Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Diary : Milkweed Cream
A few hundred feet south of the Gimlet bike crossing on the east side of the trail, I spy a lonely milkweed plant, a rarity in this part of Idaho. It begs to help a monarch butterfly.

But right now this is speed alley. Zippy bicycle fashions blur by with no time for these winged attractions. The 18 gauges and monitors on their bikes are only for racing down the straight and narrow path. Even their music gear deafens bird songs.

From above, a golden beam of sunlight directs a fluttering monarch to the prize I've found. She dips her proboscis into the flower's nectar. Then she lays her tiny white eggs on the milkweed's soft leafy underside. Her young will soon become riders of the sky through the wonders of metamorphosis as they munch on the creamy cells of the milkweed.

Thrasher and Toxic man care not. The machine operator does not tip his blade up to genuflect to the hallowed incubating ground of the magnificent monarch's milkweed. He slices thorough the right of way while maintaining rhythm to "We're Going Wrong" from the band Cream's "Disraeli Gears." I turn southbound and for some odd reason Neil Young's "aimless blade of science" stanza sings through my head:

"Where the eagle glides ascending

"There's an ancient river bending

"Down the timeless gorge of changes

"Where sleeplessness awaits

"I search out my companions

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Advertising

During his days as a journalist, the young Mark Twain once edited a small newspaper in Missouri, A subscriber wrote in saying that he had found a spider in his paper and asked whether this was a sign of bad luck or good luck. Twain answered:
     “Dear subscriber: Finding a spider in your paper was neither good luck nor bad luck for you. The spider was merely looking over our paper to see which merchant is not advertising so that he can go into that store, spin his web across the door and lead a life of undisturbed peace afterward.”

Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.

 - A Connecticut Yankee,  1889, ch.22

Sunday, November 25, 2012


A startling surprise at the relaxing Cottage Inn


I took a short retreat at a relaxing Country Inn at the far edge of a sleepy Idaho town. I was looking for a place to calm my frazzled nerves, do some light reading, and engage in some healthy conversations with folks I had not yet met.
*
Everything was flowing peacefully well above the steep Canyon the first two days, however; through some observations, I sensed that this crossroad sometimes attracted chaos and mayhem.
*
There were three nights where it became especially noisy. The first was after midnight, and involved a weary traveler who was obviously going through a challenging time. He yelled viciously at the top of his aqua-lungs with a supernatural energy, even going so far as to chant strange languages, including Ancient Greek and Cherokee. This wild man of the Borneo dragged the facilitators up and down the hall, waking every living soul with a fright from their bed. Even the mice dashed back into their holes, though they had barely started nibbling at the cheese bar.
*
Seven burly Peace Officers were summoned in to quash the pandemonium. But even after they held him down with all their mighty strength, and gave him a strong tranquilizer shot, the officers still were having trouble subduing the untamed man. This went on for hours.
*
I glanced out from my humble room and saw that not only were the long row of house guests visibly upset, but so were many of the facilitators. One of the leaders came into my room and we helped each other chill, all the while to the background cacophony of a one man band making the unsettling noise of ten.
*
A week later I realized that while this troubled soul was exorcising some of his personal demons, I was reflecting on some of my own, and trying hard to become a better man, although in a quieter manner. You could even say that the uninhibited stranger was speaking for me in some way.

~
The next morning the managers of the house held a short debriefing for the forced insomniacs. The leaders declared that the matters of the previous night should not concern us, as it had nothing to do with any of us. However, intense Twilight-ish Zone episodes like these do concern me, and I have written at great length about such things before, regarding the dispossessed and the poor homeless. On top of that, I suppose that I had recently grown accustomed to drifting off to sleep with some light peaceful music in the late evenings and not a madman ranting and raving and stomping around for hours. It was a nice reality check and makes me appreciate the comfortable part of my life that I am privileged to have and have worked hard to retain.
~
There is more to this story regarding further interruptions at the Country Inn; However, glancing forward at my notes they pale in comparison to the meat of the story above, so I will stop here for now. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


The Ancient Crypts of Woodbridge, Virgina


Read this, this morning and it reminded me of this: 
Halloween is around the corner, Reddit, what is the most "paranormal" thing you have ever experienced? : AskReddit

I had a strange story myself that I had forgotten about. Back when I was a late 
teenager, a bunch of us would go down to an area where there were some old 
crypts. Very interesting stone formations. Not that large, but you could 
actually enter inside and explore around (best to bring a good flashlight) 
Anyhow, word spread around our high school and soon small groups of folks would 
take the short travel down there for an evening of funsville, as we called it; 
bringing along some cheap malt duck alcohol, etc. 
 
Anyhow, I probably went down two or three times with a handful of friends, and 
the odd thing was that the last time I went down into the cave (couldn't quite 
tell how far it went back in), right as I was leaving, my brother was coming 
into the grave-crypt, with some of his boisterous friends. 
 
