Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hardscrabble Sockdolagers 2013 draft

Hardscrabble Sockdolagers

Idaho opinion pieces, letters of public interest and other aimful musings
By Jim Banholzer                
In the autumn of 2004 while flying back east to visit family, I started scratching out some notes comparing the value of working out (on exercise machines) versus performing actual productive work. This became my first newspaper column. It’s interesting looking back on it now, because I can see how the article is rough around the edges, and how now I could improve its flow. 

Getting this article published in the newspaper was a proud moment for me. Soon after, I followed up with several other opinion pieces, and The Idaho Mountain Express editor Ken Retallic thought that they too, were worthy of  publication. By the end of the year, Ken asked if I would like to do this on a regular basis, and although I didn’t understand what it would entail, and how it would change my life, I immediately said, “I can do that.”

The several Idaho newspapers I’ve written for have all given me broad latitude, allowing me to choose whatever subjects I wish to write about. And there are so many interesting subjects under the sun to opine about that probably about anybody could start a newspaper column, if they set their mind to it. 

The first two ‘official columns I wrote about were the most important subjects to me. Anti-racism and Frisbee disc-golf. In the years since then, I’ve placed focus on auguries and omens, kindness and owl medicine, mythical towers and driver safety, quiet nature observations and noble elk reflections, positively good days and outdoorsy adventures, secret lives of meter readers and the downside of smart meters, linseed oil extending the life of sandlot basketball nets, expansive suggestions for the future airport; mermaids and selkies; Clint Eastwood and a statewide signage movie proposal; The Max Rudolph saga, school prayer, whistle-blowers in the nuclear industry, priceless smiles over diamonds, warm and hot springs, Abe Lincoln, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and pacifists; and a general defense of those who overly criticize Ketchum. 
I hope you enjoy my writing.

The midday owl who withdrew from the bank

Originally published in the Mountain Express April 12, 2006

On a black Tuesday after Memorial Day around celestial noon, a flock of crows above Hailey went harassing a great horned owl yearling. These cackling guardians succeeded in winging him about as long as a solar eclipse lasts; and this proceeded to transpire this town into a sequence of events that turned this town topsy-turvy. 

As it was the first day after a long weekend, pedestrians scurried by almost stepping on the owl—somehow not spotting him in their radar. The person who first noticed was a man who usually dons a Washington Redskin's cap—but not worn on this day. He and I thought we were dreaming, seeing this creature of night thrust into the day's brilliance. 

I called a peace officer, who said he would have to call Fish and Game. I mentioned an immediate concern of children walking by and trying to pet it. "Nothing like this has ever happened before around here" his young voice crackled. I agreed. But then he told me, "All we can do for now is 'dispatch' the owl, if you know what I mean."  

That's just great, I thought, they're going to eradicate an innocent bird on Main Street with the bullet ricocheting off the vaulted bank and straight into an Arlo Guthrie ballad about Homeland Security—lampooning the whole town. Surely, the young constable would transpire a different hoot himself upon actual approach, by merely setting his sunny stun gun one octave below "Night Owl" and just Tasering this talonious threat away. 

 The shy owl deposited at the bank could see from every angle that he was in a situation where he had better treat passers-by more humanely, or he would face heavy costs being withdrawn from the wild. 

Blind to the camera phone hooked to my body, I dashed to the van to grab film, all the while focusing on not setting it to flash, which would further bewilder this newly disadvantaged creature. Upon my sudden return, he reoriented enough to fly off silently—free from the dangerous moneychangers. His escape path crooked as he overshot pines south of a Queen's black & white puzzle board. Searchers spied high and low to see if he had again crashed. However, the night eagle soared into his rightful realm, now sharing skies with other unseen communication channels—poles apart from the telegraph wires his grandparents used to stalk over simple plots of spud. He then gazed clearly through solar skylights at detached humans freely swallowing mysterious cyberspace columns whole, then regurgitating unneeded paragraphs. 

Meanwhile the football fan whose hat no longer casts curses toward Native Americans and I pointed like wild Injuns toward the feather dust still softly swirling on the sidewalk. 

By evening twilight, as my thoughts flocked about the owl and the Red Warrior's skullcap that blew off, it struck me that in indigenous cultures it's taught that owls can see what others cannot—the essence of true wisdom. Furthermore, the owl is a symbol for deception in the sense that he cannot be tricked. With his piercing clarity of vision, he naturally deflects the deceptions we attempt right back onto us, sometimes bringing unforeseen nightmares into the middle of the day.  

Something else I had forgotten is that some humans hold certain characteristics in their heart-shaped minds, in common with our owl cousins. Paradoxically, some people may have this type of power and not even be aware of it. A person gifted with good owl "medicine" should not use it to shift winds out of others sails, except in extraordinary circumstances.  

That very crossroad is one that I sometimes think I will easily be able to turn left and merge into traffic in the middle of the day, truly believing that I can still fly through Hailey like it's a small, sleepy town. Until in extraordinary awakening circumstances, a friendly officer with halting radar gives a hoot while seeing through everything and eagerly hands me a guardian gift—a kind reminder that I, too, have been softly deceiving myself. 

(Footnote: The above event happened on Tuesday, May 31, 2005.)

The Owl and the money clip

Originally published in Trish and Rob MacGregor’s synchrosecrets blog on September 30, 2009

At the old place, Richard and Tammy had lived with a single mother, an arrangement that worked great in some aspects, but also felt a little cramped, which tends to get worse during harsh Idaho winters. Both families had gone down to look at the prospective larger house a few times. All four kids loved it, as did Tammy and her single-mother friend. Richard wasn’t so sure; after all, they had already moved earlier this year. His hesitation was understandable, as the new house cost more and he is the main breadwinner.
With the pressure on to decide soon, one evening Richard vociferously announced that he was “going fishing.” He walked down to the river to spend some time alone and reflect. As the evening twilight progressed, an enormous owl swooped down over the water and dropped something shiny. Richard waded out to where the owl dropped the item and discovered an empty money clip. Examining it closer, he saw that the silver was emblazoned with his own initials!
Richard took the owl’s message as a sign, which helped him, decide that his family would be better off in the end if they made the move. Coincidentally, a few months ago, at their old house I had dropped off some animal totem books, including the one by Trish. On a whim, I marked one of the owl stories with a copy of my own owl story, using it as a bookmark. It’s called The Midday Owl who Withdrew from the Bank.
What’s interesting about my story is that it’s the same one that forty moons ago, I sent to Trish, when I saw a sentence towards the end of her and Millie’s totem book, which asked readers to contact them, if they had any interesting animal encounter stories of their own. In other words, the same story I stuck in their book is the same story that led to your and my Internet friendship and enduring exchange of ideas!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Do not eat the black-tailed fish 

Avoid the flesh of animals that die on their own 

Do not polish a seat with oil 

Never speak while facing the sun

Don’t judge a book until you read it

Time-News, Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

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

The above article reminds me of my favorite conflicting proverbs; “You can’t judge a book by its cover” versus “Clothes make the man.”

Idaho Burning Woman Auguries


For every light, which flicketh on,
another salmon cease to spawn,
The hunter without spiritual prayer,
teaches his young great despair 

Fisherman never giving thanks;
discards plastic on river banks,
Each piece dropped by river oak,
a rainbow does fade and choke 

One who has stopped reading books,
is out poaching royal Chinooks,
He who harms creatures with no need,
shall nevr know love of woman indeed, 

She who hurts a little sage hen,
shall not become true love of man,
An animal knows when you fear it,
and can read the good your spirit 

Humans not built separate from nature,
but tangled now with Techno-future,
Can we learn living side by side,
with shady spots and complicated pride? 

One could read tracks to a day,
until ego began to shade his way,
Her stickers urged “Visualize World Peace!”
yet friendship with her neighbor ceased 

Save the lion, wolf and bear,
but what about the kids you care?
High schools parking lot’s a mess,
projecting acts of generation next

Each delay of children’s center,
a young lad loses a valuable mentor,
Drinking and speeding up and down,
such hobbies paint your face a clown, 

Son’s military service brings law and order,
Wild man discovers new psychic borders,
Every hungry truck engine left while idling,
A Persian Gulf soldier drowns in oil fighting, 

A day spent within forced mechanical shields,
Distances one’s touch from beauties fields,
Every radioactive bomb a dud,
Gain we anew one field of spud 

Each spilled barrel of in-toxic-crated waste,
A song filled meadow churns slow to paste,
Following a daily ritual too close,
hollows mans spirit into a ghost 

Too much time on highway lately?
Pirsig’s advice: think laterally,
The crooked road you’ll find much more,
the cup of time fulfilled will pour 

With Faster, Hurry! Go! Go! Go!
You might just zip, right past the show,
Airport paves a runway long,
cooks gridlock in a country song, 

Each tailgate to a bumper, 
forces a body to become a jumper
Too much fame, too much luck,
into Private Idaho you duck, 

Inner city pressure forced you here,
wolverine medicine revealed over beer,
Hamp man dressed down, furtively glancing;
try soft deceit for excellent dancing, 

Social help not here with this wealth,
we’re forty-ninth in mental health,
Each resort by glamour lighted,
another criminal is invited 

With synthetic chemicals excessive high,
dark questionable characters draw a nigh,
A pot of gold will drive some crazy;
our moral lines become quite hazy

My last letter to Dad & mother,
“Valley’s brimmed with small potatoes smashing one another,
”Each new shelter built on field,
mountain lion blazes new trail to yield, 

Tree roots cut with sewage hookup,
Great horned cloak above is shook up,
A house built with intent of wrath:
Man himself loses access path, 

A truth that’s told with ill intent,
beats any lie you can invent,
Should I do a good job replacing this grate?
Hey, it’s a low liability State 

Many friendly waves not acknowledged;
snared upon wrong books in college?
Shiny idea gems from the mind were taken,
when the Indian’s land was forsaken 

Not returning to swim in lake and ocean,
begins to bring gesture without motion,
Fearless leaders guide the human race,
but look how quick their aged face 

Think ye the mental storm hard to handle?,
try finding two honest men with one candle,
Purify yourself often in Gaia forest;
help marriage of Earth & Man not be divorced...


We need whistleblowers

Idaho Mountain Express December 17, 2008

It's disheartening to see factories that churn out the most hellacious waste in the world plop down into Idaho lava fields, set up high-paying jobs, and then become integrated into the area via churches, spirited Little League ball teams and 4-H clubs. When something dreadful occurs at a nuclear site, often our culture covers it up.
Whistleblowers are terrified of repercussions, being shunned by society and worse. Few want to be known as killing the goose with the golden eggs, even if they are speckled with plutonium. Three years ago, right before Christmas, there was a news splash at the Los Alamos, N.M., laboratory. Five workers were exposed to the highly carcinogenic PU-239. It took several days before this information came out to the public. Then it was through the Project on Government Oversight that co-workers coughed this up to, rather than their own trusted government and contractor.
Ironically, of all the of jobs I've labored on, the rules insisted that every accident, no matter how small, be reported—even if it's a cut from a piece of paper as tiny and insignificant as America's Constitution.
It's not right that our best men juggling the most dangerous element under the sun should be skittish about reporting disasters that hold far-reaching ramifications. After all, would not the open reporting of near catastrophes aid in preventing similar events? The same season as the 2005 Los Alamos incident, some Department of Energy spokespersons drove over to Sun Valley, claiming they care about the environment and their grandchildren. If this is true, then they should invite aspiring scientists to join a contest designing foolproof, double-blind whistleblower systems. A Rube Goldberg category could be included to generate interest among innovative high schoolers who (for the past eight years) have had more open dialogues than the highest levels of our own government.
Unlike the exposed workers whose health benefits will likely be terminated once they are let go, the winner could receive a lifetime POGO magazine subscription.


Simpson all wet about nuclear energy

Times News
June 08, 2009 11:00 pm

It's disconcerting to read Rep. Mike Simpson touting the most dangerous element under the sun (Idaho Statesman, May 31) as the best green option in the energy debate. Mr. Simpson says, "France learned long ago that nuclear energy is safe, abundant and cheap."
While it is true that France uses more than 80 percent nuclear power for electricity, there is a big brouhaha going on over there about some enormous problems this has brought. For instance, where do you think the elite French are trying to lay their insidiously deadly toxins to rest for millennia? Why it's being shoveled into poor people's backyards, of course. Much like the Three Mile Island skeleton core transported to radiate here in meager Idaho's National Lab.
While he claims nuclear energy is safe, perhaps Mr. Simpson does not realize that a uranium leak last summer in one of France's nuclear plants led to a fishing, swimming and well-water drinking ban in two Vaucluse rivers. How would he feel if we found ourselves forced to forbid recreational boating, fishing and simple splish-splashing in our Snake?
At the conclusion of Rep. Simpson's argument he asks, "Who wants their grandmother's kidney dialysis machine to rely on wind energy on a calm day or solar energy when the sun is not shining?" This is preposterous fear mongering. Naturally, concerned relatives would want reliable backup generators available for such important concerns. And currently some inspired scientists are developing innovative products that run off both solar and wind power and only need charged every four days.
Instead of greenwashing Grandma with putrid plutonium promises, perhaps she would rather see us funding her grandchildren's colleges with more research and development departments to augment what safe, abundant and inexpensive sun and wind can generate for us, and the lifesaving machines we rely upon.
~    ~    ~

Let’s learn from Japan disaster

Letter in Idaho Mountain Express
March 30, 2011
Sometimes, 100-year events occur in our lifetime. It's remarkable how some Idahoans who are connected with the nuclear industry are downplaying the horrific events in Japan. While some of these officials say they are confident that a similar event could never happen here, I sense a credibility gap and I'm unsure whether they are seriously taking into account all contingencies.
For instance, what about the fact that the INL operates amid an earthquake zone—one strongly active in recent times? On the 20th anniversary of the 1983, 6.9 Borah earthquakes, Stephen Weiser, assistant deputy director of mitigation for the Idaho Bureau of Disaster Services, said, "Central Idaho is extremely vulnerable to earthquakes and has a great deal of seismic activity."
Besides occasional earthquakes, other challenges that the purportedly failsafe and "clean" nuclear industry needs to contend with are the possibilities of terrorist attacks, infrastructure wear and tear, discontented employees, and plain old human error. Then there's the proud legacy of nuclear waste. Our country stores more spent fuel rods than Japan does, and this insidiously deadly radiation will endure an epoch longer than the most ancient Egyptian pyramid.
One-hundred-year events sometimes do occur within our lifetimes: 9/11, Pearl Harbor, Hurricane Katrina, the Indonesian and Japan tsunamis, Mount St. Helens exploding, the Teton Dam bursting or even spring flooding in Woodside. It's downright disingenuous for putrid plutonium prophets to claim that a nuclear accident could never occur here; especially when one already has.
We will be stuck on the road to ruin if our leaders continue to be too shortsighted to plan no further than the next election, muffle whistleblowers so we don't learn from our mistakes and neglect to upgrade nuclear plants to high modern standards, trading short-term gain for long-term environmental disaster.

