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From three decks up, the sea ice surrounding our ship looks like so many Styrofoam picnic plates bobbing on a dark blue pool.

Some plates are big enough to contain a suburban house and yard; others have barely enough space to park a bicycle. Many are almost perfectly round from jostling against their neighbors in the wind. Tiny tracks crossing one plate look birdlike from my perch, until I check them out with binoculars and realize that this is the trail of a polar bear.

Chances are, in the past year you’ve probably thought it, maybe even said it: Let’s defect to Canada.

For many, our neighbor to the north symbolizes an idealized other. In this case, due to different forms of land management and protection, the grass literally is greener.

In search of a memorable early-summer vacation that spoke to our cosmopolitan and nature-loving sensibilities, my partner and I headed north to explore Vancouver Island. Our goal was to experience the city of Victoria and the island in nine days. 

Community Rights Lane County and the Freedom From Aerial Herbicide Alliance handed over about 15,000 signatures calling for the ban of aerial herbicide spraying by timber corporations to the Lane County Clerk’s Office on Friday, Sept. 29.

Two years ago I wrote that it was the worst fire season ever. Each succeeding year has been worse, with the current fire season simply devastating. Although a few rainy days ended the horribly smoky air in the southern Willamette Valley, the fires in the mountains will likely smolder through this month. I fear that our usual reliance on September being a good month for hiking the high country will fade into the past. More years like this one may keep the Three Sisters Wilderness closed to back country users through September.

Last April, I got a message from my mother that stopped me in my tracks. I was in the midst of writing the cover story of my career when she texted: “Call me when you get the chance.” 

My heart sank. I knew what that meant. If it’s something serious, she tries to make sure I get the news at a good time by letting me call her.

I called right away. My grandparents in Ketchikan, Alaska, had caught a bad flu, and my grandpa had developed pneumonia. “Your dad thinks this is the end,” she said. “If you want to see him again, you need to go up there.”

We bought my ticket that day and I flew up that Friday.

A Springfield-based group is pushing back against the Trump administration’s review of national monuments. Friends of the Douglas-fir National Monument is working to propose a new national monument in Oregon. The proposal comes on the heels of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submitting a list of 27 national monuments designated since 1996 to be reviewed. 

I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of spending a week in a tiny cabin in a small, unknown Wyoming town, but one of my best friends insisted that we go on a nature-centered vacation — plus she wanted a break from the New York City summer. Brenna Chase and I met in Salt Lake City, hopped in an overpriced taxi, rented a car, purchased some groceries — including beer with a maximum ABV of four percent — and began the three-hour drive north toward Afton, Wyoming. 

Nestled in the Star Valley, the town of nearly 2,000 is home to the world’s largest elk antler arch — it bears the town’s name over the center of the town’s main strip. The summer weather was perfect; it was warm, with no humidity and a couple of intense hail-producing thunderstorms. 

Lane County plans to begin spraying roadsides near guardrails. If you live along a Lane County maintained road and have questions, especially if you do not know if your Lane County No Spray Area registration is active, contact Pamela Reber at 541-682-8521 or pamela.reber@co.lane.or.us.

• What links the largest mass shootings in the U.S in the past 30 years?

• On Saturday, Oct. 14, you can attend a four hour intensive training from the Civil Liberties Defense Center. The training will impart knowledge and skills that will increase the security of individuals and political activist groups — a must for everyone fighting for a better world in these times, CLDC says. Learn about asserting your rights, how to combat state repression of your movement, as well as digital security for activists and best practices for private communications. There will also be a section on legal observing and copwatching. The training is 1-5 pm Saturday, Oct.

Sheldon High School is a world away from the streets of Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore or Tulsa. But when soccer players from South Eugene High School took a knee during the national anthem last week, they demanded attention and invited controversy into their community.

As the first notes of the anthem played for the boys’ game, one athlete on the South varsity team took a knee. He was joined by one teammate and then another, until six other South players knelt alongside him. The anthem ended, the whistle blew, and the game was played. The boys left the pitch, each with his own reasons for choosing to kneel or stand.

On his 13th birthday in the early 1970s, Scott “Wino” Weinrich, vocalist and songwriter with Maryland hard rock act The Obsessed, saw Black Sabbath perform live.

These days, some people complain we’ve become too politically correct, or that we’ve become afraid to say what we really mean. Murray Acton, better known as The Cretin from classic Canadian hardcore punk act Dayglo Abortions, isn’t concerned about that sort of thing.