The reason that this story resonates now is because both my brother and I have 
both been experiencing some health challenges recently, and it got bad enough 
for a while that I thought we both might enter the ancient crypt again at the 
same time. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012


A funny little drinking quandary 

It's funny that my old roommate, Debbie, a few years ago, had not touched a drop 
of alcohol for years - due to a funny little drinking problem she had  - and 
then one day she found herself at a wedding reception tempted by the devil, with 
a crystal glass of celebratory champagne  en-clasped in her tiny hand, of which 
she did partake of a weensy sip ,  and then soon-after proceeded to ask me if I 
thought she had sinned in some small way. 
 
You should have seen the stunned look on her face, when I broke her the hard news that 
the morning orange juice she's been sucking down the last ten years has always been at least one-percent good alcohol.

Related story here:

BBC News - Russia classifies beer as alcoholic

Monday, September 24, 2012


Old redwood water line unearthed in Ketchum



It’s remarkable that while excavating a leaking water main in Trail Creek Village, the backhoe operator discovered that the line in use is an ancient piece of milled redwood. Apparently, it’s part of an old private water system, which the City of Ketchum bought out decades ago.


In addition, there seems to be a dispute as to who is responsible for repairing the line. Being an old water boy, myself, I’ve seen situations like this before, and predict that the city will be ultimately held responsible for this repair. And with old man winter around our next corner, it would be nice to have this redwood line patched soon, restoring a more normal pressure to our municipal water-of-life in that vicinity; as well as getting the mish-mash of hoses out of the way, to make snow-plowing possible.


I think that the best thing that could come out of this would be if the repair workers could carefully cut and salvage a small section of this redwood pipe and donate it to the Ketchum Museum. As one local newspaper editor remarked, “This kind of thing really captures people’s imaginations.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Russian John Redux


I made it up there again last week and for a short while shared the small pool with only the dragonflies. There were two tiny azure-blue ones buzzing around a bit, and I wondered if they were the offspring of the ones I had seen so romantically-clinched together earlier this season.


Suddenly, a small family (of people) showed up, and I invited them to join in with the dragonflies and myself. And after the young gleeful children started splashing around in an exhilarating manner, the brilliantly-blue dragonflies scurried off into the sky, or somewhere around the corner.


We also witnessed two reddish-orange dragonflies buzzing around there, which were larger and not as easily frightened off by the frenzy. One of the boys called them horseflies, and when his father tried to correct him, I thought that there was actually an element of truth to what the child had spoken, as they did resemble horseflies.


There is no sign for where the spring is, but once you find it you can remember it forever. One of the parents pointed out that the mile-marker which corresponds to where his hot spring book directed him was missing, but I do believe it’s near 147 and encourage folks to use dead-reckoning by opening the car window to sniff it out from there.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Banholzer defends himself over criticism of recent school prayer column.

As a frequent contributor of letters of public interest, whenever I attempt to bring something important into community awareness or start drafting a possible suggestion to help us all, in the back of my mind I’ll imagine what my harshest critic might say.

Recently I was pleased to be assigned by your gifted editor Autumn Agar the ‘pro’ point / counterpoint subject of school prayer. Right from the get-go I could see it was a tough subject and was stuck on it for a few days, until after mulling it over the midnight ethanol; when I decided to take an unconventional approach, and with the recent discovery of the God-Particle at CERN laboratories in mind, focused on examining the deep mystery of prayer and how it might actually work.

After doing so, it felt as though the article flowed better. Had I had chosen some of those bland age-old arguments about school prayer we’ve heard about so much before, my column would have been unentertaining. Meanwhile, my harshest critic said, that I ignored the question entirely, “preferring to expound on a crackpot theory of prayer that belongs with pixie dust and ruby slippers.”

To defend myself; if my harshest critic would take time to reexamine the latter part of my plainspoken letter, where I led up to the real meat of broad-minded spiritual studies; he will see that I did not ignore the issue at all. And for the record, in this valley there really are many forms of good magic to be had, if you choose not to ignore it. To start better embracing those nicer aspects of spiritualism, I suggest that folks merely make better efforts to spend more time in our great outdoors, where waterfalls, wildflowers and mountains can help heal and inspire us to become better people, which is another thing that I pray for our fine school leaders to encourage.

Original article here: http://magicvalley.com/news/opinion/point-counterpoint-should-idaho-allow-prayer-in-schools/article_b33e1e93-7d8f-51c1-97a2-fbd4a73d204d.html

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


Kudos for helpful new Highway 75 traffic light
 version 2

It refreshing to see that our Idaho Department of Transportation is improving the busy intersection of Woodside Boulevard and Highway 75 (near Power Engineers), as well as adding a much needed and innovative new traffic signal. The stretch of smooth road between Hailey and Bellevue is deceptively dangerous, and one merely needs to examine local road fatality statistics to see that dozens of unfortunate deaths and serious injuries have occurred there in crashes over recent decades.

