Wednesday, December 30, 2009

500 million smooth landings this decade

It’s remarkable that a Northwest Airlines flight was subject to a Christmas attack; eight years to the day that shoe-bomber Richard Reid bumbled a similar airline assault. Equally noteworthy is the international media scrutiny placed on the uncommon events; while meanwhile few news outlets report on the 500 million airline flights that have taken place in the last ten years, without confrontation of any sort.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Future Friedman: A holistic center for healing war wounds?

In ancient times, when our warriors returned from epic battles, we nurtured them with special care. We led them to spas at city outskirts and helped them cool down with compassionate concern for long spells, until we determined it was safe for them to return into communities, unlike modern times where we often dump soldiers back onto harsh streets with little or no benefits. Nowadays, many of our country’s valiant veterans are homeless or incarcerated at record levels, while perpetually mired in post-traumatic crises.


As Dennis Kucinich said, “Homelessness and poverty are weapons of mass destruction.”

Men develop with different levels of mettle, but sanity has limitation points for even the bravest of soldiers. In earlier wars, ‘Soldiers Heart’ or ‘Battle Fatigue’ affected many Veterans (and their families). Now Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the commonly used expression.

A historically safe place soldiers used to convalesce, both physically and psychologically was the Sun Valley Lodge. Many WW II soldiers, who effectively rehabilitated there in the crisp mountain air, became permanently attached to Idaho and remained as helpful contributors for many years within our community.

The good earth where Friedman Airport currently stands makes an ideal spot for another state-of-the-art rehabilitation center, especially when you consider that if the Friedman family recognizes a significantly suitable cause, that they will then consider donating this prime Hailey real estate for that concern, when the airport relocates.

We could transform this airport acreage into something for truly banking on. Besides generous monetary donations from valley benefactors to establish a healing foundation, this is an opportunity to show how rich we are in spirit, by welcoming our recuperating warriors back into the community. To contribute further to their continued recovery, we could thank some of our dedicated veterans for their Herculean efforts by offering them desirable jobs; related with support services for the healing center itself.

Moreover, we could construct hundreds of affordable-housing units on the land, along with worker-retraining facilities for displaced soldiers to reattach to our community. Some will likely rejuvenate with a broader sense of understanding, and develop desires to become healing practitioners themselves. A holistic focused healing center would create bountiful meaningful jobs here, not only for our respected veterans, but also for many others suffering in this economic slump. Already established mentoring organizations such as Sun Valley Adaptive Sports, The Advocates and the College of Southern Idaho’s nursing center could tie in well with the noble goal of rehabilitating war veterans.

The relocated airport itself would even benefit, by becoming a bustling transport center for steady streams of patients, visitors, hospital personnel and supplies.

The hospital could feature Posttraumatic stress disorder therapies like recently advanced Somatic Experiencing, MDMA and Propranolol treatments, as well as other proven curative methods, both ancient and new. A holistic equine center could help our severely traumatized reconnect with the community through nature.

With the sunny climate, fresh air and clean water inherent to this valley, enhanced by the numerous enlightened compassionate people who flourish here, our community could set a new standard for positive rehabilitation and improve on some of the shortcomings that have plagued poor Walter Reed Veteran’s hospital.

The new Airport Advisory commission should consider these ideas and similar ones, such as Tom Iselin’s grand idea for a Paralympics Center to see if they hold enough water to transform soldier’s widow tears into flowing fountains fronting a first class ‘Friedman Memorial Trauma-Stren Conversion Center.’

After all, what should be more important than proper treatment and compassionate care for our wounded warriors who have patriotically served, even if we fought some of these battles for misguided reasons?


Therefore, let us tie some of our yellow ribbons around the old Friedman Airport and welcome these soldiers back into our community in the best way possible.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Future Friedman: A holistic center for healing war wounds?

revised suggestion

In ancient times, we nurtured our warriors with special care when they returned from epic battles. We led them to spas at city outskirts and helped them cool down with compassionate care for long spells, until we determined it was safe for them to return into communities, unlike modern times where we often dump soldiers back onto harsh streets with little or no benefits. Nowadays, many of our country’s valiant veterans are homeless or incarcerated at record levels, while perpetually mired in post-traumatic crises.

As Dennis Kucinich said, “Homelessness and poverty are weapons of mass destruction.”

Men develop with different levels of mettle, but sanity has limitation points for even the bravest of soldiers. In earlier wars, ‘Soldiers Heart’ or ‘Battle Fatigue’ affected many Veterans (and their families). Now Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the commonly used expression.

A historically safe place soldiers used to convalesce, both physically and psychologically was the Sun Valley Lodge. Many WW II soldiers, who effectively rehabilitated there in the crisp mountain air, became permanently attached to Idaho and some remained, as helpful contributors for many years within our community.

The good earth where Friedman Airport currently resides makes a perfect spot for another state-of-the-art rehabilitation center, especially when you consider that if the Friedman family recognizes a significantly suitable cause, that they will then consider donating this prime Hailey Real Estate for that concern, when the airport relocates.

We could transform this airport acreage into something for truly banking on. Besides generous monetary donations from valley benefactors to establish a healing foundation, this is an opportunity to show how rich we are in spirit, by welcoming our recuperating warriors back into the community. To contribute to their continued recovery, we could thank some of our dedicated veterans for their Herculean efforts by offering them desirable jobs; related with support services for the healing center itself.

