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Friday, March 26, 2010

A windfall in trash for Idaho Falls

As the Idaho Falls City Council’s decision to increase the maximum littering fine to $1,000 will be a positive financial boon, and make the city appear more pristine; it will probably also include some far-reaching ramifications not anticipated. With this in mind, city leaders should consider the following, for clamping down on the strongest rubbish offenders:


First, the city should appoint a scrappy trash czar. For the probationary period, the czar’s salary could be contingent on the amount of fines, staff metes out. City elders can waive the probationary period off early, when they see how well this new rubbish office flourishes.

For keeping politicians in line; whose signs trash roadsides, long after elections; the agency should require a down payment, refundable after the czar certifies that office-runners have done their best to retrieve outstanding signs. For election winners, the czar’s staff should seize these dull signs from the gutter as important evidence and forensically examine them for the amount of rosy promises broken to constituents, then levy fines against the value of each broken pledge.


Another ideal way to improve the streets would be to equip garbage trucks with an array of video cams, fed directly into City Hall. When the recorders detect trash blowing from overfilled cans, they can automatically add $1,000 fines to homeowners’ next bills. For trash blowing off the collecting trucks themselves, city engineers could develop an automated self-fining system.


To cut off the most poisonous trash, afflicting the city: The Litter-Czar’s office should engage in a partnership with Homeland Security; setting up safe ports of entry to Idaho Falls. Routine Geiger counter inspections at city entrances, to monitor nuclear lab workers transporting radiation into town, would be a productive way to perk up coffers, meanwhile, protecting the shining city from this disgustingly insidious menace.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Another way to handle distressed furniture

Yesterday, while out on an intensive moving job, one of my colleagues called about another job for today. As he started to read off the number for the woman who needed help, my phone volume cut out, due to an unexplained disturbance. When we reconnected several minutes later, I asked for her number again, but he didn’t have it handy. However, he said that she would be calling me and left it at that.


Yesterday’s job went into overtime and I didn’t get home until dark. The woman never called until this morning, when she rang a little before eight. I detected some anguish in her voice, and although, it was short notice, I told her I could help. I sped things up and within a few minutes, headed over to her place. There, at a very nice log home, she showed me the items she was putting up for sale. Turns out that she is in dire financial straits and needs to sell off some furniture to stave off foreclosure.


The large items she needed help with were some computer monitors, an old desk and an expensive looking and fragile dresser. While assessing the items, I formulated a plan, and began carefully transporting the items into the truck. While doing so, I sensed an amount of melancholy in this home and noticed that the woman was making herself scarce. I imagined that she was having a hard time dealing with the fact that she needed to sell off these family heirlooms and thought she may have retreated to her room to weep.


It took an hour to secure the items, and then I headed north to the antique fair. On the way, I stopped at a convenience store to fuel up with some coffee and a snack. A few miles later, an enormous red-tailed hawk swooped in front of me and landed on the edge of the road. This bird-of-prey was oriented so close, that I felt it necessary to apply my brakes, even though I felt he could clearly see me. As I braked, he took off slowly, giving me a magnificent view of his underside only twenty feet in front of my windshield. The rising bird’s strange behavior made me wonder if he was trying to send me a message of some sort.


Ten miles north, I snagged a prime spot in front of the fair and proceeded to unload the distressed woman’s furniture. While doing so, she pulled up, grabbing an adjacent space. As she parked, I noticed she was grimacing and within a few seconds she approached to confront me about my stopping off to snack-up. This stunned me so much that I didn’t even say anything. I just carried on working, with a straight-laced David Carradine stoic face. Soon a familiar person approached, kindly asking the woman how much she wanted for the antique dresser. Even though this customer was clearly interested, the woman’s response was disharmonious and whenever somebody inquisitive approached her booth, she kept loudly adding things, like her house was for sale, and hopefully someone would buy that.


After unloading, I pulled my rig out from the red-zone. I parked near the bookstore and thought it would be healthy to enter and reflect there about how to deal with the distraught woman. After a short breather, it suddenly hit me that it was best to escape her quickly concocted trap, as I didn’t want to see the poor rich woman anymore and had no desire for her poisonous money.


I cleaned up for a few minutes at one of our warehouses and then headed back down south. While approaching Ohio Gulch, the hawk flew directly over again, reminding me of his impending message. When I first saw the hawk, it was probably the same time that the woman was concocting how she was going to confront me. And the strange disconnect is, that right then, I had been formulating how I was going to tactfully offer her a discount. On top of that I had stopped at the store, for food and drink, because it’s best to work with fresh protein in your body, especially when handling fragile customers and their fabulously expensive distressed furniture.




