Saturday, February 28, 2009

Galena tower debate is one for the history books

The Galena tower debate has come to stand for much more than a mere cell tower. The story has now picked up certain mythic qualities. Some of the healthiest dialogue offered has come from spokespersons both for and against the tower, who occasionally contradict themselves in papers and public meetings.

Some see Idaho Tower as Atlas, not shrugging her epic efforts; though others perceive her as Medusa and avert looking reason in the face, suspecting it will crush their logic into gravel.

Suddenly, the Forest Service supervisor has selected a special path for redesignation, with the secret motive of making the tower impossible, until the Mayan calendar ends. And using Labyrinthal language that only the most adept of Minotaur attorney’s can follow without strings. Meanwhile, Homeland Security prepares to shift Atlas onto his own back, with an improved plan, to foil us all, by paying two Princess Bride government factions to swordfight it out, at the edge of the reception area cliff, near chirping beetles.

While some who claim they are indigenous Idahoans, say that they prefer living in the Flintstone ages versus the digital; we should examine the motives of others speaking against the tower, as several hold animosity against former associates, or competitors from other fields, who could benefit by better communications.

Citizen angst against the tower sometimes stem from dissatisfactions within, which the fuming ones project, gnashing their dragon’s teeth, to channel harsh sound bites onto the tower.

Whatever the outcome, people will discuss the results of this battle for decades. Astute Idaho historians should include this chapter in state history textbooks, so our grandchildren may gain clearer perspectives than we have.
To harmonize history books, ITD should install a historical sign at Galena overlook, commemorating the multifaceted tower. To appease earth-muffins and water sprites, they could mount it smack-dab next to the new Galena landline phone, to soak up less sacred SNRA space.

Letter 4:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Was the clock's time just up?

Here's a strange synchronicity. Recently, through facebook I made contact with an old elementary school classmate. We lived on the same street in Virginia and sometimes walked to school together. In 1968, her dad was kind enough to guide her brother and me to sell tickets door-to-door for the Boy Scout Exposition. At $1 apiece, I hawked over 100 tickets, for which the Exposition leaders gave me some prizes. The award I remember most was a state-of-the-art clock radio, by which I could set to wake me up with loud music. I thought this was cool.

In the pre-digital era, this clock had a relatively simple design: Every minute a little number would physically flip down, until the top of the hour, when the hour’s column flipped over. This radio clock woke me up diligently for 25 years, for paper routes, school and work, until January 1993 when it went haywire, the week before I left Virginia to move to Idaho. I tried fiddling with it for a few days, but never could figure out what could make a clock designed that way, want to run backwards.

Finally,I gave up and threw the clock radio away. I owned better radios and if this clock didn’t work, the device was essentially useless. Plus I needed to pare down on possessions for the move.

For me, the strange behavior of that clock was a metaphor marking the end of my Virginia years.

Now sixteen years later, after reading books like Michael Talbot’s Holographic Universe, I wonder if the behavior of the clock was sparked by some unusually high level of electromagnetic energy, somehow related to the excitement of my Idaho move.

Or was its time just up?

A second clock incident

A second clock incident

I’m now reminded of another clock incident. For Christmas several years ago, a friend brought me a prank clock that ran anti-clockwise. I found the perfect place for it and that was on the basement wall at work, where the newspaper employees had to come in once a week to label papers, then bundle them for mail. It was bad enough for that they had to come in so early, and frequently some would arrive tardy. Eventually there were so many no-shows and tardies that our publisher decreed that if workers arrived late, they should be punished by losing some of their vacation time.

If they were cutting their arrival time close, most would look at the clock when coming in from the dark. They were supposed to be there at six sharp and if they arrived at 5:55 and looked at the clock, at first glance, it appeared to be 6:05. Many thought they had arrived late, which gave the other co-workers a slight reason to chuckle. This clock tripped quite a few people over the years.

When I abruptly quit my job, I left behind a number of possessions and tools at the workplace, included the backwards running clock. The friend who bought me the clock occasionally did some consulting work for the newspaper and one day rescued the clock for me. He came over, sat it on my table and said, “Hey, isn’t this your time?”