Moreover, we could construct hundreds of affordable-housing units on the land, along with worker-retraining facilities for displaced soldiers to reattach to our community. Some will likely rejuvenate with a broader sense of understanding, and develop desires to become healing practitioners themselves. A holistic focused healing center would create bountiful meaningful jobs here, not only for our respected veterans, but also for many others suffering in this economic slump. Already established mentoring organizations such as Sun Valley Adaptive Sports, The Advocates and the College of Southern Idaho’s nursing center could tie in well with the goal of rehabilitating war veterans.

The relocated airport itself could even benefit, by becoming a bustling transport center for steady streams of patients, visitors, hospital personnel and supplies.

The hospital could feature Posttraumatic stress disorder therapies like recently advanced Somatic Experiencing, MDMA and Propranolol treatments, as well as other proven curative methods, both ancient and new. A holistic equine center could help our severely traumatized reconnect with the community through nature.

With the sunny climate, fresh air and clean water inherent to this valley, enhanced by the numerous enlightened compassionate people who flourish here, our community could set a new standard for positive rehabilitation and improve on some of the shortcomings that have plagued Walter Reed Veteran’s hospital.

The new Airport Advisory commission should consider these ideas and similar ones, such as Tom Iselin’s grand idea for a Paralympics Center to see if they hold enough water to transform soldier’s widow tears into flowing fountains fronting a first class ‘Friedman Memorial Trauma-Stren Conversion Center.’

After all, what should be more important than proper treatment and compassionate care for our wounded warriors who have patriotically served, even if we fought some of these battles for misguided reasons?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Future Friedman: A holistic center for healing war wounds?

In ancient times, we nurtured our warriors with special care when they returned from epic battles. We led them to spas at city outskirts and helped them cool down with compassionate care for long spells, until we determined it was safe for them to return into communities, unlike modern times where we often dump soldiers back onto harsh streets with little or no benefits. Nowadays, many of our country’s valiant veterans are homeless or incarcerated at record levels, while perpetually mired in post-traumatic crises.

As Dennis Kucinich said, “Homelessness and poverty are weapons of mass destruction.”

Men develop with different levels of mettle, but sanity has limitation points for even the bravest of soldiers. In earlier wars, ‘Soldiers Heart’ or ‘Battle Fatigue’ affected many Veterans (and their families). Now Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the commonly used expression.

A historically safe place soldiers used to convalesce, both physically and psychologically was the Sun Valley Lodge. Many WW II soldiers, who effectively rehabilitated there in the crisp mountain air, became permanently attached to Idaho and some remained, as helpful contributors for many years within our community.

The good earth where Friedman Airport currently stands makes a perfect spot for another state-of-the-art rehabilitation center, especially when you consider that if the Friedman family recognizes a significantly suitable cause, that they will then consider donating this prime Hailey Real Estate for that concern, when the airport relocates.

We could transform this airport acreage into something for truly banking on. Besides generous monetary donations from valley benefactors to establish a healing foundation, this is an opportunity to show how rich we are in spirit, by welcoming our recuperating warriors back into the community. To contribute to their continued recovery, we could thank some of our dedicated veterans for their Herculean efforts by offering them desirable jobs; related with support services for the healing center itself.

Moreover, we could construct hundreds of affordable-housing units on the land, along with worker-retraining facilities for displaced soldiers to reattach to our community. Some will likely rejuvenate with a broader sense of understanding, and develop desires to become healing practitioners themselves. A holistic focused center could create bountiful meaningful jobs here, not only for our respected veterans, but also for many others suffering in this economic slump. Already established mentoring organizations such as Sun Valley Adaptive Sports and The Advocates could tie in with such a permanent wellness festival.

Perhaps an appreciative owner of one of the locally underutilized hot springs could pipe healing waters into such a splendiferous spa, with government stepping in to fund construction logistics of the supportive donation.

The relocated airport itself could even benefit, by becoming a bustling transport center for steady streams of patients, visitors, hospital personnel and supplies.

The hospital could feature Posttraumatic stress disorder therapies like recently advanced Somatic Experiencing, MDMA and Propranolol treatments, as well as other proven curative methods, both ancient and new. A holistic equine center could help severely traumatized reconnect with the community through nature.

With the sunny climate, fresh air and clean water inherent to this valley, enhanced by the numerous enlightened compassionate people who flourish here, our community could set a new standard for positive rehabilitation and improve on some of the shortcomings plaguing Walter Reed Veteran’s hospital.

The new Airport Advisory board should consider this idea or similar ones, such as Tom Iselin’s grand idea for a Paralympics Center to see if they hold enough water to transform soldier’s widow tears into flowing fountains fronting a first class ‘Friedman Memorial Trauma-Stren Conversion Center.’

After all, what should be more important than proper treatment and compassionate care for our wounded warriors who have patriotically served, even if we fought some of these battles for misguided reasons?

Monday, December 14, 2009

NERC and cyber security

Mr. Banholzer:

Thank you for your question to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission regarding the Smart Grid and cyber security.

The Commission is well aware of issues regarding cyber security and makes sure that Idaho and its regulated utilities are actively involved in the national effort to work to protect our transmission and distributions systems from cyber attack.

