Friday, February 29, 2008

When I first started as an official columnist, McNeil congratulated me and then shared the following parable:

An editor and a reporter were out on assignment, walking in the parching desert for a long spell, until they became a bit bewildered. After a few hours they found themselves without water and on the edge of delirium.

Finally, they hiked up a small bluff, where there were some aspen and discovered a small pond coming from a spring. As the reporter was about to sate his thirst, the editor demanded, “Wait a minute!” And started peeing in the pristine water. The thirsty reporter queried, “What the heck are you doing? To which the editor replied, “I’m making it better!”

I told McNeil that I didn’t understand. And he replied, “You will, after it happens to you.”

He was right.

Eyes Wide Shut - Part 4

Regarding copyrights, T.M. suggested that I could get around this, by rewriting some of the stories, which I already have done, to a small degree. Actually, most of the stories, which I handed in, had hyperlinks to other stories, which my colleagues never could seem to include in our final product, even when I went straight down the line at our small newspaper, asking each person who handled the Internet content how this could best be applied. Once I handed in a story about this very subject, called Positively Googled Idaho. When the online version came out without the promised hyperlinks, I felt as though it had diminished the potential meaning of the story about tenfold.

When I switched over to the competing newspaper and talked with the editor about this for over an hour, they still did not seem to be able to handle it. For example, here is close to what I handed in for my second WR Journal Column and here is how it came out.

Linda Garver finally catches up with me

Linda Garver finally catches up with me.

I remember February 29, 1972, back when I was in sixth grade with Linda Garver and we celebrated her third birthday, although she was actually twelve. Today she does turn twelve, although she actually is becoming 48 in celestial years. Linda was the cream of the crop back then and all through high school. Always a straight A student and overflowing with a unique down-to-earth beauty both inside and out, to match her high intelligence. She used to live on Lavery Court, next door to Mike and David Hewitt. Smith and I would walk by her house on the way to school back then. I wonder whatever became of her. I can only imagine that she is out there making her mark on the world somehow, by doing something extremely good.

Happy Birthday Linda, wherever you are!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Huck Finn's Quicksilver Messenger Service

Huck Finn’s Quicksilver Messenger Service
Sending bread to find drowned bodies occurs in Tom Sawyer and in Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. When Huck, escaped from his father after the latter has kidnapped him from Widow Douglas, runs away to Jackson's Island leaving signs of a foul murder, the townsfolk first fire cannon over the Mississippi River to try to raise his supposed corpse by detonation; then, hiding on the island, Huck sees them throw loaves of bread into the current. As the loaves float down to him, Huck fishes them in, takes out the plugs, shakes dabs of quicksilver out of the insides and eats them. "It was 'baker's bread'—what the quality eat; none of your low-down corn-pone." Tom and Joe join Huck and together they speculate on how Bill Turner, drowned the summer before, was found by loaded loaves. Tom says it’s not so much the bread that found the body, or the quicksilver either, but some incantations that were said over them.
Fire Department
Know How To Fireproof Your Data Center

Fire Suppression OptionsF

Fire Suppression Options

Here’s a quick rundown of how the major clean-agent fire suppression

solutions on the market stack up.

Halon 1301

• Classic, but controversial

• Difficult to find parts and gas

• May be dangerous to humans


• Popular choice

• Safe for occupied areas

• Geared toward new buildings


• Individualized installation plans

• Comes with portable fire extinguishers


• Low cost

• Aerosol rather than gas

• No pipe work needed

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I discovered another situation, where the girls next door need to change their name.

