Wednesday, December 05, 2012
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
Sunday, November 25, 2012
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:
Monday, September 24, 2012
Old redwood water line unearthed in Ketchum
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
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.
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
Friday, June 29, 2012
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Monday, June 11, 2012
Thursday, May 31, 2012
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
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
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
Monday, February 20, 2012
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
A few years ago, I read in a religion news blog that the Holy Bible is the most shoplifted book.
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:
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.
Friday, February 03, 2012
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
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.
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
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 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.
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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