Idaho is part or a regional Electric Reliability Organization (ERO) and our commission as well as utilities are part of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). Reliability and well as security for transmission and distribution have been ongoing concerns for a number of years, and particularly so since 9-11. Our utilities must meet basic ERO and NERC standards or face stiff financial penalties for not doing so. And, obviously, it is in utilities’ self-interest to ensure their systems are reliable and secure.

The vendors in charge of installing Idaho Power’s smart grid are certified in their respective areas of expertise and have had considerable experience installing automated metering infrastructure nationwide. In fact, a major advantage of smart-grid technology will be its ability to detect outages and “troubleshoot” other areas of concerns that, overall, will make the transmission and distribution system more reliable and safe than it is without automated metering infrastructure.

Since the issuance of FERC Order 706 addressing cyber security standards, state commissioners as well as the national organizations and utilities have been working together to implement the standards. I’m including some links to press releases announcing updated cyber security standards. From these press releases and the Web sites (below) for NERC and FERC you can find more information than you probably want on what is being done in these areas.

Thanks again for writing and please forgive my delay in responding. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Gene Fadness
Executive Assistant
Idaho Public Utilities Commission
gene.fadness@puc.idaho.gov
208.334.0339

May 6 press release announcing NERC standards:

http://www.nerc.com/news_pr.php?npr=308

June 17 press release re: Updated developments in cyber security:

http://www.nerc.com/news_pr.php?npr=336

FERC press release re: cyber security standards:

http://www.ferc.gov/news/news-releases/2008/2008-1/01-17-08-E-2.asp

NERC website: www.nerc.com

FERC website: www.ferc.gov

Friday, December 11, 2009




Elephantaucity



In this new era of electronic mail, it’s not often that I receive greeting cards; however, two months ago, I received a heartfelt condolence card from an out of town friend, offering support, when my good friend Mary Anne passed on. The card chosen had on its cover, a photo of a little girl pushing a Ginormous elephant onto a cart, which symbolized the small level of support my friend felt she was offering, since she was unable to be here in person.



A month later, I received another card in the mail. This one was a thank you for helping another friend move some large furniture around her house and featured an elephant on the cover. This friend included the notation: “No kidding, you’re my biggest friend.” I set the second card atop the refrigerator, by the other elephant card, thought it was a nice coincidence, and pointed it out to a few friends that came by.



Then a few days ago, my Aunt Jane sent me a classic care package for my birthday.[i] Aunt Jane is a nature lover and vibrant cloud-watcher and for years, has sent out hand-painted cards as seasonal gifts. Well, lo & behold, among the thoughtful items she included was a personalized water coloring of an elephant grazing!



This third friendly-looking elephant left me a little stunned, and soon the wild synchronicity prompted me to tread softly over to the world of animal totems:



http://www.sayahda.com/cyc2.html



Here the twelfth totem says:


The Elephant


“Throughout history elephants have been prized for their power and strength. They are extremely intelligence and honored by many cultures. Elephants are the largest land animals and among the longest lived, with life spans of 60 years or more. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha chose the form of a white elephant as one of his many incarnations and the rare appearance of a white elephant is still heralded as a manifestation of the gods. The Hindu god Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, is depicted with the head of an elephant.


Despite their great weight, elephants walk almost noiselessly. Their stride is exceptionally graceful and rhythmic. Their hearing, smell, taste and touch is acute. This compensates for their poor eyesight. Their eyes are small in relation to the enormous head, which can only turn slightly from side to side. This limited movement results in restricted side vision. Those with this medicine feel things deeply and respond to those feelings from a place of inner knowing. Because their peripheral vision is limited, they have a tendency to look straight ahead and not always see what is around them. Learning to shift ones focus to encompass the whole is helpful.


Loyal and affectionate elephants are willing to risk their life for the sake of others in a family group. Wild elephants have been known to grieve and even shed tears over the death of a family member. They have excellent memories and when mistreated they often seek revenge.


Elephants have four teeth, all molars. The first pair of molars is located toward the front of the mouth. When they wear down, they drop out and the two molars in the back shift forward. Two new molars emerge in the back of the mouth to replace those that have moved forward. Elephants replace back molars six times throughout their life. When the last set wears out, they are unable to chew and die of starvation.


Teeth have great symbolism. They are considered receivers and transmitters of energy linked by connecting paths throughout the astral body. Because the elephant is highly intelligent, those with this totem make excellent researchers and alternative scientists. The complex study of numbers, energy meridians and the tie in between the physical brain, the teeth locations, and the major and minor head chakras is fascinating as well as beneficial.


Elephant tusks point backwards, are used as weapons and for digging edible roots. From a spiritual point of view, this suggests an ability to uncover the secrets left behind you and bring them to the consciousness for evaluation and healing.


These beautiful creatures hold the teachings of compassion, loyalty, strength, intelligence, discernment and power to name a few. If this is your medicine, these virtues are a part of your natural character. By applying these gifts in your life soul evolution is achieved.”


As I began identifying with this elephant talk, it resonated within; that the best part of my 50th birthday (12/12) is that close friends have sent me this synchronicity - practically on a silver platter - and the fact that I could recognize their big gifts so readily.








[i] Aunt Jane must have presumed that her care package would arrive late, way out here in Idaho, but it actually came a few days early, back when I was telling friends, “Yes, I’m still in my mid-to-late forties.”