Moreover, those who perished or were injured in this treacherous stretch were not mere statistics; but rather many were beloved family and friends of our tight-knit community.

In further interest of safety, I would urge our that our highway department discontinue their use of the newfangled energy-saving lights with which they have “upgraded” their signal lamps; as these often do not generate enough heat to immediately burn off the gathering snow from their red and green light covers, during our frequent blustery wintertime blizzards.

Two last items I would like to encourage our open-minded ITD administrators to keep on their radar for our healthy future are: Lowering the speed limit on the stretch between Bellevue &  Hailey to a more sensible 45 or 50 mph and installing a robust high-walled median strip between the north and south lanes (along with turnouts at appropriate places, of course).

Friday, June 29, 2012

Serenely dipped springs


If you decide to jump in for a serene dip at Russian John, chances are good that you will encounter some sparky chipmunks, as well as various colored dragonflies. Once in the spring, a pair of brilliantly blue dragonflies romantically clinched together kept lightly buzzing us; and while they elegantly sipped minerals from the spring we imagined we were infringing on their sacred honeymoon site.

Sometimes after sweet animal encounters like this, I enjoy trying to glean some wisdom from examining characteristics of those creatures through animal Medicine Cards. The tale of how Coyote tricked Dragon into becoming dragonfly resonated strongly with some of my own personal experiences. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012


We should encourage our young scholars to examine the powerful force of prayer

By Jim Banholzer
.
In the 1920s the esteemed Harvard psychologist William McDougall suggested that religious miracles might be the result of the collective psychic powers of large numbers of worshipers. Michael Talbot’s book The Holographic Universe acknowledges this, as well as documenting several  cases where meditative thoughts, intensive prayer, and strong faith in the goodness of humanity all interconnect for healing in various interesting ways that our scientific and spiritual leaders are just beginning to understand at the fundamental levels.

Some spirit-minded scientists speculate that prayer mysteriously creates far-reaching subatomic particles imbedded with hopeful intentions; however, molecular levels of exactly how prayer works will probably remain a deep mystery for a long time; and that’s fine, because if we didn’t have some mystique in our lives, it would probably be pretty boring. Pinning down precisely how the mystery of prayer operates on the quantum mechanics level proves to be elusive, and ironically that elusiveness itself is an element of the great mystery, as documented in fine detail by Martin Gardner in his groundbreaking classic The Trickster and the Paranormal. As, some pet-owners tease cats with laser beams, and the cat never quite catches it, I believe that we are floating in a similar boat under the godly stars within these unexplained realms.

This being said, and as frequently as we encounter prayer, religion, belief, and paranormal phenomena in our daily lives and media, it’s surprising that more public high schools and universities don’t offer deeper studies into these mystical matters. Not only should our public schools permit students to pray in school, if they so choose to do, but I would also encourage that more public schools offer intensive elective studies of kindness, religion, the paranormal, and other related intuitive languages of our hearts and souls.

With idealistic career paths like these opening  up, not only might future leaders of our society come to achieve greater levels of tolerance, but broad-minded spiritual studies also could lead to keener understandings, and perhaps even a paradigm shift for an improvement of the human condition. For starters, I wonder how many people haven’t been enlightened yet by the fact that that Jesus is mentioned in the Quran more than Muhammad is, while also Jesus’ Holy Mother Mary is mentioned in the Quran more often than she is in the New Testament.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Kudos for helpful new Highway 75 traffic light

It refreshing to see that our Idaho Department of Transportation is upgrading the busy intersection of Woodside Boulevard and Highway 75 (near Power Engineers), as well as adding an innovative new traffic signal there. The stretch of road between Hailey and Bellevue is deceptively dangerous, and one merely needs to examine the road fatality statistics to see that dozens of unfortunate deaths have occurred here in highway crashes over the past few decades.

Moreover, those who perished or who were severely injured in this treacherous stretch were not mere statistics; but rather most were close family and friends of our tight-knit community.

In the further interest of safety, I would urge our that our highway department discontinue their use of the newfangled energy-saving lights, which they have “upgraded” to within their signal lamps; as these often do not generate enough heat to immediately burn off the gathering snow from their red and green light covers, during the frequent blustery blizzards we receive in winter.

Two last items that I would like to encourage our open-minded ITD administrators to focus on for our healthy future are: Lowering the speed limit on the stretch between Bellevue &  Hailey to 45 or 50 mph and installing a robust high-walled median strip between the north and south lanes (along with turnouts at the appropriate places of course).

Monday, June 11, 2012


The Blueberry of Angryness

I got bit by a neighbor’s dog over the weekend.

 I was walking out of the shed, and as my back was turned, Blueberry sprinted out from the dog door, gained an amazing vertical leap, and sunk a couple of fangs into my shoulder. This is the first time I have experienced a dog bite for almost forty years. The last time was on my Washington Post paper route over on Swinton Drive in Kings Park West, where a dog ran out from one of the few houses that did not receive the paper, jumped up and nipped me in the midsection, and then dashed back inside the house, where the woman would not answer the door to address my complaint!