Monday, March 15, 2010

Herding Wolverines Together


The first I ever heard of wolverines, was back in '93 from a sheepherder who had recently spotted one up Timber Gulch.


The first time ever I saw any wolverines, was four years ago, upon returning from an evening at the movies with a friend. It was late twilight, and we spotted two of them frolicking together at the large N. Buttercup Road parking lot, where the county sometimes stores gravel. As we stopped and watched them deftly dart around the gray rock pile for several minutes, playing a rambunctious game of tag with each other; it felt as though they were putting on a unique display, designed specifically for us, especially when they paused momentarily, to establish rock-solid eye contact with us.


As I recall, we reveled in their enchanting performance, much more than the lame action movie we had just watched. Mostly though, we felt sorry for the folks in the car behind us, who had hurriedly passed; as they had missed one of the greatest shows on earth.


Two weeks later, the new Sun Valley Guide came out; featuring what became an award-winning article about wolverines from now-editor Greg Foley:

http://www.svguide.com/w06/w06_wolverines.htm


Within that article, we were delighted to see, that the spot where we witnessed Wood River Wolverines frolicking together, was marked on one of Evelyn's maps:

http://www.svguide.com/w06/w06_wolverines_map.pdf


Soon after this; I ran into the man who delivers these magazines, and brought up the subject of wolverines. He was familiar with their wild ways and suggested that it would be wise to never cross one, or even think of ticking one off; because if you ever do, they will sniff you out, even by following the scent on your tire tracks, and repay you with ruthless acts of revenge. This was enough warning for me, having recently read in Mr. Foley’s article a legendary artic story about how a wolverine vanquished a polar bear, by barreling full speed, headfirst into its heart.

~

More recently, SFGate featured an interesting article about Wolverines called Lone, lovelorn wolverine baffles scientists. This is pertinent to Idaho, because hair and scat samples gathered there, indicate that this lovelorn wolverine hails from Idaho; most likely from the Sawtooths or Cascades.


~


An article that makes me feel that wolverines are as secretive as those seldom seen meter readers is Steve Stuebner’s enlightening High Country News article from fourteen years ago, titled, The Secret Life of Wolverines:

http://www.hcn.org/issues/52/1616

Quote from the HCN article:

"It never ceases to amaze me when I'm flying in the winter and I see a set of wolverine tracks crossing a 9,000- or 10,000-foot peak," he says. "I mean, what in the world is he doing up there?"

~

`Sometimes when several articles featuring the same sort of mystical creatures come into my life, I like herding them together by looking up their characteristics and seeing what I can identify with and what scraps of wisdom I might learn from. One of the the best animal totem sites, I've found is here: http://www.sayahda.com/cycle.htm


Regarding Wolverines, her site says:



The wolverine is known for its great ferocity and extraordinary strength. Indian mythology describes the wolverine as a trickster hero, a link between the material world and the spirit world. In ancient mythology the energy of a trickster is linked to the underworld where the secrets of creation live.

Baby wolverines are born blind and weigh less than one pound. This prompts all their other sensory organs to awaken quickly, their sense of smell, feeling and inner sight are heightened at an early age. Small yet insightful, the new born wolverine acknowledges and responds to all its intuitive senses from the moment of birth. They respond to life and the challenges it holds with clarity, focus and persistence giving them a deeper understanding of personal power. Those with this medicine should ask themselves if their personal power is serving them appropriately. Learning how to utilize personal power in a balanced way is one of the teachings the wolverine holds.

The wolverines crafty cunning nature coupled with their perseverance and focus keeps them aligned with the energies of creation. This alignment serves them in many ways. They know when to act, when to retreat, how to respond to any situation and how to become invisible. All of these abilities inherent in the wolverine are also inherent in those who hold this medicine. Wolverines are masters at shape shifting their reality to benefit them in some way and can teach us how to do the same. Shamanic studies is helpful for those who have this totem.

Wolverines are excellent scavengers although not the best hunters. They are very resourceful and know how to make do with whatever is available. They turn trash into treasure and teach us how to do the same. Alaskan natives consider the wolverine to by a symbol of the wilderness, a survivor of the elements. Its fur is commonly used for parka trim and hoods because of its durability. The guard hairs of the wolverine fur resist frost accumulation helping people survive in extreme cold weather.

Solitary creatures with tremendous physical endurance the wolverine can travel up to 40 miles a day in search of food. Because of their great strength and endurance wolverines have become the center of folklore, although its fierce reputation has been exaggerated. They rarely attack any predator larger than itself and only attack when food is needed. They show us how to go the distance and acquire that which we seek.

When this medicine is fully developed in humans the capability to survive in any situation is common. If underdeveloped challenges regarding survival are common. Because the wolverine is a shape shifter the art of survival doesn't just represent the physical realm. It also indicates the challenges associated with mental clarity, emotional balance and spiritual understanding.