~    ~    ~

Beware of Putrid Plutonium Propheteers

SUNDAY, APRIL 27, 2008
Idaho Conversation League

The powerful nuclear industry has been campaigning to construct new plants in Idaho and many in our desperate energy state are anxious to buy it. Some have written letters beseeching Idahoans to embrace nuclear power, so that we can be first in something for once.
To paraphrase Lee Halper from a recent radioactive-hot forum“Idaho is already first in many things. We're almost first in cow-pies. We're first in lack of ethics in the Legislature. We're first in ignoring what doesn't work in other states will work here and we're first in having the most NUCLEAR waste seeping into our drinking water. We could be first in geothermal, wind, solar, hydrogen and conservation of energy but people who look for the silver bullet like NUCLEAR, are those who want us to be first in line for Superfund status.”
I agree with Lee; let us not be first in foolhardiness. The poisonous nuclear industry kills much more than charging windmills do birds. For the next 40,000 years, we will have to develop warning signs decipherable long after the English language has died out. Think about it, the proud legacy nuclear waste leaves, will endure an epoch tenfold longer than our most ancient Egyptian pyramid. The gist of it is; no one wants to be known as the one who killed the goose that lays golden eggs, even if they are speckled with plutonium.
Now a French company “committed to fueling the nuclear renaissance,” is at the ready to receive generous tax breaks for mining Idaho uranium. Let’s be first in common sense again, by swatting away pests who desire to salt our fragile freedom-fry spuds with a radioactive twinge. While it is true that France uses 80 percent nuclear power, don’t think that there is not a big brouhaha going on, over the pond, about this wasteful thinking. And where are the elite French trying to lay their insidiously deadly toxins to rest for millennia? Why it’s being shoveled into poor peoples backyards, of course. Affecting many Muslim communities. And that’s just dandy?
Perhaps Idaho newspaper editors should convene to develop a writing contest, for us to draft letters of apology to our grandchildren’s grandchildren, for how we have wrongly ‘warshiped’ Mother Earth, to insert in a time capsule, next to the Yucky Mountain radioactive warning cryptograms. Winners could receive protection suits, fitted with alarming Geiger counters.

The bad spin about wind turbines is very overblown. Inspired visionaries have already developed improved energy gaining methods from the wind, using large high-tension vibrating bands, which kill no birds. Think how much better off we will be, when we rise up to invest one-tenth as much 
Research and Development into the dozens of other viable solar and wind parametered projects, as we do into killing innocent civilians over Oil-Euros.
Although most of us are now war-weary, it’s inspiring to see that many Idahoans are not allowing themselves to be blinded by plutonium propheteers, who rush in with desperate short-term energy solutions, which leave long-term environmental stains, ten thousand-fold worse than stinky cow-pies.
~    ~    ~
Regarding the South Hills wind towers

Friday, May 08, 2009

With the vast potential Idaho has for utilizing wind power, I would be interested in learning more about how the bird-diverters work. Many of the powerful interest blowhards, who speak out against wind power, amplify bird deaths and because of this, say that wind should be out of the question; instead of remarking, “Hey, wind is simply a great idea! Why can’t we inject more research and development into ways to prevent bird windmill casualties?”
Last year Popular Science Magazine featured an award-winning invention that employed wind power from Ginormous rubber bands. If developed further, such devices could help our country emerge from the current economic and energy Dark Ages. While inventions like this hold great possibility for our future, naysayers will probably find ways to claim that whippoorwills and hummingbirds will be fatally attracted to the buzzing sound.
Before our country started becoming a lazy fast food TV nation, we held our inventors in higher esteem. While the next generation of Tesla’s Edison’s, Kamen’s, Hurtibise’s and Farthsworth emerge, we should give these ingenious energy saviors more enthusiastic support, instead of sticking our heads in South Idaho sand to avoid wind.

Jasper and the Gyro

I have a friend who enjoys adventuring into the great outdoors in pursuit of collecting rocks and gems. Some of her finds she turns into jewelry, which fits well on her, when she dons it at her waitress job. We’ve talked about how sunlight after hard rains creates optimum field conditions for finding obsidian and crystals, as they sometimes stand out like tiny stars.
One early morning, after sharing a raindrop of synchronicity with her, I asked her about her own meaningful coincidences. She responded that recently, after showing off a homemade jasper necklace to some inquisitive customers, she told them on a whim, that if she ever has a son, she would love to name him “Jasper.” Within the hour a young lad of about seven entered the diner with his family, and introduced himself as Jasper!
Soon after, she mentioned another significant twist of fate. In this case, while moving some items into her new home, she came upon an old notebook, which had leafed open to a page featuring the word “gyroscope” scribbled in her own ancient handwriting. As she pondered why she had written this singular word on the yellowed sheet, a song came over the radio, with the male singer’s voice synchronously crooning, “gyroscope.”
Next, my friend told me that she had been staying up late, until three in morning for several days, in intense preparation to get her move finished, before school restarts. According to her schedule, it looks like when school starts, she’ll need to be either studying or working almost every waking moment, leaving no time for her earthly rock hunting pursuits.
This sounded stressful and I spent some time contemplating my friend’s dilemma. An hour or two later, I re-entered the cafeteria with an interpretation of her gyroscope synchronicity. I mentioned that gyroscopes are used for keeping balance and that if two gyroscopes were mysteriously spinning for her at the same time, than maybe the universe was prompting her to become better balanced and get a little more sleep, so she doesn’t crash. I explained how gyroscopes are used in Segways–personal transporters–to help keep them upright. This reminded her that a Segway brushed by her closely during our local Wagon Days parade, only days before, though she was unaware it contained a hidden gyroscope.
As Segways are seldom seen in our valley, it made the three-point synchronicity feel as precious as her jasper necklace and we agreed that synchronicity rocks as much as a field of shining gem-stars.


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

(Published in several newspapers and websites)

The first year I moved to Ketchum, 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 alright, 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 Bald Mountain 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 in Afghanistan; I sat with some friends, one of whom described an image she thought best captured Hailey's essence. One of the men attending the 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. 

~ ~ ~

A startling surprise at the relaxing Cottage Inn
November 2012

  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 good officials were still 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. 

Shedding maple syrup tears

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Idaho Mountain Express

Jim Banholzer
What in the world has become of the sugar maple down by the Trail Creek riparian area behind the old Ski View Lodge? The builders said they would try to save it—let it remain standing broad and free—but now it's gone. Did a backhoe driver make an honest mistake in the mud? But, then did he laugh because he could? The wisdom tree full of unassuming beauty added an earthly atmosphere to conversations held in lemonade chairs underneath a colorfully cool dome of leaves.
A Wagon Days pioneer seeded this maple to bud outside his shack window. It impressed visitors with a PowerPoint presentation of nature. Its show was augmented by a waterfall, which purified our dreams every night. Sometimes a homeless person (also removed) would softly mouth-harp cool songs from rail-tied steps on the other side of the stream, in harmony with the tambourine percussion of leaves rustling from the tree. Just up the creek from a secret footbridge -- now too gone. Which school kids used to dash over on winter morns, with a rucksack full of Robert Frost crossing the snowy fields. Right where I laughed at Laura as she tried to save minnows one dry summer, frantically dipping a colander to transfer them into larger puddles as Trail Creek almost drained. Only realizing later that we'd be less polluted if more people cared about the environment as she did. This led me to suggest running a hose from the shack into Trail Creek.
The quaking tree behind which Maddie once chased a spring bear from off our deck. An event for which she received a tiny Ursa Major medallion forged by a silversmith in old Ketchum. That which she proudly displayed from her collar on special occasions.
The maple had tiny flowers blooming atop its crown in the springs. Not many make it here in this clime. The ones that do help visitors from Vermont feel more at home. Do they think less of us Idahoans now for allowing such a precious gem to be gone? No call came out over the scanner about jeweled butterflies chaining themselves to this tree, requiring security officers to go out with a net in Ketchum. Rather, in a minute of non-harmonic convergence, unthinking operators of intimidating engine power unceremoniously ripped out its heartwood with thrasher blades.
Magnificent magpies used to stage themselves strategically in the maple for table scraps from our cookouts. I, too, would stage blankets around its base, readying for late night shows from summer skies. Around its absorbing roots were planted heart- and Idaho-shaped rocks found over the ages -- these too now wiped for a clean slate.
The sweet sugar maple behind Ski View Lodge -- under which a full language developed between our dog and I. That which I would babble out next to the brook evenings, coming up with new nicknames for "Mooka-Palooka" every night. The language now deader than doornails sealing out highly defined streamed sounds from vacuous second homes.
Whose doormats will lie over the hallowed ground of our buried pets?
Was a frame carved from the Maplewood to hold up somebody's contract—sailing over a fractured renter's ship—on the wall behind a solid oak desk? Did somebody at least get to enjoy its luxuriant colors sparkling from a final fireplace? Or was I standing in the way of progress when a monster rig full of its captured pieces waited for me to limp displaced across the bridge to a new era? On its march to be tossed unseen into a remote incinerator—alongside rosebuds and vanities? Red-blooded leaves plucked fresh from the stream bank and branches stuffed into hoppers of untouchable money banks.
Will there be a historical plaque for the maple notched from its intelligent design? Or a few photos in faded albums around town? Maybe just an empty note for this weary hobo to sing, spiraling down memory lane, a tinhorn piping past the vortex nigh' the hollow stream?

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Secret lives of meter readers
Idaho Mountain Express
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
If you are looking for a long walk every day with not bad pay, maybe meter reading is the ticket. Generally, you get to spend a lot of peaceful time by yourself, plenty of reflecting space, unhindered by a bickering work crew. Dedicating yourself to simply reading meters all day can actually lead into a very ascetic lifestyle.
When a vault into the earth is uncovered, great mysteries lie inside. Neighborhood kids dash over and want to see. Newts and frogs, snakes, snails and polliwogs are all found in these tiny underground arenas. If the meter reader is not watching carefully, he may uncover a bee's nest. Most workers carry a medicine pouch within their toolkits.
Meter reading routes may be a hard road at first, but endurance soon builds up, as the man (or woman) becomes self-reliant. As he walks along, he strengthens his full character, all the way down to his stem cells. Striding along, his breathing becomes natural and he finds himself more plainspoken.
Directions and unusual questions are often posed to meter readers. Do the deer turn into elk at the same elevation rattlesnakes stop snapping? On what street did Hemingway kick the can? Having handy answers makes the job more enjoyable.
Dogs are a part of meter reading. Most bowsers are friendly and can read the meter reader's spirit with a high degree of accuracy. Many will let you enter their gated community to inspect the meter. It's getting out again that presents a problem, as pups craving companionship insist you stay and play.
Some meter readers get to thinking up fantastic ideas along the trail. They begin to carry a notepad alongside their number recorder and write down musings in a Thoreau-like manner. Even in cities, they see bits of nature, which many motorists blur by too fast to appreciate. Along the stream a few morel mushrooms for their pouch. A storytelling of crows over in that tamarack tree trying to change a chapter in an owl's life.
Meter readers of various utilities develop an eye for detail and take note of safety concerns that might otherwise go unnoticed. A dead tree branch leaning into a power line. The smell of gases somewhere or loose manholes in the street. This talent is not lost on Homeland Security officials who sometimes speak of enlisting meter readers to keep "an eye out" for all of us. However, most meter readers are not into this sort of thing. They could draft a map of the homes of stars if they wished, but they prefer to shine as more of a nameless Pale Rider-type of hero. Blending into the background, but emerging with more than speedy serendipity for the occasional good deed along their way.
Daydreams of meter readers include running a line of electricity up to Pioneer Cabin. Imagine the boss man wondering why only one meter was read this afternoon. Meter readers do have it tough here in the winter—trudging across the tundra. They truly appreciate it if you can keep a pathway clear around reading time. Keeping the snow off your roof, away from potentially sliding into your meter area, is helpful. A few years ago at the Gannett Fire Station, ice slid off the roof, breaking the gas pipe at the meter. The station house filled with gas and a thermostat clicked on—razing the whole building.
Customers must think those meter readers are as secretive as wolverines, so seldom seen are they. However, when they are detected it's nice to give them a high howdy and a thank you. They will likely remember that for a long time. During my years of meter reading there were only a handful of times when thanks was given, but it always brightened my day. Almost as much as the aurora brightens my paper route now. Of course, back then it was thin trails of sanity inside the craziness of the Beltway. Certainly, the energy is better on the grids out here—this being a high-radiation area notwithstanding.
Alas, many aspects of meter reading are changing rapidly along with the rest of the world. With the advent of the GPS receiver, probing rods and older methods of tie-down measurements are less often required to help locate meters buried by leaves or grass. Remote registers and telemetry are phasing out some routes. So if your dog seems a tad more lonesome, it could be that he didn't get his monthly belly rub and a pat on the head from your friendly neighborhood meter reader.

Smart-grid power monitors need to be hacker resistant

Letter to Times News
November 12, 2009
Suddenly, we are under a push to switch over to “smart-grid” power metering.
On the surface, this technology holds vast potential: It could inspire many of us to conserve precious energy, and some Idaho communities are already doing this. However, we would be wise to ensure that these smart systems are highly hacker resistant, before wider-scale implementation.
For instance, imagine an enemy breaking into the grid to shut down the full configuration and potentially causing long-term damage to power lines, substations and home electrical systems. This is not farfetched, as nefarious hackers have already infected various financial institutions, global security systems and millions of personal computers. Smart-grid meters are equally susceptible to these types of online attacks.
As we use them more broadly, smart-grid power systems will likely edge up higher on the list of hacker targets. As this happens, leading members of our Idaho Public Utilities Commission would do well to take their oversight roles seriously on this important issue. It would be refreshing to hear our utility commissioners require Idaho Power to pass a wide array of ongoing security tests before granting statewide approval.
Otherwise, our too-clever-by-half, super-reliance on technology might reveal that the wisest owls in Idaho are those who thrive way up yonder in the piney-wood in smart-looking cabins, simply chopping firewood and carrying water, utterly off the wavering grid.