I now have that clock kept in our greenhouse, filled with several other backwards thinking devices and contrarian type books.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Public comment on Galena cell tower analysis

February 17, 2009
2647 Kimberly East Road
Twin Falls, Idaho 83301-7976

Dear Forest Supervisors:

Here are my comments regarding the Supplemental Analysis to the Environmental Assessment Galena Summit Communication Project. I hope that you will not throw my comments out due to any technicalities, because after reading and re-reading your instructions for submission, I find them difficult and think that others will also have trouble understanding them.

That being said, I have followed the Galena Cell Tower project closely, since Idaho Tower first proposed their project back in 2003. I have commented before on this with a great deal of passion, mostly in favor of the cell tower from a safety standpoint, though I also could not resist writing a couple of satirical pieces, so as not to be labeled a one dimensional character.

After expressing myself from several parameters, I forwarded my thoughts to an old friend. He responded insightfully, asking, “What are people’s real reasons for not wanting the cell tower?” His question brought me back to a day a few years ago, when one of the staff managers for a local newspaper where I worked, walked into Idaho Tower’s Ketchum office and saw that they were sharing the office with one of the newspaper’s chief competitors. The newspaper’s upper management then made the presumption that their competitor could profit off Idaho cell towers.

Shortly thereafter, I noticed that the editorials, written by the newspaper where I worked, took a stronger slant against cell towers. To be fair, our newspaper had written about politeness and etiquette in the woods before. However, this point definitely marked a shift in the newspaper’s attempts to shape public opinion, to be mostly against the Galena tower. The thing that set me off the most was when one of the longtime influential managers went off on an unreasonable rant, using strong expletives against cell towers. I discussed this at length with an award-winning reporter whose desk sat adjacent to mine. We both believed that logic behind his long rant was lacking and it made me feel for a minute that he had spit on the graves of the two girls I saw killed in a head-on crash several miles north of the SNRA Headquarters.

Another person of note, whose motives against the tower we should examine, is Greg M.
Greg, used to work as an emergency dispatcher for the City of Ketchum, and is a world-class athlete. I used to be Greg’s boss, when he worked part-time for the same newspaper. I found Greg to be an exemplary worker, and have enjoyed listening to some of his lively opinions, but the Galena Cell Tower is one subject on which I will have to disagree with him. My intuition tells me that for Greg as an emergency worker, to speak out against improved communications, he must have experienced some type of bad disagreement with those in charge. After all, most EMT’s live strong by the credo, that in emergencies “Every second counts.” Furthermore, on his last day as a Ketchum emergency dispatcher, I’m told by several reliable sources that Greg played “TAPS” over the entire 911-radio system. Although he may have had a legitimate beef with his bosses, how can we trust Greg’s judgment on this important issue with people’s lives at stake, when he has publicly expressed such disregard towards the whole 911 system?

Lastly, I ask that the Forest Supervisors in charge of making such vital decisions examine their own unspoken motives. Ask yourselves truthfully; how you feel about the people who live and visit northern Blaine County? Is there something inside you that does not wish them well? I hope that there isn’t, but I find your reasoning equally perplexing if you truly believe that the unsightliness of a reception tower somehow outweighs its vast potential for safety benefits and hope that you no longer play TAPS with our long overdue and crucially needed Galena Cell Tower.

Jim B.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Leadville Belly beneath the stove

I was going to suggest that you title this story: Wagon Daze, but when I read the subtitle, I laughed even harder. Surely, most of us can identify with feeling lower than a snake's belly stuck in a wagon wheel rut (as the Greaseman used to say)
And didn't Hemingway used to hang out down there around 300 S. Main?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I knew I was going to hit the number!

I usually gamble with money once or twice a year. A few months ago, feeling that luck surely coming on, I bought seven powerball tickets from a place uptown where I sometimes purchase quick sandwiches. When I yanked the money from the wallet, no moths flew out, and neither George nor Abe squinted at the unfamiliar sunlight.

When the numbers came up, one ticket matched three winning numbers. Being unfamiliar with what my expected winnings would be, I asked a few friends who I thought were lotto-savvy. Their replies ranged from forty dollars up to a thousand.

For a few hours, I started making vast plans about what to do with these winnings.

Turns out that matching three numbers in the Powerball, (not including the powerball number) only gains you seven dollars!

Taking into account that I had spent seven dollars to win the lucky seven, it wasn’t enough to buy a wind sandwich.

