Jefferson Monthly

Features and columns published in the Jefferson Monthly.

The Quantum Race

Jun 1, 2015

All the big tech companies (and at least one U.S. government agency with the acronym NSA) are in a race to be the first to capture computing’s Holy Grail—the qubit. A qubit, or quantum bit, is the basic unit of information in a quantum computer. A qubit is different from a classical bit in computing, which can only exist in one state or another.

Pat Elmen

Jun 1, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

I barely recognized her, but nursing homes are helpful in this way. The placard by her door read “Mrs. Patricia Elmen,” so I knew this was my favorite high school English teacher, despite her bloated cheeks and chin, her rotting teeth, her vacant stare.

I called ahead this week during a visit to Chicago. The nursing home staff suggested I come after her nap, but before dinnertime. If they had used the term “feeding time,” I would have been better prepared. Mrs. Elmen taught us that concision comes from using the right words. 

One Hit Wonders?

Jun 1, 2015

If you grew up listening to ‘Pop’ music from the 1950’s on, you are probably aware of the concept of the ‘one-hit wonder.’ It got me thinking about whether there is such a thing in classical music and how would you define the terms. What constitutes a ‘hit’ from the classical standpoint? Should I consider composers who were known for mainly one work but had in fact written more? Fortunately I am able to play more than just the top 100 best classical pieces, so defining what a hit is for the JPR listener may be a bit broader, but there are a number of pieces that still qualify.

Jessica Love


On the last afternoon of my thirties, I sat across from my friend Maria at an outdoor cafe. I took a sip of chai  and fretted: “I think I’m out-aging my lifestyle.” We were in Pokhara, Nepal, one of the world’s well-known backpacker ghettos. Chinese, Europeans, and Americans wandered by, most in their early twenties and on a gap year. They shouldered oversized bags and pared their hiking boots with loose pants procured probably from the beaches of Koh Phangan.

Laura Daugherty balances a small tray on one gloved hand, like a waiter at black-tie restaurant.

Today’s main course is ring-necked pheasant – freshly skinned and raw.

Her patrons are a teeming pile of flesh-eating beetles.

“I’m sure they’re pretty hungry,” she says of the half-inch long insects. “And this is a nice fresh body for them to work on.”

Michael Joyce

Frost apparently lingered a while before choosing the less traveled way.

Johnson sold his soul there. The price was virtuosity.

Yogi Berra’s advice was this: “when you come to a fork in the road, take it."

As metaphors go, crossroads are right up there with rivers and doorways. They seem to conjure a symmetry or polarity we can wrap our heads around. Perhaps an intrigue in positioning ourselves at the intersection of convergence and divergence, or dilemma and opportunity. But intersections have always held fascination for me more for what happens around them. I don’t deliberate my direction so much as wonder what are the stories here?

If there is an intersection in Arcata, California that holds sway for me it is the intersection of Tenth & H. Just one block north of the town plaza. Why? The obvious answer is that here I can find funky books, independent films, a burrito with authentic mole sauce, and a character who runs a cluttered shop with a clear sense of humor. That’s the veneer of the TinCan Mailman Used Bookstore, The Minor Theater, La Chiquita Taco Truck, and The Koop. But veneer is what I wanted to scrape away when I went looking for stories at this crossroads.

Jenny Graham

The history of adapting Damon Runyon’s story collection, Guys and Dolls, for the stage is as full of twists and turns as the musical itself. Example: the producers went through two writers before landing on their third choice, Abe Burrows. His predecessors had each been deemed not funny enough, but Burrows was warned not to be too funny by librettist Frank Loesser, who had already written most of the show’s songs. Though confident of the comic punch of his lyrics, was Loesser feeling protective of the tenderness that infuses so many of them?

I’ve been writing about technology for just over a decade now. I’ve worked in the field of information technology for twice as long as that now and, most recently, had the distinguished title of “Director of Technology” bestowed upon me by my current employer. What I find most fascinating (and perhaps a bit disturbing) about this is that I still don’t know exactly what “technology” is. 