Carole King vaulted to fame by co-writing a slew of sensational ’60s hits for various bands, most notably the Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” She solidified her position as one of the 20th century’s greatest songwriters with a series of 1970s triumphs, beginning with her landmark Tapestry album featuring King’s own voice and piano, which sold more than any single pop album of that time and helped kickstart the singer-songwriter era.

YOU CAN CUT IT WITH A STICK

Thursday’s Eugene Weekly (Sept. 21) brought a much-needed update on Scobert Park.

We learned that a lot of bad shit goes down there, it’s been going on for a long time, nobody’s had any idea what to do about it in the past and there are no good ideas now — but it doesn’t matter, because the city can’t afford to do anything anyway.

I’m a 22-year-old straight male dating a 23-year-old woman. This is by far the most sexual relationship I’ve been in, which is great, except one part is freaking me out: I recently “caught” my girlfriend masturbating with her roommate’s panties. (She knew I was coming over and wanted me to catch her.) It turns out she has a habit of sneaking her roommate’s worn underwear, masturbating while smelling them (or putting them in her mouth), and then sneaking them back into her roommate’s laundry basket. She has also used her roommate’s vibrator and dry-humped her pillow to orgasm.

Photographer David Turner, the former executive director of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, along with local historian Douglas Card, will talk about Turner’s new book, Along The Long Tom River: Observations from the Past and Present, from 6 to 7:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Eugene Public Library. The book is an illustrated cultural history of Lane County’s Long Tom River, with contributions from several local writers, photographers and historians.

This Flatliners remake is truly mystifying. What called for a new version of the 1990 Julia Roberts/Kiefer Sutherland/Kevin Bacon thriller now? (Or ever, for that matter?) If you have wondered whether the remake itself might answer this question, well: It does not.

The new Flatliners updates the very-early-’90s original film with a more-diverse cast and a dollop of awareness about privilege — both good things, but that’s about as far as the good things go.

This year I’ve had not one but two experiences for which the descriptive powers of language fall woefully short. The first was witnessing the total eclipse of the sun, a cosmic spectacle that ran a hot soldering iron across the length of my cerebral cortex, reducing me to a state of primordial awe that still haunts my waking moments.

That was my big-bang moment, entirely sacred and shared with every person lucky enough to be in the path of totality. My secular big-bang moment, no less profound but entirely private, happened just last week, when my friends Jeff and Kassi hooked me into their brand-new virtual reality system. I don’t give much of a shit about how technologies work; I just want them to perform. 

The University of Oregon athletic department, like many athletic departments in the country, has a “courtesy car” program, in which it provides its employees free cars to drive for personal use. The program, in theory, should be free to the department, because the cars are provided by local auto dealerships as gift-in-kind, and the employees using them pay for the insurance. 

I am not a gamer, but I am an artist. “What is art?” is an important question to me. The fine-art world’s answer has been expanding rapidly since the 1860s with the controversial advent of Impressionism in painting.

The debate only intensified with art surrounding the World Wars. Is a Picasso painting art? Is a urinal displayed in a museum art? Is film art?

Are video games art, for that matter? Both video games and film are digital media that a creator skillfully uses to affect an audience.  

“You wouldn’t layoff a teacher and make them reapply every year,” says Emily Miller, an expanded practice dental hygienist for Lane County Public Health.

Miller provides dental screenings throughout the county for infants, preschoolers and elementary students as an employee of Lane County. Because she has a license beyond a normal dental hygiene degree, she practices without the supervision of a dentist. But as a part-time employee, contracted to work 1,040 hours a year, she must reapply each year for the same job she has held for the past decade.

Rosalie Vile began making games at age 12 when she got her first copy of Game Maker, software that she uses exclusively now when she designs games. As an indie game designer at 24, she’s involved in all creative aspects of a game’s development — from a game’s inception to writing the narrative and seeing it through to a completed final product. She programs games and crafts the art and music, too.

“I really like doing different sorts of thing — like making the types of games that I would like to see that I don’t really see being made because they don’t have massive appeal,” Vile says. “I like to make games with a cooperative nature or with a deep narrative — mostly just experimental games is what I focus on.”

In an attempt to perfectly fuse the retro-dynamics of classic arcade games with the mechanical and functional detail of modern games, one local indie game-maker has poured his artistic talent, knowledge of the industry and passion for gaming into an ’80s style, combat-filled, scientifically fixated game: “Kite.”  

“All in all, ‘Kite’ is what I would’ve loved to play at 14,” creator James Treneman says.