This time its Shelly’s Deli and I’ve come up with a list of suggestions for Diana, the new owner:

Diana’s Delights

Diana’s Delish Deli

Diana’s Delish

Diana’s Diner & Devil Dawg Desserts

Woodside‘s Sustenance

Woodside Industrial Nourishment

Woodside Nourishing Establishment

Hailey’s Kitchen

Diana’s Diamond in the Rough Deli

Woodside Dishes of Enchantment

Diana’s Enchanted Dishes

The Delish Luscious Deli

Dessert First Deli

First Dessert Deli

Woodside Deli & Treats

Woodside Eats

Woodside Eats & Treats

Diana’s Eats & Treats

Diana’s Eats, Treats & Sweets

Diana’s Delicious-mints & Kitchen

Diana’s Woodside Deli & Carry-out

Woodside Industrial Sustenance

Power Luncheoneers

Woodside Sustenance Spot

Harmonic Convergence Deli

Woodside Harmonic Convergence

Harmonic Convergence & Carry-out

Convenient Convergence & Carry-out

Chicken in the Rough

When I handed in this list, the girls seemed pleased with the prompt. At least it may inspire them to conjure up the most functional name. While there I mentioned that I had forgot about the whole Smoothies aspect, so in unison we all chimed in with “Hotties & Smoothies.”

The Birds are Open

Last night I called D. to tell her about my Red Wing blackbird sounding and about the 400 Bohemian waxwing’s rhapsody, breathed down upon me from the swirling heavens, right in front of Ciro’s Restaurant.

D too, had seen the birds open for business yesterday – some geese in an Oceanside marsh, where some cows gave each other the high sign, and then chased after the geese.

Very Farsidian

D wants to write a follow up book to Colm Kelleher’s Brain Trust -The hidden connection between Mad Cow and misdiagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. This incident, along with another when she got out of her car to take some photos of those captive cows above Shoshone–I think you know where I mean – Before being chased off by a shotgun-wielding rancher, could be contained in a chapter, giving readers more reasons to consider for ceasing to chomp on captive cows – that is that the cows do have individual personalities, even a sense of humor, once you get to know them.

And if we all didn’t have a slight touch of the Mad Human Disease, we would see this better – at least that’s what a little bird told me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The birds are open / historical signs of spring

I heard a red-winged blackbird calling this morning, right before I headed into Shelly’s Deli. I’ve heard those spring-like prompts, in previous mid-Februarys and marked those refreshing dates down on old calendars. This got me interesting in thinking about other historical markers of spring, such as which day did the bike path first open and when did the excavator initially clear rockslides off Trail Creek road with his huge skip-grader.

In fact, Steve and I pursued this one soaring spring, actually contacting both the Recreation District and Idaho Transportation Department to see, if in fact, they kept pertinent opening day records. Both of their offices seemed to think that there was indeed some documentation; even it was only an informal log-chart scribbled into the excavator’s notebook; however, we were never able to track down this precise measurement of spring.

It would be interesting to hold those elusive opening day charts up on the wall together to compare their various parameters.

Late this afternoon, as I was clearing out the truck by the tall pines fronting Ciro’s restaurant, about 400 bohemian waxwings began orchestrating a magnificent performance of flight and song. They swooped and swallowed back & forth in the slight wind, mostly in unison, but complete with some energetic contrary birds. Another person arrived at the recycle receptacle and we watched in unity, several swirling swoops of the bohemian rhapsody. Soon this stuck us as newsworthy enough to call our town’s leading photojournalist Col. Kinderhook.

Even though it was deadline evening, the prestigious Colonel picked up immediately, in time for me to pass on another fleeting bird news tip. He asked if they were gaining high sustenance from fermented berries or apples again and I replied that they seemed to be taking in pine nut

The Colonel remarked about how some restless natives, have been giving him a hard time about cherry-picking bird photos from his own backyard feeder. I remarked that his photos are excellent and he should tell the naysayers that he has animal magnetism and that his totem is tweets.

And for the record, I would like to see him tag every first remarkable spring-bird with a date in his digital camera log.

You can’t pray a lie

From Mark Twain’s classic American adventure Huck Finn

Say, gimme a chaw tobacker, won't ye?"

I didn't have none, so he left. I went to the raft, and set down in the wigwam to think. But I couldn't come to nothing. I thought till I wore my head sore, but I couldn't see no way out of the trouble. After all this long journey, and after all we'd done for them scoundrels, here it was all come to nothing, everything all busted up and ruined, because they could have the heart to serve Jim such a trick as that, and make him


a slave again all his life, and amongst strangers, too, for forty dirty dollars.

