The agent wasn’t interested in the novel that I was attempting to sell but suggested that a book of advice might be marketable.

So, I sat down during the summer of 2015 and wrote “Touch All Your Bases,” a book of Rea_CoverCrop_72dpiadvice for my nine — soon to be 10 — great-grandchildren.

I wrote a 500-word chapter daily until I ran out of advice 40 chapters later. Then I went in search of a publisher.

The agent wasn’t interested. Neither was a publisher of one of my earlier books. Eventually, I worked with a Eugene publisher, who was most accommodating in designing and in preparing the book for marketing. It went on sale Christmas Eve.

As you might expect, I drew on 86 years of experience, beginning with childhood when I battled a brother for attention, then helped rear four children and later enjoyed interacting with eight grandchildren. In offering advice I leaned heavily on hyperbole in keeping with the “silly” character envisioned by some of my great-grandchildren.

“Negotiating an Allowance” may best illustrate the type of advice I offer not only to my great-grandchildren, but also to all parents.

I suggest that my great-grandchildren “put the squeeze on mom and dad for a good deal” in negotiating a weekly allowance based on a plan to spend, to share and to save.
However, if they wish to spend all their money on candy, I suggest that they “make certain your parents have good dental insurance.”

Chapter titles include getting a pet, picking your heroes, feeling anxious, falling in love, Continue reading BOOK OFFERS ADVICE TO GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN


UO DUCK image

The Duck mascot helped celebrate the 100th birthday of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication while offering high-5s to students, faculty, staff and friends Wednesday afternoon.

Only it was called the School of Journalism when I joined the faculty in 1966, back in the days when we still set type by hand and wrote stories on typewriters.

Today, the brick building in the heart of the campus has been enlarged and transformed into a glass-and-glitter reflection of today’s fast-developing era of communication.

Students crowded onto the ground floor near the Allen Hall entrance as the festivities began. Cake may have attracted some of them to show up for the start of this year’s continuing celebration. During my era, students left the building when classes ended. Today, Allen Hall is a popular work and social center seven days and nights a week.

One thing hasn’t changed, however, which offers encouragement to anyone seriously interested in written communications: The school still adheres to the national
accreditation requirement that no more than 16 students are admitted to a basic technique course in the various disciplines.

In other words, 16 computers sit in each lab. That’s the max number of students eligible to enroll in basic classes in such areas as reporting, editing, visual arts, public relations, Continue reading DUCK HELPS CELEBRATE SCHOOL’S 100TH BIRTHDAY


The answer to my current challenge in writing a novel was obvious, but I didn’t recognize — or admit — it until I began reading “See Me,” the latest novel written by Nicholas Sparks.

Colin and Maria are protagonists in this 486-page novel. Alternating 9781455520619_p0_v8_s192x300chapters feature the viewpoint of these protagonists.

So, what did I discover?

Colin and Maria have real problems. Serious problems in all facets of their lives.

Will they find solutions? Will they become lovers with new problems, and how will those problems be resolved?

I don’t know those answers because I have only read 60-some pages. I realize, however, that the protagonist in the book that I am writing has nothing more to solve than learning how to fly an airplane, to choose a spouse and to embark on a series of adventures.

The doubt arises again: Maybe I am not a fiction writer. Maybe I am unable to create an imperfect protagonist, one dealing with emotional and physical challenges, those associated with substance abuse, sexual assault, a criminal history, an unloving spouse, Continue reading PLOWING CORN OFFERS LESSON IN WRITING NOVEL


Eastern Oregon has been much in the news recently after a group of armed activists seized control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters site 32 miles south of Burns. Fortunately, rattlesnakes pose no threat to the invaders during the winter.

That was not always the case when my wife and I visited this juniper-and-sagebrush country while spending more than a half-century 23901_474143662630846_1236913471_nexploring the back roads of Oregon. We also spent three weeks there during the summer of 1994 while I substituted for the Burns Times-Herald weekly newspaper editor while she vacationed.

During that visit, I interviewed 93-year-old John Scharff, who helped build the headquarters  where the activists set up shop fronting on Malheur Lake. Scharff served as the wildlife refuge director for 36 years before retiring in 1971.

I told him about my fear of rattlesnakes, which I encountered during summer fishing and hiking trips in the Steens Mountain area and elsewhere in Eastern Oregon.

“We built the Malheur headquarters on a rattesnake den,” Scharff said during the interview.” And 37 rattlers were uncovered a short Continue reading RATTLESNAKES NO THREAT TO MALHEUR ACTIVISTS


I decided to skip next year, to tear the months off the calendar, to cozy up in front of the fireplace with a cup of coffee and to retreat from a world gone mad.

Like me, you’ve gotta be a member of the over-the-hill gang to fully appreciate the wish to skip a year. This ain’t the “golden years” I’m imagesliving in. It’s a time when seniors get together and spend the first half hour participating in an organ recital.

In case you didn’t get the pun in that last statement, join the crowd. I often forget names, including my own. Fortunately, the computer is available to fill in the gaps. That is, if you can remember how to turn it on.

Back to skipping next year.

It’s difficult to decide who to vote for in the presidential election, especially not knowing if a candidate may be a chameleon, may be untrustworthy, may lose the sound bite battle or may decide to star in a celebrity television show.

I’m not keen either reading about a bunch of nuts who decide to shoot folks on the street, in theaters, in schools and Continue reading I RESOLVED TO SKIP 2016 AFTER REVIEWING OLD ONE