Maybe, I let my guard down this time, as I did have a confident record of working as a meter reader for seven years, entering thousands of customer yards with dogs, and although there were a few close calls over that long span, I never got bit once.

It comes largely as an emotional shock, as I had been imagining for a long while, that as much as I am fond of most dogs and enjoy their company, that greater and noble dog-manity was loyally by my side.

It’s true that Blueberry, the dog that bit me, has a sketchy past and a questionable upbringing. But I have been communicating with him much over the past year or two, in the kindest voice and intentions that I could muster up. Now, I’m finding this incident to be disconcerting.

When incidents like these happen, I often turn to the Animal Medicine cards, to see if I can gain a bit of wisdom from there. In this particular case, it feels fitting to examine the card from the contrary position. I haven’t looked at it yet, but my stronger intuition is saying that maybe now is not a good time to turn my back on someone who I believe is aloyal friend, and then be deceived.

Let’s see now what it really says:

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Did Crossword puzzle-maker experience a senior moment?

I enjoyed reading the insights from 88 year-old Stormi Storch’s February 27 letter, in which she pointed out that designating “forgetting” as the answer  for the crossword clue “having a senior moment “ is a form of profiling.  I agree with Ms. Storch’s assertion that many 50 and 40 year olds are sometimes as  forgetful as seniors are; and therefore wonder whether crossword creator Jacqueline E. Mathews failed to remember Stormi’s complaint, when two months later the May 29 crossword included the clue for 57 across as: “Memory ___;  senior moment” (The ‘correct’ answer was lapse.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Another ocean full of bowling balls?

Once Robert Pirsig and his son Chris ascend to the mountain peak, Chris begins to ask his father about the dream, which begins to disturb Pirsig.

He knows he is a long way from help if he loses touch with reality up on the mountain, so he uses the chance of rock slides as an excuse to begin the descent, despite Chris’s obvious disappointment.

Once down off the mountain, Pirsig has another Glass Door dream, only this time he tells Chris that he’ll meet him at the bottom of the ocean!

This dream sets the stage for the next portion of the book. If Chris and Pirsig discovered the metaphysical relationship of Quality at some mountaintop of personal experience, he now seeks to apply that knowledge to all the valleys of this world, the dull dreary jobs and monotonous years that await all of us. (pg 229)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Some slippery slopes up over Galena



It’s remarkable that for decades our Forest Service has kept a historical sign posted on the winding Galena climb, which commemorates with ambiguous wording, early 1820’s trapper Alexander Ross discovering this striking gateway to the Sawtooths. Certainly he ‘discovered’ the jagged summit for his fellow explorers, but I wonder what the Sheepeater Indian who zinged a grouse with an arrow up there on the same sunny day(as reported by Ross) would have thought about this discovery hoopla if he were able to gain a visionary glimpse into the future.


*

Another challenge at the summit is at the elevation sign, as vandals have unhinged it several times. Although I’m mostly against government total awareness programs, this is a case where I’ve become so sick of seeing this sign stolen, that it would be refreshing to see our highway department set a clever trap, by imbedding a transmitter into the sign, to catch some culprits.

*


Further aspects of the pass I’m puzzled about are at the remodeled overlook parking lot. Whatever, happened to the emergency callbox that the Forest Service was going to install there? Well, at least for now, our community has some dedicated ham radio enthusiasts to help patch this severe communication gap. Another harsh fact up there is that the restrooms are gone! On top of that, as pleasant as the new remodel appears cosmetically, the upper end no longer has barriers to prevent motorists from sliding off the edge.


*


Back in the era, when Al Ross was writing his traveling memoirs, rugged mountain men probably would have empowered themselves to haul up excess railroad ties and spike them in as guardrails to ensure that nobody would roll off the rocky overlook. It would be nice if our modern Forest Service Department could find it in their budget to follow similar safety procedures.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tripping over Galena Summit


It’s remarkable that for decades our Forest Service has kept a historical sign posted on the winding Galena climb, which commemorates with ambiguous wording, early trapper Alexander Ross discovering this gateway to the Sawtooths in 1824. Certainly he ‘discovered’ the jagged summit for his fellow explorers, but I wonder what the Sheepeater Indian who zinged a grouse with an arrow up there on the same sunny day(as reported by Ross) would think about this discovery hoopla if he was able to gain a visionary glimpse into the future.

*

Another challenge at the summit is at the elevation sign, as vandals have unhinged it several times. Although I’m mostly against government total awareness programs, this is a case where I’ve become sick of seeing this sign stolen so much, that it would be refreshing to see our highway department set a clever trap, by imbedding a small GPS unit into the sign, to catch some culprits.

*

Further aspects of the pass I’m puzzled about are at the remodeled overlook parking lot. Whatever, happened to the landline the Forest Service was going to install there? Well, at least for now, our community has some dedicated ham radio enthusiasts to help patch this severe communication gap. Another harsh fact up there is that the restrooms are gone! On top of that, as pleasant as the new remodel appears cosmetically, it does not have sufficient barriers to prevent motorists from sliding off the edge.