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

How powerful is Television?

(From Slate Magazine) Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of three.”

I’m not an expert on autism, but recently I took a refresher psychology class at The College of Southern Idaho. When we arrived at the chapter on dreams, something reminded me of the textbook from my previous psyche class, three decades ago. Back then, a statement claimed that 95 percent of us Americans dream in black and white. That study was from the early 60's, an era when we watched over 90 percent of TV shows through black and white sets.

The textbook from my recent CSI class, posited precisely the opposite: that 95 percent of us now dream in living color! What was there to explain for this grand shift? Is there a correlation between the tones of Americans dreams and the types of TV’s they own?

This made me wonder: Is television high-definition hypnotism, a force so powerful, that not only does it connect as a crucial cause of autism, when used as a primary babysitter; but also that its programming transforms our dream colors?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An interesting letter in today's Statesman, from Michael Lueddeke regarding smart meters:

http://www.idahostatesman.com/opinion/story/984554.html
(letter 3)

Smart meters aren't helping consumers

It appears that Idaho Power will be getting paid for these meters three times by their own admission. There was an Oct. 18 article in the Kuna Melba News about the new smart meters being installed by Idaho Power, plus a Statesman article on Oct. 29. I've put them together, and here is what it says:

Kuna Melba News: Meters will pay for themselves in seven years.

Kuna Melba News: Idaho Power got an increase from the PUC for installing the meters.

Statesman: Idaho Power received stimulus money for installing the meters.

How many times does Idaho Power get to be paid for these meters? Won't it be prudent of the Public Utilities Commission (key word is "Public") to truly protect the public and grant the public a rate reduction since Idaho Power is collecting three times for these meters? Call the PUC and complain about this terrible treatment of the consumers.

Does everyone also understand that, once these meters are installed, Idaho Power can change your rates during the day at anytime to increase the fees being charged? One minute you are paying "x" for electricity, and then the next you are paying "y," and all this in the name of helping the consumer.

MICHAEL LUEDDEKE, Meridian

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another great quote today from Ran Prieur's blog:



"November 17. Thoughtful essay on intellectual property, If you believe in IP, how do you teach others? My position is that property is theft, and intellectual property is theft on stilts. Now Harvard and the University of Texas are actually prohibiting students from sharing what they learn in class. If you take this to its logical conclusion, you can pay for an education, go on to use what you've learned in a job, and if you didn't get the professor's explicit permission to use it, you can go to prison.

The article doesn't stop there, but goes on to explore Ayn Rand's obsession with intellectual property. It never occurred to me that Rand had two distinct ideologies which totally contradict each other. One is basically Nietzsche, or Harrison Bergeron: the exceptional individual, wild and free, weighted down by the mediocrity of the average. The other is Ebenezer Scrooge. Rand's genius was to use the former as a front for the latter: because we are strong and independent and creative, we should never have to give anything to the lazy idiots. She was personally so miserly that she sent Nathaniel Branden to prevent her followers "from using the word Objectivist, to prevent them from using quotes from John Galt, to prevent them even from advertising lectures on the topic by students of her ideas." And "she ended up feeling robbed and looted by everyone who was influenced by her."

When you think about it, the most exceptional people should be the most generous. If you're truly confident in your ability to create things of value, you don't mind losing everything, because you can just make more."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pink Rabbits and Flying Dreams



Last night, I had a fanciful dream that I was back at my old Virginia house. I haven’t lived there for decades, but recently went on Google Maps and flew around the woodsy neighborhood a bit. Something, I’ve admired about my father, is that whenever he bought a house, it was always adjacent to some woods, giving us young rapscallions a healthy place to run around to release our energy.



In the dream, I awoke on Saturday daybreak and went outside, barefoot in my pajamas to collect a Washington Post from our snowy driveway. In reality, we lived on a sleepy dead end, but in the dream, cars could now connect into the forest. In fact, it was a bustling thoroughfare now; some elaborate racecars were speeding into the woods, as one or two old jalopies were pulling out and returning to civilization. Even though it was snowy, I was excited to be back, and thought I would take an encompassing walk around the backyard, while waiting for the newspaper. Still barefoot, I walked to the side yard, to see several children shouting with squeals of glee, preparing to sled down our hill. It was a magnificent morning for sledding, and I thought I would trudge up the hill a way, to be closer to the enjoyment. Halfway to the pinnacle, the children easily maneuvered around me on their toy-sleds. While I reached the top, I saw there were several more houses. The furthest yard was filled with dozens of other children, enjoying some festive event. The first few modern houses were quiet and dim, but the ancient house was where the action was. As I approached, I saw a great cauldron of stew boiling over a fire in the front yard, as the happy children continued to dart about, every which-way. It was a four-story grey house, and I tried to picture it from my past. I remembered it being an old house, even back when I was young. Then in the hub of activity, I spied the property owner. She was somebody, I knew from decades ago, but she hadn’t aged much. She had some wild grey curly hair around the fringes of her head, and everyone there respected her with high regard. Trying to be polite, I asked in a curious voice, above the merry din, “How old is this house?” She was elusive with her answer, but smiled, and then kindly but sternly, grabbed me around the forearms, saying, “I remember your kind; I had to straighten you and your brother out a few times, from some of the trouble you caused out here in the woods.” I thought that this wasn’t necessarily true, but perhaps there was a small element to what she spoke. We briefly conversed some more, then I asked what her name was. She spoke a name so peculiar that I knew instantly that I would be incapable of remembering it. It was as if she had cast a spell upon her obscure name, rendering it impossible to recollect, although, I do remember her long singular name had four “i’s” in it. She released me and I trotted a little further down the wet Virginia clay trail. As the snow melted in the late morning forest sun, I came to two more houses that I remembered from childhood: the last one an old blue Victorian, facing Rabbit Run creek. I vaguely recalled some sort of strange happenings there too, but couldn’t penetrate the decades-old memories to put my finger on it yet.