Once I said to myself it would be a thousand times better for Jim to be a slave at home where his family was, as long as he'd got to be a slave, and so I'd better write a letter to Tom Sawyer and tell him to tell Miss Watson where he was. But I soon give up that notion for two things: she'd be mad and disgusted at his rascality and ungratefulness for leaving her, and so she'd sell him straight down the river again; and if she didn't, everybody naturally despises an ungrateful helper, and they'd make Jim feel it all the time, and so he'd feel ornery and disgraced. And then think of me! It would get all around that Huck Finn helped a helper to get his freedom; and if I was ever to see anybody from that town again I'd be ready to get down and lick his boots for shame. That's just the way: a person does a low-down thing, and then he don't want to take no consequences of it. Thinks as long as he can hide, it ain't no disgrace. That was my fix exactly. The more I studied about this the more my conscience went to grinding me, and the more wicked and low-down and ornery I got to feeling. And at last, when it hit me all of a sudden that here was the plain hand of Providence slapping me in the face and letting me know my wickedness was being watched all the time from up there in heaven,whilst I was stealing a poor old woman's helper that hadn't ever done me no harm, and now was showing me there's One that's always on the lookout, and ain't a-going to allow no such miserable doings to go only just so fur and no further, I most dropped in my tracks I was so scared. Well, I tried the best I


could to kinder soften it up somehow for myself by saying I was brung up wicked, and so I warn't so much to blame; but something inside of me kept saying, "There was the Sunday-school, you could a gone to it; and if you'd a done it they'd a learnt you there that people that acts as I'd been acting about that helper goes to everlasting fire."

It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn't try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn't come. Why wouldn't they? It warn't no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from me, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn't come. It was because my heart warn't right; it was because I warn't square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth say I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that helper's owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can't pray a lie -- I found that out.

So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn't know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I'll go and write the letter -- and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:

Miss Watson, your runaway helper Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.



I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking -- thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, 'stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he's got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.

It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

"All right, then, I'll go to hell" -- and tore it up.

It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never


thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head, and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn't. And for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Headed for the rapids on a raft of funny papers

It was refreshing to hear that the Times-News publisher James Wright enjoyed my recent feedback concerning funny papers. It was also surprising to see my name mentioned in paragraph nine of the Sunday paper editor's column:

"Many people sent lists of their likes and dislikes, but only Jim Banholzer of Hailey attached a photo of himself as a child wearing a Batman costume.

I have no idea why."

(Click on photo)

Funny thing too, on New Years Eve, I made a brief comment on, thanking them for their innovative forums and wrapped up the year saying, "I hope to see you in the funny papers, again next year."

What's even more amazing, is that when I called Mom about this continuing Batman saga, She said that Dad's uncle, Jason Routrough, visited us the week of this photo and even how the lasagna turned out for dinner that evening!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Huck Finn & the counterfeiting spud rub

Huck Finn utilizes an Idaho potato for counterfeiting

I’m beginning my eleventh read of Huck Finn, much like I vowed to myself, back in ‘78 at Flint Hill –that I would read it every few years for the rest of my life.

Perhaps, I should include that on future resumes; I have not completed college, but I have read Huck Finn eleven times. Here is today’s feature from Chapter IV:

"Miss Watson's helper, Jim, had a hair-ball as big as your fist, which had
been took out of the fourth stomach of an ox, and he used to do magic
with it. He said there was a spirit inside of it, and it knowed
So I went to him that night and told him pap was here again,
for I found his tracks in the snow. What I wanted to know was, what he
was going to do, and was he going to stay? Jim got out his hair-ball and
said something over it, and then he held it up and dropped it on the
floor. It fell pretty solid, and only rolled about an inch. Jim tried
it again, and then another time, and it acted just the same. Jim got
down on his knees, and put his ear against it and listened. But it
warn't no use; he said it wouldn't talk.