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More complexity means more chances of failure
June 30, 2011 12:00 am

As a former meter reader I find it regretful to see that numerous utility companies are phasing out these important jobs. Traditionally an entry level avocation, many career gas, power and water personnel began initially as meter readers, learning the ropes of their trades by inspecting every corner of the system, and getting to know the grids as well as the back of their hands. Meter readers often walk 8-12 miles a day.
While on foot they usually see much more than car-bound employees do, sometimes noticing crucial infrastructure issues, such as a service box or sewer top caving in, dead tree branches leaning against power lines, or a strong scent of gas emanating from the street. By eliminating these key jobs, our utility companies will no longer have these warriors watching out for us in such close ways.
Not only that, but with the sudden push to “smart grid” metering, our Idaho Public Utility commissioners would be wise to ensure that these new systems are highly hacker-resistant, before full implementation. For instance, imagine an enemy breaking into the grid to shut down the complete configuration, causing long-term damage to power lines, substations and even home electrical systems. This is not far-fetched, as nefarious hackers have already infected various financial institutions, global security systems and millions of personal computers. Unlike old style meters, smart grid meters are susceptible to online attacks. Recently, precocious and prolific blogger Ran Prieur made a related observation, “Did pirates have to protect their wooden legs from cyber attack? Do slide rules get viruses? No! But medical implants are now on the same path as Microsoft Windows and the tech system as a whole: adding more complexity, and creating more openings for failure, which can be patched only with more complexity at greater expense.”


Meter promise wasn’t kept
Letter to Mountain Express
Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I gave a hearty laugh when stepping out of the shower recently; the electricity went off and I discovered that an Idaho Power representative had swiftly switched out my electric meter for a supposedly smarter one. The quandary was that nobody had knocked on my door to inform me, as the company had promised in its widely mailed, sleek, glossy brochure.
And it's too bad that this simple discourteous oversight happened, because, as a former meter reader myself, I was positively looking forward to a healthy face-to-face discussion with the rep. I had planned on asking the experienced tradesman questions such as: What happens to those who want to opt out of their new forceful system? And what do they say to those who don't desire a higher level of complexity?
Perusing the brochure closer, I saw that Idaho Power assures that these up-to-the-minute smart meters are secure. And I agree that they are well over 99 percent secure. The problem is that the old-style meters were 100 percent hacker proof. Nobody had remotely penetrated even one, nor ever could.
I wonder if I'll laugh nearly as much when we see this next secure promise broken.

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Were ‘smart meter’ savings a fib?
Letter to Mountain Express
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Dec. 22 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 its monthly customer service charge from $4 dollars to $5--a 25 percent 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 it mailed when it first began implementing the smart meter switchover—it assured customers that service workers would notify them with a knock on the door. Comparing my own less-than-satisfactory experience on this with that of various neighbors 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 representative told the Express that our local brand of smart meter transmits personal information over the power lines only. 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 the hope of making consumers forget the grand savings that they promised us.
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Friday, February 26, 2010
Times News
Wind could be an invisible blessing 
Although I frequently find myself leaning agnostic, at the same time I enjoy embracing mysteries, and during Christmas, take pleasure in adorning my tumbledown shack with a few festive lights to celebrate the great unknown. 
As with most years, this season, before the snowstorms blew in, I devotedly laid out some red and green spotlights, aiming them strategically high, onto the front yard’s towering pines. Then I flipped the switch on to illuminate the evergreens, for passerby to enjoy during divine twilight hours. I figured this would raise the power bill; but also, at least gain onlookers some imagn’d fleeting joy, as they passed by the modest shack. One merry passerby even remarked that he enjoyed watching the colored lights dance as they kissed the swaying treetops, while the canyon’s moderate winds blessed the sparkly evenings. Then he kindly reminded me that in some indigenous circles, they call the gift of wind, “The Breath of God” or The Spirit that runs through all things. 
When the monthly power bill arrived, it shocked me a bit to discover it cost thirty percent more than previous Christmas’s. Then; I felt as if part of a mystery was cracked: When a Idaho Power spokesman recently visited, to proclaim that “Wind itself just isn’t here;” perhaps afterward; as he embarked on evening tours around our tranquil valley; enjoying every illuminating light, he held dear, an inner joy that those holiday lamps, translated into 30% higher shimmering corporate profits. 

Even though he worshiped a lesser ideal, where, up ‘till recently, it’s been strict company policy to deny wind and much of what it freely offers; I still wish him Godspeed, while March roars in swiftly, like a turbulent lion. 

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Seriously embracing zany Stooges

May 10, 2006
Idaho Mountain Express
I stumbled into a pal recently, who pointed out that some babes would try to tell you that they just do not like the Three Stooges. These gals think that the only times those mugs put "the ladies" up on a pedestal is when they've accidentally released mice into a room. I say, "Don't mind that lamebrain calling you babe, toots, you just ain't watched enough episodes yet." Call me a knucklehead, but I have seen repeatedly girls claiming to be anti-Stooge, improve their outlook on life with proper indoctrinations from Drs. Howard & Fine. 
A recently converted Stooges aficionado is my friend Laura. She had adamantly claimed that there was nothing likeable about those ignoramuses. Then one day a swayback horse episode came on TV. Being a lifelong equestrian, this lassoed her attention. The three best jockeys were all hanging on to the same horse for dear life—wildly galloping in fast-motion circles, around a 1920s arena. A smiley creak emanating from Laura's lips soon sprung into convulsing laughter, resulting in a strata-stupefying conversion of her attitude towards the Stooges. 
I met another gal in town who works at a store selling music and DVDs. She is a recent transplant from the south of France and has barely heard of Stooges high-jinx. What in the world ever made the French want to filter out Stooges from America? They adore Jerry Lewis, but don't know about Moe? Fancying myself a professor of happiness, I demonstrated some nifty tricks with my fists, explaining how they knock each other about until reaching a "poirfect" head-conking epiphany. After tossing in a few nyuck-nyucks, she too showed a slight hint of amusement. Determining that she was not one of those "do not call me a chick" chicks, I felt an HDTV ray of hope towards her future enjoyment of being floored from hilarious whirling Curleys. 
There have been volumes scribed about the convincing healing power of comedy. Grief-stricken folks who have lost a loved one—some who have not laughed for a year or more are sometimes gently brought back into a more bearable world with help from the good turpentine of Stooge-like slapstick. If more shows of this nature illuminated in world theatres, perhaps opposing parties could lay down their weary arms, relax their knuckles and share a few hardy chuckles. We might even learn that to lob unordered cream pies into each other's faces only makes for a horrifying mess to mop up.
Cartoonists and comedians sometimes jangle keys to powerful vehicles of peace without even realizing it. Just as the unique beacons of enlightenment that poets, artists and athletes valiantly race with, it will be a bumpy, jalopy ride down robotic frontiers before ethereally bolted lunkheads could ever match the true staying power of the original Stooges. If the Stooges could come back, how hard would they laugh at the Random Joke Generators of today? Would they guffaw with me for being silly enough to think that they would laugh at my antics?
Recently the Farrelly Brothers (of Dumb & Dumber fame) and 20th Century Fox held some positive negotiations, enabling a new Three Stooges film to come one step closer to eye-popping reality. Some of their script was refined a few summers ago here in the serious writing atmosphere of Sun Valley, including rehearsals of an operation on a nun using an electric toothbrush and vacuum cleaner in one of the Lodge rooms. A rib-tickling scene develops with the discovery of a wishbone inside the semi-conscious nun. This ensues in a wrassling match over the examination table to break off the largest piece for good luck.
This is not the first connection to Idaho in Stooges history. Their last actual film was "Kooks' Tour," made in the Montana and Idaho wilderness in 1970.
Local stores in Idaho that rent or sell CDs and DVDs can special order you hot towels full of Stooges episodes. I hope that this column has corralled potential converts, to sway back some horse sense for the French chickie-baby. When she travels back to Stooge-starved France, she can start encouraging her sphere of the world to stop, look and listen to the profundity from the simple-minded good words and deeds of these three wise guys. Perhaps even the authoritative judgie-wudgies that oversee Medecins sans Frontieres will start recommending, "Take two Stooge DVDs and call me in the morning."
Dedicated to Mattie 'Dudeges' Mckenzie -- Idaho's best Curley impersonator.

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Be prepared for summer snake encounters

The Weekly Paper - summer of 2011

A friend spied some rattlers skulking around out Croy Canyon recently, and she asked me if she should go to Hailey’s St. Luke’s clinic for treatment, in the event that one was to strike out and bite her. In short, the answer is no, because the Hailey clinic is no longer an Urgent Care facility, and does not stock antivenin. However, St. Lukes Hospital a few miles south of Ketchum does carry rattlesnake antivenin and has treatment available at all hours.
When traveling in the backcountry, far from hospitals, it’s a good idea to pack a first aid kit, and perhaps a snake-bite kit. A key point to remember when a snake sinks its fangs into you or a friend (or Man’s best friend) is to not panic or run, because an increased heart rate will speed the flow of venom in the circulatory system. Try to calm down and stay hydrated, but do get far enough from the snake so it won’t try to bite again. It’s important to identify the snake if possible, but use common sense and don’t try to catch the snake! Even if it is not a poisonous snake, you should cleanse the wound thoroughly, using warm water and antiseptic soap, before applying a snug dressing held by an elastic bandage. If feasible, carry the victim to the nearest available vehicle, before transporting him or her to the ambulance or hospital.  If a rattlesnake bites you and you opt to drive to the hospital, rather than taking an ambulance; you would do well to call ahead, to tell them you are on the way, so staff can begin making preparations for your treatment.
Occasionally some hardy westerners try to “cowboy up” after receiving snake bites, telling themselves that it’s not so bad, and they forgo any treatment. Later some come to regret this, as the area where they were bit, succumbs to a large amount of permanent tissue damage. Not only that, but since snakes subsist mainly on rodents, even non-poisonous snakes carry loads of filthy bacteria in their mouths; which with fang-bites can lead to terrible infections.
Some other key points to remember are: Do not apply ice to the bite wound. This will not slow the venom flow. Also, do not use your mouth to suck out the venom. The accepted wisdom used to be to use a snake-bite kit to suction out the venom, but lately that’s been up for debate. Remove jewelry and other items which may constrict with swelling.  A few years ago, a friend exploring in the remote Owyhee Desert had a rattlesnake bite his dog in the head, which started swelling to the point where he had to snip off his collar, before they could reach the vet.
Some vital prevention tips regarding snakes are:
Snakes like to avoid the hot sun, by hiding under rocks or in crevasses. Stay away from reaching in there. When camping, zip up your tent the whole way, to keep snakes from squiggling in. Shake out shoes and clothes before dressing. Be a noisy walker to scare snakes away.
Local lore has it that rattlesnakes are seldom seen above 5,500 feet. Although this may be a good rule of thumb, it’s not absolutely true, as snakes do not have altimeters built into their brains and depending on climate conditions, sometimes creep upwards to 7,000 feet and higher. Snakes sometimes seem to favor old abandoned mining operations.
Much of this has been covered before in local newspapers, but it’s helpful to remind folks to be serpent-wary, with the plentiful amount of outdoorsy types constantly exploring here, during our high snake season.

From the Max Rudolph saga
The Weekly Paper

Pink rabbits & phantasmagoric flying dreams

(Part one)
It was interesting to hear last week about Amy’s uplifting dream of us flying together over Hailey’s 4th of July Fireworks, because I had a similarly powerful dream regarding sweet Amy back at our old Petit Lake family cabin. I haven’t been up to Petit for ten years, but recently went on Google Maps and flew around the woodsy neighborhood a bit. Something, I’ve always admired about my father, Rainier Rudolph; is that whenever he bought a house, it was always adjacent to some woods, giving us young rapscallions a healthy place to scamper around to release our energy. 
In the dream, I awoke on Saturday daybreak and went outside, barefoot in red pajamas to collect an Idaho Statesman from our snowy driveway. In reality, we lived on the sleepy dead end, but in the dream, cars could now connect into the forest. In fact, it was a bustling thoroughfare now; for some elaborate racecars were speeding into the hilly woods up to Alice Lake, and one or two old jalopies were pulling out to return to civilization. Even though it was snowy, I was excited to be back, and to show Amy my treasured childhood summer home. We thought we should take an encompassing stroll around the Lake, while waiting for the newspaper. So, still barefoot, we walked east, to see several children shouting with squeals of glee, preparing to sleigh down our cabin hill. It was a magnificent morning for sledding, and we trudged up the knoll a way, to be closer to the enjoyment. Halfway to the pinnacle, the children easily maneuvered around us, in figure-eights on their toy-sleds. While we reached the top, we saw several more houses. The furthest yard was filled with dozens of other children, enjoying some festive event. The first few modern homes were quiet and dim, but the ancient house was where the action was. As we approached, we saw a great cauldron of stew boiling over a pit in the front yard, while the happy children continued to dart about, every which-way. It was a four-story grey house, and I tried to picture it from my past. I remembered it being an old house, even back when I was young. Then in the hub of activity, we spied the property owner. She was somebody, I knew from decades ago, but she hadn’t aged much. She had some wild grey curly hair around the fringes of her head, and everyone there respected her with high regard. Trying to be polite, I asked in a curious voice, above the merry din, “How old is this house?” She was elusive with her answer, but smiled, and then kindly but sternly, grabbed me around the forearms, saying, “I remember your kind Max; I had to straighten you and your brother out a few times, from some of the trouble you caused out here in the woods!” I thought that this wasn’t necessarily true, but perhaps there was a small element to what she spoke. We briefly conversed some more, then I asked what her name was. She spoke a name so peculiar that I knew instantly Amy and I would be incapable of remembering it.
To be continued…
Pink Rabbits & Phantasmagoric Flying Dreams - Part two
(Continued from last week)

It was as if the strange woman had cast a spell upon her obscure name, rendering it impossible to recollect, although, I do remember her long singular name had four “i’s” in it. She released us and we trotted a little further down the wet and rocky Petit Lake trail. As the snow melted in the late morning forest sun, I came upon two more houses that I remembered from childhood: the last one an old blue Victorian, facing Toxaway Loop. I vaguely recalled some sort of strange happenings there too, but couldn’t penetrate the decades-old memories to put my finger on it yet. 
Suddenly, as I spun around in the wet mud, I realized that I was able to fly again. I grabbed a hold of Amy and we flew feet-first with our bare toes sticking out straight ahead of us. Remarkably, the fact that we were able to fly felt quite natural, as it usually does with such triumphant flying dreams. This incubated a thought that I would like to twist our bodies to face forward and fly like Superman and Superwoman to show the Petit-Lakeians what their prodigal son had learned, while gone ten years on vast Indiana Jones adventures. They will love this! -I thought in a powerful inner celebration, and they will talk about it for decades! The plan was for Amy and me to float slow-motion past the children’s clamor and their holiday cauldron, while giving them the broadest smiles we could possibly manage. However, when we tried to spin about, to fly face-first like Superheroes, something went off kilter with our inner gyroscopes. A queer anti-gravity force led us to a higher altitude, and unexpectedly we were soaring in fast motion clouds, directly behind four space pilots and four astronauts. Those high-flyers were all relying on spacesuits and other backup technologies, so we laughed at them, as we took wing on mind-power alone! It all felt quite fearless, but for some reason, Amy and I were unable to switch our inner gears back down to earth, no matter how hard we tried. Then finally Amy showed me the secret – that is, we could regulate our altitude by taking deep breaths, just like with scuba diving in Petit Lake.
Abruptly awakening to present day reality, I lay there motionless for several minutes, lightly buzzing about the powerful flying dream. Then, as the dreamscape partially melted, it occurred to me that those uncanny houses in the woods were never actually there, but rather had been places imagn’d from childhood dreams. Vivid places I occasionally revisited over the decades, where many events had taken shape and form – enough to record a small history deep in my subconscious. These made me wonder if this all was merely in my mind, or are our minds potentially more powerful than what our instructors taught, in earlier schools of thought? When we dream, do we somehow mysteriously connect to otherworldly dimensions, where ongoing ethereal events persist in parallel fashions?
Then I realized that I had been sleeping on a sofa with a cushion that Amy had specially embroidered for me. She emblazoned it with some cute animals, most notably some pink rabbits dancing on the pillow, which had been pressing softly against my dreamy head…
About the author: Once in the middle of an incredibly lucid dream Jim Banholzer tried to leave a phone voicemail to the waking world. He strongly felt like it went through, but when he awoke to check his messages he was disappointed to find massive nothingness.