New Partners

May 1, 2015

During the coming months, JPR will be collaborating with the Seattle-based non-profit journalism organization InvestigateWest to produce a series of stories that explore different aspects of Oregon’s timber economy with a focus on how they play out in Southern Oregon. 

Geoffrey Riley

Let me introduce you to an old friend, the MD. And in this case, MD does NOT stand for Medical Doctor, but MiniDisc, a device for quick recording of audio tracks. Once upon a time, MDs were the new best friends of radio news departments. Now, the few of us who still use them can’t wait to see them go. And it won’t be long.

Another school year whizzed by. Children are thrilled with thoughts of endless summer and their counterparts in education, teachers, are cleaning up their rooms so they won’t return to a disaster in the short months until school resumes in the fall. For new teachers time still runs relatively slowly, but the older-timers know time speeds up as you age. It’s a fact.  

The Medford Police Department

Lieutenant Kevin Walruff, 49, is a big, clean-shaven man wearing a light blue button-down and a Santa Claus and reindeer tie. I follow him down a hallway and into a conference room in the nondescript building of florescent lighting and concrete blocks that currently houses the Medford Police Department. I notice that he has handcuffs clipped to his pants and .40-caliber Glock holstered at his waist.

NBC News

We live in an age that worships celebrity; a time where personalities such as Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton can be “famous for being famous.” So-called “reality” TV shows blur the line between the scripted and the genuine, and as a society we seem increasingly comfortable with a very elastic definition of “real.”  

Prisons And Prisoners

Apr 1, 2015

The English Department at Rogue Community College recently changed the curriculum for the writing course I have taught for years. I could have said, “Good time to retire,” and avoided the work of developing a new course, but I was intrigued and challenged by the new curriculum, which requires all students in the class to write about the same issue.

Everlasting Blues

Apr 1, 2015

While the mainstream culture of America explores new trends in various genres of music, following the evolution of hip-hop, pop and the folk/singer-songwriter styles, blues-related music chugs along with modest markets and a narrow niche. Here are some of the best blues recordings I’ve heard lately.

I Say What I Mean by Jim Liban & The Joel Paterson Trio, Ventrella Records – Jim Liban has played blues harmonica for almost 50 years, based in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. He came to San Francisco in the late 60’s, where I saw him in a band called A.B.Skhy. 

Here are some things that I learned on the Internet recently:


Jenny Graham

Shakespeare’s Pericles bears the stamp of its source, a series of medieval romances by the poet John Gower. Like the typical romance, Pericles dismisses realism in favor of the magic of legend as it follows a youthful prince embarking on a journey to maturity.  In the process of discovering his own identity, he will save the world from a destructive force threatening its vitality and be rewarded with a fertile marriage.   

John W. Poole/NPR

Harkening back to the golden age of radio when radio was the dominant home entertainment medium and families gathered around elegant living room radio consoles to experience the latest episodes of Dick Tracy, The Lone Ranger or The Shadow, dramatic audio storytelling is making a comeback.  While the nostalgic days of radio are long gone, podcasts are breathing new life into the tradition of telling stories without pictures. 

Consider this:

·         Last year, Apple reported that subscriptions of podcasts through iTunes reached 1 billion.

Rituals originally evolved in order to manage the unmanageable fact of somatic change: birth, maturation, procreation, death.  Contemporary culture and technology have loosened the inevitability of these life-cycle milestones: children can be planned or altogether avoided; adulthood—marriage, gainful work—can be postponed seemingly indefinitely; sexual initiation has broken from its containment by traditional ritual altogether and happens wherever, whenever.  Even death, though it remains inescapable, has been disrupted in its timing thanks to medical advances.  This last is good news.  The

From Willy Wonka To Willie Watson

Mar 1, 2015

Each year brings new opportunities for live music. If my January is any indication, 2015 is going to be an interesting and diverse year.