He said sometimes it wouldn't
talk without money
. I told him I had an old slick counterfeit quarter
that warn't no good because the brass showed through the silver a little,
and it wouldn't pass nohow, even if the brass didn't show, because it was
so slick it felt greasy, and so that would tell on it every time. (I
reckoned I wouldn't say nothing about the dollar I got from the judge.) I
said it was pretty bad money, but maybe the hair-ball would take it,
because maybe it wouldn't know the difference. Jim smelt it and bit it
and rubbed it, and said he would manage so the hair-ball would think it
was good. He said he would split open a raw Idaho potato and stick the
quarter in between and keep it there all night, and next morning you
couldn't see no brass, and it wouldn't feel greasy no more, and so
anybody in town would take it in a minute, let alone a hair-ball. Well,
I knowed a Idaho Potato would do that before, but I had forgot it."

Soonafter reading this I drove down Broadford Rd. to Valley Market to purchase an Idaho potato. During the purchase, I mentioned this passage to the clerk. She mentioned that she, too, had heard this about Idaho Potatoes, but had also ‘disremembered’ it!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Darth Cheney

On Halloween, when the Cheney’s dressed up one of their dogs in a Darth Vader costume, USA Today ran a story about it, entitled; Cheney: ‘Being Darth Vader’ not so bad.

On that article’s discussion board, I commented,” An anagram for ‘Darth Vader’ is "Add Hart Rev", which most appropriately fits Cheney's condition, since he does not have a human heart or seldom pretends to.

Immediately after my comment, someone responded, “Jbanholzer: The dark side I sense in you.”

Meanwhile, there's this: Cheney spotted shopping ammo aisle in Arkansas.

Birdwatchers on Terroriods – follow up

I was surprised that nobody has yet responded to this letter, considering its heavy rhetoric. I thought it held potential for an elaborate discussion and was ratcheted up for a good defense.

To kick-start the dialogue, I capitulate that Mr. Cheney actually does hold some human decency, when the affection and respect he often displays towards his own family is considered. Yet, sometimes political posturing is evident, even within his family photos.

Consider the recent photo op with his new grandson, which excluded the parents of the child, one of whom is his daughter Mary -the most prominent lesbian in our country.

An earlier version of this commentary appeared in the Mt. Express. This was Soonafter Ken the editor and author of an all-encompassing bird book, facetiously remarked about how what a real man Dick Cheney is for effortlessly canning 70 pen-reared pheasants.

Even that story had holes in it, as none of soup kitchens or hunger relief charities, to where the birds were supposedly donated could be tracked down.

Moreover, this was before Richard Cheney shot holes in his friend’s face on another simple bird hunt, rife with holes in the story.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rose and Jane with Kelly

Rose run off

Immediately after posting the earlier story, where I briefly referred to lunar eclipses, I noticed that one of the dogs I was watching had disappeared. Kelly is usually the one that jumps the fence, but she was right here at my feet. The head-scratcher was that I was almost certain Rose was still in the house, but after searching high and low –even in closets and cupboards, it was proven she was gone.

I had heard before about animals revealing mysterious behaviors during eclipses, but this was the first time I had actually seen this stirred. I ran down the quiet road, calling for Rose (at least she had a cool name, not something like ‘Einstein’ or ‘Dilbert’) I even went to look into her locked house, in the event she somehow found her way out of the cold, back home. However, she was nowhere around. The rose-colored moon was revolving towards its inevitable return, but Rose had not rolled home yet.

Finally, she showed up at the door in one of those states of overexcitement, where she can hardly contain herself in her body. What a sweetheart she is.

And today looks to be another sunny day.

Update: Perhaps last night, Rose was having some unnerving predilection towards this.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mary Anne's historical Love Shack destroyed by overzealous Ginger fans

"REDINGTON SHORES – A chunk of Gilligan’s Island disappeared with the recent demolition of the house that stood at 18208 Sunset Blvd.

The home had been owned by actress Dawn Wells, who played Gilligan’s pal Mary Ann on the long-running ’60s TV series.

Wells sold the property in January to Devonshire Properties.

A new duplex townhouse, one of many in the area, will soon be constructed on the site. The Town Commission approved that use at its Feb. 13 meeting.

Wells’ connection with the property was not mentioned when the topic was discussed at the meeting. A citizen that asked who had previously owned the home was told “that’s irrelevant.”"

