they extended their boundaries by publishing their first novel, Brian Doyle’s Mink River. Since then, they have published collections of short fiction and other novels, the most recent being a new edition of H.L. Davis’ 1936 Pulitzer Prize-winning Honey in the Horn.

    Chadwell considers her personal mission to be increasing the Press’ visibility. That’s why the OSU Press has begun actively expanding its outreach beyond the traditional, with the publication of e-books and the promotion of public readings.

    Public readings are a rare opportunity for readers to connect directly and personally with writers, whose work is solitary by nature. OSU Press-sponsored readings by authors like Brian Doyle and Bonnie Henderson can draw impressive crowds.

    The Oregon State University Press has outlived the publishing arms of the University of Oregon and the University of Portland. It seems ready to continue into the future, serving new generations of Oregonians.

     We should hope so. If they aren’t there, who will be?

     By John M. Burt

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  • Too Legit to Quit: Happy Trails’ Hallowed Vinyl Aisles
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    IMG_5563 (1)Once upon a time, a then 24-year-old from Santa Clara, California resolved to make the journey north to the land of rainfall and cheap beer—some call it Corvallis. With little but the hope of purchasing what any clear-headed 24-year-old would want to purchase: a record store.

    And thus, we have Doug DiCarolis, a bit older now and, the owner of Happy Trails Records on Monroe and 3rd Street, which happens to be just one block down and two blocks over from the original location (an all-vinyl store) on 2nd next to Tom’s Peacock. They are still using, even now, the original new releases vinyl stands from the first days of the old store.

    Business at Happy Trails could not have been better from the time it was bought by its current owner to the dawn of the CD. As if by some minor miracle, when the CD first appeared on the scene, anyone who owned records on vinyl came down to the store and re-bought all the same music they already owned—but on CD, a phenomenon of business that any owner of a record store could easily get comfortable with. However, since the late 90s (1998 to be horribly exact), with the Napster and free music revolution of the Internet, the options that Happy Trails has to work with have dwindled and business has all but dried up. In a market that is tough enough as it is and a time when musicians are skeptical to even create music, let alone try to make money from it, what is a record store owner to do, close down? I think not.

    As DiCarolis puts it, “As long as people are still buying vinyl, that’s how long we’ll be selling it.”

    Too often when walking past the open door, steady drum beats and rhythm guitar softly making their way out to the street corner, we notice the Frank Zappa concert T-shirts, posters, and memorabilia. Yet we do not go into the store, we don’t make our way to the Rolling Stones section, or the Doors. We don’t ask about the signed baseball behind the counter, or the stickers slathered over the old glass cabinets. We don’t do what we can, our part, to keep the store up and running.

    IMG_5612DiCarolis says, “Coming up here at 24, with an ad clipped out of a free magazine that read, ‘FOR SALE RECORD STORE,’ after the first couple weeks you kind of become something of a local celebrity. Everybody knows you. It was literally the coolest thing that I could have been doing. It was just the greatest.”

    Go, now. Ask about the baseball, find a one-dollar CD or vinyl or find something you weren’t even looking for. Buy it if you can, and know that you are helping keep that tune going on the corner of 3rd and Monroe.

    Summer makes for some lazy days here in Corvallis, we can all agree on that—and when you need that little pick-me-up, there’s nothing like a freshly opened Jimmy Hendrix or Bob Dylan CD for your car—or some Pink Floyd on vinyl for your late-night beer-making ventures. There is no telling what you will find if you go and check it out for yourself. Some albums may even find you… Because where else can you find someone who knows your name and that you like the Breeders and Chet Atkins all at the same time?

     Shine on, you crazy diamond. Shine on.

    By Ethan Brady

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  • Corvallis Biz Guys Bet on Books, Win
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    Bookstores2_GenevieveWeber_300In November of 2007 Amazon introduced the Kindle. The world’s first mass-produced electronic book reader promised to do for books what the iPod had done for music. Who needs a real book when you can have the convenience of 1,000 books in your bag? E-readers seemed poised to hammer a final nail in the coffin of the several industries associated with real books. Most notably, book stores.

    Six months prior to the Kindle launch, Browsers’ Bookstore owner Scott Givens bought out Albany Book Co., building and all. He more than doubled his inventory and investment in the potentially doomed industry of buying and selling used books. Givens panicked. “I had people in the publishing business, smarter than me, saying books would no longer be made in five years.”