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Max’s Anagram Bonanza
(Final version for May 19 edition of The Weekly Paper) 
As our search for hidden treasure continued around the parched Clarksville ranch, we didn’t unearth any notables that first day, or the next. Soon, it was going to be time to hightail it back to the Wood River Valley and I didn’t want to return empty-handed. We were low on water and beer anyway, so for the last evening, my friends and I returned to the hoppin’ Red House bar. 
Aaron picked up an old menu from the dusty table at the entrance. Why they had menus, I had no clue, because they only served burgers and beer. The atmosphere of the place could have used a “Sorry, we’re open” sign, too. Why, Dugout Dick’s caves in Salmon offered a more comfortable ambiance than here. Suddenly, I noticed on the reverse of Aaron’s menu some familiar handwriting – the same quirky handwriting style from the puzzling map we had quizzed over for days. At the bottom of the Red House bar menu, barely legible, was scrawled in green ink smudges: “Look in Arson Crick –signed Clark.” That was our answer! As usual, Clark was speaking to us through cipher and now he had left us another beyond-the-grave clue. From our long cryptic talks together, Clark knew that I had acquired a taste for snappy anagrams, as well as spicy hamburgers, in my worldly travels. I’m sure he chuckled as he calculated that I would eventually come across his clue at the Red House, Nevada bar. “Look in Arson Crick” was an anagram for “Look in Rock Cairns!” 

After re-supplying some liquid provisions, we sped back to Clarksville and held my metal detector against the heart of first cairn we approached. When I set the sensor to silver, the gauge went haywire, so I flicked it off and we carefully stripped the balanced rocks down to their foundations. Inside each jagged cairn, Clark, or some cooper, had sealed hundreds of uncirculated Liberty Dollars into dozens of cork casks. We were going to need to hire a couple of Nevadan pantechnicons to safely extract this shimmering coinage before transporting it northward. I rang Amy, who was petsitting Bud and Tweet; and with a silver smile, explained I was going to be a few days late and that I had a grand secret. I then asked if she could make arrangements for an overnight field trip for the schoolchildren. Amy and I wanted to show them a mating ritual, in part to celebrate my newfound wealth. This was the perfect time of year to see the male sage grouse strut their stuff near Trapezoid Lake, then afterward, we would all ambulate over to Chalk Cave, where, although I had some definitive ideas about how to transform my newfound wealth into dynamic action with that land near the new airport, I was curious to ask the children that I had taught all year for their constructive ideas. This special cave would make the ideal backdrop. 

About the author: Jim Banholzer enjoys fiction, and sometimes is astounded when discovering that some of the characters there, grow to become more three-dimensional than many real people do.
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More introspective bears
Golf Course offers links to Nature
Idaho Mountain Express
January 15, 2006

Every irrigator had seen the bear except for me. Certainly, the bear got close enough to notice me, though—judging by the freshness and frequency of her footprints sunk into soft putting greens on the edge of the national forest. Mornings and evenings as I pulled along hoses and changed out sprinkler heads, there were always crepuscular activities of the natural world to see.
I think that the bear avoided me because this was when Maddie had first adopted me as one of her humans. An Australian sheepdog pup that was somewhat skittish at first, she soon bloomed into a young adult with a full life having command of nine holes of open space every evening. Occasionally a fox would appear initiating a back and forth game of chase with Maddie—neither one ever quite tagging. Sometimes their exchange would ebb and flow all across the lower fairways, as I scooted over on the work cart to check water-pressure levels spraying on the upper ends.
Maddie-Lou was fast; I clocked her at 28 mph from the cart. However, the fox, with a seemingly sly smile, knew it could always leave her behind. I later read how foxes and coyotes can outrun wolves. They have to.
The bear would still come down, though, especially on Tuesday nights when we were off work to deliver newspapers. Though the Dumpster at the restaurant was now bear-proof, it was still on her route for possible drippings or nearby grease. Who could blame her either? Evenings, as we worked, mesmerizing scents of exotic glazed meats wafted over the drinking grass and up the hill to her caves. How could this creature with a sense of smell so powerful that she could find a mountain goat buried underneath 12 feet of snow, resist coming down?
Before the Dumpster upgrade there was a long tradition of watching bears feed from it. Photos exist of the mama bear tossing her cubs into the trash receptacle, teaching them how to garner table scraps. The Simpsons—owners of the golf course—told me that the night of the great switchover, the Ursa had a major conniption fit. She showed the neighborhood how upset she was by swatting down every trashcan in a three-block perimeter. I later heard (while sipping water) in the Warm Springs bar that she busted up a pie cabinet to boot.
One late spring when there was less of a concern of the morning holding a frost delay, Koss, the greens keeper, was staring up at a cottonwood tree. By the first tee-box, a scattering of baby ducks was scurrying about. As I approached, their number kept increasing. Fifty feet up, the mother merganser was nosing babies out of the nest every few seconds. It was time to roll on down the river. She tried to organize 17 rookie waddlers as they lickity-split into two groups. The first group was off in the quick creek in a matter of minutes. She returned with an incredible gathering effort to herd the second group into the water, to follow not too far behind the ones floating fast away. We stood close enough to see on her face that she was one stressed out mother.
Another spring, we were raking up from where elk had wintered in abundance. A tree squirrel chattered at us from above the No. 9 tee. It piqued Maddie's interest enough that she started barking at it. I had never heard her bark in the year that we had been acquainted. Now a squirrel was helping her emerge from her shell. The little Heeler heeled thanks to the good nature of the golf course environment. However, some—especially meter readers—were not as enthusiastic about her newfound yips.
As autumn quaked on, the water intake area needed to be checked frequently to keep aspen leaves from clogging the diversion. Often a kingfisher would have been heard and then seen cruising along here. Once, some horses jumped the fence to inspect this greener pasture, but found the grass too short for their taste. Evenings, a great horned owl would hoot towards the restaurant, "Who cooks for you—oh!"
Though I had not actually seen any bears, only encountering them in smaller ways, others from the animal kingdom I had watched using the course after hours included: Gentle Mourning Doves, Wily Weasels, Rascally Rabbits, Benevolent Bunnies, Earthly Eagles, Hellacious Hawks, Bluebirds of Happiness, Terrific Tortoises, Craptacular Crows, Wistful Woodpeckers, Busy Buzzards, Ravenous Ravens, Mellifluous Magpies, Ominous Ouzels, Persnickety Porcupines, Sentient Slithering Snakes, Chiparoo Chipmunks, Elf-like Mice, Cozy Caterpillars, Docile Deer and Pink-tipped Mink. Oh, and possum. Once a sandhill crane even stopped in for a gander.
Some mornings if you crept quietly around the corner of the shop, you could spy a river otter camped out for easy pickings from the majestic trout pond. This was always a treat and if you have never seen these playful creatures enjoying winter sports, it is a place you "oughter" check out. So, after enjoying the powerful scents from an exotic dinner, stand and observe from the Warm Springs deck, before slyly smiling attorneys finish a final round of elk and this tiny island teeming with wildlife turns into mulligan stew.

~    ~    ~

Elk making a comeback

Friday, February 12, 2010
Mountain Express letter

Welcome back Warm Springs wapiti.
An open letter to golf course elk: Though we extracted some of your brethren one cold-blooded spring, penning them into traps, we've spotted more of you on the same sunny ridge where your iconic ancestors stood proud for millennia. It's refreshing to see you back, basking in the brightness, quietly observing us bipeds.
When we corralled your statuesque cousins 40 moons ago, one cow leapt over the moonlit fence and landed with a soft powder flop, before bolting up the ridge like dark crimson lightning.
High plains drifters occasionally whisper about her legendary feat, and wonder if you honor her in a secret language we cannot yet penetrate.
Your tracks wisp in the brilliant sky, swirling like haiku in horse latitude mists. Tread lightly around the wooded upland avalanche menace. When you secrete into town under cover of dark to engage in esoteric animal games on the golf course, beware of cellar snares as you slip between beverage trucks and insomniac deliverymen. Group well at canines edge as you stretch; sharing the links to nature, with perfect bird flocks, courageous cougars, awakening bears and the occasional wandering Wood River wolverine.
Though your long-term future holds some uncertainly, I break into smile for now, spying you wildly alive on the high hill.


Dreaming of Fabled Homeland Security

Wood River Journal. Hailey, Idaho

Looking for a break from the cold, I curled underneath my baby’s stove in her soul kitchen. As Ursa Major ascended over Queen’s Crown and shone through a brittle windowpane a hypnagogic reverie fluttered through my comatose state:

A King perched high above worldly problems laid aside his bubble swatter in the ivory tower and descended to a secret room beneath the magic reservoir moat. Through a
flat screen-changing mirror, he gazed upon happenings of the Realm, witnessing Twilight episodes of good commoners securing the homeland:

A resort director bussing tables made certain that nothing went to waste. The President of a dozen banks polished off her pennies and placed them in a Leadville copper basin. An airline executive dashed across the ice to help unload a cargo full of skis. An attorney and his insurance executive shoveled snow off an elderly lady’s roof during their lunch break.

The king rubbed his eyes in disbelief and adjusted the plasmatic monitor, smacking it with the bubble stick, but it continued to spin out solid axis of good scenes; an architect switched out a burned out bulb above blood alley. An editor boiled up a vat of ink for kid’s crayons of mass creation, which they used to draw stick figures of critical thinkers. A hospital administrator concocted a headache formula from willow branches to heal his grandma’s aches. Two babies with intertwined arms looked up at him and smiled.

The king hailed a
peaceful Prince to adjust the string on the back of the mirror. Everything looked normal, and the show continued; during school hours, around a children’s courtyard

Campfire a superintendent fervently sang folk tales filtered through thousands of earth revolutions. A solar powered commander swooped down on golden gossamer wings and swapped out five cents for an Ice cave Geocache arrow point. A statuesque eagle flew out with the sparkly coined buffalo to decorate his mate’s nest. A basketball coach drew a small harp from his feather cap to accompany a stammering young singer through an angelic anthem. The head of the Federal Reserve wheeled some ticker tape out to the recycle bin for a parade honoring a time of peace. A frog on a demonstrator’s shoulder looked up at him riveted.

A postmaster trumpeted first-class news through her window box. It was about nine linemen for the county, who leapt like lords up windmill poles, tossing electrified nunchucks across serpentine rivers to save naïve ginger bakers from wolves. Sagging downstream a water master lent a hand re-digging a caved-in hot pool. Beneath where Rainbows Bend, the owner of a hard rock mine handed out rubdown vouchers to his grizzled laborers. The same twilight, two lovers smashed evil atoms into oblivion on the dance floor.

The king wished for some of that disarming headache concoction. He did not understand. Could a culture of happiness weaving straw into gold transcend more than pretend? The

extraordinary circumstances continued on all channels: A cable TV installer got a hoot out of nursing a great horned owl back into flight. An admiral played some Mussorsky lightly over the sonar, tickling the narwhal’s delight. A thoroughbred greeted the tanner as a liberator -when he whispered -the whip was shred. A port for ships of the sky flew off to a safer place and a healing clinic slapped in its stead.

Affordable shelters rolled into town. A stonemason formed Idaho rocks in their solid ground. He flew from a land Hemingway
knew, where leaders open dialogues with subjects, not just an elite few. During disasters, their chieftain dirtied his hands well, as he helped commandeer survival objects for all.

A Peace Train steaming with vitamins served organic vegetables grown along its line. Nutritious music piped in from the man deflecting polluted quicksilver proposals over lumps of coal facing stalking flames. Back in the secret chamber, five star errant knights diplomatically scribed “peace seeking missives”, burning midnight ethanol through wee hours.

The king rose up his winding staircase to retire, treading lightly without popping any bubbles. From outward appearances, the castle’s perimeter looked unimpeachably secure and to make sure, guards hoisted drawbridge chains up from the enchanted moor.

As this happened, my baby’s oven squeaked open -awakening me from this feverish illusion. A real break from the chill came when Sol rose, chopping balmy clouds behind the blinding windmills. Ursa Minor transmogrified into flesh and fur as a Cinnamon Bear, lighting in beyond human through the dog’s wide door. Hungry from his hibernation in some Sheepeater Indian caves, we all shared for a spell some wonderfully warm rye biscuits around the hearth, he fresh from fantastic dreams of swatting fish running through unfettered streams -without reflection of mercury.

