Saturday, March 29, 2008

Meat of a Whale problem

‘Research’ part of a vicious harpoon loop

Whales are an endangered species and our international community has passed many laws to protect them. However, in Japan, where there is a long tradition of eating whale meat, the huge whaling industry has utilized loopholes from these laws, so that they can kill whales to conduct ‘research.’ This research comes with a byproduct of tons of whale meat, which is conveniently sold as part of a vicious cycle to fund “more whale explorations.”

In late January, Japanese whaling ‘researchers’ utilized lunch programs there, as drops for their surplus whale meat. Some of this research was doused in savory sesame sauce, and conducted upon children at 254 Yokohama schools. This new research hopes to uncover and regain, as the chair for Japan’s International Whaling Committee, Yoshimasha Hayaski, unabashedly admits, “a market for whale eating.”

Although this vast whaling scheme attempts to induce schoolchildren to develop a taste for whale meat, the plan could backfire. Imagine if enough of our diminutive Japanese save-the-whale allies boldly decide to turn their noses up at the surplus meat, thereby lessening demand.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Curlying in Idaho

Idaho Historical Marker Program / Statewide Film Recognition proposal

Letter of concern sent to Dr. James Loewen:

I have some news from Idaho that I thought you would find interesting.

Last year, after reading your book, Lies across America, with historical signage on the brain, I came up with a suggestion for the Idaho Department of Transportation to recognize the filming of Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider with a sign north of Ketchum, near the Boulder Mountains.

The open-minded administrators of the Highway Dept. immediately liked the idea. In the past, I have had other good experiences with employees there, regarding suggestions and have usually been impressed by their progressive thinking, and engaging responses. This time, they even asked for my input, concerning the legend for the sign. So, I roughly drafted the following:

Pale Rider Legend

“In autumn of 1984 Clint Eastwood’s well crafted Western, Pale Rider was filmed in above quaking aspens, with these Boulder Mountains used a backdrop. With a theme as timeless as these mountains, a nameless preacher protects a poor prospecting town from a gang of ruffians sent by a greedy mining corporation, to intrude on their claim. Many local Idahoans starred as ‘extras’ in the stunning film, which was a predecessor to Clint’s 1992 Academy award-winning Unforgiven.”

The Highway Department works in conjunction with the Idaho Historical Society to approve deny or edit these sign legends. After submitting this, I didn’t hear anything back for a few months, until one day I received this:


Please let me know when you get this email so I can make sure it went through. I'm not sure the sign changes are exactly what you had in mind, but this is what the State Historical Society has come up with.

Hope this helps,



From: Steve Holland
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 2:52 PM
To: 'Suzi Neitzel'; Brett J Purvis; Mike Mcguire
Cc: Carl Horn; Larry Bolton; Bruce Christensen
Subject: FW: Two more signs


Ok we will put the two in the works.

Steve C. Holland

Transportation Staff Eng. Asst.

Office of Highway Operations and Safety

P.O. Box 7129

Boise, ID 83707-1129

208-334-8565 (Phone)
208-334-4440 (Fax)


From: Suzi Neitzel []
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 1:34 PM
To: Steve Holland
Subject: Two more signs


I revised the Wood River Mines sign to include a sentence about Pale Rider. I also had Ken Reid, our state archaeologist, revise the Prehistoric Man sign. We want to rename that one “Prehistoric Hunter.” Please see attached and let me know what you think.

We are still going to wait to revise the Bison Jump sign outside of Challis. They are going to be doing more archaeology up there and some interp at the site that we should be compatible with.



5:25 AM

Current & proposed signage said...


Wood River Mines



Rich strikes in 1879 led to a rush to the lead and silver mines of this valley Eventually, the famous Minnie Moore Mine alone produced a total of $8.4 million worth of ore.