The wolverine is a master teacher and embodies a variety of skills. When it appears in your life it is asking you to take a serious look at your self and your life, change anything that does not serve and utilize your personal power for the good of self and others.



Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring predictions from the animal world

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.

Badgers are lonelier and will need more human-applied scruffs behind their fuzzy ears.

Local cubby bears will rise 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 extends its opening through Memorial Day.

Increased numbers of agile 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 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. This will lead to a receptive public outcry for Homeland Security to mount a warm safety-beacon cell tower on the hill.

Wise hoot owls will continue being mostly serious and make gains toward unraveling unsolved mysteries.

Local dogs will continue worming their way into local hearts, while an Idaho State University scientist will uncover compelling canine evidence that they sometimes laugh at us silly cats.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A windfall in trash for Idaho Falls

The Idaho Falls City Council’s decision to increase the maximum littering fine to $1,000 will be a positive financial boon, while also, making the city appear more pristine. As this commanding new law probably has some far-reaching ramifications not anticipated; city leaders should consider the following, for clamping down on rubbish even harder:


First, the city should appoint a scrappy trash czar. For the probationary period, the czar’s salary could be contingent on the level of fines, staff hands out. City elders can waive the probationary period off early, when they see what a profitable gain, this new office has become.

For keeping politicians in line; whose signs trash roadsides, long after the elections; the agency should require a down payment, refundable after the czar certifies that the office-runners have done their best to retrieve outstanding signs. For election winners, the czar’s staff should seize these signs from the gutter as important evidence and forensically examine them for the amount of rosy promises broken to constituents, then levy high fines against the value of each broken pledge.


Another ideal way to improve the streets would be to equip garbage trucks with an array of video cams, fed directly into City Hall. When the recorders detect trash blowing from overfilled cans, it can automatically add thousand dollar fines to homeowners next bills. For trash blowing off the collecting trucks themselves, city engineers could develop an automated self-fining system.


To cut off the most poisonous trash, afflicting the city: The Litter-Czar’s office should engage in a partnership with Homeland Security; setting up ports of entry to Idaho Falls. Routine Geiger counter inspections at city entrances, to monitor nuclear lab workers transporting radiation into town, could be the most productive way to perk up coffers, meanwhile, protecting the city from this insidious menace.

Friday, March 05, 2010

A week when Good Fortune peaked



One perfectly sunny day I was strolling through some serpent- and tick-free sagebrush, in an area recommended by Betty Bell's "The Big Little Trail Guide." Unbeknownst to me, a Mexican jumping bean, which was squirming atop an anthill, flicked an arrowhead into my front pocket. I sauntered into the Bellevue Post Office where a young lady asked if she could borrow a letter opener for a tightly sealed envelope from the Idaho Lottery Commission. Shuffling through my vest, I discovered this ancient point and we soon found that she had won a large sum of money. She was so delighted that she handed me a small wad of bills with my favorite portrait of Abe Lincoln on their fronts.



Walking into the bank to deposit this money, leftover firecrackers went off celebrating the fact that I was their one-millionth customer. Their prize was an all-expenses-covered cruise to Hawaii. Boarding that same day, I met Captain Clemenson, who handed the helm over to me as soon as his phone rang, because navigating a ship while talking on a cell phone is now a violation of international shipping rules.



Little did I know that while I was in command of the ship, we had hooked onto an iceberg with one of our cables and proceeded to tow it in darkness all the way to Maui. Finding that the drinking water system on our side of the island had shut down for a few days due to volcanic ash affecting its intake, this tremendous block of un-licked ice was just what they needed to get by. We docked it into a cove just the right size and our crew was considered heroes. I had a great visit, played volleyball, got an even suntan and remained chipper and alert for the whole vacation.



Now it was time to get back. I was able to hitch a ride to California on the Tropicana cheerleader's bikini team's Lear Jet. While kicked back for a foot massage on the in-flight lemonade chair, I told some corny jokes that giggled the girls, while I showed them the arrowhead. I then enjoyed a comic book in which Richie Rich convinced Nietzsche of the plausibility of a spiritual afterlife. Soon I noticed "The War is Over" being sung by Jim Morrison and The Doors on their jet's satellite feed. Upon closer inspection I found that this was background music for an actual report about the end of a war.



With a makeshift peace banner trailing behind, I paraglide off the jet back down into San Francisco. I landed on a windy day right in front of Ripley's Museum. As trash was being blown about the waterfront, I did my part to chase some down and found among it a ticket for that night's baseball game at SBC Park.