~   ~   ~

Testing Spirits around hot Springs

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Idaho Mountain Express

Is it right that a hot spring that's been steaming into a creek for millennia can be blocked off from the public without much comment or complaint? When fun like this gets fenced off, it seems to me that a guy and a gal could hike right up the creek from a legal access point and make a splash in any pool within 10 feet of the high water mark. But then again, if serene spring seeking results in motion detectors alerting ruffians with hounds, this may be one bath to just skip.
It's said that Idaho is the state with the highest density of hot springs with hundreds recorded on the state geothermal map. High temperature water bubbles up through faults in the crust, heated from earth below. While filtered through thousands of feet of ground, biologically diverse organisms and elements along with radon teem out of hot springs. Scientists warn of the effects of radon, but many swimmers are undaunted and dip right in, swearing by its purifying power. Soon after they come away from their worshiped hot springs and spas glowing with smiles.
What exactly is going on here? Could it be that these sacred springs, out of which life was originally divined, are radiating elixirs energized at a level so perfect that various maladies are becoming miraculously cured? After all radiation treatments are used extensively on cancer patients. Compare cleansers in hot springs with mysterious results of homeopathic remedies that millions of consumers vouch for.
If slight doses of radon and other rare earth elements could be verified as healing, what a selling point this would make for any company that supplies it. Imagine the marketing values of a product that "contains supernatural ingredients." Every soul from here to the Dalai Lama would gush to gulp down a proper dosage of some amazing radon water.
Might this type of unconventional thinking seem farfetched? Well, consider the hard turn away from spiritualism that science took 100 years ago when Einstein's theory of relativity enabled things not proven by physics and mathematics to be largely ignored. Only recently has a holographic universe theory that begins to delve deeper into some of these greater mysteries been given any credence in mainstream science. What remains to be learned appears boundless.
Promises of new experiences springing eternal hold great meaning—just like holding a grandson in your arms for the first time after a baptism.
Most of what's been lab-analyzed in the last hundred years has been focused away from the hard to explain. Ironically, leading scientists and technical writers sometimes return refreshed from the deep reservoir of the somnolent world gifted with updates to key facts and hypothesizes.
The finest magnifiers aren't measuring the positive electrons spinning through a grandson's dreams -while he tosses buffalo nickels into a hot spring wishing pond --spilling mirror self images into open channels of steaming holographic universes that ripple back into the ancient batholiths.
Occasionally, the Forest Service threatens to bring in backhoe machine to seal off hot springs, when rules aren't being followed. This brings a measurably deep anxiety to bathers, who feel as though their interior beings will tarnish without their desired meditation spot. This is analogous to the situation salmon face when dams block off water routes to their birthplaces.
Hot springs in Idaho have been utilized into geothermal systems for tropical fish aquariums and alligator farms. Radiant heat pipes have even been plumbed into church foundations, intersecting science with spiritualism. Inexpensive or free public springs are found throughout the state. You can undertake various recreational activities as outlined in the Idaho Mountain Express's "Summer Magic" guide before relaxing in a hot spring reflecting pool at sunset with your favorite book on metaphysics.
Some of Idaho's best springs have been purposely left out of books and Web sites by their authors. It took me 10 years to figure out one of these best-kept local secrets and I'm certainly not about to reveal it here.
However, I will talk about a group of six or so springs I've had my eye on for a while. Looking at the 7.5-minute quadrangle map right at 43.423N by 114.627W it shows that most of these springs are private, but two are marked as on public land. Unfortunately, the chains and signs at the access gate a few miles below make it clear that this is not the route to take. A few autumns ago while working some fences on the Willow Creek side I got a gander at a back way to reach these springs. It looks to be a good two-hour hike over some hills with a divining rod doubling as a snake deterring staff.
As I run up the ridge whistling "This Land is your Land," I'll be wondering, will this great exertion for what may be only a foot bath be worth it? While on the edge of the forbidden springs expecting human encounters, I'll come armed with some good old boy howdy lines like, "I've heard that the people around here are mighty friendly and I just came over the hill to confirm that."

Sheepherder’s Dip

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.

Russian John Redux
June 2012

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.

March Madness

Dribbling basketballs through math

Idaho Mountain Express

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Being a wise-fool through school bounced me down some interesting paths. As a kid aged in single digits, I enjoyed math, constantly solving problems in my head while dribbling a basketball between my legs. Once, while visiting my Aunt Jane, I told her that I would count up to a million by next return. Months later as we drove up to her house, I bounced a ball outside the car window, wildly exclaiming, "999,998—999,999—One Million!"
Suddenly, I was a sophomore, more fascinated in the geometric possibilities of what a trick B-Ball shot could do for a globetrotter, rather than what any algebraic formula might bring in the way of splitting up weights for future newspaper bundles. The guys sitting symmetrically around our rhombus-shaped table were all feverish fans of the Washington Bullets professional team. Mornings after a win we would chant in whispers the names of our various stars. "Chenier! Unseld! Big E!" Our algebra teacher, Mr. Kluge, was a tall man of almost 2 meters and we wondered about what shots he had erased and prime numbers placed on the basketball scoreboard before switching over to a math chalkboard.
Once, in the middle of a lesson, Kluge turned his back for an eraser. I took it upon myself to hurrah in a cockneyed voice "Porter!" honoring point guard extraordinaire Kevin Porter, who had just contributed to a playoff-clinching win with a 17-assists effort. Mishearing my cried praise, Kluge spun about, querying, "Who's the genius that said 'Ordered pairs?' We haven't even reached that chapter yet!" My fellow fanatics pointed to my quadrant while Kluge lasered me a look with a new angle of light.
A couple years later I saw Mr. Kluge taking his son Andy out fishing on a rowboat. I imagined what type of conversations my math teacher—who I had only known in the illumination of the classroom—might have with his son on a tranquil Saturday? Did they talk about depth-sounding graphs and how radar works for fish finders? Or did Kluge point out geometrically congruent fences, which joined together at the fisherman-access gate? Maybe they pondered the mathematical improbabilities of catching genius bottom-feeders if they did not let out enough line, or the physics involved when Burke Lake froze over.
Actually, whatever they postulated over made little difference. It was refreshing enough for me to see that Mr. Kluge was a well-balanced man not suffering from "nature deficit disorder" while passing along his wonderful fishing knowledge to his son.
Back in the '70s, Kluge warned us that within a few years the metric system was going to be imbedded in our culture so much that the word "pound" would be eliminated from our language. He claimed that sayings like "A penny saved is a pound earned" would have to be changed. However, through some critical thinking—which Kluge had likely prompted us for—we figured out that these particular pounds he spoke of were actually a British term for a monetary denomination. Further confounding interest, the pound has essentially replaced the penny in England since the time of my final math examination—a test I passed largely due to obtuse questions about pounds not weighing heavily over my desk like so many medicine balls.
Kluge's mindbenders were sometimes more difficult than trying to figure out how to try to steal a basketball from Kevin Porter. With some of his timed tests you were only given 10 seconds to rebound

Kluge-puzzlers out of the backcourt of the brain, before digging deep and giving it the best shot with what you had.
Gus Johnson, who had played at the University of Idaho, became a legendary Bullet who could pluck a $20 dollar bill off the top of the basketball backboard then quickly calculate the U.S. equivalent of a pound and leave it for change. We in the class had been concerned about re-determining in metric terms the feats of his vertical jumping ability. How impressive would "Gus leaped up a century of centimeters to stuff the ball, conducting a precision face transplant on Dave Debusschere" have sounded? Thus not having to attend basketball games with a slide rule sticking out of our back pockets allowed us to feel more footloose (meter-loose?) and fancy free.
Before my finite years intersect that final exam in the sky, I would hope to run into Mr. Kluge again. Very late in this game I would come unglued from a maple park bench, still traveling with basketballs. I might find him tuning multi-indexed fish scales with his "metric crescent wrench". There I would freely throw him two pounds of advice: "Don't portage up your ordered pairs of fish onto the abacus before they're fried." Then, from my opposite hand, I would divulge to him my secret childhood corollary, employed as a shortcut in counting up to a million, while aggressively advancing dribbles, back in Aunt Jane's driveway.

~   ~   ~

A basketball trade secret that can help

Along with a billion other riveted viewers, it was with great interest that I watched Yao Ming ceremoniously open the first game versus the United States by zinging through a three-point shot. During a break from the game, the TV featured a brief documentary of how popular basketball has become in China and as a lifetime basketball aficionado, this also enthused me.
With the economic development of China, with thousands of new basketball courts in the land, I would like to make an observation from the viewpoint of aspiring school-ground players.

Every bouncing kid knows that when they come upon the court, if the net is torn or missing, this takes some of the wind out of their sails. With the great expenses of new courts, poles and baskets, the net is usually first to go bad. And with the nets gone, children will often go off to play a different sport.

Nylon nets attached to heavily used basketball hoops often wear out within a few weeks. A way to remedy this is to soak the net in boiled linseed oil for a day and then let it dry out for another, before hanging it from the basket. Preparing a net in this way increases its life tenfold. Soaking a net in linseed oil sometimes shrivels it up a bit, requiring maintenance staff to shoot swishes for stretching it back out.

In this manner, the workers will have achieved what many amateur basketball players dream of, as they will then be receiving pay for shooting and making baskets.

~    ~    ~    ~

Thursday, April 28, 2011

“The Only Tough Part about Having To Film in Idaho Is When You Have To Leave” (Clint Eastwood)
Enlightening Eastwood's Pale Rider

With a vision for a Statewide Movie Signage Proposal
By Jim Banholzer
And special lights from Brad Nottingham & Professor Tom Trusky
Watching Clint Eastwood movies, particularly his well-crafted Westerns are almost like enrapturing religious experiences for some big screen buffs. Each of his movies project priceless lessons; even when he portrays an antagonist, such as the callous elephant hunter in White Hunter, Black Heart. Astoundingly enough, Clint filmed much of Pale Rider right here in Idaho, with a theme as timeless as the Boulder Mountains. Clint plays a nameless preacher protecting a poor prospecting town from a gang of ruffians sent by a greedy mining corporation, to intrude on their claim. This striking film, the first Western of which he was the producer, was created in1984 around Boulder City north of Ketchum and over by the Vienna Mine near Smiley Creek. Pale Rider was the predecessor to Clint’s 1992 Academy award-winning gem, Unforgiven.
Each time I watch Pale Rider, I focus on the recognizable background terrain, sometimes freezing specific frames to find my way around in the mountains. As Brad Nottingham was a local then, he reminds us:
“For Pale Rider, there were some filming issues evident in the movie as you see it today, which brought comment: it was filmed in our typically beautiful late Indian summer, and some of the riding scenes were shot just before and after an unpredictable early season snow, which frosted the upper parts of the ranges, while quickly melting off the lower elevations. As a film viewer, a period of time that seemed to be about a week, appeared to toggle from summer to winter, which brought some criticism, I remember; but any of us mountain folk wouldn’t give it a second thought.
In addition, Clint made tremendous effort to restore the site that was disturbed by the building fronts, construction crew, and later the feet pounding of the actors and production crew on the little ridge and river drainage near the quaking aspen. Winter seemed to come quickly that year and for a bunch of us, it was hard to spot evidence of the film set trampling that next spring; though we tried. We also tried to find some kind of film crew artifact. My friend Lon and I located “the rock” that one of the miners was chipping on in an early scene from the film.
When it finally came out, Pale Rider sort of stunned people, because it was a break from the classic Eastwood tradition. He played an even quieter, low-key character, and I remember people being confused about connecting a “preacher” role to him. Others, expecting the active dashing and violent Dirty Harry way of life found this movie kind of slow and spacey; features I didn’t mind at all this time. I just soaked in the scenery that I knew was almost in my backyard. I had driven our old Buick Wagon up there, and forded the rocky river crossing half a dozen times, hiking up to some of the “real” old mining cabins and diggings.
Soon afterward, a local man, David Butterfield had us typeset and produce an exhausting field guide to potential filming locations across Idaho, including information about accommodations and prices, in order to drum up more interest from Hollywood. After the book was published, I remember that there wasn’t much response, until the Bruce Willis engine began churning up sleepy Hailey in the 90s.”

While reading Brad’s insights, it struck me that the filming of Pale Rider was a significant enough event that we should commemorate it with a historical sign. Folks at The Idaho Transportation Department were receptive to this idea and revised the Wood River Mines sign to include such a tribute.

Part Two
Soon, after we relayed this information to Boise State University English Professor Tom Trusky, head of the Idaho Film Collection, Tom became enthusiastic about the Pale Rider tribute and expanded the idea with a “Statewide Movie Signage Proposal.” To quote Professor Trusky:
The tourist / publicity value of such signage is apparent and locals might appreciate such knowledge, too, if they are unaware of their cinematic heritage. As well, given the recent interest in bringing film production to the state, such signage would not only be public acknowledgement of Idaho’s considerable contribution to the film industry but also serve as a reminder to contemporary filmmakers of the Gem State possibilities.”
Although we now face tough economic times, and are sometimes unsure where money will come from to fix and maintain highways, Tom’s Statewide Movie Signage proposal is precisely the type of project with which we can enrich Idaho’s future. By merging the information superhighway with our back road signage, we could show the world how we stand on the cutting edge, as well as being able to cut through bureaucracy in hard times.
As technological capabilities continue to advance in affordable ways, it would be uplifting to see Idaho embrace the techno-generation by attaching to our already successful historical signage program, interactive items.
For instance, when traveling up Highway 75 past the North Fork Store, when reaching the perimeter of interest where Marilyn Monroe starred in Bus Stop, we could make an alert available for interested travelers’ digital devices. A short holographic film of Marilyn hypnotically dancing with a billowing skirt on driver’s dashboards would keep dozing dads chipper and alert, lending to driver safety. Then, for the next fistful of history, when reaching Pale Rider’s Phantom Hill, we could create the sound of bullets whizzing by your ear, for a subsequent alert. After a quick Galena Lodge pit stop for perusal over photographs stuffed with Idaho’s rich silver history; proprietors of theSawtooth Valley could smilingly profit by providing related reading materials to satisfy recently western-whetted appetites.
Eventually, we could develop inexpensive solar powered information kiosks for our pullout areas. Our transportation department R&D teams could further engineer signposts to include efficient emergency communication devices such as the new smaller cell phone antennas currently under development. Additionally, we could imbed a camera within the untouchable hologram-eye to thwart vandals. When tampering is detected, we could program the sign to announce in Clint Eastwood’s sternest voice, “Go ahead! Make my day! Because you are now being filmed by an interactive sign commemorating Idaho films!” Stranded drivers in remote areas where cell phones often misfire could come to know these special signboards as secure places. Drivers passing by the Pale Rider signpost could even be inspired to take after the nameless preacher’s lead, and provide gracious assist to marooned travelers.
Certainly, ITD already has some technologically savvy leaders aboard. This is my third positive experience with ITD leadership, which proves to me that they utilize a high level of innovativeness in their daily working environment. I hope that someday soon, our leaders will advance these landmark ideas past the incubation stage to transform these signpost pullouts into something that truly enhances our landscape. And when that day comes; since Professor Trusky has ascended into that grand script in the sky, Brad Nottingham and I would be delighted to see our Transportation Department name the Statewide Movie Signage Proposal in Tom’s honor.
(End Part Two)
You can read more of Brad Nottingham’s insights on the “good guys” in the Idaho Film Archive on Pale Rider:
Complete text here:
Lastly a related poem:
The Rock
I know about where it is 
this big rock with a 
candy vein of gold in it 
scintillating under the stars
I want to find this Idaho Sword of Shannara 
and lay me down under the silver fruit 

Press the gold of my ear to the vibration 

to sense if I can detect the echo of 

when Lurch -or was it Jaws? 