Mining quickly brought a railroad and prosperity, and for a time this was the leading region of Idaho. Hailey had Idaho’s earliest phone service (1883) and three daily newspapers. A Ketchum smelter pioneered electric lighting in Idaho. But times changed: lodes ran out, mining declined, and now these hills attract more skiers than miners.

Sign #154



Rich strikes in 1879 led to a rush in the lead and silver mines of this valley. The famous Minnie Moore Mine alone produced a total of $8.4 million worth of ore.

Mining quickly brought a railroad and prosperity. A Ketchum smelter pioneered electric lighting. Hailey soon had Idaho’s earliest phone service and three daily newspapers. But lodes ran out and mining declined. Now these hills attract more skiers and actors than miners. In 1984, Clint Eastwood filmed his movie Pale Rider near here.

Bruce was right. This wasn’t quite what we had hoped for, but at least they did amend a mining sign to include reference to the movie. Besides the cost of installing and maintaining a new sign, I suspected that the reference to the ‘greedy mining corporation’ had something to do with their decision to decline a full new sign; particularly when considering the many things you pointed out about “licking the corporate hand that feeds you,” in your entry about the National Mining Hall of Fame and museum in Leadville, Colorado.

Meanwhile, I passed on the Pale Rider suggestion to Professor Tom Trusky, director of the Idaho Film Archive. He, too, liked the idea and expanded it with a “Statewide Movie Recognition Proposal.” Just this week, The Idaho Legislature passed a bill to create a fund to offer incentives to films and TV shows made in Idaho. Therefore, I thought the time ripe to asked Idaho leaders to revisit Tom’s proposal, submitted letters about it for publication in several local newspapers, and since then have received some interesting feedback:

Part of the feedback in the comments section of the above link, mentions an interest from an individual with powerful movie-industry connections. He said that he would like to see such a program for every state and would be willing to donate posters, etc. to the cause.

However, as keyed up as I am about this new highway prospect, I’ve also become suddenly concerned that if this seed idea for recognizing films in conjunction with state historical marker programs, does develop into a project of greater magnitude, perhaps we’ve opened a whole new can of worms. Because after all, once we start commemorating movies that distort history – as so many do - then perhaps we will be further distorting history.

I wondered what your thoughts are about this.

Thank you and best regards,


P.S. A few years ago, I passed on your entry about the massacre that never happened in Almo, Idaho to one of our local newspaper columnists. He often goes hiking and climbing down there in the City of Rocks and I expected him to have some reaction. However, he never gave much response. I can’t say if he is in shock, or just didn’t want to upset his City of Rocks store-keep friends.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Offbeat Idaho Conversations

I've been blogging more, over at The Idaho Conversation League lately. Received some good feedback so far on the Honor Idaho Film Sites post. Ellen from the Times-News called today to confirm a similiar letter and I answered the phone by saying, "Go ahead! Make my day!"

Maybe they'll run it for me on April Fools.

Also, seem to be getting some light, but steady traffic over at Idaho Offbeat News.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Interactive Snitch Phones

These surreptitious two-way cell phone devices are actually old news, but now even Fox is reporting it. I haven't pinpointed yet why this is, but perhaps too many of us believed this too incomprehensible to fathom at first - like many of the stories that appear to be mere farfetched conspiracy theories and then turn out to be the raw truth.

Parody: 3 Stooges

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Claude Dallas's Easter Jailbreak Coverup?

There is a great front-page story in today’s Idaho Statesman regarding suspicious circumstances that surrounded Claude Dallas’s Easter Sunday jailbreak. Turns out that he may have nonchalantly slipped out with the crowd of holiday visitors and then authorities covered it up by making it appear that he cut through the fences.

When I first moved to Idaho fifteen years ago, I mentioned to one of my new work colleagues that I hailed from Virginia. She immediately asked if I knew Claude Dallas. Shortly thereafter; my own brother, who is a game warden back east, and often is called in the middle of the night, to investigate gunshots being fired; also asked what I knew about the original Claude Dallas confrontation. The best account at the time that I could find was from a great Cort Conley book called Idaho Loners.