Perched in the upper deck during an exhilarating rain in the bottom of the ninth, most of the crowd had left. But the Giants made an unbelievable comeback and clinched the pennant on Barry Bonds' 715th career homer, which I caught barehanded without spilling any Anchor Steam ale. Tossing Barry back his ball, he noticed that I too was a lefty and balanced up some celebratory champagne glasses as a batting tee for teaching me some valuable tips. He determined that to hit fair I needed to remain balanced.



Returning to Hailey from these flights of fancy, I picked up my double-parked but non-ticketed Segway at Friedman, which was untouched though I had left keys in the ignition. Confident of speeding without a helmet, I zipped cross-town through a medium volume of other scooter and hovercraft traffic to some mid valley links. Using the Segway I got in a quick game of golf, tying Wrey's legendary Warm Springs record by scoring two holes in one. Soon I traveled up the rest of the bike path at the recommended speed limit, exchanging genuine smiles with young and old alike. There were no incidents of near misses or hits, I did not twist either ankle or overstrain any other muscles and the gyroscopes of the newfangled machine were finely tuned to react perfectly to every molehill and hole.



As I headed in through the back way at work, where nobody was sick, I tossed the obsidian point into the gravel of the parking lot, hopefully leaving enough luck in it for the next finder to occasionally catch fish on first casts. Peering out the kitchen window I saw a butterfly kiss the cheek of the person who picked it up. Wolfing down a quick bowl of hardscrabble granola, I chipped zero teeth on pine nut shells. Then I proceeded to type up this paper, during which time there were no electrical surges or printer problems and spell check remained fully functional even for words I've had a hard time with, like "bikini." Then I handed in everything one minute before deadline.



Original link:

http://www.mtexpress.com/story_printer.php?ID=2005103949

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Max pauses to reflect


I had some difficulty visiting my friend in the hospital, since the administrators had initiated a temporary lockdown. She had experienced a serious crash in the backcountry and the communications delay exacerbated her poor condition. St. Luke’s physicians had performed another miracle though; and she was probably going to be okay. However, with the local Hypnotherapist absent, the high dosage of pain medicine they were required to treat her with, made it prudent to keep our visit a brief one.


With this in mind; plus, my still being emotionally torn between Susanne and Lana, it felt like a good time to take the dog for a long reflective walk in the desert.


After we parked at the desolate Picabo turnoff, Bud yipped with delight, as I tied on my hiking boots. We headed east, under cool crepuscular skies, and journeyed to one of my favorite reflecting spots: Chalk Cave. I hadn’t been there since I was a young lad, though I often had thought of this sacred spot during the course of my world travels.


As we walked along, I noticed several baseball-sized orbs of dark gleaming obsidian. In younger years, I might have pocketed one or two of the glass spheres, but my time invested in far-flung anthropological field pursuits, had instilled in me a new degree of respect for indigenous artifacts. Soon; after we passed by what was still a temptation, Bud began digging around the rusted remnants of an old cowboy camp, unearthing a tin of chewing tobacco from 1919. Remarkably, when I cracked open the can; the ancient weed still seemed fresh! To make sure, it felt best to soak it in a thimble of Old Overholt, and then sample a taste.


Boy Howdy! This tobacco was definitely perfect. The spirited buzz started kicking in right as we approached the cave entrance. Showing respect for the bats (this was no place for a cockatiel) I rolled out a high-tech canvas for Bud and me to perch on, outside the small lava tube opening. There was some dry sage around, and I gathered enough for us to warm ourselves near the windy cave entry. As a thankful offering, I tossed a small pinch of tobacco into the modest campfire, and it instantly popped back, with some blue and green fiery sparks. Then, a small smoke cloud, leisurely wafted off the fire, over to the east facing cave wall, where I noticed some uninterpretable petroglyphs above a shelf of crystals. These mysterious writings, brought me back to my extensive studies in Asia, where I remembered discovering that in Chinese, the written symbol for ‘quarrel’ is two women standing under the same roof: Not only that, but the Chinese glyph for ‘gossip’ is three women grouped tightly together.


Why were my ears buzzing? I knew it wasn’t from the fortified tobacco. Now, was supposed to be the appointed time for me to sit down and weigh the important decision about what to do, regarding Lana and Susanne. But I felt so stuck. Should I let indecision be a defense mechanism for a short span, or must I break cave protocol and enter to keep my ears from buzzing, out here in the cacophonous atmospheric elements? Who were the girls talking with right now anyway? And what about? And what of my injured friend, slowly recovering at the closed ward?


Jim Banholzer is a real man who performs real work. As a sideline, he is an itinerant Idaho newspaper commentator, transmogrifying into a blogger. He has not tasted or smoked ancient tobacco this decade, but enjoys writing about it; as well as taking pleasure in unearthing other offbeat Idaho items of interest - imagn’d or not.