Emergency snow-thrower reserve

A few weeks ago, when we had back-to-back snowstorms I went down to Clearwater nursery in Bellevue to pick up some extra shear-pins for my snowblower. While there, I noticed that they completely sold out of new snow blowers and only had half a dozen used ones in stock. The shop supervisor said that when he tried to order new ones, his supplier said that they were completely out nationwide, due the abundance of snowstorms. Clearwater has sold all twelve of their new ones during that last big storm.

Later on his supplier called back and said that they had been able to tap into some sort of national reserve of snow blowers and that they would be able to supply him with some more, after all. Evidently, it helped that parts of Idaho had been declared a national emergency due to the heavy snows, roofs caving in, etc. And FEMA or some such agency must be keeping a backup supply available somewhere.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Jim Dee’s unique power line suggestion

A year ago, I stumbled onto my friend Jim Dee’s suggestion on his blog. With recent improvements in solar power efficiency, and a new administration prepared to listen to constructive ideas, I think his suggestion is now more feasible, than when I first read it.

As promised in the linked letter, here is Jim's suggestion, which I have paraphrased from his blog:

"I had a moment of insight this morning and wanted to share. It does nothing less than solve the entire American/Mexican border issue in a true bipartisan way. Here's the deal:

We take the entire length of the U.S./Mexican border, at a width of a good quarter mile wide or so, and privatize it -- sell it to the highest qualified bidder. And, by "qualified bidder," I mean power generation company.

What no other political commentator (to my knowledge) has seemingly noticed is that the border in question, besides being the source of exhaustive political debate, is also located in a particularly bright, sunny patch of the country. Because that area's so ridiculously bathed in sunshine, it lends itself particularly well to ... wait for it ... solar power development!

(Yeah, it was an "aha!" moment for me, too.)

Anyway, our high bidding Power Company purchases the land, with the sole stipulation that it must develop a solar array spanning pretty much the entire length of the U.S./Mexican border. Along either side of the array, the company would also have to construct a large security wall to serve the primary purpose of keeping out vandals (from both sides); as a bonus, it would also naturally keep anyone from entering the U.S. illegally.

Here's an additional bonus: Part of the power generated by the array could be diverted to the fence itself -- because, let's face it; an electric fence is much more efficient! The rest of the power would be sold, as normal, to nearby communities, thus (1) improving air quality from fewer coal-fired plants; (2) boosting economic development; and (3) furthering solar technology in general.

Since the power company would have their income/profitability at stake, it would be in their best interest to hire armed security patrols. Let's face it: Unlike government-run initiatives, when there's private/stockholder earnings on the line, stuff gets done. (It used to get done poorly, I'll admit. But, hopefully Sarbanes-Oxley fixes some of that.)

It's an elegant bipartisan solution, don't you think? The right gets a Jurassic Park-esque electric fence, the left gets solar power out the wazoo!”

Saturday, February 07, 2009

An Ocean Full of Bowling Balls

An Ocean Full of Bowling Balls
Here is an early synopsis of Salinger’s (/ˈsælɨndʒɚ/) greatest unpublished work, not to be officially released until 50 years after his death. (Salinger turned 90, New Years Day)

Intriguingly, there is a publicly available draft of AN OCEAN FULL OF BOWLING BALLS, currently housed at the Firestone Library of Princeton University. Access is tightly controlled, and Salinger has reportedly ordered that the stories not be published until 50 years after his death.

Jim Roveria visited this part of the Princeton Library a few years back, and writes about his experience there:

He also notes that if you are a Hemingway freak, the Princeton Library is a good place to hang out.
Black Elk reefered to coffee as black medicine

Friday, February 06, 2009

What Sun Valley stories would I enjoy reading?

What Sun Valley Guide stories would I like to read?
Thanks for asking. It would be great to see an in-depth story about Demi Moore’s old town Hailey dollhouse collection, perhaps even interviewing the star, to focus on specific aspects of her collection. For example, how did she come to start it, what are some of her favorite childhood memories regarding dolls, how does she see E-Bay affecting the art of doll collecting, what is her oldest / most precious doll, etc. Ultimately, it would be nice to see a virtual tour of her grand dollhouse linked in with Sun Valley Guide website.