Rewards for Dumpster Diving Mountain Men

While Claude Dallas was captured in front of a Stop n Go, convicted Atlanta Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph was caught in a similar fashion by an alert rookie police officer, who saw him pilfering through a dumpster in Murphy, North Carolina.

There was a million dollar reward out for Rudolph at the time. Has anybody heard if the young deputy was fortunate enough to collect that money?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Frisbee party gone out of bounds

It’s too bad that a few bad apples had to spoil the whole basket for Magic Valley disc golf enthusiasts. It seems that with all of the abundant countryside farmland out there, that there would be more than a few options for other courses, where kids still in their single digits could share lighthearted smiles, alongside easygoing Idaho old-timers.

A few years back, a handful of disc-enthusiasts cobbled together a course in the mid Wood River Valley, adjacent to the rubbish transfer station. However, it wasn’t long before an agent of the BLM informed the players that they would need a permit to continue, so the course ended up being dismantled. It could be that a few bad apples here, also ruined a good thing, but I don’t know the full story. For a while, there was talk that a permit was being procured and that the BLM agent was being quite helpful with his advice, but then the efforts seemed to fade away. It would be interesting to hear from any readers out there, who were involved with this effort.

The relative inexpensiveness of installing and maintaining disc-golf courses makes a good argument for more local recreation districts and schools to embrace them; rather than the Disneyfied pay-to-play attitudes, which have now become so prevalent. Injuries rarely occur while playing and many courses are wheelchair friendly. The catching receptacle baskets are designed so that they can be easily moved out of the way, when multipurpose field needs arise. The baskets also lock down onto non-protruding metal bases to prevent theft and so that they can be shifted into different positions in the event of heavy usage - just as real golf holes are moved to help prevent wear and tear on the fragile greens.

Someday, I would like to see some snowshoe-disc-courses laid out around Southern Idaho. Maybe we could start with a prototype in the open area around Billy’s Bridge, just south of Prairie Creek. In fact, I find this idea so appealing, that I would compromise my earlier dignified Disneyfied stance and joyfully plunk down a small fee to avoid another Frisbee party gone out of bounds.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Good feedback recently on the Fort Boise blog, regarding Putrid Plutonium Propheteers:
Good news right under our noses
" I found some surprisingly good news the other day, by merely using the Times-News search engine. To share in this good news, readers can go to the top right of website and type in the word ‘Thanks.” For the last seven days, it reveals sixteen articles, mostly focusing on somebody’s gratitude. The advanced search option shows nearly a hundred points of positive light, since the beginning of our New Year. "

BigDog - BostonDynamics (2008)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Soaring Rooks Nests

Soaring Rooks Nests
You were drifting on a Kingston Fairieboat, while I was sinking beneath Orca’s Izland
You fashioned a hot-air balloon from your crimson deck chair and tenderly embroidered a blazing giraffe onto its side. 

My swelling craft held a monkey on its back.
The north winds shifted, to create a destiny for us to meet again, blowing us into an exceptional directional point, pinned out in the ocean, directly above two ships tranquilly passing through the fog-drenched night

You flew north, blasting like a crow and saw me, way before I spied you.

As we approached each other in the noctilucent clouds, you blew me a sugar kiss, which drifted in the wind over to my craft, between two purple mermaid tears hooked to a floating hummingbird tailfeather.

I tasted this as the sweetest kiss ever beheld amongst the heavens, while it healed my every illness through its pure intention. Miraculously, it spiraled, cleansing my soul, while the cerulean sea and sky, serenely dipped, becoming precious mirrors for each other. 

Meanwhile nature’s electricity spineted through our respective hot-air balloon raven nests, as one spiny shore kid imagn’d exactly this happening, when he saw the light.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Statewide Movie Signage Proposal

With the bill pending in our Legislature to fund film industry incentives within the state, Idaho leaders could further bolster this opportunity by asking that our Transportation Department, revisit Professor Tom Trusky’s innovative “Statewide Movie Signage Proposal.” Expanding our already successful Idaho Highway Historical Marker program to include tributes to films made in Idaho could be next logical step in this popular program’s evolution.