*

Back in the era, when Al Ross was writing his traveling memoirs, rugged mountain men probably would have empowered themselves to haul up excess railroad ties and spike them in as guardrails to ensure no one rolled off the rocky overlook. It would be nice if the Forest Service could find it in their budget to follow similar safety procedures.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Eric Burdon and the Animals


Back in the mid or late 90’s, around one Saint Paddy’s weekend the rock band Eric Burdon and the Animals performed a few shows at Bruce Willis’s Hailey Mint Bar. I attended one of the events, even dancing for a while, and was impressed that these old-timers still ‘had it’ as they put on a festive show, and played a number of nice recognizable classics.

*

At the time, I was working at Horizon Airlines as a ramp agent, and while working in the back room early the next morning, I noticed several musical instruments in their cases starting to roll through the bag well. Traveling bands often have suitcases and trunks with souvenir stickers from every end of the world patched all over them, and as this band’s distinctive checked luggage continued poring through, I edged my way up to Horizon’s front counter to gain a closer peek at the rock stars.

*

The Animals looked a little worse for wear, and I had a vibe that they probably had stayed up late partying, probably even gaining less sleep than I had. It wasn’t even 7a.m. yet, but the band probably needed an early start in order to prepare for their next gig.

*

As I worked my way back to the bag well, I noticed that a large duffel bag in the middle of the band luggage was leaking some type of dark liquid. It looked bad enough that I should attend to it; because as well as tarnishing whatever was in that particular bag, it had to potential to ruin other passenger luggage. Using a bit of the self-empowerment that the Horizon Air leaders often encouraged, I zipped open the bag and discovered that the culprit was a slowly leaking bottle of rum. In transit, the cap had become slightly cracked and as we didn’t have a fitting replacement cap that size in stock in our provisions cabinet, I decided to use a bit of duct tape to stem the leak. While doing so, the thought flashed, “This is exactly, what I would want somebody to do for me, if I had a bottle of cheap rum, leaking at the airport.”

*

Following on that thought, I figured it best to page the band member to explain what happened. I walked to our front counter and asked Jane to page the bass-player from what had now become a bustling early morning crowd. He came forth in his ragged-glory and I started to explain that I had taped his rum bottle to stop the leak, and that the rum was certifiably STILL GOOD!

*

Somehow though, stumbling through this hazy and cacophonic chaos, he misinterpreted my intent, and I’ll never forget, he asked, “WELL, CAN WE DRINK IT NOW THEN?” I re-explained that my intent was to show him that I personally had duct-taped his rum-bottle secure, so that it would not soak any more of his clothing, and wanted him to know this, so that he wouldn’t suspect that somebody had tampered with it along the merry way!

*

And he seemed happy enough with that.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Show common sense with parking enforcement


Twelve years ago, I was helping at a bustling Ketchum furniture store where the owner had a delivery truck. As winter approached, he asked the City authorities if he could park his truck in front of the store at night, because his space (as well as the adjoining ones) had radiant heat piped beneath; thus there was no need for the city to plow that area. Sadly, the city said no, and the owner, although he was already paying $16,000 a month rent, still had to go to great lengths to procure a less convenient overnight parking spot.

*

More recently, I met a friend who has a fine store in the same Ketchum complex, and due to the nature of her business, it’s imperative that she keeps her vehicle parked within eyeshot. This usually works out well for her; however a glitch she keeps experiencing is the need to dash out every two hours to re-park her car, while in the middle of work projects. This daily unsettlement sometimes irks her, especially during months of ‘slack’ when empty spots around her business are almost always abundant.

*

The worst of it is, that this constant need for her to start up her car in the two-hour zone and then re-park around the corner, spews pollution into our clean air; as the first minutes of running the engine coincides with the worst spreading of exhaust emissions. This goes totally against the grain of Ketchum’s enlightened idling ordinance and several of her business neighbors agree that in this vein, the perpetual strict enforcement of the two-hour zone law is unreasonable.

*

So far, she and I have both been impressed with the diplomatic approach that the Ketchum Police Department has used to educate motorists about our idling ordinance. And while it’s already challenging enough to keep a good business running in this town, it would be refreshing to see our dedicated parking enforcement officers apply some of this same common sense to their general ordinances. We feel that if our vigilant on-the-street ambassadors offered a little leeway, while using some self-empowerment in these situations, then this would go a long way toward illuminating the welcoming nature and fine character of our hardy town.

Monday, February 27, 2012



TIL through some shop-talk at the Laundromat, that ever since their
big laundry fire,Sun Valley Company has been sending their wash to a company-owned resort near Salt Lake for sanitizing. Continuing our clean conversation, I heard that Wood River St. Lukes trucks their hospital laundry all the way over to Boise for sanitizing. With these massive amounts of local laundry constantly coming and going, it means that we must sometimes have sheets simultaneously transporting North, South, and East & West!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Seashore soaring

You were drifting on the Kingston ferryboat, while I was stranded on Orcas Island.

