Saturday, January 09, 2010

Author Archive

500 million smooth landings last decade

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

It’s remarkable that a Northwest Airlines flight was subject to a high-profile 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 over 500 million airline flights that took place in the last ten years, without confrontation of any sort.

The years I worked in the airline industry before 9-11, made it clear that our security system was largely a charade, requiring vast improvements. For one thing, I would have felt more secure back then, knowing our security agents were earning more than six bucks an hour. It’s great that our dedicated screeners now earn something more approaching a living wage; however, I never dreamed we would become compliant to authoritarian rules of such a large ballooning boondoggle agency. Besides being required to obediently kick off our shoes, we’re now sometimes subject to fishing expeditions that have absolutely nothing to do with transportation security. Currently at some airports, innocent flyers are even forced to pass through high-resolution X-Ray scanners, which clearly violate child pornography laws!

Although the TSA has manufactured over 1 million “terrorists” for our state-of fear watch-lists, air travel remains a safer mode of transportation then most long highway journeys. It’s too bad that while we’re being hyped and barked at by talking heads all along the terrorism watchtower, about these extremely rare violent air-incidences, that we aren’t able to divert some of these massive funds for some simple down-to-earth homeland security measures, such as upgrading some of Idaho’s terribly dangerous high speed rural roads into safer divided highways.

Is TV transforming our dreams and lives?

Monday, December 28th, 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 ’60s, an era when we watched more than 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 TVs 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?

Anagram of the week

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

"Obama for change" -> "Afghan race boom"

Smarter than smart-grid?

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

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 communitees 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 far fetched, as nefarious hackers have already infected various financial institutions, 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.

Unveiled gyroscopes of balance

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

I have a friend who enjoys adventuring into the great outdoors in pursuit of collecting rocks and gems. Some of her finds, she turns into jewelry, which fits well on her, when she dons it at her waitress job. We’ve talked about how sunlight after hard rains creates optimum field conditions for finding obsidian and crystals, as they sometimes stand out like tiny stars.

One early morning, after sharing a raindrop of synchronicity with her, I asked her about her own meaningful coincidences. She responded; that recently, after showing off a homemade jasper necklace to some inquisitive customers; she told them on a whim, that if she ever has a son, she would love to name him “Jasper.” Within the hour a young lad of about seven, entered the diner with his family, and introduced himself as Jasper!

Soon after, she mentioned another significant twist of fate. In this case, while moving some items into her new home, she came upon an old notebook, which had leafed open to a page featuring the word “gyroscope” scribbled in her own ancient handwriting. As she pondered why she had written this singular word on the yellowed sheet, a song came over the radio, with the male singer’s voice synchronously crooning, “gyroscope.”

Next, my friend told me that she had been staying up, until three in morning for several days, in intense preparation to get her move finished, before school restarts. According to her schedule, it looks like when school starts, she’ll need to be, either studying or working, almost every waking moment, leaving no time for her earthly rock hunting pursuits.

This sounded stressful and I spent some time contemplating my friend’s dilemma. An hour or two later, I re-entered the cafeteria with an interpretation of her gyroscope synchronicity. I mentioned that gyroscopes are used for keeping balance and that if two gyroscopes were mysteriously spinning for her at the same time, than maybe the universe was prompting her to become better balanced and get a little more sleep, so she doesn’t crash. I explained how gyroscopes are used in Segways to help keep them upright. This reminded her that a Segway brushed by her closely during our local Wagon Days festival, only days before; though she was unaware it contained a hidden gyroscope.

As Segways are seldom seen in our valley, it made the three-point gyroscope synchronicity feel as precious as her jasper necklace and we agreed that Synchronicity rocks as much as a field of shining gem-stars.

Galena Cell Tower debate took on mythical qualities

Friday, September 4th, 2009

This debate stood for much more than a mere cell tower. The story attracted mythic qualities. Some of the healthiest dialogue came from spokespersons both for and against the tower, who occasionally contradicted themselves in papers and in public meetings. Some saw Idaho Tower as Atlas; not shrugging in her epic efforts; while others perceived her as Medusa and didn’t dare look reason in the face, knowing it would crush their conceptually confused logic into Billy’s Bridge gravel.

A friend, who participated closely in the public hearings, remarked:

"Much opinion was allowed full reign, fueled by rancor and emotion, and absolute dismissal of facts and information.

The Galena example is almost comical b/c the situation is so whacked. Local staff has dismissed voluminous handbooks, manuals, regulations and laws that instruct permitting of telecommunication infrastructure, and are hanging onto a thread of language that is discretionary, and also could be validly seen as violating its own forest plan."

Suddenly, the Forest Service Supervisor selected a path for redesignation, with the secret motive of making the tower impossible. Moreover, she used Labyrinthal language, which only the most adept of Minotaur attorney’s could follow without strings. Meanwhile, Homeland Security prepared to shift Atlas onto his own back with an improved plan to foil us all by paying two Princess Bride government factions to sword-fight it out. Citizen angst against the tower sometimes stemmed from dissatisfaction’s within, which the fuming ones projected, by gnashing their dragon’s teeth to channel harsh sound bites onto the tower. Anti-cell tower Victorians will discuss this result for decades.

In the meantime, astute Idaho historians should include this legendary chapter in state history textbooks, so that our grandchildren may gain clearer perspectives than we have.

To harmonize Idaho history books, our Transportation Department should install a historical sign at Galena’s overlook, to commemorate the epic battle of the defeated tower. To appease earth-muffins and water sprites, they should mount it smack-dab next to the new Galena landline phone, to soak up less sacred SNRA space.

Military war training results in crashes back home

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Trauma in the wrong lane? A question for mental health awareness week.

I recently read in the war blogs about soldiers returning from overseas who have had a bit of an adjustment on our highways. Apparently, in battle zones, any vehicle in motion is perceived as threat and it’s hard to get over this.

Military troops are trained to swerve over into the other lane as they travel underneath bridges in conflict zones. In this way, they are more likely to avoid something bad dropped onto their vehicles when they come out of the other side of the tunnel in an unanticipated lane.

Evidently, from what I gather from our armed forces blogs, this survival routine has been brought back to the states, resulting in several crashes and/or narrow escapes in L.A. area tunnels. I wonder if any of the professionals out there in our Idaho mental health community have heard about this unfortunate phenomenon.

In strong support of Ketchum

Monday, August 24th, 2009

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 alright, 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 western towns. People who care about each other, more than they do for their worldly possessions.

Therefore, it grates at me, when I hear intermittent comments that disparage the town and townspeople of Ketchum (and the WR 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 ten 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 South Idaho. After that, live-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 North America’s largest non-motorized parade.

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 Tom Sawyer-like swimming holes. Free newspapers, magazines, maps and Wifi are widely abundant. We also have a water park, bringing boundless glee to splashing kids. On the edge of town, Sun Valley Company is installing a Gondola for thrilling Bald Mt. 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, last month 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 work-tools in the open on the back of his truck, parked in front of Zaney’s, where the event began. He had drawn a large sign, asking passerby 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.

Suggestions for the new Sun Valley airport

Friday, August 21st, 2009

…Only a handful of airports in the nation offer free parking and Twin Falls is one. Offering free parking at the proposed Sun Valley Airport would offset expenditures for travelers who complain about the extra drive, and help to compete with Twin.

No-cost parking would also help jump-start the popularity of the new airport and encourage air travel, which lately has been inundated by higher fuel and security costs.

Another thing airport planners should consider is a heated indoor deicing structure, for aircraft to taxi through, minutes before flying off.

The designers could plan such a state-of-the-art facility with environmentally friendly drains; for collecting the used deicing fluid; and perhaps for recycling it later.

Another possible approach for removing dangerous ice from aircraft is with modernized microwave systems. Having a heated hanger for either of these options would lessen the amount of deicing fluid and / or microwaves required.

In summer, the deicing booth could double as a profitable car wash. The airport authority could advertise this airplane ‘car wash’ and remind pilots who spiff up their wings here, that they are also helping to offset the cost of free parking, thus popularizing modern Idaho airport travel.

Triple Breakdown Synchronicity

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
Gene’s, early 60’s rock-hauling truck ‘Merlin’

Triple Breakdown Synchronicity

Back in cold February, I was chugging up Highway 75; when suddenly right before Ohio Gulch, the rig started behaving badly. Turns out it was the transmission, and even though a mechanic-friend had recently gone over it with a fine-toothed comb, it was shot.

That cost some big bucks; and then, only a few weeks later, the truck started misbehaving again, at that exact same spot. As locals know, Ohio Gulch is the turnoff for the dump transfer, and just north is where the State sometimes sets up weigh stations. It’s also essentially the last good place to pull over safely; if you’re heading north with a big rig in the area, and it breaks down.

The second breakdown was caused by a fuel pump problem. I thought it was strange and yet a little fortunate that the truck decided to break down at the same safe pullover spot twice. Then I remembered; fifteen years ago, I was driving a rig full of rocks for a stonemason, and that truck broke down at the same spot. I had loaded Gene’s truck to the brim, with four and ¼ tons of river rock. As we approached Ohio Gulch, his truck started thumping loudly from the right rear. I pulled over and soon saw that the wheel had actually rolled out from its base, while the lug nuts whizzed off like bullets into the wild-west sage. Although the tire and rim had shot off, it had miraculously wedged into a corner of the truck, keeping the masonry rocks from spilling out.