Split this baby in half 

with an old 1863 hickory stick sledgehammer
I’ll bend up over the hill tonite 


too itchy and scratchy for a truck in that rough spot 

to see if I can’t see how these hills have changed
Yeah that’s it 
I’ll pack up the DVD player 

better bring a spare battery juice-pack 

Cause it’s cold in those Idaho hills 

I’ll freeze frame on the DVD 

sections of Mountains in that backdrop 

and compare it to our current status

I think of the nameless preacher in the movie 

and for some reason the Beatles real nowhere man 

jangles my juices like Satchel Paige on opening day
On spectacular evenings like these 
Sometimes it feels like we’ll still be standing strong 

long after these hills have fast eroded away
Original URL for Enlightening Eastwood story:
Footnote: Not long after posting the earlier missive to my personal blog, I noticed that it was getting twice as many visits as the rest of my stories combined. A year ago, Dave Worrall from the U.K. contacted me, mentioning that he is writing a book forSolo Publishing about Clint Eastwood’s Westerns and looking for some old photos of the Boulder City territory. After we exchanged a few e-mails, including a photo of the Wood River Mines sign, I suggested he subtitle his book “Clint Eastwood = Old West Action” since they are anagrams of each other. Furthermore, with a little photoshopping, he could design the equals-sign to resemble a smoking rifle barrel.
Footnote 2: With the Senate recently passing a bill, to create a fund to offer incentives to film movies and TV shows within the state, and with the newly created Idaho Film Bureau ready to offer these incentives as soon their funding comes through, perhaps portions of this funding could help with such a program. As the next logical step in the evolution of Idaho’s popular Highway Historical Marker program, perhaps the Idaho Film Bureau could even ask for donations on their website, from those who have favorite Idaho movies and would like to see those specific movies commemorated in such fashion.
Elaborations on vision for Statewide Movie Signage proposal
When ITD amended the Wood River Mines sign to include a tribute to Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider it was not a full commemoration as we had hoped, however, they did recognize the historical significance of the movie. From my previous experience with Idaho Transportation Department personnel, I sense they have some highly capable leaders aboard and would likely be open to a proposal, which better honors Idaho films.
We should start with a prototype interactive movie sign, sticking with Pale Rider. After developing it, we then present it to ITD and the Idaho Historical Commission; perhaps even the governor. Besides the gimmick, I suggested earlier, of utilizing Clint Eastwood’s stern voice; we could design the sign to be vandalism resistant. Although millions of tourists have driven by the mountain goat observation telescopes near the same highway area as our proposed Pale Rider tribute, those instruments have been left mostly unscathed, since installed fifteen years ago. Interactive kiosks featuring short movie clips, designed in a similarly excellent manner, would automatically gain respect from most passerby. An editor I spoke with recently mentioned that arts and humanities grants are readily available to help jumpstart such projects.
Once we install the first interactive sign, we should have a press release. The movie industry will take note and want more of the same. This might be all we need for the project to take on a life of its own. After the movie signage proposal merges better with Idaho’s already successful Historical Signage program, we can enhance the project’s evolution by doing several things. For one, the film bureau could develop a “donate to your favorite movie” button on their website. Idaho’s Historical Society, Transportation Department and The Internet Movie Data Base ought to consider a similar donation option. After reading a few items about Idaho movies, some fanzines will likely find themselves wanting to contribute to a cool commemoration. Another timely follow-up would be to commission someone to write a guidebook to Idaho movies, including a map of the landmarks. The signs themselves could direct film buffs to other nearby movie signs.
If this highway project takes off, eventually the Idaho Tourism Bureau could developIdaho or Northwest movie tour packages, including visits to movies under production. After tourists enjoy brief clips or holograms of the movie near the same site where it was filmed, an educated tour guide could speak more about the movie and answer relative questions. We could also program questions and answers into the interactive signs, along with a suggestion box that sends e-mails to the pertinent film bureau manager, etc.
Another thing the project could focus on is the surrounding areas where scenes from the various movies were filmed. For instance: When there is a diner where a breakfast scene was filmed, or a dance scene at a lodge, those places could be mentioned in the interactive signs / companion guidebook / interface devices and might be encouraged to display a plaque or aptly named items on their menus relating to silver screen scenes filmed in their establishments.
Although Idaho faces a budget shortfall, I believe this project is the kind we need to enrich Idaho’s future. The team at the Idaho Film Bureau is already aiming to do this, albeit on a larger scale. Now is an important time as any for us to invest in innovative ways in Idaho’s future.
Final footnote:
JEREMIAH ROBERT WIERENGA wrote a recent in depth article for Boise Weekly about Idaho struggling to gain a foothold in the film industry.
From the article:
“Although a late contender in this cinematic boxing match, theIdaho Film Office hopes our state’s celebrated scenery and enticing rebate incentives will bring film productions back toIdaho, which hasn’t billeted a big-budget movie since Dante’s Peak was filmed here more than 10 years ago.
“The film offices in individual states are economic development agencies,” Kathleen Haase (an industry specialist at the IdahoFilm Office) said. “What we try to do is create an attractive environment in the state to lure productions to come to the state, spend their budgets, which are sizable … and hire our crew here. We hope to create jobs, and we bring in economic activity in [the] form of investment in the state from outside the state.”
The passage of the bill represents a major coup for the filmmakers who call Idaho home, but the battle is only half won. Although the measure has been approved, financial backing for the rebate still has not come through.
“We’re still hoping to have ours funded,” Haase said. “We’re at the mercy of the governor, our department and the Legislature as to funding.” 
Initially, the 
Idaho Film Office received a flurry of calls in response to the adoption of the bill but interest has waned.
“We had to be very clear that indeed we have not yet been funded, so we’re sort of in a bit of a holding pattern until that does happen … [We're] ready to go out there in anticipation of it being funded sometime,” Haase said.
There is hope that financing for the measure will be approved by next summer. Because the incentive is funded through the Idaho Department of Commerce’s budget, which in turn is approved by state government, passing the measure is merely the first step in implementing the program. Haase encourages local voters to call their legislators in support of budget approval. While the bill received a good deal of support from local filmmakers and public figures, she hopes that the public will now take an active hand bringing the backing necessary to expand Idaho’s film industry.”

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Lower speed limit has benefits

Letter to the editor
Idaho Mountain Express
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Speed limit reductions have certain benefits. At first glance, the news that the speed limit between Ketchum and Hailey will be reduced to 45 mph may feel like a drag, but at the same time it can be healthy for us to remember that there are several benefits to this sweeping change.
When our traffic flows at 45 mph, it will lessen animal-vehicle encounters. Not only will this horrible carnage of large mammals and people's pets be reduced, but the moderate speeds will give motorists smoother opportunities to merge into traffic, as well as offer us more braking time for various quick emergencies and improved fuel efficiency.
Furthermore, slowing down could inspire some motorists to better appreciate our valley's scenic corridor. Cognizant drivers and passengers will have more time to soak up its sunny splendor, as the 45 mph will give us an ideal traveling rate for cloud watching, constructively daydreaming about the physics of angels or perhaps for better organizing in our heads letters to the editor about other ways to improve the valley.
Soon, the locals who have decided to live here and the tourists who enjoy visiting, who only blurred by our mid-valley majesty before, will begin noticing slow-motion trees in pocket parks for later hugs. Slower limits will give bus commuters more time to enjoy gazing out the window, or perhaps for absorbing a few more pages of the good book or newspaper they're reading.
Speed kills, and as Kris Stoffer points out in a recently related letter, many beloved community members have lost their lives or health on the highway, and the time for this grand paradigm shift to an unhurried speed has now arrived.

A week when good fortune peaked

Idaho Mountain Express
July, 6, 2005

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.

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Two men had different reactions to bomb

Times News
November 09, 2007 11:00 pm
Several weeks after piloting the atomic bomb, which unleashed its devastation upon Hiroshima, Japan, U.S. Commander Paul "Warfield" Tibbets walked through and examined the swelled streets of Nagasaki where his comrades-in-arms had dropped the second bomb.
There "to sate his academic curiosity," Commander Tibbets nonchalantly purchased some souvenir rice bowls and wooden cup saucers, later remarking, "Damndest thing you ever saw."
Throughout his life, which ended only a few weeks ago, Commander Tibbets always maintained that surgically dropping these vaporizing bombs was a seminally patriotic mission, which saved both sides millions of lives and from what would otherwise have been a long enduring horrendous battle.
Around the same time as Commander Tibbets' post-war walk, Navy skipper and Axis sub-chaser, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who went on to become San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore founder, peacenik warrior and beat poet extraordinaire, hiked among the same Nagasaki ruins.
There he observed - as San Francisco Chronicle writer Paul McHugh reported last Veterans Day: "I saw a giant field of scorched mulch.
It sprawled out to the horizon; three square miles looking like someone had worked it over with a huge blowtorch.
A few sticks from buildings jutted up like black arms," Ferlinghetti says. "I found a teacup that seemed like it had human flesh fused into it, just melted into the porcelain.
"In that instant," said the former submarine chaser Ferlinghetti, "I became a total pacifist."

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Cell towers can be lifesavers
Idaho Mountain Express newspaper
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A dozen years back, some friends and I witnessed the immediate aftermath of a horrific head-on crash 12 miles north of Ketchum. A little girl was bleeding profusely, on the centerline, and another was trapped in one of the wrecked cars. Several locals stopped to help, but we found nobody in the group had yet called for an ambulance. I sped back to the SNRA to call 911, but unfortunately, both young girls died from their wounds. I often wondered if they might have survived if we had been able to notify emergency technicians sooner via cell phone. As we saw that dreadful day, when it comes to harsh scenarios like this, every second counts.
Soon after, I vowed to get a cell phone and keep it with me, fully charged and with a spare battery at all times, in the event of a similar crisis. Since then, local backcountry-sports enthusiasts have been snared and even killed by avalanches. Mountain bikers have flipped over their handlebars and smashed their faces onto unforgiving rocks or been accidentally pierced by sharp hardwood branches. Horses have thrown riders and gnarly motorcycle incidents have whisked away too soon some of our most beloved friends and family members. All this within close proximity to Galena and the surrounding SNRA.
Undoubtedly, some of these incidents would have had more fortuitous outcomes had not this cell phone area been crippled by non-coverage.
Moreover, automobiles have been quickly caught in ravines or pinballed off roadside snow-banks and then back into traffic, spinning at 65 mph to uncertain fates on Highway 75. Countless campers with their vehicles have tangled together with outsized migrating mammals. There have been more than a handful of bad boating incidents, when a lifesaving cell phone might as well have been tossed to the barren wind, due to zero reception bars.
Hunters have become bewildered in the frozen tundra and skiers wedged unwell in tree wells. Hardy lumberjacks have snapped bones in the cold Pole Creek range. Once, about 10 years back, a group of us sightseeing at the Galena overlook saw a lightning-caused fire blazing in the mountains, but we didn't know if we should rush off to Smiley Creek to alert the authorities, having no way of knowing if they had been informed.
Having a few cell towers dot the landscape seems a small price to pay when the lifesaving benefits are considered. We should allow no more tower delays because as we've learned all too well that every second counts. Simply letting our evermore-bustling Galena area helplessly remain in the telephonic Flintstone ages is not the answer. Rather, we should receptively embrace these beacons of safety—and if Idaho Tower can stealthily integrate some of these lifesaving communications relays into our SNRA's woodlands, then more power to them.
Mostly, the Campbell’s and Idaho Tower should be lauded for their adroit business acumen, positively shifting this dark reception spot of Idaho into a soaring new age.

Tower debate was mythical
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Idaho Mountain Express

The Galena cell tower debate stood for much more than a mere cell tower. The story attracted mythic qualities. Some of the healthiest dialogue came from spokespersons both for and against the tower who occasionally contradicted themselves in papers and in public meetings. Some saw Idaho Tower as Atlas, not shrugging in her epic efforts, while others perceived her as Medusa and did not dare look reason in the face, knowing it would crush their conceptually confused logic into Billy's Bridge gravel.
A friend who participated closely in the public hearings remarked: "Much opinion was allowed full rein, fueled by rancor and emotion, and absolute dismissal of facts and information. The Galena example is almost comical because the situation is so whacked. Local staff has dismissed voluminous handbooks, manuals, regulations and laws that instruct permitting of telecommunication infrastructure, and are hanging onto a thread of language that is discretionary, and also could be validly seen as violating its own forest plan."
Suddenly, the Forest Service supervisor selected a path for redesignation, with the secret motive of making the tower impossible. Moreover, she used Labyrinthal language, which only the most adept of Minotaur attorneys could follow without strings. Meanwhile, Homeland Security prepared to shift Atlas onto his own back with an improved plan to foil us all, by paying two Princess Bride government factions to sword-fight it out. Citizen angst against the tower sometimes stemmed from dissatisfactions within, which the fuming ones projected by gnashing their dragon's teeth to channel harsh sound bites onto the tower.
Anti-cell tower Victorians will discuss this result for decades. In the meantime, astute Idaho historians should include this legendary chapter in state history textbooks so our grandchildren may gain clearer perspectives than we have. To harmonize Idaho history books, our transportation department should install a historical sign at the Galena overlook to commemorate the epic battle of the defeated tower. To appease earth muffins and water sprites, they should mount it smack-dab next to the new Galena landline phone, to soak up less sacred SNRA space.

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Priceless Smiles over Diamonds

My last column for the Wood River Journal, during the summer fires of 2007
also published @
By Jim Banholzer

There is a jeweler next-door to the office from where I deliver furniture. Last month they displayed a diamond said to be valued at $3 million. Three friendly, well-dressed men traveled here to remote Idaho, to help facilitate the diamond’s stopover in prosperous Sun Valley.

The three fine-suited men hailed from New York City. The eldest is a renowned expert on diamonds and answered with astute accuracy the most grandiose of gemstone questions I could dream up. Even the rough ones. Reportedly, the featured diamond is part of a larger collection. Word traveled fast in our small community and my furniture-moving colleague, who also contributes for Idaho newspapers, called his editor. Next thing you know; both of us scruffy galoots were in there joking with the photojournalist, about how we would like to buy one to spiff up each of our gal’s hands. Then we watched while he examined and photographed the valuable gem, which twinkled as if it was going to make a slight sound -luminous there by the lens cap in his meaty hand.
I looked around at the men in the suddenly crowded room and wondered, “Who’s packing heat?” -and other things along these lines. Surely these shrewd New York businessmen had planned ahead for any foreseeable problems and lugged along some “extra protection.” I speculated over this sphere of gemstone guardians, marveling that something so costly must certainly be accounted for and fortified by several trusted people at all moments. Almost the type of attention, which a newborn baby requires and should receive. I spent only a few compressed minutes in their shop, but it was enough to leave a lasting impression
The day after the men in nice suits flew back to New York -or wherever their next diamond-engagement was; I saw a front-page article on SFGate about the travails of a rare-coin courier who was transporting one dime worth nearly 2 million dollars.