You fashioned a hot air balloon, embroidered with a giraffe.

My craft had a monkey on its back.

The winds shifted and we were destined to meet again, out in the ocean, directly over two Concordia ships passing in the night. You flew north like a crow and saw me long before I spied you.

As we approached each other in the high sky, you blew me a kiss, which I instantly caught in my mouth. Your kiss came from the sweetest part of heaven and it healed my core illnesses, as its pure intentions cleansed & quaked deep my soul.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

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



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 that the other person was all right, and then gave each other sweet bear hugs. After that, they agreed that they should meet 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: good people who care about each other, more than they do for their measly worldly possessions. Therefore, it grates at me, when I hear intermittent comments that disparage the town and townspeople of Ketchum (and the Wood River Valley). Some will say, "I have no desire to visit Ketchum, or any of the people up there." That's too bad, because if you take a closer look, this pedestrian-friendly town offers much for young and old, rich and poor, sick and well.

*

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

*

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

*

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

Ketchum's Community Library has an extensive regional history section, with helpful staff and an oral history program. The library also hosts frequent lectures and enlightening events, featuring respected authors and adventurers from near and far.

*

Ketchum has dozens of fine restaurants. We have movie theaters; nine (and growing) outdoor parks, live stage and Huck Finn-like swimming holes. Free newspapers, magazines, maps and wi-fi are abundant. We also have a water park, bringing boundless glee to splashing kids. On the edge of town, Sun Valley Co. has installed a gondola for uplifting BaldMountain 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 July’s candlelight vigil march for Bowe Bergdahl, the local soldier captured inAfghanistan; I sat with some friends, one of whom described an image she thought best captured Hailey's essence. One of the men attending the ceremony had left his tools in the open on the back of his truck, parked in front of Zaney's Coffeehouse, where the event began. The tradesman had drawn a large cardboard sign, asking passersby to leave his tools alone, because he was standing for Bowe. And the aura of respectfulness that evening permeated the atmosphere so thick that nobody dared tamper with his tools. Then we agreed that we all look forward to the day when Bowe can return to this pleasant valley, where his friends and family can openly share with him, some strong bear hugs.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Latest letter to Snopes


Dear Snopes,

A few years ago, I read in a religion news blog that the Holy Bible is the most shoplifted book.

http://www.religionnewsblog.com/13206/thieves-go-for-bible-but-ignore-ten-commandments

That caused me to wonder with as many Bibles out there that people are desperately pinching, if anybody has actually served time for doing so; and according to this Google Book Search, apparently some have:

http://books.google.com/books?ct=title&q=jail+for+stealing+a+bible&btnG=Search+Books&as_brr=0

Discussing this holistic spectra over the weekend with a friend, it reminded me of a relevant theft I had read about , probably 5-6 years ago, about an incident in the Far East (possibly India) where somebody was arrested for charging their cell phone from a wall outlet outside an apartment complex, and even though some electrical engineers later determined that this theft of electricity probably equaled less than one-tenth of a penny, the apartment manager went ahead and brought the thief to court, where he was convicted and served time.

I’m experiencing difficulty determining if this last part is an urban legend, and during discussion with my friend, we decided that this would likely be the type of question that you would enjoy investigating.

Best regards,


JB

Friday, February 03, 2012


Social Disease

I hate it when bank employees ask, usually in hushed voice: What is your social?

*

It’s as if, by not asking directly out loud, “What is your Social Security Number?” -that they think this is going prevent a security breach of some sort, from lurkers in the lobby. I noticed this phenomenon starting several years ago, not only with banks, but with other businesses privileged to examine vast amounts of your personal information. It’s like a hive-mind mentality all started at once, unless perhaps some high-level bank manager came down with a decree years ago, with the mindset to ask for ‘your social’ in this peculiar manner, would might exempt them from identity-theft liabilities.

*

It would be interesting to chat with a few folks in the banking industry about this, and to get their takes on it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

You should always be dancing!

Back in 1976, my cousin and I were driving in my little yellow VW Dasher along the beach in Delaware and we switched the radio on to a local station. The Bee Gee’s song “You Should Be Dancing” was playing, but as both of us were interested in Heavy Rock more than we were Pop Music, we glanced at each other and tacitly agreed to find another song. I switched the car radio over to another station and the same Bee Gee’s song was playing there too. We kept trying other stations, hitting all six of the preset buttons and were amazed to discover that this same song was playing on all six stations! Quickly, to confirm this was actually happening, we went through all of the stations once again, and sure enough the song was playing and at a different part on each of the stations, before it shortly ended on one of them. After all of the stations stopped playing the popular tune, we went back and triple-checked to make sure that we didn’t have any of the preset buttons set to the same station, and we didn’t, which made us wonder how often such an event might occur, and we sensed that it was probably very rare, even for a hit single at the pinnacle of the Pop Charts.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Some simple steps to improve highway safety

(Final draft)

It’s outstanding that in 2011, motor vehicle fatalities in Idaho dropped to their lowest rate in 50 years. Idaho Highway safety manager Brent Jennings remarks, “We believe that we can attribute this significant decline in fatalities to the educational programs, the partnerships that we have in education, in engineering, law enforcement, and emergency medical services.”