As I hitchhiked to the East Fork jobsite, passing over Greenhorn Bridge, I became thankful that the truck had not decided to shuck off its rocks, back to the river there. I wasn’t looking for that type of legend on my resume.

And while we did laugh later, Gene told me, when he saw me walking the last leg of Hyndman, two hours late and with no truck, he thought, “This can’t be good.”

It’s funny; every time I drive past that Hyndman Creek house with a friend and see those river rocks shining so intact, I feel compelled to pull over, point at the stones and tell this story.

And it makes me curious to hear about other people’s experiences of breaking down at same spots.

Early morning teardrop

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

On a recent morning, while assembling some furniture with a colleague, I inserted an old unmarked music tape for background accompaniment. As we found Gordon Lightfoot crooning at us from the truck tailgate, I noticed a slight shift in the atmosphere. Looking up, I spied a thousand feet above, some; red, white and blue cloud wisps, leading a dark storm front. I felt a certain freedom, gazing skyward, and it crossed my mind that doing so is a special privilege, reserved for fools, children and shaman.

Suddenly in the midst of our busy workstation, a singular raindrop landed right between us, while Gordon sang a stanza from Early Morning Rain. The raindrop actually flew equilaterally between the tape deck and us, precisely as it played the ‘rain’ refrain.

Excitedly, I pointed out how this was a synchronicity, but my workmate’s reaction was mute. This saddened me slightly, and shortly, I tried to diagram the special coincidence. However, it was clear that he was not interested in hearing me babble on about raindrop synchronicities or signal graces.

Later on, I thought that maybe he was right; this was not a synchronicity at all, but rather a wistful teardrop from the cherub leading the storm front, sad by his blindness toward meaningful coincidences.

It could be though, that my friend secretly believes in synchronicity. And as Gordon Lightfoot might contemplate: For some folks it’s easier to ‘jump a jet plane’ than it is to scratch beneath the freight train surface of their personal beliefs.


Lyrics for Gordon Lightfoot’s (1963) Early Morning Rain:

In the early morning rain
With a dollar in my hand
With an achin in my heart
And my pockets full of sand
Im a long way from home
And I miss my loved ones so
In the early morning rain
With no place to go
Out on runway number nine
Big seven-o-seven set to go
But Im stuck here in the grass
Where the cold wind blows
Now the liquor tasted good
And the women all were fast
Well there she goes my friend
Well shes rollin down at last

Hear the mighty engines roar
See the silver bird

on high
Shes away and westward bound
Far above the clouds shell fly
Where the mornin rain dont fall
And the sun always shines
Shell be flyin oer my home
In about three hours time

This old airports got me down
Its no earthly good to me
cause Im stuck here on the ground
As cold and drunk as I can be
You cant jump a jet plane
Like you can a freight train
So Id best be on my way
In the early morning rain
You cant jump a jet plane
Like you can a freight train
So Id best be on my way
In the early morning rain

Distressed animals discovering human help

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

After reading a satire piece Saturday about how Tweety-bird hired an attorney to sue Twitter, I noticed The Idaho Statesman posted a staff report featuring a bewildered parrot waiting at the Idaho Humane Society. In Did Tweet do the twick?, they say, “It was impossible to ignore a Friday morning tweet from the Idaho Humane Society: "Missing a parrot? Stray parrot waits in our humane enforcement office. He won’t talk."

Remarkably, the humane Twitter report help redirect the lost parrot to its Zoo Boise home.

As the ‘impossible to ignore’ quote stuck in my craw, it reminded me of a recent story about a sick loggerhead sea turtle that swam to the hospital doorstep of the ‘only place in the world, licensed solely to treat turtles.’ In that Florida case, the 73 lb. under-the-weather reptile somehow knew precisely where to go, to seek help.

In another case, in February, the Toledo Blade reported a deer that walked into a PetSmart with a wounded hind leg, from behind two trash bins outside the store:

“The animal, found in a pool of bloody snow, proceeded to jump and run into the just-opened door leading into the building’s stockroom. Once inside, the female deer lay down on the floor as blood dripped from her left hind leg, recalled store Manager Trudi Urie.

Staff moved quickly to seal the entrance to the shopping area. "The last thing we wanted was a bloody deer running through," she said.

Ms. Urie figured that the appropriate thing would be to call an animal control officer. But with none nearby, employees called Rossford police. They also beckoned Dr. Cuesta, who works in the veterinary clinic inside PetSmart. Yesterday Dr. Cuesta recounted how after examining the doe and finding it in good health aside from the leg, he told officers he could treat it right there on the stockroom floor, so it could return to the wild.

The leg needed serious work. Dr. Cuesta said it had two or three deep cuts and that bone was showing through the fur. He said he could not determine what caused the injury.

Observers said that despite the injury and unfamiliar surroundings, the deer maintained a surprising degree of calm.

Clinic assistants held down the animal and placed a white towel over its head so it wouldn’t be spooked.

Dr. Cuesta placed a numbing agent on the wounds and began administering an electrolyte fluid under the deer’s skin.

The veterinarian closed the wounds with dissolvable stitches.

Before finishing their work the team gave pain medicine and an antibiotic to prevent infection.

Finally, everyone stepped away and began to motion the deer out the door.

"We took off the towel from her eyes and slowly she got to her feet," Dr. Cuesta said. "She stood frozen for a few seconds, but after that she ran out of the store."

There’s no answer yet for what may have first attracted the deer to the PetSmart building.

While it’s said that animals can smell fear, what is less known is whether they can sniff out good will and free medical care.

"Of all the places to run into, a pet store that has vets in it," marveled Ms. Urie, adding with a laugh: "If it would have went into a Bass Pro, it would have been a different story."

Though stitched up and medicated, the deer wasn’t back in the woods quite yet. Dr. Cuesta recalled how there was no small amount of distress among his staff when the doe ignored an open field and instead darted across an intersection.

The deer stopped for a moment in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant. It wandered for a few seconds, and then dashed into a field and out of view.”

Right as I was prepared to post this, I discovered another synchronistic article from the Vancouver Sun’s Nicholas Read:

Mother duck’s ‘bird brain’ saves ducklings

She grabs police officer by pant leg to lead him to her brood trapped under grate

Don’t mention "bird brains" to Ray Petersen, because after what happened this week, he won’t hear a word of it. Petersen, a community police officer for Granville Downtown South, was walking in the 1500-block Granville Street (directly under the Granville Bridge) Wednesday morning when a duck came up and grabbed him by the pant leg. Then it started waddling around him and quacking. "I thought it was a bit goofy, so I shoved it away," Petersen said in an interview. But the duck, a female (he thinks it was a mallard), wasn’t about to give up that easily. Making sure she still had Petersen’s eye, she waddled up the road about 20 metres and lay on a storm sewer grate. Petersen watched and thought nothing of it. "But when I started walking again, she did the same thing. She ran around and grabbed me again." It became obvious to him then that something was up. So when she waddled off to the sewer grate a second time, Petersen decided to follow. "I went up to where the duck was lying and saw eight little babies in the water below. They had fallen down between the grates." So Petersen took action. He phoned police Sergeant Randy Kellens, who arrived at the scene and, in turn, got in touch with two more constables. "When they came down, the duck ran around them as well, quacking. Then she lay down on the grate," Petersen said. While Kellens looked over into the grate, the duck sat on the curb and watched. Then the two constables, John Schilling and Allison Hill, marshaled a tow truck that lifted the grate out of position, allowing the eight ducklings to be rescued one by one with a vegetable strainer. "While we were doing this, the mother duck just lay there and watched," Petersen says. Once the ducklings were safe, however, she set about marching them down to False Creek, where they jumped into the water. Kellens followed them to make sure they were all right, but elected to remain on shore. The experience has changed Petersen’s mind about ducks. He thinks they’re a lot smarter than he used to. And while he never ate duck before, he says he wouldn’t dream of it now.

These stories make me curious about how many more incidents there are of animals mysteriously finding their way to human helpers and healers. If you know of any, I would certainly be interested to hear about what impossible to ignore stories you have to tweet.

Bridge over muddy waters

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Seeing how treacherous the Big Wood looks lately reminds me of an incident five years ago; before they smashed Ski View Lodge into smithereens…

That year, it was another wet spring and one late afternoon, there was a tap at my shack door. It was Rapping Tim[i] and he brandished a large chainsaw. Tim was a skilled jack-of-all-trades and he needed some assistance. The wooden bridge he helped construct twenty years before, was taking a beating from dozens of logs stuck and bobbing beneath. With Trail Creek running furiously, it was clear this logjam would soon become worse.

Tim asked if I could ‘spot’ him, and as he wheeled back his chain cord, I noticed his sneakers were without tread. Then as he stood close to me over the bowed and slippery bridge, to speak over the raging creek, I smelled whisky on his breath; and I’m sure of that, because I had rum on mine at the time.

Tim courageously cut into the logjam. After several minutes, he eventually freed several. I was amazed to see him operate the chainsaw skillfully, with the running blade mostly submerged. This reminded me of underwater chainsaws invented out of necessity.

Tim faced downstream as he meticulously sliced away at a fallen Tamarack. Meanwhile the upstream started providing weighty backlogs, to press precariously against the old bridge. I envisioned that at any moment a large cottonwood could come cruising downstream, catapult up off the stuck logs and knock Tim into the muddy water.

Maybe that’s why he wanted me to stand there. I was to warn him of flying logs. I wasn’t doing anything else besides standing there on the slippery slope. Perhaps he wanted me there as moral support, or maybe I was to perform a miracle rescue, while simultaneously speed-dialing 911, as Tim slipped in Trail Creek’s cold drink.