It would also be nice to see her open the dollhouse to guided tours more often than Halley’s Comet. In conjunction with the celebrated Fourth of July parade, perhaps these openings could coincide with small fundraisers for doll-deprived children; or to help bankroll the fireworks themselves: culminating with a grand finale of skyrocketing pinwheels, which resemble untarnished Love American Style, red, white and blue doll-babies of all races, creeds and colours.

And what about a detailed history of Hook Draw Saloon? As with the dollhouse suggestion, the owner would need to be willing to reveal this well-hidden secret.

Second suggestion:

A story that focuses on specifics of the new Baldy Gondola, including a detailed map of the futuristic system. (Another good virtual tour link for Sun Valley Central?)What other North American towns have gondolas and how effective are they there? Will they allow mountain bikes to transport up, via the Gondola? What about paragliding equipment?

The gondola article could work as a lead-in for another article about Sun Valley’s wall of fame at the Lodge. You could revise the decade-old article Pat Murphy wrote about this, or expand it by focusing on another aspect of the wall, like recently added stars.

For a Sun Valley Company trifecta of sorts, include a follow-up article or sidebar about the magnificent new golf course lodge, adding how this nineteenth watering hole is an inviting place for watching television sports of all sorts, even during wintertime.

A brief history of Muldoon Canyon would fit in well with the fall issue, perhaps with the story branching over for an encompassing interview with one of the former Forest Service fire lookouts who summered at Bell Mountain tower. (Contact the Forest Service to get a list of those people’s names)

Sometimes, I’ve thought that a hunting article should be included in the Fall Guide. Especially one about bow hunters and how they train. If hunting doesn’t fit, I think there would be broad reader appeal for a tracking article. A tracking article would fit better in the winter edition, considering how easy it is then to discover abundant animal snow prints. A tracking article would naturally include photos of the animals and their respective prints. You might even interview the Sheriff’s department or Search & Rescue for their take on trackers within the department and throughout this region. How often do they use professional trackers to help solve crimes, find bewildered hikers, etc. When someone’s car is broken into in the winter, do the police try to gain evidence by taking photographs of footprints in the snow for later comparison to viable suspects’ prints?

Jeff Cordes’s January 2007 article entitled, “Week on Baldy makes Ancient Skiers feel young again” is another story worthy enough for reprint consideration in a Sun Valley Guide. (Maybe this has already been done, I don’t have these articles memorized as well as I used to)

Tying this story in with a longer tribute to Idaho war veterans, is another idea, I would be delighted to elaborate on if anybody is interested.

A fictional story called, Ode to the elk that jumped the Warm Springs corral:

In early 2006, when the Fish and Game made a final round of elk on the Warm Springs golf course, one cow Elk somehow managed to rise up and leap out from the tall fenced-corral. For a time it seems many people in the community were curious about what happened to this mythological creature. I think it would make a good writing prompt, for a schoolchildren’s composition class. A fictional story about what happened to her in the days and weeks thereafter. And from those submissions, I would bet you could find a few versions, fit to print in a future Sun Valley Guide.

One last thought: I’ve been reading that the Warm Springs ridge is now closed again, out of concern for wintering elk. Could any of these elk be the same ones that found their way back here after Fish and game relocated them to far away areas of the state. And does Fish and Game have ways to determine that? If so, this reminds me of the American Bison near Fairfield that jumped out of its pen a few years back, and then nonchalantly waltzed its way over to the Bellevue Triangle, where he found a new girlfriend!

As some of my friends often like to say, Love will always find a way.
Part two:
I would also like to see somebody interview Clint Eastwood about his films in Idaho. Why he originally chose Idaho, and why he stopped filming here after Pale Rider. Especially since he has been widely quoted as saying, “The only tough part about having about having to film in Idaho is when you have to leave.”
Local author Tony Taylor’s book Alpine Sentinels, which chronicles the way of life of the legendary Sheepeater Indians, distilled into a shorter version by extracting some of the best parts, could make for a gripping Sun Valley Guide story - as long as you don’t cut it too short!
Part three:
Three more ideas:

1. Another group that you could make look good in the Sun Valley Guide is the Elderhostel program, focusing on their educational traveling program in Idaho. You could center on what they like to experience when they visit the Sun Valley area. The Elderhostel group from Pocatello traditionally has been a huge fan of Sun Valley Guide and when I used to work there, they usually called in advance, to reserve several dozen copies for their reading pleasure, while they based out of the Tyrolean.