Colorful Black & White dreaming

Last summer I took a psychology class for the first time since the 1970’s. I remember reading from a textbook in the class three decades ago, a statement that claimed 95 percent of Americans dream in black and white.

The textbook from my recent psyche class claimed exactly the opposite -that 95 percent of Americans dream in living color! What was there to explain for this shift? Could there be a correspondence between the tones of Americans dreams and the types of TV’s they own?

Is television high definition hypnotism, so powerful that it influences dream colors?

(From what I remember, the earlier study was made in the 50's or 60's -an era when 90 percent of TV shows in America were still watched through black and white sets.)

Footnote: This post was written under the influence of a total eclipse of the moon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kevin Leitch’s look into Doubleday’s claims certainly put this into a new perspective. Thank you for providing it, Liz.

It certainly is difficult to dissect these studies, when so many are not truly independently based, while making totally opposite claims.

Related to Milt Adam’s question about mercury amalgam tooth fillings, I experienced a personal anecdote: A couple winters back, I went to lunch with a woman who is an established nutritionist. She’s written fifteen books and treated many in this valley, probably helping immensely to heal dozens of SV Online readers, or at least giving their lives a small touch of improvement.

When our lunch-server, poured some water, we notice how brilliantly red her hands had become. The server said that this transformation had occurred only in the last few days, so my nourishing friend, asked her a brief series of questions. They stopped when the question came up about fillings, because the woman said, that she had two extracted, three days before and this radioactive-like reddening of her extremities had occurred immediately thereafter.

My nutritious friend told me that she had witnessed dozens of cases much like this in her tens years of examining clients for her practice. From her experience, she truly believes that when mercury fillings are removed, a certain health danger is exposed.

Bush-appointed judge orders domain off-line

This bolsters the argument for the need to spread out control of the Internet to
more responsible places.

In order to deal with Chinese censorship, Wikileaks has many backup sites such as (Belgium) and (Germany) which remain active. Wikileaks never expected to be using the alternative servers to deal with censorship attacks, from, of all places, the United States.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Something that is not being much mentioned about Flintstonian cell phone philosophies is that those who think differently / progressively are often still shunned in some small Idaho communities. When the miracle of cell service first came to Stanley, the word was to keep its availability mum. If a tourist asked, tell em it was not there, became the accepted wisdom. You can bet though that when two of those Canadian wolves came starkly chomping on a revered town elk that same Stanley summer, cell phones quickly replaced church bells as the emergency communiqué.
The first late autumn, after a small cell antenna was installed at Redfish Lake, a man and his son were helicopter-rescued from Thompson Peak, subsequent to its icing up during their adventure. The fact that they were saved; largely due to lifesaving cell phone technology was totally downplayed.

Opening a Beer Bottle with a Chain Saw

Response to Amos Mose's post:
" The taxes from a nuclear power plant would go a long way toward fixing infrastructure needs like this. "

" The meltdown from a nuclear power plant disaster would be a heavy toll to pay and go a long way toward permanently ruining Idaho’s delicate infrastructure. "

Eyes Wide Shut - part 3

In another Department Head meeting, the important consideration of power outages was brought up.

I suggested that if the lights went out that the production manager should call me, so I could quickly obtain a generator, so our computers would remain functional and we would still be able to submit the paper electronically to the faraway press. Before I could finish speaking this idea was shot down, “because everyone else and their neighbor would be running off to Lutz Rental before we possibly get there.”

As the non-harmonic convergence once again roared down its hard rain, I cut back in replying that the person who had freely offered this generator, already worked here and his customized generator was especially designed for use with various computers and electronic equipment.

Astronomical Alerts
After writing my fourth official column, “Aurora Lights Paper Route While Town Sleeps,” I made the suggestion in our department head meeting that we consider offering an optional service to go along with our struggling home-delivery service. For 5 bucks a year, interested stargazing aficionados could be on our call-no-matter-what-list in the event the heavens are displaying a spectacular Aurora Borealis. My hope was that this story could have been picked up on the National level, like the AP wire, giving our poor paper a little wider publicity.
One of our most dedicated delivery drivers, Mr. S and I discussed this at length. He kindly and enthusiastically offered to be the one to make such calls from his ninety-mile route. This is not such a far-fetched idea as many motels in Alaska offer a similiar service and now for a nominal fee, offers astronomical awakening calls for auroras and even meteor showers.
Although Mr. S. or the paper never profited from these phantasmal calls, he did ring me once around 4 a.M. about visionary gazing in the heavens where he now resides.