Despite Tim’s epic efforts, that year, eventually enough logs battered into the bridge braces to swipe it away. Looking back at it now, I think Tim just wanted me there as an eyewitness for that memorable experience. He took a lot of pride in that legendary footbridge and wanted it to last. I miss it as much as I miss the sunny days of our tumbledown shack. And often when I pass though that area, I glance down to where it used to cross Trail Creek and then pine a little for old Ketchum days.

[i] Not his real name.

Sun and wind are best for us

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

It’s disconcerting to read Rep. Mike Simpson touting the most dangerous element under the sun (Idaho Statesman, May 31) as the best green option in the energy debate. Mr. Simpson says, “France learned long ago that nuclear energy is safe, abundant and cheap.”

While it is true that France uses over 80 percent nuclear power for electricity, there is a big brouhaha going on over there, about some enormous problems this has brought. For instance, where do you think the elite French are trying to lay their insidiously deadly toxins to rest for millennia? Why it’s being shoveled into poor peoples backyards, of course. Much like the Three Mile Island skeleton core transported to radiate here in meager Idaho’s National Lab.

While he claims, nuclear energy is safe; perhaps Mr. Simpson does not realize that a uranium leak last summer in one of France’s nuclear plants, led to a fishing, swimming and well-water drinking ban in two Vaucluse rivers. How would he feel if we found ourselves forced to forgo recreational boating, fishing and simple splish-splashing in our Snake?

At the conclusion of Rep. Simpson’s argument he asks, “Who wants their grandmother’s kidney dialysis machine to rely on wind energy on a calm day or solar energy when the sun is not shining?” This is preposterous fear mongering. Naturally, concerned relatives would want reliable backup generators available for such important concerns. And, currently some inspired scientists are developing innovative products that run off both solar and wind power, and only need charged every four days.

Instead of greenwashing Grandma with putrid plutonium promises, perhaps the wise sage would rather see us funding her grandchildren’s colleges with more research and development departments to augment what safe, abundant and inexpensive sun and wind can generate for us, and the lifesaving machines we rely upon.

Idling thoughts

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Someone approached me recently with a concern of cars idling in Ketchum. Her distress was this:

“Hi there, came across your email on the SVO blog. I am not a blogger, but did join the site. Am new to Wood River Valley. since you seem big into blogging, has anyone blogged about how bizarre and disturbing it is that so many people leave their cars running at the curb while they go about their business in Ketchum. I wrote a LTE in the Express about this… but wonder if it can / ought to be blogged about. Thoughts?

And on that subject, why do so many people drive in Ketchum? It’s so unnecessary! - KT”

I replied, "Welcome to the valley. I think that’s an interesting subject you bring up, and could work well for a SVO discussion.”

A few random thoughts:

In recent years, local authorities have posted several dozen no-idling signs in well-thought out places around the valley. Hailey has a lot of these, as do most schools. I wonder though, how local law enforcement works with this. Has anybody been ticketed or warned for idling their vehicle in one of these zones? What about Prius owners? Maybe the accepted wisdom is that the signs, along with a healthy dose of passerby’s scornful-looks, should be enough to do the trick. (Sometimes finger-pointers utilize Miscellany 2 in the Express classifieds in similar technique)

It sounds like you’re focusing on cases, where people actually leave their cars running, unattended. That’s definitely worse and I have heard of somebody ticketed for this. Frequent naïve attitudes about how crime is practically non-existent here don’t help either. A few years ago, somebody stole a Ketchum man’s car on April Fools Day. Although he had left his keys in the car, he presumed that his friends had played a practical joke, until that afternoon, when he realized it really was stolen.

It would be interesting to get a mechanic’s opinion on idling cars and at what point you should turn your engine off for brief stops. In some cases there could be reasonable explanations as to why the vehicle is idling. Other times, it baffles me when I see someone running their engine, while blocking a gas pump they aren’t even using. When I used to operate a cab, the company liked us to keep the engines running in wintertime. I’ve seen the same thing with the City of Ketchum, snow removal machinery – sometimes they run the engines for an hour or two, without actually operating the machinery, but to keep them warm and at ready stand-by. Probably a wise choice, when we’re facing harsh single-digit weather conditions.

As far as parking goes, some people allow themselves to become spoiled here. I’m not immune to this either. Where I grew up in a larger city, if I discovered a parking spot within ten blocks of the movie theatre, I felt like I had scored big. Here when you have to walk five blocks it seems like a long slog, until I remember…

Perhaps we could design a poll to complement the blogpost.

Something like:

Q: What’s your favorite idling car excuse?

1. I didn’t want to lose the spot at where my music was playing.

2. I couldn’t find a palm tree to park under and my baby was in the back, so I needed to keep the air-conditioner running.

3. Need to keep beer fresh and cool.

4. Practicing Heyoka methodology.

5. High altitudes amplify my natural stupidity.

6. Etc.

I wonder how people would feel about idling, if cars ran off solar / water and emitted no pollution. Some idle observers might immediately lose interest in the subject, as they tend to focus more on arguing than truly seeking solutions. Some would probably argue don’t forget about the noise they create; but personally, I would like to welcome the sound of idling cars operating effectively off small amounts of water as something to harmonize with; something good enough to whet the environmental curiosity of even the saltiest of Ketchum’s rough-idling dogs.

SV Online old blogposts / Part III

Author Archive

Simply great advice

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Via Willie Blake:
Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night
(not sure how this advice fits in with those currently summiting Everest)

Don’t judge a book until you read it

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
Cases like last year’s Martin Luther King Day lesson gone awry, remind me of when parents start calling for bans of wide-spectrum’s of controversial books, and then it’s discovered they have never actually taken time to read the books, which are supposedly upsetting their children.
A 2006 case from Houston Community papers featured Alton Verm and his then 15 year-old daughter Diane, who wanted to ban Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 because,
“It’s just all kinds of filth,” said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read “Fahrenheit 451.” “The words don’t need to be brought out in class. I want to get the book taken out of the class.”
Diane added, “The book had a bunch of very bad language in it, it shouldn’t be in there because it’s offending people. … If they can’t find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn’t have a book at all.”
The ultimate irony here is that Fahrenheit 451 is a book ABOUT BANNING BOOKS.
The title comes from the high temperature tipping point, at which books burn!
The same can be said about “Catcher in the Rye,” when Holden Caulfield sees some obscenely described graffiti, splayed on the school walls and out of love and respect for his little sister Phoebe, becomes determined to scrub off all the (expletives) in the world, so that she should never have to see one. If J.D. Salinger had not chosen to insert these harsh words to describe what Mr. Caulfield was seeing, his poignant point would have come across too diluted.
Huck Finn, the same way. Every year or so, parents in some communities want to ban this book because of Mark Twains liberal use of the N-Word, an accurate depiction of the language in its time and copious contexts. Yet, if folks went to the trouble to read between Huck Finns fishing lines, they would see, it is one of the most ANTI-RACISM books ever. After all, Huck decides that he would rather go to “the bad place,” then to sell out his friend, the runaway slave Jim. How many of us can say that we would be as loyal to our friends?

An Ocean Full of Bowling Balls

Thursday, April 30th, 2009
Here is an early synopsis of J.D. 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.