This well-written tale of intrigue by Steve Rubenstein contained several synchronicities with how I had been imagining these tiny luxurious items must be transported. I felt compelled to share the story with our jeweler neighbors and so printed it up. Uncertain how the ladies would receive my story; part of me imagined that they might scoot me off, with tacit signals, or perhaps even press a concealed button to ensure my quick dismissal. Unaware of my secret identity, they may have not desired a conversation with what they perceived as my lower status.
However, that was not the case at all, as the unjaded ladies next door graciously received my discovered synchronistic story with heartfelt expressions of delight.
Next, thing I would like to tell them is that although the three-million dollar diamond is no longer contained in their shop, something more precious is, mainly the genuine smiles they exchange with passerby of all sorts, which makes those people instantly twinkle and then secretly whisper to themselves that they feel as though they are suddenly worth over three-million bucks.

It’s refreshing to see that this Gem State of Idaho still has it in her – some real down to earth ladies like the girls next door.


Horns have use, even when it's not an emergency

Times News

July 08, 2008 11:00 pm
Bird-brained horn-honking laws:
Recently there have been several cases featured in the news about motorists receiving warnings or tickets for excessively honking their automobile horns. Certainly, I'm a fan of maintaining peace and quiet, but the peace officers in action would do well to interpret a law that reads "Automobile horns shall be used for emergencies only" with some broadmindedness.
A few days ago, I was driving down the highway with a friend. We approached some flickers standing in our lane. These woodpeckers appeared to be distracted by something and we could see that they were not sensing our approach. As we came upon them, I lightly tooted the horn at a strategic moment, taking into account the Doppler Effect. The birds went quickly airborne, as my friend exclaimed with some amazement that he never considered lightly tooting your own horn could help save bird lives.
Was this an emergency? Certainly for the birds it was.
On my last trip to Montana, we drove up that old dusty Red Rock Road to that vast wetland aviary area beyond. There to our sweet delight, we witnessed some seldom-seen trumpeter swans. As we intersected within a hundred feet of these tremendous birds, I politely waved, smiled and then lightly tapped my horn for a pleasant hello.
The birds responded in kind fashion with light trumpeting.
My friend claims it sounded as though they were laughing at me, because when I enthusiastically pointed at them, I pronounced their name with a jazzy 'trumpeteer' swan twang.

~   ~   ~

Power dream
My brother David and I were walking down an old town hill in Pennsylvania, where every few minutes we would see a different dump truck driving around with the dump section of the truck still up, partially in the air. We realized how dangerous this was, since any second, one of the trucks might snag an overhead power line, resulting in some sort of catastrophe. There was a weird array of power lines all around the area, with some of them holding quite high voltages.
Suddenly, an antique looking lawnmower came toward us, buzzing up the sidewalk. We took a close look as it approached and realized that nobody was operating it. A police car had passed by the self-operating lawnmower seconds before and we wondered why it did not stop to investigate the runaway machine.
Suddenly we floated up in the air, slightly spinning about, like two angels. Now we were dipping near the power lines ourselves. Each time we approached a power line, while we were flying in our bodies, it seemed that we would easily clear it, but then suddenly something would happen, like a gust of wind or some other slight parameter shift, to push my head very close to a power line. These close shaves made me start wishing that I had gone in for that haircut appointment last week when I had the chance.
Although Brother David was floating next to me all of this time, he was having less trouble than I. To attain better steering control; David grabbed my furry forearm, which seemed to have some effect. Finally, it started dawning on me that this all was a big dream, but mostly because of the dump truck and lawnmower clues. The flying part still seemed quite natural and in my core, I thought, you know this flying happens all the time and felt strongly that I was right.


Soldiers deserve to have a flag
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Idaho Mountain Express

It's remarkable that representatives of Woodside's Copper Ranch Homeowners' Association would demand that Robin Perfect remove the American flag decorating her front porch, as it is a strong symbol of support for her son Sgt. Edward Nalder, recently deployed overseas to the war in Iraq with the Idaho Army National Guard's 116th Cavalry Brigade. Especially significant is the fact that this would happen in the same small town where we already have a soldier missing in action, Army Spc. Bowe Bergdahl.
Traditionally, all flags and statues have been exempt from most homeowner association bylaws. However, in recent years these new little forms of government have become increasingly more powerful, so much so that some have been testing new waters. Certainly, there are positive aspects to having close-knit community oversights; however, to maintain unwavering attitudes about allowing simple family support for our troops, in the form of small American flags, especially around Veterans Day, is strong evidence of a homeowners association becoming too big for its britches.
Perhaps, for this Veterans Day, the Copper Ranch Homeowners' Association should consider "a Perfect olive branch" by offering in place of these pesky individual flags to build a giant community American flag where the old Ironwood gym was supposed to be refurbished, along with signs commemorating Sgt. Nalder, as well as any other local soldier-warriors currently deployed in our terrible wars.
~   ~   ~
Homeowner Association Has Issue with Buddha Statue
Magic – Times News
December 05, 2011 1:00 am
Of Buddha and American Flags:
Last summer, some friends and I helped a young lady move her earthly belongings into a spiffy-looking Elkhorn Ranch condo. It took a few heavy loads, but we had some wheelbarrows and a sturdy crew. As a symbol to celebrate the end of the job, the last item we hauled up her long walk was a stylish 300-pound stone Buddha statue which we placed with great care on her front porch, facing the pink western sky.
The next week as we passed through, she called and asked us to adjust ancient Buddha as someone in the community had complained, claiming that the neighborhood covenant specifies that Buddha needed to be positioned into a less prominent place. So we slid Buddha to a shadier spot in the quiet corner. However, that still didn’t satisfy the welcoming committee, who then decreed that Buddha should be banished to an interior room.
This incident reminded me of last year’s much-publicized event when representatives of Woodside’s Copper Ranch Homeowners Association demanded that Robin Perfect remove the American flag, which she decorated her front porch with as a symbol of support for her son, Sgt. Edward Nalder, who had been recently deployed to the war in Iraq.
As with flags, traditionally, statues have been exempt from most homeowner association bylaws. However, in recent years, these new small forms of government have become increasingly more powerful — so much so that some have been testing new waters and becoming pushier. As a solution, I propose that we craft a flag-holder so we may convert Buddha for a dual concept: That of an impervious statue and a world peace flag receptacle. Maybe then the newly-awakened homeowner association will capitulate, allowing the enlightened Buddha to return to outside elements and to continue sharing his good community message.
   Ω   Ω
Response to the news article:
Newspaper archives now under wraps
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
 Jim Banholzer – Hailey
02/04/09 - 20:03
If the Express has not already done so, two treasures they might consider mining from the old newspapers are Ezra Pound's birth and death notices (October 30, 1885 & November 1, 1972). International historians would probably look at such gems as worthy for inclusion in the National Archives.
You could put Mr. Pound's original birth notice up for sale through a literary-leaning auction house, with the condition that the bidding starts in the thousands - if not tens of thousands. You might even have more to gain; by announcing an intention to donate half the proceeds to fund an Ezra Pound-oriented scholarship.
After announcing the auction / scholarship on Express websites, you could make reproductions of Pound's birth and death notices available for a small fee. Visiting writers, poets and tourists would probably be enthralled to see framed copies of Ezra's life bookends, ceremoniously placed at his Hailey birthplace entrance.

01/11/09 - 09:35
This is a long suggestion, so I will submit it in two parts. Here is part one:
As much has been made of the fact the Express now owns 127 years of The Old Wood River Journal's historical newspaper records; and hold these ancient archives in high esteem; I was surprised to learn that the equally important Wood River Journal online archive, which stretches back a decade or more, is no longer available. When I asked several of my former colleges at both newspapers about this, some of them believed that Lee Enterprises still holds the searchable archives. However when I questioned Lee's management, they said the Express controls these.
If this is true, and it is the Express's intent to keep these records offline, there are several reasons, why they should reconsider. Besides profiting in a karmatic way, they could also profit financially in this tough time for newspapers everywhere. First, I cannot imagine that keeping these precious archives up would even be very expensive. Especially when measuring that cost against the invaluable benefits, such historical records can contribute to communities. If the Express will reconsider, there are several workable solutions at hand, including a fundraiser here, oriented towards newspaper aficionados and local historical buffs. This episode is now reminding me of a well-received letter, I submitted last year, to curators at The Newseum:
Let's not allow reporters epic efforts, sink down the memory-hole drain in vain
"As more newspapers like The Albuquerque Tribune (and WR Journal) continue going out of business, we should make concerted efforts to preserve their precious archives. Many newspapers start out struggling; never knowing if they are going to make it beyond a few years. Therefore, they never budget annually, very much, in way of back scanning their archives (Though many State libraries make diligent efforts to do so.)
Recently, (Wash. Post owned) Slate Magazine ran an article bashing their cross-town rival USA Today's ambitious Newseum project, by comparing it to the new American Indian Museum on our National Mall. Essentially, Slate said that both museums "were designed to be the sumptuous setting for candle-lit fundraisers, where you can almost hear the clink of highball glasses and the jing-a-ling of jewelry."
However, many fundraisers are actually used for constructive purposes. I would like to submit to the USA Today and Newseum board of directors, that they consider holding an annual fundraiser with the intention to salvage several newspapers that have gone beyond the brink. They could set up a committee, with a set of criteria for eligible newspapers, using a simple algorithm that involves historical context, the age of the newspaper, past awards won, average circulation amounts, whether a library has preserved their precious records of antiquity, and other relative parameters for markers to see who is best qualified, to not have their reporters enduring efforts just tossed into recycle. Besides salvaging newspapers gone back to the wild, the Newseum or some other good-willed newspaper-aficionado entity could help protect the historical archives of a handful of newspapers every year, which are still struggling to hang in there. Such funding could help construct enhanced fireproof storage facilities and state-of-the art fire-protection systems; much as visionary librarians have installed, to better protect our priceless records of antiquity, which have not yet been back-scanned or mirrored."
Besides a fundraiser, the Express could start charging a small fee or kindly ask for donations from archive users over their secure server, with the simple explanation that donations help fund the searchable archives.
Some readers maintain that any news item that ran in the Wood River Journal can already be found in the Express's archives. I strongly disagree, as many weeks the Journal ran a completely different set of excellent letters to the editor, had separate award-winning columnists, and sometimes ran feature stories, including featured businesswomen of the valley and a long running series on war veterans. Not only that, but their (your) website used to include on the drop down menu, a link to some of the best stories distilled from their 125 year history into a comprehensive anthology!
Here is part two of my suggestion:
Last year, I suggested a tribute to Idaho war veterans to (then publisher) Jerry Brady. With the Express’s acquisition of the Journal, this makes for an opportunity to revamp that suggestion, augmenting it with the dozens of articles Mr. Cordes and others have already written about our dedicated veterans:
The dozens of articles that Journal and Express reporters have written about our armed service veterans over the past few years are greatly impressive. Over the last few years, I remember thinking, while reading key feature stories by Jeff Cordes, Kelly Jackson and Karen Bossick and others what a grand thing it would be for our community, if the newspaper did a little something more with these in-depth articles.
Since the stories have already been written, the paper could go back at limited expense and simply cobble together a magazine or small book about our veterans to present to each of the regional history department heads of our local libraries. Other places where such a book would be a good fit are the coffee tables of our senior center, local armory, American Legion, Blaine Manor, St. Lukes, the Sun Valley Lodge, Sun Valley Adaptive Sports vans, etc. Imagine how far those feelings of good will could go, if the newspaper presented a copy of this book as a gift, during next years ceremonious ribbon-cutting at the new Senior Center.
Another way the paper could keep our Veterans vast experiences alive is a link to these stories within a special button on their website. Again, as the stories are already written, and most already online within the database, it doesn’t seem that such a tribute would take more than several hours to organize and then link to as a Veteran’s feature archive.
If my estimate is off and the newspaper’s management deems such a project to be too costly, my father who is an American Legion Commander (back east) reminds us that many American Legions and other veteran groups usually have strong-willed volunteers available to freely contribute and work in conjunction with local newspapers on such meaningful tasks.
Perhaps the time is too tight right now to get something like this running by this Memorial Day; however, if the paper were to make an announcement for an intention for a soon enhanced tribute, this would please many veterans. Perhaps the staff could plan to hand out copies of this special limited edition magazine to interested readers, during Hailey’s Fourth of July parade this summer.
I believe that such powerful articles deserve to be reprinted and featured in several prominent valley locations as respectful reminders to those, who have patriotically served our great country.”
Thank you for taking the time to read my suggestion. As the Express frequently runs strong editorials that speak against deftly airbrushing history, I trust that you will take to heart seriously some of the things I have said here.

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Kudos for Indian series
May, 4, 2011

Kudos to Tony Evans for his four-part, broad-ranging series on Native Americans, and their close connections to our valley. Every southern Idaho historical society should consider permanently linking to the series on their websites.
Also, as one local scholar observed, the series could be upgraded into a pamphlet or small book and made mandatory or recommended reading as part of local school curriculums.
Particularly interesting in Evans' story are the parts about Native Americans' powerful relationship with the earth through the camas plant. It was refreshing to read about the annual Camas Lily Days Festival featuring "Indian dancing, arts and crafts and the traditional baking of camas bulbs in rock-lined fire pits covered with wet grass and earth."
In addition to June's energized Fairfield festival, I would like to see a tribute to the Native American/camas root connection through our Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles specialized license plate series. An artist's rendering of the camas celebration, based on the popular Sacagawea dollar coin template, would make a good fit.
For years, I've been a proud displayer of Idaho potato plates on some of my rigs. But as camas roots are four times more nutritious than our average russet, I would be happier than a sunny camas bluebird to upgrade to such new customized plates.