To quote Professor Trusky from last year, “The tourist / publicity value of such signage is apparent – and locals might appreciate such knowledge, too, if they are unaware of their cinematic heritage. As well, given the recent interest in bringing film production to the state, such signage would not only be public acknowledgement of Idaho’s considerable contribution to the film industry but also serve as a reminder to contemporary filmmakers of the Gem State possibilities.” As it stands now, every day, thousands of travelers drive directly past Highway 75’s old North Fork Store, unmindful to the fact, that in one of her best performances, Marilyn Monroe starred there in Bus Stop.

Who knows to what high level such a pioneering program might soar? Perhaps one day we will create interactive signs, offering holograms with brief clips for tourists to enjoy.

To thwart vandals, we could program Clint Eastwood’s voice, to sternly announce, “Go ahead! Make my day! Because you are now being filmed by an interactive sign, commemorating Idaho films!”

Let’s not miss this important bus, because by merging the information superhighway with our back road signage, Idaho could show the rest of the world how we stand on the cutting-edge, as well as being capable to cut though bureaucracy, when truly original ideas like Professor Trusky’s crop up, like some of the diamond blockbusters filmed in Idaho’s hardscrabble rough.

Footnote: Last year, the Director of the Idaho film collection, Professor Tom Trusky assisted Brad Nottingham and I in our successful quest for a historical sign commemorating the filming of Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider in Idaho. Although, the highway department did not construct a sign up by the Boulder Mountains as we had hoped, they did amend the Wood River Mines historical marker sign, north of Bellevue, to include a tribute to Mr. Eastwood’s groundbreaking Idaho film.

The palindromic parable program

I almost forgot, but thinking about Agent 3V3T5, reminded me, that I have another post for Idaho’s Ides. As every anagrammed agent has probably heard, “Madam, I’m Adam” -the first words ever spoken by mankind is also a palindrome. !SOS,EVE,SOS! is a good retort. In addition, although Eve received amplified heat from munching off that eternal apple, it should be remembered that every eve, EVE - lived on decaf - faced no devil - EVE

Beward The Ides of March

Beware the Ides of March

Nothing revolutionary going on Ides-wise with me today, although now that I think about it, there is a wild festival tonight in Ketchum, Idesaho; Last night I received a call from Agent 3V3T5, who excitedly told me that that they were flashing a powerful batman-like spotlight onto $ Mountain –only that it held the 48 Straight logo. 

I intend to rework some commentary called, Beware of Putrid Plutonium Profiteers, and find another place to submit it soon, if the first choice doesn’t come through. 

‘Beware the tides’ of Putrid Plutonium Profiteers?

In addition, I noticed that yesterday, I received a hit on the blog, from Something about to be wary? I think not, if Darpa is able to peer into my soul’s true intentions.
For now, here are some previous March musings that touch upon the Ides:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Half-Century Rock Gem

I remember thinking as a young adult, that there are some men out there in our culture, who continue growing stronger all the way up to age 50. I imagined that these strength-gaining characters would be mostly lumberjacks, ship captains and such, but the fact remained that some men were actually gaining larger barrel chests up ‘til age 50.

Another part of me wondered if there was some secret wisdom, whispered into men’s dropsy ears, upon their significant turnover to fifty. Then just this week, I realized that if you count the time from my conception day, I have completed forty-nine years; thus am beginning the first week of 50.

With this in mind, this morning, I showed a friend the recent WR Journal article, regarding visionary librarians and the follow up. She asked what was it that allowed me to see such things. I answered that I usually seemed to have a certain knack to grasp several subjects from far reaches and then develop interesting connections, through either relative stories or simple joke like parables. I continued that although I have seen little monetary gain from this dedicated writing, it’s clear that I should continue upon this path.