Ranting about being green is not always pennywise

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
An opposite-take essay on disposability
Trying to save money, I set out a few years ago to survive cold Idaho winters by plopping down on the edge of Hailey society in an affordable shack with minimal utility needs. Although, I attached much character to the poorly-heated hut; sometimes its confined quarters gave me cabin fever. The second winter habitating there; I begin having difficulty breathing and then nightmares. After a few nights of thinking I was suffering from a heart attack, I discovered that the substandard flooring and antiquated plumbing system were allowing poisonous methane fumes to seep up into the tiny living space, where there were no windows or ventilation.
The landlord then, thought it was high time to profit from its booming in-town location. That old shack is now smithereens and I say, “Good Riddance!” Like lots of thought to be cost-cutting measures, the quality of living, which dropped tremendously in that tiny shelter, proved to be more costly than any rent savings I might have imagined.
Around the next corner, in my warm new close-knit community, I was secretly relieved when I saw my next-door neighbor throwing away recyclables. She was an intern for an environmental concern, and I had been worried she would give me the evil eye if I did not rinse every can, spic and span, before plopping each into politically correct pristine containers.
Who has time to waste on this type of virtuous garbage anyway? It’s going to take some serious sustained efforts to convince many people and me that investing time to surface scrub every throwaway is worthwhile.
Take non-refundable glass for instance. There are only nine glass-reprocessing factories in the Nation. The closest one to Southern Idaho is in Portland for gush-sakes. Jeezum Crow! How can some people implore that wasting gas, by limousining glass over Oregon trails is better or even profitable with the rock bottom price glass has crashed to?
Moreover, the tree-huggers and whatnot brag that they mix their big-deal glass into road compounds. These people are making me sick! Does all this stained glass blind the bulging mountain of “Dudley Dew-Rights” into limited prisms of thought? While they’re out celebrating their tiny merit-badge highway clean ups; why don’t they just righteously tamp the beer bottles they find tossed off sides of roads, directly back into the sand from whence it came? After all, silica (sand), which glass forms from, is the single most abundant element on this planet!
Instead, the earth-muffins haul it back to the central scrutinizer transfer station, cut their vain little hands –probably getting hepatitis and God knows what else from the filthy glass–then crush it up for a waste of time photo-op, exposing negative chemicals to the wind. Environmental nuts like these should come clean and admit that they are posing to display their emerald vanities. I bet they have endless reasons as to why you never see them recycling their prized peacock styling mirrors over to the Gold Mine Thrift Store.
By the same token; many people admit to throwing pennies in the rubbish for the job-secure sanitation engineers to dispose of. That’s right, following our Government’s lead of greasing slippery economy inner-mechanisms by freely tossing money away! However, wheeling garbage around under well-designed plans is not all bad. The quicker we can stuff more landfills to the hilt, the sooner some more mountainous parks will come into play.
What’s a penny to buy anyway? It’ll cover my rent for about thirty seconds. There is no more penny candy to rot your teeth. Heck, for years the cost to produce a penny has far exceeded Lincoln’s face value. Nowadays, the materials alone melted into copper basins are more valuable than infinitesimal pennies of the same weight.
Saving spendthrift pennies makes about as much sense as bronzing gold medals. Honest Abe. Only an untouchable person would stoop to pick up dirty coinage from the gutter and become the butt of cruel jokes. “Indisposed” Sun Valley girls won’t touch a man unless he has about a million starched greenbacks sticking out his back pocket, at ready stand-by for high-society squandering.
A modern fable related to this, has Bill Gates strolling along on a Segway: Suddenly, he spies a hundred dollar bill with his gold medal detector, blending in the green grass. If he clicks the kickstand with his penny-loafers, stopping to pick up the $100, the seconds spent doing so, in theory earn him (and the Gates Foundation) less money than he would have earned by not halting progress to grub up the lesser green.
On a more down to earth scale, let’s say that it takes you six seconds to lean down and pick up a glistening penny from Ketchum’s Gem Street. Is it levelheaded to do this? Some quick math: Six times ten is sixty seconds…times six again equals six dollars an hour. Therefore, if you are making minimum wage it does still “make sense” to take a break from harvesting potatoes, or bussing tables for Allen & Company to pluck up that fools gold!
Harping over this surprising new aspect makes me believe that perhaps I am a little green about some common cent facets. After all, legend has it that when Abe was an agile young man; he chased down an old Kentucky customer, realizing he had short-shifted the purchaser a couple of three pennies. Just as Lincoln later matured his own mind over larger issues, it’s only right that I should follow his lead, to reflect upon higher level spiritual items, rather than small change squabbles. It’s easy to see, gazing trancelike into Lincolns memorialized penny eyes, that as our founding Republican, he understood flip-flopping from heads to tails on some issues is often the healthiest thing for humankind.
Unfortunately, it’s also human nature, to discard such wisdom unthinkingly, while lazily living off the overabundant lard so easily scooped and gathered from our heartland’s arteries.
Before the grizzled men battered down my old hovel into Lincoln logs, my friend Brad came to visit there for a few days. It was good to see Brad back in town and we caught up on old times. On his last morning, hard rains spilled from the substandard shack roof, revealing by the front stoop a quicksilver mercury dime from WW2. When Brad turned this over to me, it was a priceless moment. We remembered steel pennies backing up steely nerves from that war effort; since every scrap of precious copper was ceremoniously cut, then cleansed on wings and prayers, for dumping throwaway bombs to “wipe out” expendable Japs and Germans.
In that era, the creed “Every Penny Counts” was treated like a religious doctrine. By utilizing that conviction, look to what degree we have ascended from earths touch. By accomplishing so many missions of far-reaching disposal, and standing haughtily like ill-bred Giants with food to burn, the rest of the world who must love us to death, say they want to greatly warship the United States!
On another Sun Valley trip the same season at Brad’s, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrapped up his visit here, he made an interesting observation about jetsetters. He said something to the effect that it’s remarkable, paper-rich people in our society pay handsomely to travel thousands of miles for meeting and celebrating with strangers in other lands; yet we do not invest free time to cross the streets to get to know our own neighbors. Reminds me of how often you see some broken-down motorist, desperately trying to flag down dozens of cars to no avail. Another message mostly lost on the somewhat-jaded crowd was that The Dalai Lama was interested in making a buck and was happy that his elite sponsor with connections here in the United States was helping him launch his enterprising new book, The Universe in a Single Atom. Here is a holy man who, through living poorly has done enough rich shadow work on himself that he can freely broadcast his wide smile to millions showing that he, too, is attracted to powerful fistfuls of dollars. Unlike handlers behind some high-preaching podiums, the Dalai Lama openly recognizes that within the purest of bright goods, lies balanced a minuscule seed of darkness and vice-versa. Identifying this innately human fact allows rational creatures to harness certain control over their inner conflicts, rather than be spooked from reflecting about the powerful prehistoric urges dormant, but still raring to go if needed, within us all.
From throwaway pennies to the chemicals creating people on them and even the religious convictions behind it all; disposability is an extremely broad and complex subject. Being able to openly listen and debate from many sides of the issue is a strong mark of established scholars. Some will argue that all of us are replaceable; yet at the same time, it’s clear that that the wiser you are, then the more distinct differences you can find between individuals. Each person has unique gifts of some sort. Sometimes these are hidden talents, unknown by the persons themselves and not revealed until later life fermentation.
When Brad visited, I realized that I had been taking him for granted –almost as a throwaway friend. I was blind to my ignorance until after he moved on. Sometimes it takes moving experiences or even the death of a loved one for it to become clearly evident of how much of an energetic force they became. Once centered in your life, but then transformed into a puzzling vortex of barrenness.
On the other hand, even Copernicus had to wait for deadwood thinkers to drift out of the way before he could show off his new spin to the world.
Therefore, the paradox to keep in mind is that even though people are replaceable they are also, irreplaceable. If we knew that we never moved on, we would probably end up taking each other for granted. Having a near-fatal experience of being gassed by a shameful human waste disposal system, helped me concentrate that life is everfleeting, making it evermore precious.

Bombshell Synchronicities

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Between anagrams and palindromes
Did you know “Edgar Poe” is “A God Peer?” That “Stephen King” is “The Pens King,” Clint Eastwood = Old West Action and Darth Vader begs Add Hart Rev? What I am talking about is the synchronicity of anagrams and hidden meanings within everyday phrases and names.
As legend has it, the first words ever spoken, “Madam in Eden, I’m Adam” were a palindrome. Further fables assert, that immediately after this opening statement, the first thought balloon formed above Eve’s innocent head, reading, “SOS EVE SOS!”
Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Douglas Hofstadter in his essay, The architecture of Jumbo, remarks about anagrams:
“Why work so hard to model such a frivolous and atypical cognitive activity? I tried to answer this question in the article itself, but let me just add here that I think that such mental juggling is a very important, pervasive kind of mental activity that has nothing intrinsic to do with anagrams. Perhaps the slow letter-juggling that goes on in the heads of people who have almost never tried anagrams is not of much universality and therefore of little importance or interest, but I think that when the activity reaches expert level, where it is highly automatized and very rapid, it has something in common with the deep processes of reorganization and reinterpretation that takes place in truly creative thought. Not to suggest that all good anagrammists are latent Einsteins, of course, but just that the activity itself, when done fluently, has a special and important quality.”
As anagrams are full of Synchronicity, so, too, Synchronicity vibrates with anagrams. It’s a rich city, sonny! Some anagrams are startling enough to make the hardest Cynic Hint Rosy.
Here are three more anagrams of synchronicity, ripened for your own interpretations:
Short Yin Cynic
Thy Ironic Sync
Cynic, Oh Sin, Try
A few weeks ago, on prolific authors’ Trish and Rob Macgregor’s synchronicity blog, I responded to Max’s silver teapot story, observing that two teacups can be found as potent metaphors. While doing so, I compared Commander Tibbet’s nonchalant postwar walk across the scorched fields of Nagasaki, with a different pace, set by peacenik warrior Lawrence Ferlinghetti. A few days later, I was surprised to read that the Nagasaki local Government has officially recognized 93-year-old Tsutomu Yamaguchi as one of a handful of survivors who survived both atomic bomb attacks.
In that vein, here are some AA Anagrams, dedicated to Mr. Tsutomu Yamaguchi
A Mach Yogis Mu Tutu
A Outmatch Guy I Sum
A Mica Thugs Yum Out
A Somatic Tug Uh Yum
A Atomic Guy Shut Mu
A Atomic Guy Thus Mu
A Tacit Gush Mum You
A Tacit Hug Mums You
A A Touch Guy Summit
A Magic Shut Yum Out
A Magic Hut Oust Yum
A Atomic Thug Yum Us
Douglas Hofstadter would probably take pleasure in the Mu anagrams riddled throughout Mr. Yamaguchi’s name.

John Cougar Mellowcat’s springtime animal predictions

Friday, March 27th, 2009
Plenty of Idaho criers have warned about wolves here being dangerous, but it’s still more perilous to cross the human highway than it is to waltz out one of our yodeling canyons
With this menace in mind, I consulted with my oracle: John Cougar Mellowcat, who kindly channeled for us, some other spring-fever animal predictions:
Besides the wolf this year, its predicted rattlers will be more docile. Good time, to gather some snapping worms for dynamic fishing.
Badger’s are lonelier and will need more human-applied scruffs behind their fuzzy ears.
Local cubby-bears will rise up with great desire for thick elderberry mead, so please baste your grease buckets and leave them warmly wafting under West Ketchum birdfeeders.
Albino deer appreciate late season snows and hope Baldy stays open through Memorial Day.
Increasing numbers of aged cougars will descend from the Elkhorn hills to infiltrate nearly-innocents at the dew-daw room.
Butterflies will continue to flaunt their illegal ignoring of voter district lines.
While Mormon crickets will continue their selfless mission of filling in Highway 20’s potholes, positively chirping beetles will munch over Galena pass, making the area more avalanche-prone, which will lead to a receptive public outcry for a safety-beacon cell tower on the hill.
Wise hoot owls will continue being mostly serious, and make gains towards unraveling unsolved mysteries.
Local dogs will continue worming their way into local hearts, while an ahead-of-the-curve ISU scientist will uncover compelling canine evidence that they sometimes laugh at us silly cats.