Suddenly, as I spun around in the wet mud, I realized that I was able to fly again. I was flying feet-first with my bare feet sticking out straight ahead of me. Remarkably, the fact that I was able to fly felt quite natural, as it usually does with such flying dreams. This incubated a thought that I would like to turn my body around and fly like Superman to show the Virginians what their prodigal son had learned, while living twenty years in Idaho woods. They will love this! -I thought in a powerful inner celebration, and they will talk about it for decades! My plan was to fly slow motion past the children’s clamor and their holiday cauldron, giving them the broadest smile I could possibly manage. However, when I tried to spin about, to fly face-first like Superman, there was something off with my inner gyroscope. It led me to a higher altitude, and suddenly I was soaring fast, directly behind four space pilots and four astronauts. Those high-flyers were all relying on spacesuits and other backup technologies, so I laughed at them, as I was flying on mind-power alone. It all felt quite fearless, but for some reason, I was unable to switch my inner gears back down to earth, no matter how hard I tried.



Awakening to present day reality, I lay there motionless for several minutes, lightly buzzing about the powerful flying dream. Then, as the dream partially melted away, it occurred to me that those uncanny houses in the woods were never actually there, but rather had been places imagn’d in my childhood dreams. Vivid places I occasionally revisited over the decades, where many events had taken shape and form – enough to record a small history deep in my subconscious. This made me wonder if this all was merely in my mind, or are our minds potentially much more powerful than what my instructors taught, in our Virginia school of thought? Do we somehow mysteriously connect to otherworldly dimensions, where ongoing ethereal events persist in parallel fashions?



Then I realized that I had been sleeping on a sofa brought home recently as a gift from a friend. The sofa is emblazoned with some cute animals, the most notable of which are some pink rabbits dancing on the pillow, which had been pressing against my dreamy head…

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Smarter than smart-grid?

Suddenly, we are under a push to switch over to “smart-grid” power metering. On the surface, this technology holds vast potential: It could inspire many of us to conserve precious energy; and some Idaho communities are already doing this. However, we would be to wise to ensure that these smart systems are highly-hacker resistant, before wider-scale implementation. For instance, imagine an enemy, breaking into the grid to shut down the full configuration, and potentially causing long-term damage to power lines, substations and home electrical systems. This is not farfetched, as nefarious hackers have already infected various financial intuitions, global security systems and millions of personal computers. Smart-grid meters are equally susceptible to these types of online attacks.


As we use them more broadly, smart-grid power systems will likely edge up higher on the list of hacker targets. As this happens, leading members of our Idaho Public Utilities Commission would do well, to take their oversight roles seriously on this important issue. It would be refreshing to hear our utility commissioners require Idaho Power to pass a wide array of ongoing security tests, before granting statewide approval.


Otherwise, our too-clever-by-half, super-reliance on technology, might reveal that the wisest owls in Idaho are those who thrive, way up yonder in the piney-wood, in smart-looking cabins, simply chopping firewood and carrying water, utterly off the wavering grid.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Fresh Healing Angles

Five summers ago, at the little Idaho hideaway cabin where I lived, I pruned back a sugar maple branch, to affix a small suet feeder, six feet off the ground. The maple was adjacent to some cottonwoods by a trickling creek. The brook was a lifeline for birds, especially magpies, kingfishers and the occasional mysterious owl. After attaching the birdfeeder, I found that we needed to refresh the suet, around twice a month. I usually remembered to do this on time. However, toward the end of summer, I realized that I had forgotten to check it for a while, walked over and found it full of some unidentifiable black goo. At first, I thought that the suet had turned rancid, but then, while prying the object out, I realized there were black feathers attached and something sadder had happened – a poor blackbird had become stuck inside the feeder and was unable to extract itself, leading to its untimely death.

I shuddered slightly and immediately looked at it as a bad omen. To me the bird augury was powerful enough that I decided to keep it a secret from my housemate, so as not to frighten her. I didn’t think much more about the matter, until a few weeks later: While winterizing the grounds, I placed a large tarp over a tent next to the maple. As I made a broad swooping motion with the tarp, the same sharp branch I had pruned earlier, speared through my ear and into the side of my head. It was a Tuesday afternoon and almost five o-clock. After standing there stunned for a few seconds, trying to figure out what had hit me, I realized the severity of the situation. I was alone and bleeding profusely from the left side of my head. Hastily, I rounded up the dog, grabbed a small towel, to press against the wound and drove 2 & 1/2 miles to our local emergency room.