I claimed a certain confidence in being able to write inspiring letters of pubic interest, well-flowing poems, etc, because I knew that those stories were there waiting to be connected and since I was adept at doing so, it might as well be me continuing to uncover them.

Then my friend swooped back with a gentle, but piecing question, “So why is it then, that you don’t have this same level of confidence in yourself -apart from your writing?”

For five long seconds, her insight stunned me. However, deep within, I found the slow fortitude, to thank her for asking such a concerned question. Her pricking of this blind spot resonated for day’s remainder and I slowly become thankful for the strength of this esoteric fiftieth gift.

Defending Mary Ann’s honor

Occasionally a story comes along so compelling that everything else pales in comparison and drops to the wayside. 9-11, Pearl Harbor and now this week the bombshell was dropped that three wise men hitchhikers left pot in the ashtray of Mary Ann from Gilligan’s island car, after she was kind enough to offer them a ride on her way back from a surprise birthday party set for her in Driggs, Idaho.

Not only did I receive a handful of e-mails asking me to stand up for what is right and defend Mary Ann’s honour, but also one young man came fumbley stumbling in backwards, through my front door to beseech me in person. Perhaps he heard that I had recently written her a sincere fan letter.

Therefore, I am asking all of you impending Mary Ann back to Ginger, flip-floppers, this is the crucial time when our friend needs us the most, to not abandon ship on her. Certainly, Mary Ann will forgive us for being so fickle, those of us who were shortly considering switching our favorite islander back to Ginger. So everybody grab some strap oil to sharpen your writing instruments and the key to the oarlocks, to fasten yourself in for a spell, to sit right down for a wile and draft sweet Mary Ann a deserving letter of support today.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Predicting the ways of lightning

I read about this machine now that can read minds with a 90% accuracy rate. It can tell for instance, if the photo you are looking at, is a pastoral scene –or the big city, just like I pictured it. It can also tell which finger you are expected to move next, with a 90% accuracy rate. I wonder how developments like this will be incorporated into future newspapers and books.

Another idea I keep thinking about, is newspapers with hyperlinks imbedded into the actual paper, so that upon prompting, a paper will transform itself into an array of windows with related stories –just like computers do now, only for the future on a single thin sheet of interactive paper.

To what degree will imbedded mind reading machines of future newspapers be able to read your next intent?

If future bookworms aspire to become farsighted enough, perhaps they will be able to stay ahead of such machine’s curves, over 10 percent of the time. Much like basketball players, freelance ballerinas and jazz musicians have with their head-faking split-second mid-air decisions, where even they don’t know quite what magic trick they are going to pull out of their hat next, in their majestic performance. They just do it. These bastioned crowns of creation, rising to the cream top puff the magic dragon good old candy apple rocky mountainous Tesla lighting containing sorcerer altitude achievers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Beware of Putrid Plutonium Propheteers

The powerful nuclear industry has been campaigning to construct new plants in Idaho and many have been preparing to buy it. Some have written letters beseeching Idahoans to embrace nuclear power, so that we can be first in something for once.

To paraphrase Lee Halper from a recent radioactive-hot forum, Idaho is already first in many things. We're almost first in cow crap. We're first in lack of ethics in the Legislature. We're first in ignoring what doesn't work in other states will work here and we're first in having the most NUCLEAR waste seeping into our drinking water. We could be first in geothermal, wind, solar, hydrogen and conservation of energy but people who look for the silver bullet like NUCLEAR, are those who want us to be first in line for Superfund status.”

I agree with Lee; let us not be first in foolhardiness. The poisonous nuclear industry kills much more than charging windmills do birds. For the next 40,000 years, we will have to develop warning signs decipherable long after the English language has died out. Think about it, the proud legacy nuclear waste leaves, will endure an epoch tenfold longer than the most ancient Egyptian pyramid. The gist of it is; no one wants to be known as the one who killed the goose that lays golden eggs, even if they are speckled with plutonium.