Ill-Functioning Newspaper receptacles

The highlight of a trip I took back east several years ago was a visit to Rosslyn, Virginia’s old Newseum. Still reeling from the trip, when I returned to my job, as the circulation manager for a small Idaho weekly, I tried to convince our publisher that it would behoove us to install a newspaper stand at the adjacent subway entrance. I even had a friend who would volunteer to ride his bike down to fill the newsstand every week. It would have been a great publicity stunt for our paper, the only Idaho paper across the street from that towering monument to newspapers, even if we could experimented with this idea for only a year, the payoff might have been remarkable. Ultimately though something innovative like this –like so many other things were pooh-poohed and not deemed fit for our conservative budget.

Follow up letter to The Idaho Library Association

A few weeks ago, I sent in a suggestion proposing fund raisers to improve antiquated fire-suppression systems in Idaho Library storage areas. I wondered if you had by now time to consider the suggestion. I believe that avid readers in many Idaho Communities –both large and small- would support meaningful fund raisers aimed to better protect their precious irreplaceable memories and I would certainly appreciate any insights or feedback you have to go along with such a suggestion.

During a game of H-O-R-S-E, in mid-dribble of a lay-up, I once pulled out an address book from my back pocket, quickly called up an old girlfriend to make a date and whispered a sweet nothing into her ear over the cell phone, before booming it straight in.

I must admit however, that a steamroller had recently applied a new covering of asphalt to the court the previous week, so when we measured the rim, it was only 9’ 11”.

Meaningful fund raiser suggestion for the Newseum

One of the first fund raisers the Newseum ought to consider holding, upon opening at their innovative location, is for upgrading some antiquated fire-suppression systems, which scarcely protect the ancient archives in many community newspaper basements and cubbyholes.

Nowadays, there is a full array of cutting-edge systems, which when activated, do not damage books or data systems, while promptly extinguishing fires. However, in today’s world, many newspapers have restricted budgets, which prevents timely archiving. Although many community libraries scan and mirror current papers, many of the older unduplicated issues, still rest unprotected upon creaky shelves in moldy basements. Too many newspapers still hold their communities’ irreplaceable institution memories in tenuous storage areas like these.

These priceless historical memories deserve the best preservation and protection methods available. If the Newseum’s board of directors deems this suggestion feasible, perhaps they could form a subcommittee to determine criteria for qualified newspapers. Through meaningful fundraisers like this, each year another handful of newspapers could gain better protection in high hopes of avoiding fates such as that of the Ancient Alexandria, Egypt library, where our priceless records of antiquity, succumbed to an unfortunate fire.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

A great take on horse slaughter - sent in by an equestrian friend

Hope you find this informative, even if it doesn't end up being relevant for your writing. -M.

"Thought this was an interesting perspective...maybe you could post it next to the horse slaughter petition....good way to stir the pot a little.....or better yet....good topic for the newsletter...maybe a great way to get rid of unwanted customers.

On my forum, this was posted by Juli Thorson, writer for Horse and Rider adn some other great magazines. This was a great, eloquantly writtenpost that I think will be a great source for many concerning the ripple effect of banning horse slaughter in the US.