*

A related category where I would like see continued improvement, is for our highway personnel to encourage each other to position highly visible “Workers Ahead” signs well in advance of the actual roadwork and from all directions leading up to the job, even if it looks as though their tasks will only encompass a brief period. We already have rigorous safety standards in place to promote this; however, here is where I would like to make a personal observation on the subject:

*

Back in the mid-90’s on Highway 75 north of Hailey, there was a case where a utility contractor, perhaps thinking he would only be there briefly, set out a handful of safety cones in the vicinity of his boom truck, before rising to work on some power lines. Unfortunately, this was near a blind curve in the road, and a mechanical support-leg from his work vehicle was protruding into the highway 1½ feet. A southbound motorist did not notice this obstruction in time to react properly; and suddenly veered, causing a horrific head-on collision. This killed a young man named Ken who was traveling north. Upon investigation, local authorities revealed that the company doing the utility work did not follow the law, as they neglected to carefully lay out 3 sets of “Workers Ahead” signs in specifically staged areas, and a court found the contractor partially accountable for the damages.

*

Before Ken’s life was taken in that wreck, I was fortunate to become briefly acquainted with him. I learned that he was a hard-working family man with two small children. And I could sense by the deep engaging way he gazed into people’s eyes, that he was a salt-of-the-earth type of individual who was genuinely interested in whatever you were up to. Sometimes in the evenings, I would hear Ken practicing tight with his band, blanketing Old Hailey with a friendly atmosphere of soft jazz notes.

*

Therefore, as Ken was a long-time pillar of the community, for months afterward, many folks held some outrage against the contractor partially responsible for the crash. A local newspaper reported in depth on the various safety protocols workers should follow and word spread wide to all roadmen that they had best follow these rules. However, after a few months slipped by, I noticed some workers had started slacking off again from their diligent safety duties, such as not using flaggers in places where they clearly should have, or working late with insufficient lighting. Over the years, I’ve made mental notes of these irresponsible acts, sometimes seeing workers placing themselves in conditions even more dangerous than the one that killed Ken.

*

Then last year, another acquaintance was killed in a worker-zone crash on a different stretch of Highway 75. In her case, questions have arisen as to whether the workforce there posted enough advance warning, before a truck driver unsuspecting of the stopped traffic ahead, plowed into several vehicles.

*

With these crashes, I like to believe my friends were something better than statistics and hope that some good can come out of their tragic losses. Although, we will always face danger on the highway; I implore our dedicated workers in the concerned spirit of Ken to do everything they can to make us safer for 2012 and beyond.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A simple step to improve highway safety

It’s outstanding that in 2011, motor vehicle fatalities in Idaho dropped to their lowest rate in 50 years. Idaho Highway safety manager Brent Jennings remarks, “We believe that we can attribute this significant decline in fatalities to the educational programs, the partnerships that we have in education, engineering, law enforcement, and emergency medical services.”

*

A category in which I would like to see continued improvement is for our highway managers, workers and utility contractors to encourage each other to position highly visible “Workers Ahead” signs well in advance of the actual roadwork and from all directions leading up to the job, even if it looks as though their tasks there will only encompass a brief period. We already have rigorous safety standards in place to encourage this; however, here is where I would like to make a personal observation on the subject:

*

Back in the mid-90’s on Highway 75 north of Hailey, there was a case where a utility contractor, perhaps thinking that he would only be there briefly, set out just a few safety cones in the general proximity of his boom truck to work on some overhead power lines. Unfortunately, this was near a blind curve in the road, and a metal support-leg from his work vehicle was protruding into the highway 1½ feet. A southbound motorist did not notice this obstruction in time to react properly; and suddenly veered, causing a horrific head-on collision. This killed a young man named Ken who was traveling north. Upon investigation, local authorities revealed that the company doing the utility work did not follow the law by carefully laying out three sets of “Workers Ahead” signs in specifically staged areas and a court found the contractor partially accountable for the damages.

*

Before Ken’s life was taken in that wreck, I had been fortunate to become briefly acquainted with him. I learned that he was a hard-working family man with two small children. And I could sense by the deep engaging way he gazed into people’s eyes, that he was a salt-of-the-earth type of individual who was genuinely interested in whatever you were up to. Sometimes in the evenings, I would hear Ken practicing tight with his band, blanketing Old Hailey with a friendly atmosphere of soft jazz notes.