Now a French company committed to fueling the nuclear renaissance,” is on their way to getting generous tax breaks for mining Idaho uranium. Let’s be first in common sense again, by swatting away pests who desire to salt our fragile freedom-fry spud fields with a radioactive twinge. While it is true that France uses 80 percent nuclear power, don’t think that there is not a big brouhaha going on over there about the wasteful thinking. And where are the elite French trying to lay their insidiously deadly toxins to rest for millennia? Why it’s being shoveled into poor peoples backyards, of course. Affecting many Muslim communities. And that’s just dandy?

Perhaps Idaho newspaper editors should convene to develop a writing contest, for us to draft letters of apology to our grandchildren’s grandchildren, for how we have wrongly ‘warshiped’ Mother Earth, to insert in a time capsule, next to the Yucky Mountain radioactive warning cryptograms. Winners could receive protection suits, fitted with alarming Geiger counters.

The bad spin about wind turbines is very overblown. Improved energy gaining methods from the wind have been developed using large high-tension bands, which kill no birds. Think how much better off we will be, when we invest only one-tenth as much Research and Development into the dozens of other viable solar and wind parametered projects, as we do into killing innocent civilians over oil-Euros.

Although most of us are now war-weary, it’s inspiring to see that many Idahoans are not allowing themselves to be blinded by plutonium propheteers rushing in with desperate short-term energy solutions, which leave long-term radioactive stains, ten thousand-fold worse than cow-crap.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Nampa library also contains a book...

...about a children’s field trip to visit a box-manufacturing factory.
That book should be immediately banned, too, because it causes immense tedium and redundant boredom.

Let’s not allow reporters epic efforts, sink down the memory-hole drain in vain

As more newspapers like The Albuquerque Tribune continue going out of business, we should make concerted efforts to preserve their precious archives. Many newspapers start out struggling; never knowing if they are going to make it beyond a few years. Therefore, they never budget annually, very much, in way of back scanning their archives (Though many State libraries make diligent efforts to do so.)

Recently, (Wash. Post owned) Slate Magazine ran an article bashing their cross-town rival USA Today’s ambitious Newseum project, by comparing it to the new American Indian Museum on our National Mall. Essentially, Slate said that both museums “were designed to be the sumptuous setting for candle-lit fundraisers, where you can almost hear the clink of highball glasses and the jing-a-ling of jewelry."

However, many fundraisers are actually used for constructive purposes. I would like to submit to the USA Today and Newseum board of directors, that they consider holding an annual fundraiser with the intention to salvage several newspapers that have gone beyond the brink. They could set up a committee, with a set of criteria for eligible newspapers, using a simple algorithm that involves historical context, the age of the newspaper, past awards won, average circulation amounts, whether a library has preserved their precious records of antiquity, and other relative parameters for markers to see who is best qualified, to not have their reporters enduring efforts just tossed into recycle. Besides salvaging newspapers gone back to the wild, the Newseum or some other good-willed newspaper-aficionado entity could help protect the historical archives of a handful of newspapers every year, which are still struggling to hang in there. Such funding could help construct enhanced fireproof storage facilities and state-of-the art fire-protection systems; much as visionary librarians have installed, to better protect our priceless records of antiquity, which have not yet been back-scanned or mirrored. -JBanholzer

Progressive moving questions

Helped on another interesting move Saturday. Mr. Freemason and I moved Linda Blair’s stuff out from the Mildew Creek area by Bearfield, over to Halley’s Sunny Beam apts. Even though we had confirmed the time beforehand, Ms. Blair showed up late and slightly unkempt. After a brief introduction, while we waited for the paperwork, she apparently felt the need to cathartically cuss some recent inharmonic personal life events.

This gave the peaceful Freemason and I pause to wonder what we were getting into. Certainly, even minor moves can be stressful, but sometimes there is a thorny reason, such as a divorce, or violence recently occurred between the splitting parties, which spurred on the move.