    Grass Roots Books & Music owner Jack Wolcott, however, embraced e-readers as potentially viable options for his customers. The downtown Corvallis staple decided to carry e-readers in the form of Kindle competitor Kobo. Wolcott figured it was better to sell an e-reader than turn away a customer, and allowed the buying public to support his store however they thought best.

    Over the next several years, tablets and smartphones flooded the market while more and more books became available in electronic form. Borders closed its doors, along with new and used book stores in other nearby communities. But Browsers’ and Grass Roots continued to plug along. Why?

    Givens found some answers after completing a study of Browsers’ sales from 2007 to 2014. Sales increased 25% on hardcover and trade paperbacks. The Corvallis location reaped the greatest benefit of that trend with 6% growth six years running. Mass market paperbacks, on the other hand, decreased in sales by about 10%. These smaller books are traditionally novels in popular mainstream genres like mystery and horror. Browsers’ variety of book styles protected them from the decline of paperback sales.

    Put another way, less people bought “throwaway books” from Browsers’ because they were downloading them instead. Apparently, not all types of books are equally popular to e-reader users. People who enjoyed more substantial works continued to purchase the real thing. The overall variety of their inventory helped absorb the decreased sales in one category.

    Just a few blocks away, Grass Roots continued to offer both real and electronic reading options side by side. Over time, a trend developed. Electronic book sales gradually dropped. In comparison to his overall sales, Wolcott described the sales of electronic readers as “very small and getting smaller.” Wolcott clearly saw popular fiction books as the main e-book sellers, confirming the trend found at Browsers’. “Luckily,” Wolcott added, “we never really carried bestsellers or throwaway books.”

    So the dire predictions of dead bookstores missed the mark, at least here. But both store owners refused to credit a diverse inventory or a lucky trend for their continued success. Plenty of other factors have gone into the survival of these two very different brands. The most obvious advantage that a bookstore has over an electronic device is the unique experience of shopping in person. A cyber chat or FAQ page is a poor substitute for ambiance and real customer service.

    At Browsers’ Bookstore, they have so much stock that there’s scarcely enough time to put it on the shelves. Both the Albany and Corvallis locations offer mazes of shelves and stacks, with few fancy displays or unnecessary decorations. The books are almost always displayed spine out, in order to accommodate the sheer volume of titles. There are rooms upon rooms of works covering every topic. The controlled chaos is intentional. Browsers’ is set up for the reader who enjoys hunting for one book, and coming away with several. It is designed for browsing. But the staff is always present to help guide the search. Givens estimates his crew of fellow book lovers spends at least one-third of their day helping customers find just what they’re looking for.

    Grass Roots provides a completely different atmosphere than Browsers’. You will see plenty of book covers displayed here, along with magazines, calendars, games, puzzles, and gifts. The staff is not only familiar with the product on the shelf but also with the customer. They have to be able to make recommendations. And when they get a recommendation wrong, the customer knows where to find them. Wolcott holds himself accountable for every single book he sells, and can point to a specific reason for every title on the shelf. His staff also has the ability to order just about any book you could possibly want overnight. This allows Wolcott to have a greater variety of titles on the shelves. And they always carry the work of local artists and musicians.

    That pride of community is shared by Givens as well. He pointed out that buying from Browsers’ is buying local. The vast majority of the books in stock are purchased from local residents. The majority of the money Givens earns is spent locally through payroll and other expenses. The success of his shops indicates the willingness of the people of Corvallis and Albany to support local businesses. But he also knows that his is a fragile industry. “Bookstores have been going out of business for 500 years. Prior to the invention of the Internet or e-books.”

    Wolcott sees the continued existence of bookstores, both new and used, as a great sign of the overall health of a city. “I view an independent bookstore in a town like a canary in a coal mine. As long as there is a healthy, vibrant bookstore, then the community is relatively OK. But if a bookstore can’t survive, it indicates a not overall healthy environment… You won’t notice it at that time, but somewhere down the line you’re going to wonder where it went.”

    You could visit www.browsersbookstore.com or www.grassrootsbookstore.com for more information. But both Scott Givens and Jack Wolcott encourage you to actually stop by for a full browsing experience. Browsers’ is at 121 NW 4th Street and Grass Roots is at 227 SW 2nd Street.   

     By Dave DeLuca

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  • About This Issue: The Corvallis Outlier Effect
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    file1181303751455We of the newspapering persuasion are all too familiar with what has become an old refrain: our deaths will be lamentable but inevitable, it is assumed we will be going the way of the wagon wheel. Also hacked by this saw of conventional wisdom are bookstores and record stores. But then there is Corvallis, stubborn outlier of exception to so many rules, home to three diverse bookstores, a tasty haven for vinyl and even two newspapers. And this is exactly what this week’s issue is about.