Jenna Montgomery wins Olympic gold racing medal

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

As a social tool and to assist with physical therapy, at age eight, Jenna Montgomery, commenced training to become a track & field athlete and cross-country skier. After rigorously preparing for six years, in March 2008, Jenna was chosen as the female Nordic skier to represent Massachusetts in the 2009 Special Olympic World Winter Games.
A small fundraising effort, sparked by Jenna’s mother, Maggie, and trainer Susanna Thomas, paid for most of the trip. In the months leading to the exciting seven-day Idaho event, Jenna worked closely with Susanna. They were dedicated to improving her time by training hard three to four times a week. Succeeding with this, Jenna managed to shave nearly sixteen minutes off her original time trials.
In December, as groundwork for Sun Valley, Jenna flew to Copper Mountain, Colorado for a five-day Olympic training camp. Though she had a bout of altitude sickness, she was still able to meet and be with her Team USA colleagues. It was the start of many new lifetime friendships.
To reach her Sun Valley destination, Jenna met the Massachusetts delegates at Boston’s Logan airport, and flew to Salt Lake City. From there, Team USA took a ceremonial convoy of eighteen buses to Boise, replete with police escorts, EMT’s and the revered Olympic Torch.
After the opening ceremonies, a smaller but similar fleet transported athletes to Sun Valley for the Nordic and snowboard events.
Jenna’s first impression of Sun Valley was, “It was absolutely beautiful and the snow was fast.” Early in the week, on her mother Maggie’s birthday, Jenna competed in the 500m and won a fifth place ribbon. While she wanted to win a medal for her mom’s birthday, this didn’t occur until the next day. Meanwhile, as she raced well (4:42 in the 500m), and sprinted through more time trails, Jenna gained a budding contingent of new fans, including colleagues from a state-of the art furniture shop, where I often help out. I’ve often noted, my co-workers at The Open Room have a sharp eye for good quality, so it was right in line for them to share Jenna’s remarkable story with me.
Many participants, volunteers and observers were soon caught up in the purity of the games; feeling the fantastic pull of what it really means for diverse people from all walks of life to get along with a high-level of enthusiasm; working towards constructive goals via sports and eventually applying those lessons to even larger life purposes.
Then amidst all the glorious events, in the midday sun of February 11, 2009, 15-year-old Jenna Montgomery from North Adams, Massachusetts won a gold medal in the Special Olympics World Winter Games, one-kilometer cross-country ski race, at Sun Valley’s Nordic Center. Her winning time for the 1K was 9:15, a full minute ahead of the silver medalist.
Although there was a language barrier between some of the athletes, every diverse culture recognized the meaning behind Jenna’s golden smile.
Jenna’s mom said that their experience in Idaho was a total joy and very hard to put into words. Jenna loved making new friends. She also enjoyed skiing on the “fast snow”. She said it was really fun and beautiful being out there. “Representing Team USA was an honor and a privilege.”
Maggie also said, “Special Olympics is the best program in the world and we are thankful for it. This program has allowed my very special daughter to be herself. She can be who she is and not have to put up a front for anyone.”
Jenna clutching gifts from her new Sun Valley fans
Jenna clutching gifts from her new Sun Valley fans
Jenna says it is too soon to say whether she will travel abroad to compete in Track & Field events for the summer 2011 Special Olympic World Games, to be held in Athens, Greece.

Liberating adrenaline rushes in Washington’s Cherry Air

Thursday, February 12th, 2009
A tribute to Abe’s 200th birthday

Being a native of our nation’s capital; I’ve had opportunities to visit many memorials and historic cubbyholes in that region. In Alexandria, Virginia, you can chug ales at the same bar George Washington used to get snookered in, taking his false choppers out, telling “wooden” you like to know what type of saucy jokes. One of my favorite things to do while in D.C. is to take a determined stroll across the National Mall during the Spring Cherry Blossom Festival and watch people from various walks of life, react to assortments of tourist attractions - taking it all in on a nice sunny day.
I encourage Idahoans who have never visited D.C. to consider doing so. It was inspiring to see many Idahoans on the mall during the recent Obama-Biden inauguration. Basking in the stately presence of powerful monuments and towering museums dedicated to our nations ideals, relays a first-class perspective of the potential that our democratic process can actually bring. Â
The National Archives Building on the mall displays an original copy of the Magna Carta. There you can also find, behind bulletproof glass, America’s Constitution, The Bill of Rights and The Emancipation Proclamation. Flash photography is prohibited in order to preserve these charters of freedom. Within the same perimeter The White House and Capitol offer informative group tours. Even a newly opened Native American museum now rests near the Capitol. Some tourists who have started from these whirlwind tours have returned for full summers to examine the multitude of attractions contained in our massive Mall.
For those of you living in the Wood River Valley, pilgrimaging to Washington D.C. during the Annual Blossom festival is a fine idea. Ski season will have tapered down, so it’s a good time to leave this muddy town. Slack specials with short layovers through Salt Lake or Seattle are readily available online. Last minute cheap seats can have you jetting out of Idaho in the morning and over the Potomac River by afternoon. If you’re flying into Reagan National Airport, try to book a window seat, for an all-encompassing view of some of our Nation’s finest museums, bustling art galleries and memorials. From Reagan, the clean and inexpensive subway leads safely onto the Mall at the Smithsonian Metro stop.
I like to jump off from this underground outlet, and then work my way over towards the Lincoln Memorial, scrutinizing the congregating visitors there. The Lincoln Memorial lies towards the west end of the Mall, but for many it is the heart. Â
Controversy notwithstanding, I like to identify with Lincoln, admiring how he matured his mind, regardless of prevailing public opinion. As the founding father of our Republican Party, Abe taught us that in special circumstances, flip-flopping can be a healthy choice. Additionally through a physical manifestation, I am exactly the same height Abe was, though my beard is shorter and my stovepipe hat perhaps a bit more asymmetrical.
Those in attendance at the Lincoln Memorial often gather reverently around the base of this larger-than-life Statue, which honors our larger than life forefather, who helped to liberate many oppressed Americans. Sometimes tourists shriek in the surreal setting, Sprechgesanging, “I can hardly believe I’m here!” The Greek Doric temple design of the Lincoln Memorial is superb enough to strike awe in the most casual of visitors. This profound symbol of American Democracy is one that gets its job done right.
The Lincoln memorial has been the setting for some of the finest speeches ever made. Martin Luther King Jr’s breathtaking “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963 reverberates there –still talked about in the surrounding cherry blossom ether to this day. A recently installed podium at the base of Lincoln’s feet commemorates this speech. Â
Sometimes the Mall becomes rather crowded. If you visit the Lincoln memorial during the cherry blossom festival, it’s comparable to visiting Ketchum during Wagon Days –only instead of 20,000 tourists you’ll find 200,000. If you like breathing in Ketchum’s Gallery walk events, then in D.C. you will gasp at the grand masterpieces offered by the Hirshorn, Freer and National Galleries of Art, along with futuristic art at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.Â
Snippets of cosmopolitan conversations charge the charming atmosphere. Once I enjoyed seeing 200 varieties of potatoes from South America displayed at the Mall’s International Folk Festival. Discovering multiple varieties of potatoes in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial was a rush for me. Scientists explain, that not only is variety the spice of life, but that cultivating such diversity enables farmers to have options to choose by, in the event some potatoes conform to blight or nematodes. Limited homogenized forms of Idaho potatoes can be boring.
So too, it is the same with human beings. And the Abe Lincoln Memorial celebrates this fact. Multiculturalism is a cornerstone of our country. “Give us your huddled masses” is what another fine figurine, The Statue of Liberty, beckons. –Although Lawrence Ferlinghetti has started painting a revised outlook on this:
If you were to take a ball and free it from a chain at the base of Lincoln’s ankles; it would bounce down the marble steps and into a magnificent reflecting pool. Startled herons from that pond would take off and symbolically free fly alongside kites, Frisbees and floating cherry blossoms, rising in the current heat of politicians’ bloated airs to boomerang by the windows of the 555-foot tall Washington Monument.
From this part of your whirlwind tour -like the heron you can fearlessly navigate a paddleboat returning through the Tidal Basin’s deep waters. The ebbing and flowing brine water is a refreshing break from Idaho’s stagnant Winter Brrrrhs. Slack spent at the Potomac waterfront at sea level breathing in blooming cherry air, warms the spring inside you and seeds your own blossoming.
The Mayor of Tokyo, Japan along with Dr. Jokichi Takamine, the discoverer of adrenaline, donated many of these cultivated trees along the Potomac waterfront. After Pearl Harbor was bombed, some of these trees were hacked down by irate citizens. Though Japan was an Axis power in WW2, they are now officially friends again -nectaring on our side- and no longer considered an “Axis of Evil” according to the broadsheets.
If you are a news junkie as I am, then you will probably enjoy the Newseum. This museum for newspapers has recently reopened with hundreds of headlines aligning the entrance wall. Besides ancient news memorabilia, they even have on display an early Gutenberg Press. If you make it there, they have a suggestion box, and I recommend you ask for more Idaho exposure, since Abe Lincoln had such a close connection with Idaho.
If you’re looking for a Civil War token to bring back to Idaho commemorating your trip, a special tourist attraction that trades Honest Abe memorabilia stands in the silhouette of the Lincoln Memorial. If you visit D.C. some spring, chances are that it will be a warm day. After promenading around the mall in the parching sun for a few miles, you’ll be delighted to see some outdoor beer (and soda) vendors, where sometimes actual descendants of slaves are prepared to emancipate you from the repressive heat. Â
When you hand the suds-proclamator a five-dollar bill with its picture of Abe, you’ll notice on the flip-side a picture of the same Doric temple you are genuflecting before. Symbolically you’ll return with more sense than you came with, because your copper change grasps more Lincolns with each cent the unchained man’s hand returns you in kind, while his cash registers a freedom bell.