The other day, it occurred to me that if Congress manages to block all routes to slaughter for horses intended as food, the U.S. horse economy would become the first in history to operate without food-salvage value as its floor. Basically, this also would make horses the only form of livestock WITHOUT per-pound salvage value, having the effect of turning horses from assets into liabilities. In turn, this would alter the horse economy's infrastructure so profoundly as to force a new one into being, to replace the one society now finds repugnant.
So, for what it's worth, here are some of the things I can see coming as a result:
* An annual tax per head on every horse we own. This is how the government will seek to fund the equine holding facilities, 're-homing' operations, and disposal stations it will see a need to build as the unwanted-horse crisis continues to build. The Seattle Post Intelligencer just ran an editorial calling for this very sort of tax:
* Mandatory microchipping of every horse. These ID chips will be used for multiple purposes, including ability to track down and fine/prosecute any owner who abandons a horse. As the rate of abandonment accelerates, this will come to pass sooner rather than later.
* Mandatory facilities registration, accompanied by inspections. Horse owners will pay fees toward these measures, too. This already has a name: NAIS, for National Animal Identification System. The general public will buy into this as a way to protect itself against a form of bioterrorism, among other justifications:
* Mandatory application for and payment of a 'transport voucher,' any time you wish to move a horse to or from your property. This will be used as a way of funding reinforcement of a federal ban against transporting a horse for the purpose of slaughter, once that's been made illegal.
* Federally built, regulated, and funded equine euthanasia/disposal stations (see my first point). Whether people care to acknowledge this or not, every horse eventually ends up as a half-ton carcass that needs to be disposed of somehow. If not turned into usable meat/hoof/hide byproducts, it comes garbage--buried or composted on private property, rendered, dumped in a landfill, or dragged off for wild animals to feast on. I just read a statistic, published in the New York Times, stating that 138,000 fewer horses were processed in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico in 2007 compared to 2006:
If all 138,000 head were 'humanely put down' instead, that'd add up to around 75,000 TONS of horse carcasses to be dealt with in some manner. A year. With somewhere around 100K of those in the U.S. How long do you suppose our 'not in MY neighborhood!' society will put up with that before getting the government involved? Especially when you consider that the carcass of a horse killed with barbituates is increasingly considered to be a threat to the environment?
* As an answer to the toxic-carcass problem, a new service provider will appear: The person willing and able to euthanize your horse by gunshot. In my area, such a service is already available, if you know the numbers to call. However, those who provide the service will be forced underground, once those in the general public get wind of it. 'My God--people are allowed to SHOOT horses?! This must be stopped!'
* Federal taxation on every breeding. I don't think I need to explain this one. Just see all the above.
* A resulting horse economy--for good or for bad--that will be unrecognizable to us within 10 years.
On my forum, this was posted by Juli Thorson, writer for Horse and Rider adn some other great magazines. This was a great, eloquantly writtenpost that I think will be a great source for many concerning the ripple effect of banning horse slaughter in the US. "
Update: Now there is a petition out to bring back the slaughterhouses>

Friday, February 15, 2008

Weary of juggling pianos

Original Commentary URL @:

In the spring quagmire of '97 I was mucking mud off cars in what I hoped was a temporary job during slack. Suddenly, I saw three pretty girls with hands on hips staring at an unmoving sofa on the ground. I asked if they needed help. Little did I know at the time that this would lead into opportunities to see professionally decorated interiors of hundreds of grand homes throughout this valley—via hauling in heavy furniture.

When men move amoires up staircases, it's helpful to take precautions. Peppy wants to help but needs to stay in his kennel. Tying pads around sharp corners of heavy objects aids for "bumps" but takes away gripping ability. Removing and labeling shelves and drawers is beneficial as is tying the doors shut on the furniture. More important is foreknowledge of the moves your coworker is apt to make—just like he's your sports teammate preparing for an assist. If you're lifting 300 pounds up a narrow staircase, it's best to work with your shoes on. Just bring a couple of towels for the landing areas where you might drag in dirt or snow.

One fellow worker went out of his way several times to help me on short notice. A few weeks later he had a gig for a store that believed in selling even heavier furniture. Naturally I felt obligated to help him in return. One weekend we ended up moving stuff in and out of the same house for three different companies. The lady there must have thought that all of us furniture guys looked alike.

Eventually I developed enough knack at it to become a senior mover. Sometimes we amazed ourselves with methods of squeezing sleeper sofas sideways through doorways while glum bystanders commented "You'll never make it." One of the tightest spots witnessed was when a young lady came back from a client's house in tears as she had stuck a wicker chair in a doorway and was not able to budge it in or out. We somehow slipped it out without marring the entrance too badly.