It’s a small hospital, but well-staffed. As I arrived, something deep inside, switched my gears into survival mode, and helped to rally me through the surgery. I cracked a few jokes about my dilemma to the physician and his assistant, hoping this would put all three of us more at ease. (I truly believe that there are cases where if you act like a jerk, your level of quality service is apt to diminish.) This seemed to help, but while examining the complexity of damage, the young doctor expressed hesitation as to whether he could stitch my ear back together properly, and suggested that I may need to transfer to a Boise hospital. That was going to be a long expensive haul and I was not looking forward to seeing a specialist three hours away.

However, right then, a visiting plastic surgeon *just happened by* our emergency room to see the problem. He encouraged the attending physician to try a specific stitching method and even made some animated motions of how to do this. After the physician made a few careful stitches with the newly suggested method, he soon gained more confidence. The visiting plastic surgeon saw the doctor was getting it right, so he left us alone. Soon all was well and I was back at work the next afternoon. However, a few weeks later, my housemate broke me the bad news that the developer, who bought our tiny tumbledown shack, would soon be smashing it to smithereens and we would have to move.

(One of the new property owners speculated that they would try to save the maple, because such trees are rare in this climate and its vibrancy would enhance the property. However, the maple is gone and we’re not sure what happened.)

Meanwhile, the Near Death Experience trauma from the sweet sugar maple seeded something new into me. It forced me to reflect hard about the haphazard direction of my life and slowed me down enough to dedicate some quiet time to writing. In the five years since the incident, I’ve had a small measure of success at this. I feel strongly that writing about items of a meaningful nature is something I should be dedicated to for several hours each week.

Until now, I have shared this personal tale with only a handful of friends. Yesterday evening I recounted it to a new friend. She is a professional Hypnotherapist, recently transplanted to Idaho from Africa, and I am helping her with her Bio. While getting to know her, she has earned my trust in her powers of intuition and yesterday she expressed a new viewpoint of what happened that evening in the emergency room. When I told her that I never caught the name of the professional plastic surgeon that walked by at that synchronistic moment, she suggested that I have not yet fathomed the extent of what actually occurred. She claims that even if I tried hard, I would not be able to discover the Good Samaritan’s name, because he is not a human being. Rather she believes he is a guardian angel, who sensed that my time here on earth five years ago, was not yet finished, and that I still had some good work to give.

Monday, November 02, 2009

HEADLINE: "D.C. Police are "cracking" down on speeders. For the first offense, they give you two Redskins tickets. (If you get stopped a second
time, they give you two Nationals tickets.)"

Q. What do you call 47 millionaires sitting around a TV watching the Super Bowl?
A. The Washington Redskins.

Q. What do the Redskins and Billy Graham have in common?
A. They both can make 70,000 people stand up and yell "Jesus Christ".

Q. How do you keep the Redskins out of your yard?
A. Put up a goal post.

Q. Where do you go in D.C. in case of a tornado?
A. To FedEx Field - they never have a touchdown there!

Q. What do you call a Redskin with a Super Bowl ring?
A. Senior Citizen

Q. How many Redskins does it take to win a Super Bowl?
A. We may never find out in the 21st century.

Q. What do the Redskins and opossums have in common?
A. Both play dead at home and get killed on the road.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The ABC’s of Whirlwinds

Back in the mid-70’s a tornado hit hard in the Northern Virginia area, where I grew up, much like a wild Indian. The resilient rain along with the gloomy storm front, severely damaged one of the local schools, flooded streets, and ruined several other local structures. The most notable destruction was at the local ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) store, where the relentless winds pushed an empty children’s school bus, smack-dab through its plate glass window. Local newspapers featured this on their front page, which gave much mirth to the community, both young and old.

Over the decades, I’ve reflected on this powerful synchronicity and wondered if there was a deeper meaning. After returning to my native roots, I discovered a Lakota reading that compares whirlwinds to falling in love. Only then, could I focus on a new metaphor for this unusual occasion; which is, “Children, the bright whirlwind of love can help defeat the severe darkness of alcohol addiction.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

A question for the Newseum (newspaper museum) repository



With the many complaints that the Statesman garnered from not having featured the eighth anniversary of September 11 on its front page; it made me wonder: What did the majority of front pages of our nations newspapers feature on December 7, 1949? And how loud was the thunder of patriotic-fevered citizens, whining to their local editors, in cases where the travesty of Pearl Harbor was not featured in large bold letters, on their local front pages, some sixty-odd years ago?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Don't disparage one of Idaho's great small towns

READER'S VIEW KETCHUM
(Revised version)

The first year I moved here, there was an incident on Main Street involving two women in a fender bender. Instead of rushing out of their cars to blame each other, they both emerged to apologize profusely and peacefully. They each made sure the other person was all right and then gave each other sweet bear hugs. They then agreed that they should get together soon, because it had been too long since they had seen each other.

This remarkable event defined for me what the essence is of everything good about Ketchum, and perhaps for what is great about many small towns in the West: people who care about each other more than they do for their measly worldly possessions.
Therefore, it grates at me, when I hear intermittent comments that disparage the town and townspeople of Ketchum (and the Wood River Valley). Some will say, "I have no desire to visit Ketchum, or any of the people up there." That's too bad, because if you take a closer look, this pedestrian-friendly town offers much for young and old, rich and poor, sick and well.