Superior sportspersons soar over losing definitions

Monday, February 2nd, 2009
The mythological status that we bestow upon winning sports icons is inspirational, but all too often our must-win culture deems the person who places second a failure. Take for instance, Germany’s Jan Ullrich: Here is a man who actually won the Tour de France bike race back in 1997 and earned second five other times. Mr. Ullrich is also a gold and silver medal Olympic Champion. Yet in 2005, right before that year’s race, USA Today portrayed Mr. Ullrich as an “also ran” saying, “He lacks mental toughness” (Reibal). Here is a super athlete in the top one-billionenth percentile of all human racers; yet the media continuously portrays him as a loser. Something needs fixed when according to such doctrines, if you are not sitting on top of the world you are a letdown. Â
The same goes for professional sports at many levels. Even though Boston and New York’s baseball teams sometimes win pennants for World Series berths –unless the team actually wins the series, it is a tough traumatic event for the team and that team’s city! Enthusiasts, whose teams score second, truly believe that their lives as fans would have improved in magnificent ways, had not the most infinitesimal of heartless pebbles shifted an easy grounder, to bobble an erroneous course through their first baseman’s legs. When this happens, teams instantly trade ‘losing’ players, while managers’ heads get the chop. For years, fans caught wearing the insignia or even colors of the trailing team, become subject to ridicule -at least til that next rematch. Sometimes this happens even when the team is generating millions in profits, and would be considered successful by most other business model measurements.
The honorable thing to do is, is to ignore this mockery, while attempting to gain character from the process. This is not easy, as there are hundreds of Monday morning “expert” pundits for every professional player and coach. Yet sports figures with integrity can rise above this common challenge and prove successful by disregarding this charged blather; knowing that as important as fanzines portray these games to be, they can look to many other vital things in life to gain rewards from. Real sports superstars often use lessons distilled from their competive glory days to shine in non-sports related venues, contributing global assists to the downtrodden. Â
Sportspersons have much to live up to, when glorified as idols that represent everything good in this weary world. A few aspire to and actually reach this high standard and are worthy of such idolization. It is excellent when they attain this level, but even the most glorified of heroes make mistakes. Being subject to failure humanizes the most respected of sports idols, but if they handle this quandary properly, they can come away even more victorious, albeit human. Paradoxically, being fallible enables humans to overcome mistakes, achieving higher levels of admiration than they could if they were actually flawless entities. Â
A prime example of sportsmanship played out in 1976 on a field at the Spokane Special Olympics. During the 100-yard dash race, physically and mentally disabled contestants assembled beaming full of life, with each one, eager to win. At the gun, they started out, except for one small lad who stumbled, rolled over and began to cry. One or two participants heard the boy and turned back. A young girl with Down Syndrome bent down on the racetrack, kissed him, and said, “This will make it better.” Then they linked arms and walked in unison to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood stunned. There was not a dry eye in the arena, and the cheering still echoes years later, resonating in witnesses’ heads when they recount the story. This incident demonstrates how “True Champions” sometimes thrive in unexpected places; places some might wrongly regard as lowly. Â
Tales of football icons fumbling their fortunes emerge from the underside of the arena:Â
It seems that many fabled players, after having everything in life catered for them, have had difficult times re-adjusting to less lavish lifestyles when their careers are cut short. Some end up strung out on skid row or even in jail. Bruce Lowitt from the St. Petersburg Times writes about players who have resorted to selling their Super Bowl Rings only a few years after earning them. In his story, “Getting the ring can be easier than keeping it”, he interviews Kansas City pawnshop owner Don Budd, who says, “It was hard for me to believe that someone could reach that pinnacle…and be willing to give up the one object that says, ‘I was the best.’” Nowadays, Mr. Budd averages 10 players a season, who sell out their rings in this “last line of defense between poverty and homelessness” (Lowitt).
Yet sometimes, after hitting all-time life-lows even these trounced players bounce back up again, redeeming themselves as even better persons than they had been at the height of their ball-playing careers. Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown, (who was raised by his great-grandmother from age two, because his parents were gone and his grandmother was an alcoholic) left football while at the top of his sport, moving up even higher on the scale of true importance to counsel troubled teenagers and creating positive inroads for getting gangbangers off streets. After all, for kids struggling in traumatic times, seriously doubting everything, nothing beats hearing legitimately gifted voices of experience from high-profile persons who have tasted extremes of both sweetness and bitterness. From delicate golden syrupy pancakes stuffed with caviar and Savoy-truffles and Faberge omelets, to soppy milquetoast and rotten eggs for breakfast with a side of saltwater decaf from Hard-Times Café.
Embracing wide spectrums of experience develops a broader person. Denial of bad experiences is necessary within certain degrees, but in many cases, denial isn’t the healthiest course of action. Â
How often in life, have you heard someone say about a traumatic event, “I wish it hadn’t happened to me, but I’m a better person for it?” In Kathleen McGowan’s Psychology Today article, “The Hidden Side of Happiness” she shows how “a rich rewarding life often requires a messy battle with adversity” and that “there is a built-in human capacity to flourish under the most difficult circumstances” Thus the paradox, “what doesn’t kill you can actually make you stronger.” We sometimes confuse adversity with failure; therefore making a distinction between the two can be healing in of itself. Knowing that you have given it your best at a sporting event or some other task, yet did not “win” first place, should not by any means disallow you to proudly walk away from your valiant efforts. Â
In the mountaineering community, there are several well-documented incidents of professional climbers attempting to ascend high peaks, and then due to safety or weather concerns, turning around within shouting distance of the summit. Jon Krakauer, in his award-winning Into Thin Air chronicles the case of Swedish ultra-athlete Goran Kropp. After traveling from sea-level Sweden on a specially built bicycle laden with 240 lbs of gear, robbed and beaten along the way, Mr. Kropp finally reached the base of Mt. Everest, intending to climb it without bottled oxygen or Sherpa support. After a few training days, Goran reached 26,000 feet, aiming for the top the next morning right after midnight. Krakauer’s eagle-eyed perspective recounts:
“For the first time in months almost no wind blasted the summit, but the snow on the upper mountain was thigh deep, making for slow exhausting progress. Kropp bulled his way relentlessly, upward through the drifts, however, about by two o’clock Thursday afternoon he’d reached 28,700 feet, just below the South Summit. But even though the top was no more than sixty minutes above, he decided to turn around, believing that he would be too tired to descend safely if he climbed any higher”
“To turn around that close to the summit…,” (Rob) Hall mused with a shake of his head on May 6 as Kropp plodded past Camp Two on his way down the mountain. “That showed incredibly good judgment on young Goran’s part. I’m impressed – considerably more impressed actually, than if he’d continued climbing and made the top.” (Krakauer). Â
Therefore, it is nice to see that at least in mountaineering circles, you do not have to park yourself on top of the world to be a winner. Principled warriors from other avenues of life would do well to take note of this. Being able to analyze mistakes, remember and learn from them, applying them to future tests, is one of the highest aspirations achievable and a fundamental nature of wisdom. Studying and learning from our failures can be a great human gift.Â
In this age of Lickity-split information it’s nice that more people appreciate this dilemma, offering optimistic opportunities for squeezing out from dangling second-leveled crevices.
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
Works Cited
Krakauer, Jon. “Into Thin Air (excerpt).” Salon 24 May 1997. 20 November 2006.
Lowitt, Bruce. “Getting the ring can be easier than keeping it.” St. Petersburg Times 26 January 2001. 11 November 2006 2001/Getting_the_ring_can_.shtml
McGowan, Kathleen. “The Hidden Side of Happiness.” Psychology Today 02 May 2006. 08 November 2006 00001.html
Reibal, Sal. “Focus gives Lance head start as Tour de France nears.” USA Today 01 July 2005. 10 Nov. 2006 06-30-armstrong-cover_x.html

The ultimate multitasker focuses over Galena

Thursday, January 29th, 2009
Warning! The following puzzle contains some serious satire:
Doing Six Things At Once ~ Mr Harry Kahne demonstrating his ability to read, write, invert, add, divide, and converse, all at the same time. The figures on the smaller boards are provided by members of the audience. Those on the larger board are written intermittently by Mr Kahne whilst he is copying the headlines from a newspaper held upside down. He writes the figures and letters alternately, thus carrying out two distinct mathematical calculations whilst he is performing the four other mental feats, not the least difficult of which is the ansering of questions as to the populations of various towns!
Figure 1: Doing Six Things At Once ~ Mr Harry Kahne demonstrating his ability to read, write, invert, add, divide, and converse, all at the same time. The figures on the smaller boards are provided by members of the audience. Those on the larger board are written intermittently by Mr Kahne whilst he is copying the headlines from a newspaper held upside down. He writes the figures and letters alternately, thus carrying out two distinct mathematical calculations whilst he is performing the four other mental feats, not the least difficult of which is the ansering of questions as to the populations of various towns!
Some Cingular-minded blowhards have been complaining that driving over Galena pass while holding stimulating cell phone conversations is unsafe. Not only that, but they also moan that texting; the spice of our new age, is somehow a menace to other drivers. Next thing you know, these closed-minded blogcritics will probably implore ITD to ban distracting car radios, and soon after that, prohibit families from singing together in perfect harmony!
They will say that we never created the Sawtooth Recreation area for singing. If you want to sing praises of nature, take it inside to a real church! Yet a few courageous ones will penetrate through, whispering light good-vibration exultations under their breaths. Eventually, enlightened choir members will realize that they can claim their singing is that of a recreational nature, just as groups of constructive cell phone conversationalists will rightly claim, talking next to a waterfall, is a favorite method of theirs for recreating.Â
This epiphany will create a new problem for our courts, when recreating chorus groups gather on sacred government ground, daring to chant The Ten Commandments.