Not long ago my grandmother told me about how grandfather's back went out at the age I am now--almost ruining the family. Pop Pop had been working as a butcher--lifting heavy carcasses across hard floors for the old A&P food stores. He was, however, able to reinvent himself as a traveling meat inspector. I mulled this over and realized that eventually one of these lead gun safes or 9-foot slate and mahogany behemoth statues was going to befall me bad.

Then an acquaintance mentioned that he was busy with plenty of moving work at a higher rate. We conversed briefly about the dodgy areas movers and shakers get into--never knowing for sure how many windows frames and doors you'll have to pop off until you arrive at the scene. Sometimes complete with icy walkways and three flights of slippy stairs.

My brother had been a guard for President Reagan vowing to take a bullet for him if necessary. I was no longer willing to carry on a tinier version of this family tradition—by using my wrist as a cushion to protect some small potato barristers' banister from scratches. After I said this, the man trying to recruit me fessed up and revealed a bad bruise he had taken that very morning. He figured at the moment he was slipping that his body could heal easier than dealing with the headache of repairing a wall.

I had been teetering in my decision like a piece of unbalanced furniture. Now, this wax sealed it. It was time to do something about reinventing my own self. A lot of pride had come along with being a "can do" guy, able to contort my body around furniture and haul it through labyrinths of hallways into seemingly impossible set-ups. But that last piano hoisted up steps played a moving swan song of David Bowies "Ch-Ch-Changes".

Therefore, I'm quite grateful to have been given this opportunity to reinvent myself. If you can grin and bear it, I'll distill and ferment stories gathered from dozens of the backbone of America type jobs I've worked. From jackhammer blues to delivering the news, into tales with toboggans as vehicles sometimes with interesting rapscallions aboard calling themselves Dukes or Dauphins.

Any alchemist worth his weight in snow spun gold can tell you a proper recipe to make these new granolas puff is; one part humor, one part truth stranger than fiction and one part meaningfulness with a suggestion for action. Though some of what I write requires as much analyzing as a Simpson episode, I'll do my best in mixing up the concoctions so that they will settle in with you in a good way.

Are you a Hamp Mam or a Deliverer?

Are you a Hamp man or a deliverer?

This morning K. from the Resurgance store called for delivery of some consignment furniture up to Sun Valley’s Villager condos. Her friend and I loaded the unique sofa, and then traveled in ‘Greenvanholzer’ up the sunny trail. 

We scoped out the situation and decided in short measure to take the large love seat out from their cozy living room to the garage -to give us more working space elbowroom. We spun it on end, then hedgeways before extracting it with minor difficulty from the tiny doorway.

As we walked along with the couch down the icy trail, I felt like I was training for basketball like Kirkland with ankle weights. Naturally, we brought up the subject of hiking, with the man orchestrating our delivery and soon we learned that his son had recently completed hiking the full length of the Appalachian Trail!

Without further adieu, we dropped the love seat into his garage and headed back to the house with the new sofa extracted safely from Greenvanholzer. After hiking to the doorway entrance again, we soon realized that this sofa was too cumbersome to fit through the tiny entry, with its tight turn way. As we brought the sofa through an adjacent window, we were introduced to the young man who was fresh from the Appalachian track. 

I was only a little slow to shake his hand, and then warmed up by asking about two dozen questions, though there were easily fifty more. For some undetermined reason, my new furniture moving colleague
didn’t seem especially interested in this Topnotch hiking story. 

I mentioned the Bill Bryson book, A Walk in the Woods, along with several reminisces regarding the pre-Geocache age and Georgia taxi drivers who picked up folks who had intended on hiking the full trial, only to change their mind on the first afternoon out, deciding that this was not the type of thing for them. 

Eventually I turned to my moving partner and saw that his was not nearly as enthusiastic about the synchronistic story as I was. When we returned to Greenvanholzer, I was told that there was some type of angry incident, which transpired between the young hiking man and my helper –who also works as a local cab driver. During our return toward the shop, I found myself going on about how what a great connected family those people were. Soon I felt that it was best not trying to rub this fact in, but rather to give this clear-cut information interpretation in a light unjaded enthusiastic manner, so to give my new man something healthy to think about and grow upon.

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