Like most Idaho towns, Ketchum has changed over the years. Yet it retains many high-quality aspects of a hardy Western town. When it comes to weather, Ketchum is in the top 10 percentile of sunniest towns. The people here are equally sunny, and there is ample reason for this. A river runs through it, offering opportunities for enjoyable fishing and water sports. We have a popular YMCA. On summer Tuesdays, a vibrant farmers' market attracts vendors and customers from throughout southern Idaho. After that, music performers play freely til twilight in the Forest Service Park.

For the spiritual, Ketchum has more than a handful of sacred places to worship. When someone becomes severely ill or is in a crash, our community often bonds together, helping with fundraisers.

Wagon Days brings a festive weekend of olden-times coming alive, as craftspeople, blacksmiths and storytellers demonstrate their trades and speak their lore. Wagon Days also features the largest non motorized parade in the west.

Ketchum's Community Library has an extensive regional history section, with helpful staff and an oral history program. The library also hosts frequent lectures and enlightening events, featuring respected authors and adventurers from near and far.
Ketchum has dozens of fine restaurants. We have movie theaters, nine (and growing) outdoor parks, live stage and Huck Finn-like swimming holes. Free newspapers, magazines, maps and wi-fi are abundant. We also have a water park, bringing boundless glee to splashing kids. On the edge of town, Sun Valley Co. has installed a gondola for thrilling Bald Mountain rides.

This list of what good things our fine town (and valley) has to offer is much longer than this, but I hope for now this gives some hesitation to those who are quick to sneer at lively Ketchum.

I sometimes wonder if some of Ketchum's harsh critics have even spent much time here.

After Hailey's candlelight vigil march in July for Bowe Bergdahl, the Hailey soldier captured in Afghanistan, I sat with some friends, one of whom described an image she thought best captured Hailey's essence. One of the men attending the vigil had left his tools in the open on the back of his truck, parked in front of Zaney's coffeehouse, where the event began. The tradesman had drawn a large sign, asking passersby to leave his tools alone, because he was standing for Bowe. And the aura of respectfulness that evening permeated the atmosphere so thick that nobody dared tamper with his tools. Then we agreed that we all look forward to the day when Bowe can return to this pleasant valley, where his friends and family can give him strong bear hugs.

Good people make a community, and the spirit of that community is exactly what should define our towns. Those who have lived here long enough, know the truth is, that the Ketchum community is blessed with salt-of-the-earth type neighbors, who often bond together constructively. Come visit us soon, so you can dispel the rumor for yourself, that here, we are not all a bunch of rich jaded California snobs.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How to Shoot an Anvil 200 Feet in the Air

Since we are in the middle of hunting season, here is the latest edited version of

Idaho’s Super Combination Winner


In the spring of 2007, my friend Mark Thornock hollered down the phone line from Maryland that he had won some sort of lottery regarding animals. His enthusiasm was ratcheted up to such a level, it took a moment to fathom that he had drawn the winning ticket for a Super Hunt Combo lottery operated by the Idaho Fish and Game Department. This made him eligible to go after a moose, an elk, a deer, and an antelope in any corresponding open hunt area in the state. Knowing Mark’s love of hunting, I realized his super-combo draw was better for him than winning money.

Destiny had chosen a highly qualified man to chase the prizes. His friends often remarked on the phenomenon of Mark’s broad frame, brim full of life, chugging almost effortlessly over steep highland ridges. When it came to hunting, his attitude is infectiously affirmative.

Mark invested his time wisely in the months preceding the hunts. He inspected the conditions of backpacks and insulated clothing and prepared other equipment. He sharpened dull knife blades, placed calls to check on the availability of butchers, and consulted with conservation experts around the state for advice and conditions, keeping in mind where the dozens of fires that had befallen Idaho that summer might have driven the game. When his plans were laid, he marked his map: moose around Island Park; Arco for antelope; an area near Mountain Home for deer; and a wolf-frequented territory high in the Lost River Range for elk.


He figured moose were abundant enough around Island Park, where he had previously shot one. When I won an antlered moose draw in 1998 and pursued my game in the Island Park area, Mark’s help impressed me because of his multifaceted knowledge of the outdoors. I’m relatively green at hunting and, for me, that quest was a classic example of how meticulous preplanning can increase the odds of a satisfying outcome.


Mark’s flight into Hailey showed up on time. His old hunting rifle appeared to be intact, but he soon sighted it in on a makeshift range to determine it hadn’t been jostled in flight. The next morning we arose at five and encountered little traffic on the way to Island Park. Crossing Craters of the Moon National Monument, we nearly slid into a mule deer buck, but aside from a porcupine (seldom seen anymore, it seems), we spotted little other wildlife that daybreak.

When we pulled into Island Park, we immediately noticed a group of at least six vehicles from the state’s Fish and Game and Forest Service departments. They were investigating a grizzly bear attack that morning on a hunter who had been dressing an elk he shot near Big Springs. This was the second local confrontation between a bear and hunter in recent weeks. The wounded griz was now limping around the popular summer cabin community, and reportedly ten to fifteen more were grazing in the immediate area, which raised our concern that Fish and Game would deem hunting unsafe and shut down the whole region. This didn’t occur, but when Mark and I saw a grizzly later that evening, it awakened us to what could happen once we zoned in on a moose. We knew wolves were in the area too, having seen one lurking near the highway by Ponds Lodge earlier that summer.