Therefore, I believe that Mr. Freemason and I should develop a quick-list questionnaire, to keep handy in our day-planners, for instant referral, regarding future dubious moving projects.

For instance:

1. Is there some type of disharmony or bloodshed involved, as a reason for your move?

2. Will an armed guard or sheriff’s deputy be overseeing our move?

3. Should we be wearing bullet resistant clothing, while we help you reclaim your always-on TV?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Singing with the Admiral in Alaska

Admiral Mussorsky declared that he would be playing Bach over the sonar tonight, to tickle the Narwhal’s delight.

“Has he gone mad?” asked the first mate.

“I’m not sure and I’m not sure that there’s anything we can do about it,” said Gilligan, “But the admiral was swearing in the bar last night that he would do this by the end of the week, if that old Exxon Valdez case wasn’t settled. Sort of a way to settle the score to pay back the whales and minnows for all their grief.”

Gilligan continued, “As I recall, Captain John Hazelwood, became tipsy by drinking 100 O’Doul’s in a twenty-four hour span. He fell over and wrecked the skip fantastic, just as his last chorus of ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, came to a crashing close.”

“This is why the Admiral is pissed.”

“Admiral Mussorsky said that he has a rare recording of Albert Schweitzer performing Bach, I heard the accompanying tubular bells coming from his cabin, late last night, after the bar closed.”

“Now he’s down there tinkering with the sonar, applying his best Bach to treat the whale underworld.”

“Personally,” said Gilligan, “I hope that nobody mutinies, and that this will be a nice neuroacoustic change for them. Much better than the Zappa, we’ve been zapping them with.”

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Kudos to Library visionaries for their diligent fire-safety efforts

After reading again about the ancient Alexandria, Egypt library fire, which wiped out vast records of antiquity, I became concerned that Idaho might be behind the times on yet another important issue. I suspected that fire-suppression systems, protecting our valley’s unique historical records would not be up to snuff, so I went sniffing around with a few pointed questions. After contacting some in leadership positions at Ketchum’s Community Library, the discovery was made that here, it was I, who was backwards; rather than the other way around, since they installed an innovative fire-suppression system several years ago.

Not only that, but The Community Library also has an extensive disaster plan to cover any contingencies. Installed is a firewalled vault, complete with a Halon system to protect their rare book and important paper collections. When activated, these remarkable Halon systems, do not damage books, old newspapers or data systems, while promptly extinguishing fires. Although there is a slight environmental hazard when Halon deploys (as there is with fire itself), the library is in the process of purchasing an updated system. In the event of water-soaked books, caused by activated fire sprinklers, those books would be shipped frozen to an innovative freeze-drying facility for restoration.

I have been assured that the Community Library has always worked closely, and in full cooperation with the Ketchum Fire Department. As occasionally, personnel turnover occurs and improved technologies come along, the library revisits this issue periodically, to assure that not only the building and its patrons will be safe, but so will its priceless contents and historical records.

I am told that this spring, the head archivist for the Idaho State Library will be conducting a workshop on disaster preparedness to which all valley librarians will be invited. It is inspiring to hear that the networking between professionals at the American and Idaho Library Associations, along with the Idaho State Library, keeps them on top of these important concerns for libraries throughout Idaho.

For those smaller libraries with budgets more restricted than Ketchum’s, who might not yet have installed state-of-the-art fire-suppression systems, there is much to consider regarding toxicity, maintenance costs and availability. However, I have faith that farsighted librarians working in conjunction with their local Fire Marshals can target viable preservation and safety upgrade plans, and once those needs are properly presented within communities with corresponding fundraisers, then much support will be discovered by way of handsome donations for better protecting our priceless records of antiquity.

Thank you to Regional Historian Sandra Hofferber and Hailey Fire Chief Mike Chapman for your invaluable insights.

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