2. Yet another story, I would be interested in reading, is about travelers who commute between Sun Valley and Seattle on a regular basis. When I worked with Horizon Air, several people living in the Wood River Valley commuted between here and businesses in Seattle. Submitting such a story for reprint in Horizon Air magazine, could even help improve the working relationship between the airline and our community. Perhaps your graphics department could create a map, to make the line indicating the route between Seattle and Sun Valley, resemble an olive branch.

3. In addition, I’ve always wanted to see more written about the Wood River Valley’s sister cities. It seems like these relationships have stagnated for far too long.
Again, mailing a few copies of the guide (or suggesting that the respective sister city chambers of commerce kindly link your guide story into their websites and vice-versa) would help foster better working relationships between the Wood River Valley and our sister cities, via generating more tourism interest all around.

To gauge how unaware most locals are about their sister cities, the newspaper could conduct a man on the street segway, asking locals to name just one. I bet you would garner some interesting responses.
  • JBanholzer Says:


    Rep. Stephen Hartgen, R- Twin Falls, has modified his proposal by introducing a new bill that extends phone harassment laws to the Internet:

    To see why Steve hates the Internet so much, free speech fans can gain some insight by reading the comments of Max Hatfield and Dave Easterly, linked at the bottom of the discussion forum.

  • JB Says:

    This morning I discovered that My Space has been quietly been encouraging bloggers to use their real names:
    Recently I moved a few blocks, so the other day I dashed up to the Idaho Ministry of Motor Vehicles to update my info. As the kindly clerk prepared to take my photo, I suddenly remembered reading a news story about how Indiana’s motor vehicle department, does not allow you to smile:
    Smiling supposedly messes up facial recognition technology, making individuals harder to identify.
    I almost smiled when I saw there was no line at the Idaho DMV. Waiting in long lines often automatically erases smiles, so Indiana department heads could use this as an excuse to cut staff, purposely creating longer waiting lines to erase those insidious cheese-eatin’ grins.
    These thoughts crossed my mind at the exact flashbulb instant when the clerk shot my photo, which came out with a slight grimace. Not only that, but I looked like I had more chins than a Chinese phonebook! Some friends suggested that an excellent way to subvert facial recognition technology would be to go around celebrating a high level of jocularity all day, like Smiling Bob in that Enzyte commercial:
    However if we did, soon funny-boneless Department of Frownland Security clowns would probably mandate smiling against the law everywhere. Since any smiles could be construed as deceptive attempts to avoid identification and no mechanical tool better than rigorous human intuition has yet been proven to measure the absolute purity of princely smiles, (and ways to profit off these measurements) -for now anybody who smiles must be labeled a bad-man terrorist.
    Maybe this explains why I always get a funny feeling; whenever I see Smiling Bob broadcasting his upside-down frown.
    I realize that some frowny people might consider the above Chinese phonebook joke to be over the top, especially since MLK Day was last week and Obama is now utilizing his real name for productive White House blogging:
    However, in the spirit of Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts’ recent commentary: Where Clint Eastwood draws the line: My dream today is for bloggers of all brands of anonymity, to sense this joke as funny enough to transcend racism:
    After all, I’ve shared healthy jokes with our Chinese cousins before, most recently on 9-11: (letter 2):
    Totally Signed,
    Interesting footnote for Sunday reflection: What is the real name of God?

    Wednesday, February 04, 2009

    If the Express has not already done so, two treasures they might consider mining from the old newspapers are Ezra Pound's birth and death notices (October 30, 1885 & November 1, 1972). International historians would probably look at such gems as worthy for inclusion in the National Archives.

    You could put Mr. Pound's original birth notice up for sale through a literary-leaning auction house, with the condition that the bidding starts in the thousands - if not tens of thousands. You might even have more to gain; by announcing an intention to donate half the proceeds to fund an Ezra Pound-oriented scholarship.

    After announcing the auction / scholarship on Express websites, you could make reproductions of Pound's birth and death notices available for a small fee. Visiting writers, poets and tourists would probably be enthralled to see framed copies of Ezra's life bookends, ceremoniously placed at his Hailey birthplace entrance.

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