Three long words are suggested by members of the audience and written on the smaller board. Mr Kahne memorizes them; then, hanging head downwards, he proceeds to jumble them into an apparently meaningless scrawl, at the same time reciting any popular poem requested. A careful examination of the writing --- taking every third letter --- will reveal that he is in the act of writing Indianapolis correctly (as seen from the readers point of view), Idiosyncracies upside down, and Constantinople upside down, backwards, and reversed (legible when viewed in a mirror).
Three long words are suggested by members of the audience and written on the smaller board. Mr Kahne memorizes them; then, hanging head downwards, he proceeds to jumble them into an apparently meaningless scrawl, at the same time reciting any popular poem requested. A careful examination of the writing --- taking every third letter --- will reveal that he is in the act of writing "Indianapolis" correctly (as seen from the reader's point of view), "Idiosyncracies" upside down, and "Constantinople" upside down, backwards, and reversed (legible when viewed in a mirror).
Back to the multitasking mantra: If we are never encouraged to develop our multitasking skills, then surely those talents will deteriorate. Certainly, our roads are filled with drivers of various skill levels, some of who cannot handle more than one task at a time. Some of them probably have no business being on the road, but that’s a hard call; snatching away somebody’s freedom like that. Distractive driving is a subject more complicated than most media are making it out to be. When you consider that one in ten drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, devices we’ve sometimes pigeonholed as distractive, such as car radios, cell phones and truckers’ lively banter over C. B. radios, can suddenly be looked at as awakening tools.   Â

the right hand is writing backwards and revesed, whilst the mouth is writing backwards but correctly).
A demosntration of multiple concnetration of both mind and muscle which Mr Kahne frequently gives before doctors and psychologists. Note: the right hand is writing backwards and revesed, whilst the mouth is writing backwards but correctly).
Henry Kahne was known as the man with the multiple mind, whose brain could thrive on six things at the same time. In a 1925 Strand Magazine interview, he talks about how he first began to develop his remarkable talents:Â Â Â Â Â

“When did you first discover your ability to direct your mind into several channels of thought simultaneously?”
“At the age of 14, when I was at school. In most lessons, excepting mathematics, I was rather backwards — not because I hadn’t the ability to learn, but because I did not pay attention. I was an absent-minded youth, a daydreamer — always letting my mind wander, thinking out little mechanical inventions, planning new forms of code writing, or evolving plots for short stories. One day my teacher fired a sudden question at me, and finding that I was not paying attention, hauled me out for corporal punishment. It was really the feeling of his cane that first turned my thoughts in the direction of multiple mind concentration. I did not want to give up my daydreams, but on the other hand, I had a distinct aversion to corporal punishment. So after a while I got into the habit of letting one part of my brain wander into the realms of inventive fancy whilst I kept the other alert for an enfilade fire of questions from the teacher.” Â
Some people highly capable of handling the multitasking mental storm are sometimes looked upon as freaks.  Â
“But to talk to Mr Kahne is to discover that, although he has exceptional abilities, he is not by any means a freak. If he displays genius, it is not the kind that is akin to madness, but rather of the more creditable variety, generally spoken of as “an infinite capacity for taking pains”. “It is all a matter of development and practice”, he told me. “Just as the acrobat or juggler trains muscles and nerves that even an athlete overlooks, so have I trained brain cells which the average mental worker seldom attempts to being into use.”
Solving A Crossword Puzzle While Suspended Head Downwards ~ Mr Kahne recently performed this feat in response to a challenge, and completed the puzzle correctly in 13 minutes.
Figure 4: Solving A Crossword Puzzle While Suspended Head Downwards ~ Mr Kahne recently performed this feat in response to a challenge, and completed the puzzle correctly in 13 minutes.
 Surely, I mostly jest when it comes to texting over Galena Summit and wouldn’t even recommend it to Henry Kahne, unless he was a captive passenger. However, after reading about the ultimate multitasker, I’ve become curious about what other tinhorn and high-altitude serious bloggers find to be their most useful and entertaining multitasking talents. And if we come up with enough good ones, perhaps we should hold a demonstration day up near the summit, to encourage further development of these high-valued skills.Â

A blogger’s brief history of anonymity

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Rep. Stephen Hartgen is crafting a bill requiring bloggers and online commenters to post under their real names. While some say this is sensible, when authors reveal their true selves, they often surrender much power. If Steve’s law actually passes, how do we purport to penalize, parables and plenteous poems posted by Anonymous?
And what sentence would we mete out, for someone like Samuel Clemens who blogs whimsical wisdoms under Mark Twain’s pseudonym?
Will readers be more or less intrigued when they discover George Eliot is masking femininity?
Please don’t tell me Stephen King was disingenuous when he penned his entertaining Richard Bachman mysteries.
Should we have lashed JCampbell for his posting a treatise about the hero with a thousand faces?
And how should we expect Clint Eastwood to sign his mark as Pale Rider’s nameless preacher?
Is our government suited to sue in matters of the Bible’s true author, shaky proofs of Shakespeare and secret scribes of the Koran?
And what about unidentified whistleblowers, who sense the importance of reporting unfortunate industrial mishaps, in hopes of preventing needless recurrences.
As such clampdowns made little sense for anonymous authors of antiquity, we should not impose speech-crippling regulations on our modern-day blogosphere.

Harping over Spiritual Robots

Sunday, January 18th, 2009
           Last potato moon harvest, I conjured up some Spiritual Robots while searching for an artwork project. Suddenly, sixteen Google images appeared, and twelve of these featured IT men attending artificial intelligence synposiums. The first thing that stood out in the photos was that most of the participants were taking it sitting down. Â
               Robots are becoming increasingly humanlike, as people get more rigid. Seems cute in a faraway Oz’es Tin man way, but the twain shall meet someday -perhaps sooner than you’ve imagined.
           Actually, we are already overlapping; No eye contact sealed in on “freeways.” Can’t get a real person on the phone? That’s an old problem. Now it’s depersonalized electronic chatter sent between cubed workers, sealed far from fresh breezes in windowless offices. Calculating city kids seldom step out from cybercaves for fear that a yellowcake snowflake dripping from our acid sky will quickly rust their cautiously pessimistic tongues. But when youngsters do venture to tiptoe outdoors, too many plug in as pod people, to feed off music of irregular beats with strangers –rather than having actual conversations.Â
           These days pratically every body part is replaceable. Even the Vice-President has artificial heart valves. We could use machines to help us make wise decisions, but many of us let them decide. Swirling Slots in Nevada hypnotize many who would be better off watching whirling dervishes. With new money rushing through their veins, Gas station lottery winners declare “I always knew I was going to hit the number!” However, millions with similar wishes become numb zombies when their birthright fortunes spiral downward.
               Nonetheless, machines take us everywhere, mechanically marching upward, through water, snow and air. They list of what they can’t do ever-shrinks. Artificial intelligence systems help doctors diagnose medical concerns. You can play twenty questions over the “Internets” in intelligence experiments. A futuristic system learns from us in vast ways as we feed it more information. Robots can disarm bombs.
They can help assess hostage situations, while delivering a pizza. However, at what point will the gollem spirits begin running a new lottery of whom gets to live and die? Making it easier for controllers to further justify dehumanizing “outside enemies.”
      Forty moons ago, as great Google touted their don’t be evil motto; their automatic news aggregator proudly proclaimed that their information results were “compiled solely by computer algorithms, without human intervention.” Then what ancient first seeded us with these mathematical algorithms? Do they fine-tune themselves? At night does a robot mouse dust and vacuum the Googleplex nano-nuts and bolts into absolute purity? I’m having a nightmare that it’s terminally daytime for robots. Perhaps, if I breathe fresh air deep with my own lungs and Count Five, my rational psychotic reaction will taper off.     Â
               Doctors in our Country have institutionalized thousands of patients into mental hospitals unnecessarily then over medicated them into robotic states for stinking profit. More jails are planned but with less real rehabilitation prospects –creating millions of outcasts. What a great backup slave labor force these dispossessed will make in the event, the next line of robotic Iron Men develop glitches. Increased frivolous laws with stricter enforcement and draconian sentences translate into job security for the machine-like penal systems.Â
          Instead of spending more money to lock prisoners away into subhuman states at record levels, ideal communities could preemptively strike at root causes of “waywardness” by caring more about schools. Higher pay could attract more inspired instructors -resulting in better outcomes for our youngsters. However, what exactly are these root causes? Should not we be cautious in screening our children from the normal difficulties they encounter as they emerge from the age of innocence? Who screens the medicine screeners? Vacuous, steel-hearted leaders fiddling with low approval ratings? Perhaps a savant metallically inoculated into mathematical beauty could lend the social engineers some thoughts on what’s worth tracking…   Â
                Before being dosed into something they’re not, it should be considered that many of the modern inventions that we now take for granted, would not exist, had we “fixed” past Einstein’s and Edison’s at their first sign of boredom in the classroom.
Healthy daydreamers of today like Segway inventor Dean Kamen, who also developed the heart stent keeping VP Cheney alive don’t need to be labeled ADHD and force-fed questionable pills just because they’ve tapped into a different drumbeat.
As much as I harp on about mechanization’s hostile takeover of society, I would like to thank Google’s robots for helping with this article. I hear they have a contrary cousin, who enjoys beer! He’s probably the most humanlike robot yet. One who really seeks to understand man. Next time he flies in for the non-motorized parade, I would like repaying him with some special input. Sharing ales poured out in inexact measurements, we’ll saddle up to watch some sports together. I’ll strike up a lively conversation, explaining how the most difficult thing for them to accomplish will be finding ways to replace unique qualities inherent in athletes and artists. Futhermore, we’ll ruminate about why we need human referees for these gladiator games we worship. Later, my smart-pill friends will tell my pre-fab palsey-walsey that we ape-revolvers should teach the Trans-humans to sing with us in perfect harmony. Some day we’ll compose beautiful music together. In this way, the robot will quickly delve into the deepest dimensions of the soul. Because you see, the way things are heading with my fancy free speech, we’ll be singing the most heart rendering songs chorded together on a chain gang. Power-pointed Feds will allow this machine into designated wilderness areas so he can joyfully hold a bucket for me to mop plutonium off the previously pristine primitive foliage. I promise that metalbreath and me won’t give any lip if our guard can find himself human enough to conjure up some potato hooch nightcaps to keep us from finally blowing our tops, while we cloister warmly in each other’s metamechanical arms, deep within a modern Minidoka Managemental camp.
BBC NEWS Science/Nature Computers ’set to read our minds’Â Â Â
The uncharted territory of Transhumanism:

Blessed Old Man River

Friday, January 16th, 2009
Reading about the Miracle on the Hudson, it struck me that if the incident had gone another way, then naysayers would have likely interpreted this as a bad augury against Obama, with the potent synchronicity of a plane crash in New York at the beginning of his administration.
When I saw the photo of people miraculously balancing on wingtips above water, this struck me as a very good omen; especially since peacenik warrior Pete Seeger has contributed folksongs about this mighty river, has led constructive environment efforts to restore the Hudson’s purity and while approaching age ninety, still thrives along its shores to this day.

The power of enhanced newspaper archives

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
As much has been made of the fact that the Express now owns 127 years of The Old Wood River Journal’s historical newspaper records; and hold these ancient archives in high esteem; I was surprised to learn that the equally important Wood River Journal online archive, which stretches back a decade or more, is no longer available. When I asked several of my former colleagues at both newspapers about this, some of them believed that Lee Enterprises still holds the searchable archives. However when I questioned Lee’s management, they said the Express controls these.
If this is true, and it is the Express’s intent to keep these records offline, there are several reasons, why they should reconsider. Besides profiting in a karmatic way, they could also profit financially in this tough time for newspapers everywhere. First, I cannot imagine that keeping these precious archives up would even be very expensive. Especially when measuring that cost against the invaluable benefits, such historical records can contribute to communities. If the Express will please reconsider, there are several workable solutions at hand, including a fundraiser here, oriented towards newspaper aficionados and local historical buffs. This episode is now reminding me of a well-received letter, I submitted last year, to curators at The Newseum:
Let’s not allow reporters epic efforts, sink down the memory-hole drain in vain Â
As more newspapers like The Albuquerque Tribune WR Journal and probably soon to be Seattle Post Intelligencer, 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.Â
Besides a fundraiser, the Express could start charging a small fee or kindly ask for donations from archive users over their secure server, with the simple explanation that donations help fund the searchable archives. Â
Some readers maintain that any news item that ran in the Wood River Journal can already be found in the Express’s archives. I strongly disagree, as many weeks the Journal ran a completely different set of excellent letters to the editor, had separate award-winning columnists, and sometimes ran feature stories, including featured businesswomen of the valley and a long running series on war veterans. Not only that, but their (now the Express’s) website used to include on the drop down menu, a link to some of the best stories distilled from their 125 year history into a comprehensive anthology! Â
Last year, I suggested a tribute to Idaho war veterans to (then publisher) Jerry Brady. With the Express’s acquisition of the Journal, this makes for an opportunity to revamp that suggestion, by augmenting it with the dozens of well-written articles Mr. Cordes and others have already scribed about our dedicated veterans:

“The dozens of articles that Journal and Express reporters have written about our armed service veterans over the past few years are greatly impressive. Over the last few years, I remember thinking, while reading key feature stories by Jeff Cordes, Kelly Jackson and Karen Bossick and others what a grand thing it would be for our community, if the newspaper did a little something more with these in-depth articles.
Since the stories are already written, the paper could go back at limited expense and simply cobble together a magazine or small book about our veterans to present to each of the regional history department heads of our local libraries. Other places where such a book would be a good fit are: the coffee tables of our senior center, local armory, American Legion, Blaine Manor, St. Lukes, the Sun Valley Lodge, Sun Valley Adaptive Sports vans, etc. Imagine how far those feelings of good will could go, if the newspaper presented a copy of this book as a gift, during next years ceremonious ribbon-cutting at the new Senior Center. Â
Another way the paper could keep our Veterans vast experiences alive is a link to these stories within a special button on their website. Again, as the stories are already written, and most already online within the database, it doesn’t seem that such a tribute would take more than several hours to organize and then link to as a Veteran’s feature archive. Â
If my estimate is off and the newspaper’s management deems such a project to be too costly, my father –who is an American Legion Commander (back east) –reminds us that many American Legions and other veteran groups usually have strong-willed volunteers available to freely contribute and work in conjunction with local newspaperson such meaningful tasks. Â
Perhaps the time is too tight right now to get something like this running by this Memorial Day; however, if the paper were to make an announcement for an intention for a soon enhanced tribute, this would please many veterans. Perhaps the staff could plan to hand out copies of this special limited edition magazine to interested readers, during Hailey’s celebrated Fourth of July parade this summer. Â
I believe that such powerful articles deserve to be reprinted and featured in several prominent valley locations as respectful reminders to those, who have patriotically served our great country.”


Last week, I submitted this suggestion to the Express. As they frequently run strong editorials that speak against deftly airbrushing history, I trust they will take to heart seriously some of the things I have said here and I thank their open-minded management for taking the time to read my suggestions. I have posted this suggestion here, for the greater community to elaborate on constructive thoughts they, too, may have for preserving records of their community.
Some of my former colleagues at the Journal are curious to know if the archives will be online for the benefit of their personal portfolios. Friends here have also suggested that whenever newspapers go up for sale, what happens to the archives – both in print and online – should be an important factor for attorneys to negotiate, and somebody involved with our national archives should draft a leading model on this, rather than being taken lightly as an afterthought, with so much of our precious history precariously on the brink of being flushed down the memory hole.

Powerful prank ammo for peaceful warriors

Saturday, January 10th, 2009
Most years, in preparation for April Fools day, I like to peruse around local stores and the Internets to see what new surprises are out on the joke market. Last year, I discovered a handful of prank noise devices, most of which struck me as too annoying. One gadget however, unexpectedly stood out, high above the others. This levelheaded toy was the Mister Rogers in your pocket device:
Most of the other sound devices for sale were geared towards loathsome clattering. Not so, Mr. Rogers. This keychain device includes the following bulletproof sayings and short-range song missives, taken directly from his show:
· Please won’t you be my neighbor?
· Discovering truth will make me free
· I like you just the way you are
· I think I’ll make a snappy new day
· It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood; a beautiful day for a neighbor
· Do you ever talk about love with somebody you care for? I hope you do.
Entranced with this simple toy, I rummaged around to learn more about Mister Rogers. By logging onto YouTube, I discovered him testifying truth in 1969, before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications. As President Nixon had proposed considerable PBS funding cuts, Mr. Rogers appeared there to support that funding:
As seen in this video, Mr. Rogers holds his own against powerful Senate subcommittee chairman Pastori with the message “I’m very much concerned as I know you are about what about what’s being delivered to our children in this country.”
Mr. Rogers once said, “I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there was some way of using this fabulous instrument to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen.”[6]
 It’s inspiring to read that some of his own heroes were Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer and Jane Addams.
Some of Mister Rogers’s fans believe that he was a modern-day prophet and that for people looking to achieve spiritual enlightenment, he is one of our best TV models.Â
It’s funny how I’ve evolved to thinking about these powerful items now, when I utilize Mr. Rogers’ talking key chain in a jocular manner, for occasionally disarming sticky situations. After watching, Mr. Rogers charm Senator Pastori, I wonder how its effectiveness would rate as a beguiling implement of peace, when compared with the simplistic solutions of soldiers dipping bullets in pig fat, or utilizing the world’s funniest joke on war torn battlefields.

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