Most of the good information about recent bear activity came from chatting with locals. At the general store, pepper spray was selling like hotcakes. We were reminded that in Alaska, bears have learned to approach hunting areas once they hear a gunshot, recognizing it as signal for fresh meat. Bears can scent moose blood and meat for miles, depending on the wind. Sometimes, after swatting away hunters from downed game, Ursa horribilas will perch upon large mammal carcasses to speed up the process of tenderizing the meat.


On that first day, three young, agile and experienced hunters on a break from school helped us search for moose. The five of us walked along and drove by mossy creek drainages characteristic of prime moose habitat. Yet even with all those eyes glued to Island Park’s stunning autumn scenery, we did not spot much game until we saw the grizzly that evening. We figured the presence of bears was making the moose skittish. This situation, combined with our midday search and perhaps driving too rapidly through the quaking aspen for efficient wildlife spotting, probably contributed to our being skunked that day.

During our first night in the cabin, it rained constantly, and an intermittent drizzle kept up through days two and three. Our youthful acquaintances returned to school but two other experienced hunters, Jon and Gary, joined us. This was especially helpful because Mark hadn’t yet fully recovered from recent knee surgery. As for me, seemingly imbedded with these camouflaged experts in my laidback Ketchum threads, I must have looked laughable to passersby.

Gary shot a grouse his second day in, and fried it up that evening with some delicious spices, to everyone’s delight. The one most familiar with firearms was Jon, a former Special Forces sharpshooter in Vietnam, who also had been to Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the Blackwater private army.


Skill and experience notwithstanding, we were soon reminded that hunting, as with fishing, requires a certain measure of luck. In four hundred miles of deliberate driving, the only moose we spied were on a high hill above private land. It seemed that everyone we encountered in Island Park had seen an antlered moose except us. Most of our conversations focused around hunting, including this chase and others. My companions discussed the large mammals and birds they had stalked through the years, and considered future adventures for which they might like to reunite. But our confident joke about this hunt being as easy as shooting fish in a barrel soon wore thin.


I headed home for a week, while Mark drove by himself to the Arco area. There he bagged an antelope at two hundred yards, from a thick herd someone had told him about. But doing it alone was a struggle because of his knee problem, so he decided to hunt with others for the remainder of his journey. He headed over to the Lost River Range, where his two friends of his were set up in a comfortable wall tent.

From the valley below them, I could see the group would be experiencing snow, but it was difficult to gauge how much. A buddy and I drove to Lost River on Saturday and were pleasantly surprised to see the recently graded Trail Creek Road in the best shape we’d ever found it. No more rattling washboards, at least until we got to the bumpy Custer County side over the saddle. I knew the others were in a region where, ten years earlier, while changing a flat tire, I had seen the largest elk herd of my life: at least eighty head. The question now was how many elk had the wolves taken down?

Few hunters were in the hardscrabble upland. On the road, we encountered a covey of about eight chuckers. We speculated that the mild climate of the last eighteen months, combined with recent fires, might have lead to the small bird migration here. On the other hand, they could have hopped the hill from a nearby Salmon River fork, where the elevation was lower and the climate slightly warmer.

After the brief challenge of a mud traverse, we discovered the camp, where Mark already had laid out his bull elk. We admired its attractive, dark-reddish hue, and noticed it was a five-by-five point. Mark said while tracking in fresh snow that morning, he had had a close encounter with an alpha wolf. Had the animal shown more aggressive intentions instead of turning tail and whisking away, Mark thought it could have developed into an unpleasant situation on the high terrain.


We took photos of the elk, had a few celebratory nips, then helped pack up part of the camp. Mark’s two friends offered to take the elk to the butcher for him. They tucked it down low in the bed of the truck, which had been licensed at their other home in Northern California. They knew that transporting big game in a truck with out-of-state plates could carry a stigma, even for those who had lived in Idaho for decades and had contributed to the community in many ways.

As we packed up the camp, I sensed empathy between these longtime hunting companions. Some people live for the thrill of the outdoor chase, and their enthusiasm is infectious. Standing there in the snow, I recalled another inspiring experience in this same camp: my father bringing me out here many years ago for a taste of the West.

As we wheeled back down the road to the valley below, Mark said he had swung over towards Custer County at daybreak. In was early October, and he had been pushing two feet of snow with the truck. We were happy that Trail Creek was open, and considered ourselves lucky we had a warm house to head for. Even so, I caught the flu, and missed Mark’s second quest for a moose at Island Park. Nor was I with him when he bagged his mule deer south of Mountain Home, clambering over rocks the size of dining room tables to get within range. He had acquired trophies out of the super-combo four.

Later, I got this story from him about his effort to round-out the super-combo with his second try at the elusive Island Park moose: “Near the cabin, we saw six or eight cows with calves but no mature bulls. We did see a few smaller elk on their annual migration. By my eighth day of hunting moose ten hours a day, I had nothing to show. With only two hours of daylight remaining, my friend Spike and I headed thirty miles down the mountain to the river. We thought we might catch a moose stepping out for an evening meal or drink between the river and the mountain. Then things happened quickly. On a sharp corner, two huge cow moose suddenly appeared in range. It took a moment or two to see the third one, a dandy, mature male with an approximately thirty-five-inch rack spread. Its body was enormous as we walked up on it and begin the real work...”

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