*

Therefore, as Ken was a pillar of the community, for months afterward, many folks held some outrage against the contractor partially responsible for the crash. A local newspaper reported in depth on the various safety protocols workers should follow and word spread wide to all roadmen that they had best follow these rules. However, after a few months slipped by, I noticed that some workers started slacking off again from their diligent safety duties, such as not using flaggers in places where they clearly should have, or working late with insufficient lighting. Over the years, I’ve made mental notes of these irresponsible acts, sometimes seeing workers placing themselves in conditions even more dangerous than the one that killed Ken.

*

Then last year, another acquaintance was killed in a worker-zone crash on a different stretch of Highway 75. In her case, questions have arisen as to whether the workforce there posted enough advance warning, before a truck driver unsuspecting of the stopped traffic, plowed into several cars.

*

With these crashes, I like to believe my friends were something better than statistics and hope that something good can come out of their tragic cases. Although, we will always face danger on the highway; I implore our dedicated workers in the concerned spirit of Ken to do everything possible to make us safer for 2012 and beyond.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Is Idaho Power exaggerating savings on ‘smart meter’ plan?

A December 22, 2011 Mountain Express news update, reported the swift completion of Idaho Power’s smart meter installation, saying, “Idaho Power touted the cost savings and energy savings that have resulted from the initiative, including eliminating 80 vehicles from its fleet, saving on fuel and maintenance costs because employees are no longer driving 1.6 million miles per year to read meters, and eliminating access issues like locked gates and protective dogs.

*

Yet, mere weeks later the power company is raising their monthly customer service charge from 4 dollars to 5 dollars – a 25% increase! What type of savings is that? This is not the first time in recent history that Idaho Power has slipped on a promise. You might recall the sleek glossy brochure they mailed when they first began implementing the smart meter switchover; which assured customers that they would be notified with a knock on the door. Comparing my own less-than-satisfactory experience with various neighbors on this, indicates that this simple courtesy often did not happen.

*

Some folks across the Heartland are speculating that these new meters are emitting overly powerful amounts of microwave radiation. However, an Idaho Power rep. told the Express that our local brand of smart meter transmits personal information only over the power lines. I suppose that I can believe that for now, however; with the previous company overstatements in mind, I would be interested in learning more about how this really works.

*

Meanwhile, the same neighbors I talked with earlier are now joking some that Idaho Power installed a Men-in-Black-like zapper into these innovative meters, in hopes of making consumers forget the grand savings which they promised us.

*

Related link:

http://www.mtexpress.com/vu_breaking_story.php?bid=97878

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Cut off your nose; or spite your Facebook?

(draft 2)


I read with great interest about a qualitative study which indicates that given a hypothetical choice; over half of today’s youth would prefer to give up their sense of smell, rather than live without their social networks.

*

I’m curious as to how this poll was conducted; because instead of giving an instant answer to such a significant dilemma, this strikes me as the type of quandary –albeit theoretical, that one should mull over wisely for a few days, before giving it a final answer.

*

Take for instance, the importance of being able to smell a fire or a gas leak before it builds up into an explosive nature. And what about spoiled food, with our smart noses ready to save us from sickness or worse? If we went nose- less, wouldn’t most of us miss the simple pleasures and familiarity of distinctive aromas emanating from friends and beloved ones?

+

Smell is the sense most closely connected with our memories. When we take a healthy walk through the woods on a snowy evening feeling powerfully connected to nature, it’s a great nostalgic joy to sniff somebody’s fireplace blazing in the misty distance, which reminds us deeply of other golden times.

*

With this in mind, I wonder if they thought it over a little more, if today’s younger generation would truly rather give up their good sense of smell, and prefer to paint rosy Facebook pictures? Perhaps I’m a nosy old Luddite, but I still find it startling and smell something wrong, when I see how many of our youth believe social networks are the greatest thing ever invented -even topping the fresh fragrance of warm sliced bread.


Footnotes:

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/todays-global-youth-would-give-up-their-sense-of-smell-to-keep-their-technology-122605643.html

Cut off your nose; or spite your Facebook?

I read with great interest about a qualitative study which indicates that given a hypothetical choice; over half of today’s youth would prefer to give up their sense of smell, rather than their social networks.

*

I’m curious as to how this poll was conducted; because instead of giving an instant answer to such a significant dilemma, this strikes me as the type of quandary –albeit theoretical, that one should mull over wisely for a few days, before giving a final answer.

*

Take for instance, the importance of being able to smell a fire or a gas leak before it builds up into an explosive nature. And what about spoiled food, with our keen noses ready to save us from sickness or worse? If we went nose- less, wouldn’t most of us miss the simple pleasures and familiarity of distinctive aromas from friends and beloved ones?

*

Smell is the sense most closely connected with our memories. When we walk through the woods on a snowy evening feeling powerfully connected to nature, it’s a great nostalgic joy to sniff somebody’s fireplace burning in the distance.

*

Would today’s youth really rather give up smell, preferring to paint rosier Facebook pictures?

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