    We delve into a duo of local bookslingers with two very different strategies for success and a blast to the vinyl past still unrivaled sonically by digitization. We also find an Oregon State University Press curating, passionate and growing where others have withered. Along with all this, just three weeks back, we profiled KBVR as a vibrant alternative radio station growing in listenership even as increasingly commoditized and boring commercial radio is waning.

     As to the aforementioned wagon wheel, we find our fair burg gaining its third player in the pedicab market, so sit back a spell and revel in being a Corvallisite, you outlier rebel you.

     By Joel Hutton

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  • Hard Truths: This Week in Truth
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    Hard Truths_6_11_15On Big News

    Beyoncé was interviewed on Good Morning America this week, and commercials for the event promised she’d be dropping a bombshell. I even saw one of the commercials and caught myself, a cynical non-fan, breathlessly wondering, “what could it be? Are she and Jay-Z becoming Scientologists? Does she have crucial info about Al Qaeda? Is there another Destiny’s Child reunion in the works?”

    Nope. She’s a vegan. Oh, and she has a vegan meal delivery service she’s selling…

    In 2015, on national TV, GMA advertised that they had an interview with Beyoncé Knowles, a huge star, where she’d be dropping a bombshell. And it turned out to be that she wants you to buy her crap. This is where marketing has brought us. Congratulations America. We’re officially a bunch of morons.

    Next week on 60 Minutes, Karl Rove opens up about his deepest secret; he prefers cats to dogs. Oh and hey, he has something to sell…

    On Beating Heat

    By now you’ve no doubt seen the video footage being played over and over on every channel, of a McKinney, Texas police officer terrorizing a group of teenagers at a pool party. It’s certainly not a good look for the officer involved, and it comes at a time when the nation can seemingly least afford another excessive force scandal.

    It’s pretty bad. Some have of course pointed out that we’re not seeing what came first to cause the reaction, but what could it have been to merit physically assaulting a slight adolescent girl in a bathing suit while stalking around in circles pointing your gun at her friends?

    Some reports have a party at a public pool snowballing to as many as 70 teens, and then some altercations broke out which is why police were called. But one would have to hope that well trained peace officers can deal with an unarmed crowd of teenagers without getting physical.

    Protesters are currently mobbing the streets all over the country agitating for the immediate firing of the officer, Cpl. Casebolt, who has been put on leave pending an investigation of the incident. And we’re once again standing on the edge of a nasty fall.

    Making assumptions and seeking personal satisfaction instead of actual justice will lead us down a long dark corridor. As anticlimactic as it sounds, I’m going to advise the same thing I do every time there’s a case like this: wait until we know all the facts, or at least more of them, before passing judgment. I’m not saying the officer shouldn’t be fired, or even prosecuted, but before we make that decision, let’s go through the pesky formality of an investigation.

    Call me old fashioned, but something tells me the answer to our police violence problem isn’t to rush to judgment and lump all of them in together. It’s almost like that’s exactly what they do to us…

    On Jokes Down the Memory Hole

    Clint Eastwood made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner at the Spike Guys Choice Award, which filmed last week, and now Spike is going to cut the joke out when they actually air the show on June 18th.

    Let’s just gloss over why Clint Eastwood has anything to do with an awards show so Titanically moronic that they have awards called “Biggest Ass Kicker,” “Brass Balls,” and of course last year’s stirring controversy, “Hottest Emma: Emma Watson or Emma Stone.” Let’s just skip all that.

    Here’s the joke that is apparently so offensive, that an awards show that describes itself thusly, as an event “to toast the mega- splendor of all things GUY,” felt they had no choice but to scrub it: Eastwood, while presenting an award to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, compared him to other athletes who had become actors, like “Jim Brown and Caitlyn somebody…”

    Really, that’s it. He didn’t make an offensive joke about her, he merely joked that she’s being talked about too much, by pretending to forget her last name.

    Edgy stuff Spike.

    I can’t tell if I’m most ashamed of Spike for being the worst channel on TV, or of us for being such a constantly offended bunch of pussies that the mere mention of Caitlyn Jenner is offensive, or of Clint Eastwood for being involved with this embarrassment. Rest assured though, we should all probably be ashamed.

    By Sidney Reilly

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