~   ~   ~

Positively Googled Idaho
Idaho Mountain Express
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Are you finding good news as hard to come by as a fresh drink of water squeezed from a lava rock? Feels as though you want to stay informed, but don't want to let it all bring you down? Well, now there is a neat tool for getting positive vibes sent your direction every day, via search engines and online newspaper alerts.
If you are a news junkie addicted to trademarked terror alerts, then you might have a habit as difficult to break as cigarettes or six-packs of whiskey. However, you can start by thinking of an improvement that you would like in your life, say, "Become a better man." Then plug this term into Google News alerts. Amazingly, the system is set up to alert or page you whenever anything pertaining to this phrase posts on thousands of news Web sites!
Another inspiring phrase to try is "Good news Idaho." Play around with this, trying sections with and without quotation marks. For that matter, simply turn to a thesaurus, look up synonyms for "positive," then use these words in conjunction with whatever town or state you're interested in hearing something praiseworthy about. You'll soon find that there really is a foundation of empowering news out there. It just takes a little modification to get some "Positive Idaho tidings" channeling in your direction.
Use caution of course in believing every bit of what's called good news—no matter how starved you are for some. Most subjects under the sun hold complex and paradoxical levels of meaning. To help celebrate the Yin and Yang of these gray areas, a laughing contrary coyote icon emerges from the back pages of some Native American newspapers.
Some writers try to convey a positive image about a news item when it actually lacks substance. Another group with a different agenda might try a smear campaign over the same event. The great news about this ambiguity is that by using your critical mind, you can get a good chuckle considering mainstream sources of the black and white that's read all over.
Years ago there was a newspaper that printed what it considered only good news. The bad news was that they did not sell very many copies. Was it because readers of that era were not passionate about cheerful news? Don Henley sang "People love it when you lose, they like dirty laundry." When the last copy rolled off the presses, there was no mention of their going out of business. That was unprintably bad news.
Currently there are Web sites trying to pass on similarly "happy news." A search through these sugary sites reveals what appears to be unmitigatingly beneficial news. Nutritious foods available in more schools, and anti-pollution inventions and developments in plastics recycling. Also mentioned are progress in biodiesel and other science breakthroughs. As is "housing the poor with dignity" and even Lance Armstrong.
Maybe you're not in the mood to put on a happy face while searching news data. Perhaps an alert like "Idaho Juicy Gossip" is something you'd be more interested in getting the lowdown on. If you liked that then you'll really enjoy "Idaho's unknown news."
Even if you don't have computer access, another neat trick you can use for building up a bright outlook is cozying up with a hiking book in the evening. Leaf through the pages while thinking of future hikes or reflecting on great experiences you've already had on the trails. Meditate on just one good thought as you drift off to sleep. Some find this method better than magic pills. You don't even need a doctor's approval slip for a bookmark.
I hope this advice helps in some way. After all, whenever you're in Idaho, Bliss is just down the road. Perhaps, now, an overload of compassionate news bulletins will jam your rig's built-in monitor, causing a tipping point in your truck gauges. No worries though, because you'll finally get the chance to walk around that marsh you've always driven by. There you'll find the bluebird of happiness, because your Zen-ful delay will have serenely tipped you halfway between Bliss and Paradise, where everything is super!

~    ~    ~    ~

A Trucker’s tale

Back in cold February, I was chugging up Highway 75; when suddenly right before Ohio Gulch, the rig started behaving badly. Turns out it was the transmission, and even though a mechanic-friend had recently gone over it with a fine-toothed comb, it was shot.
That cost some big bucks; and then, only a few weeks later, the truck started misbehaving again, at that exact same spot. As locals know, Ohio Gulch is the turnoff for the dump transfer, and just north is where the State sometimes sets up weigh stations. It’s also essentially the last good place to pull over safely; if you’re heading north with a big rig in the area, and it breaks down.
The second breakdown was caused by a fuel pump problem. I thought it was strange and yet a little fortunate that the truck decided to break down at the same safe pullover spot twice. Then I remembered; fifteen years ago, I was driving a rig full of rocks for a stonemason, and that truck broke down at the same spot. I had loaded Gene’s truck to the brim, with four and ¼ tons of river rock. As we approached Ohio Gulch, his truck started thumping loudly from the right rear. I pulled over and soon saw that the wheel had actually rolled out from its base, while the lug nuts whizzed off like bullets in the wild-west sage. Although the tire and rim had shot off, it had miraculously wedged into a corner of the truck, keeping the masonry rocks from spilling out.
As I hitchhiked to the East Fork jobsite, passing over Greenhorn Bridge, I became thankful that the truck had not decided to shuck off its rock, back to the river there. I wasn’t looking for that type of legend on my resume.
It’s funny; every time I drive past that Hyndman Creek house with a friend and see those river rocks shining so intact, I feel compelled to pull over, point at the stones and tell this story.
And it makes me curious to hear about other people’s experiences of breaking down at same spots.
And while we did laugh later, Gene told me, when he saw me walking the last leg of Hyndman, two hours late and with no truck, he thought, “This can’t be good.”


Future Friedman: A place for healing war wounds? 

FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2007

By Jim Banholzer
for the Wood River Journal
Original post here:

Ancient warriors were given special care upon returning from battles. They were brought into spas at outskirts of cities and slowly cooled down with extraordinary nurturing concern for long spells until it was determined that it was safe for them to return into communities-unlike modern times when soldiers more often get dumped straight back onto the streets with little or no benefits. Nowadays, many of our Country's Veterans are homeless or incarcerated at record levels without support, while perpetually mired in post-traumatic crises. As Dennis Kucinich put it, “Homelessness and poverty are weapons of mass destruction.”

Men develop with different levels of mettle, but sanity has limitation points for even the bravest of soldiers. “Soldiers Heart” affected many Civil War Veterans (and their families). In later wars, this became “Shell Shock” then “Battle Fatigue.” Now “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” is the expression. During World War II Gen. George S. Patton was nearly court-martialed after slapping a hospital patient whose conscience was suffering from “Soldiers Heart”, thinking that he was just a coward. 

A historically safe place, which soldiers used to convalesce, both physically and psychologically was the Sun Valley Lodge. Many World War II soldiers, who rehabilitated there in its fresh air, became attached to this area -and for good reasons. Some remain as helpful contributors within our community to this day.

What safer place and further away from war (Mountain Home Air Force Base notwithstanding) could there be for a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center, then the good earth on where Friedman airport currently sits? It's been reported that if the Friedman family recognizes a suitably significant cause, that they will consider donating this prime Hailey Real Estate for that concern -if the airport relocates, whereby the site reverts to the family.

I believe it's not too early for our community leaders to begin contemplating constructive ideas about what they might create from this once-in-a-lifetime possibility.

We could transform this airport acreage into something for truly banking on; besides generous monetary donations from valley benefactors to help establish a healing foundation center, this could also be a prime opportunity for us to show how rich we are in spirit, by personally welcoming these recuperating warriors back into our community. As part of their continuing recovery, we could thank our Veterans for their Herculean efforts by offering desirable jobs-some perhaps related with support services for the healing center.

Moreover, we could construct hundreds of affordable-housing units on the land, along with potential worker-retraining facilities for displaced warriors to re-attach to our community by becoming useful contributors. Some of the recovered will have rejuvenated with a broader sense of understanding and develop the desire to become healing practitioners themselves. A “Walter Reed West” center would create bountiful meaningful jobs here. Already established organizations such as Sun Valley Adaptive Sports and The Advocates could tie in well with such a “permanent wellness festival”. The College of Southern Idaho could even expand its nursing center here. Perhaps an owner of one of the locally underutilized hot springs could pipe in some of their healing waters into such a splendiferous spa with government stepping in to help fund construction logistics of the donation.

The relocated airport could even benefit, becoming a busy transport center for the steady streams of patients, visitors, hospital personnel and supplies.

Posttraumatic stress disorder therapies could feature recently advanced Somatic Experiencing, MDMA and Propranolol treatments, as well as other well-proven curative methods-both ancient and newly developed. Even if we are somehow fortunate enough to be without war as the airport shift occurs, Doctors are now seeing that PTSD is a condition that is a normal part of life, which often actually strengthens us. How many times for instance, have you heard someone say about an adverse situation, “I wish it hadn't happened, but I'm a stronger person for it?” A trauma-stren transformation clinic could assist and focus on numerous variables of this.

Let us extend our common senses with high-tech hospital wings, blooming with curative physicians.

You priests and holy leaders who keep so mum about the wars, now are the times to call for fresh miracles. Let us forcefully implore that our Pentagon redirect its forces into tools that enable the blind to again see, the deaf to hear and the lame to walk. Let us ask for a peaceful turnover of these suppressed cutting-edge technologies, so we may transform our energies to relieve this terrifying violence, which only perpetuates further violence. Let our common senses soften no more. Those in wheelchair pews ascend over foxy TV skies. Demand that your tax barrels of cash handed to war profiteers is flip-flopped to trickle down just amounts of funds to help our globe spin a little truer, for battle amputees, brain-injured and psychologically traumatized.

Let us hope that our soldiers' hearts heal well enough in this Idaho land to walk again peacefully on the world we worship, and that through another miracle, diplomacy prevails rather than our wrongly “war shipping” of the good earth, with land mines, undepleted uranium and a general malaise to eliminate those who we do not understand.

Movers and shakers heed this clarion call. Come together with equally powerful ideas for the potentially soon to be changed vast ground where Friedman Airport now abounds. It would be nice to have feasibility studies set up in advance to see what else might be achievable for improving our community in positive ways, if the Friedman family continues to stand by this intention.

With the sunny climate, fresh air and clean water inherent to this valley, enhanced by the numerous enlightened compassionate people who flourish here, our community could set a new standard for positive rehabilitation by improving on some of the shortcomings now plaguing Walter Reed Veteran's hospital and hand our modern warriors the deserved special treatment, most have earned.

I ask that our community leaders strongly consider holding a feasibility study, in the near future, to see if this idea or similar ones hold enough water to transform soldier's widow tears into flowing fountains fronting a first class “Friedman Memorial Trauma-Stren Conversion Center.”

~   ~   ~

What about safe flights?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Idaho Mountain Express

It's remarkable that a Northwest Airlines flight was subject to a high-profile Christmas attack eight years to the day that shoe-bomber Richard Reid bumbled a similar airline assault. Equally noteworthy is the international media scrutiny placed on the uncommon events while few news outlets report on the more than 500 million airline flights that took place in the last 10 years without confrontation of any sort.
The years I worked in the airline industry before 9/11 made it clear that our security system was largely a charade, requiring vast improvements. For one thing, I would have felt more secure back then knowing that our security agents were earning more than $6 an hour. It's great that our dedicated screeners now earn something more approaching a living wage; however, I never dreamed we would become compliant to authoritarian rules of such a large, ballooning boondoggle agency. Besides being required to obediently kick off our shoes, we're now sometimes subject to fishing expeditions that has absolutely nothing to do with transportation security. At some airports, innocent flyers are even forced to pass through high-resolution X-ray scanners, which clearly violate child pornography laws.
Although the TSA has manufactured over 1 million "terrorists" for our state-of-fear watch lists, air travel remains a safer mode of transportation than most long highway journeys. It's too bad that while we're being hyped and barked at by talking heads all along the terrorism watchtower about these extremely rare violent air incidents, we aren't able to divert some of these massive funds for some simple, down-to-earth homeland security measures, such as upgrading some of Idaho's terribly dangerous, high-speed rural roads into safer, divided highways.
Jim Banholzer

 Jim Banholzer – Hailey
02/19/10 - 08:33
In the same vein of "What about safe flights?" Bob Kustra recently interviewed world renowned security expert Bruce Schneier for some powerful insights on the subject:
"Remember the day after the 'underwear bomber', our Secretary of Homeland Security said, basically, that security succeeded on Christmas Day, and she was villified for it, which frustrates me, because, you know, security did succeed. Think of what happened: we had no bomb explode, no plane crash, nobody die, and terrorist arrested. Sounds like a success to me, sounds like a phenomenal success. I think we should be very happy, and we should be laughing at this guy.
"Instead, we went into sort of 'full fear mode', and, really succeeding in terrorizing ourselves, and this frustrates me. Here it is, this guy failed and yet he's succeeding and causing terror.
"And when you think about why he failed, and this is very important, he failed because of pre-9/11 security. Because, in Amsterdam airport, they screen for obvious guns and bombs, the bomb-maker had to build an inefficient bomb. So instead of using a plunger, or a timer, or a fuse, or something any normal, commercial user of this plastic explosive might employ, he had to build an ad hoc, home-brewed detonation device, with a syringe, and 20 minutes in the bathroom, and a fire in his lap, and actually we don't know what else. That failed. And that's security succeeding. And then after that, new developments in airline security, which is passengers fighting back, quickly subdued him, and the plane landed safely....
"When people are scared, they want to feel better. People are scared of stories. The Christmas Day suicide bombing attempt was a story, and the story made people afraid. And when people are afraid, they really can't hear. You know, 'it wasn't a big deal, relax.' You remember, the day after Christmas, nobody wanted to hear that. Everyone wanted to hear 'how are you going to make us safer? What are you going to do?' There's a belief that perfection is possible, that when something goes wrong, someone must be at fault, someone must be to blame, and there must be a fix.
"Even though in the real world, as we all know, you can do everything right and still have things go wrong. There doesn't have to be a fault. But as a politician you can't say that. So you have to look tough on terror, you have to give people a competing narrative.... even if it makes no sense, [even if it's just 'security theater'].
Thanks to Fort Boise's Tom von Alten for pointing this out.

~    ~    ~    ~

Airport parking should be free
August 26, 2009
Idaho Mountain Express

Only a handful of airports in the nation offer free parking and Twin Falls is one. Offering free parking at the proposed Sun Valley airport would offset expenditures for travelers who complain about the extra drive and help to compete with Twin. Free parking would also help jumpstart the popularity of the new airport and encourage air travel, which lately has been inundated by higher security and fuel costs.
Another thing airport planners should consider is a large indoor, heated de-icing structure for aircraft to taxi through, minutes before flying off. Such a structure could be designed with environmentally friendly drains for collecting the used de-icing fluid and perhaps recycling it later.
Another possibility would be to remove the dangerous ice from aircraft with modernized microwave systems. Having a heated hanger for either of these options would lessen the amount of de-icing fluid and microwaves required. The de-icing booth could double in summer as a car wash.
The airport authority could advertise this airplane "car wash" and remind pilots who spiff up their wings there that they are also helping to offset the cost of free parking, thus popularizing modern Idaho airport travel.
As I noted in another recent discussion forum around here, when the old airport shuts down, it will be interesting to see how much contamination is in the soil from deicing aircraft for decades. There could be a heavy cost involved, hauling off soil to a certified toxic-waste-receiving-dump. (This is not all bad, because it will give excavation contractors some work)
About fifteen years ago, the airlines switched over from Ethylene Glycol to the much less toxic Propylene Glycol. This foresight may have helped the contamination problem, but we will probably need to drill some test holes in the affected earth, before we can build anything new on the old airport site.
The spots where Sky West and Horizon currently deice their aircraft will be easy to pinpoint, because they have always performed their deicing procedures in that concentrated area. However, the private vendor and its previous incarnations have for years, deiced aircraft in various spots, to the sides of the taxiway.
This too, may have given us some advantage, the spreading out of the toxins. And as water has amazing dissolution powers, the plenteous rain we’ve received in recent years, probably has helped fix this problem to a degree. However, this whole deicing contamination issue is something we will need to examine closer and soon.
Meanwhile, for those who look at my suggestions as pure stupidity, I would hope that they could enjoy them, by focusing on the aspect of satire instead.
~    ~    ~
Birdwatchers on Terroroids?

Re: U.S. imposes controls on a new security threat: birdwatchers. 

I read about how our U.S. security agents are now keeping an eye out for birdwatchers. Seems you will need a police escort in some aviary areas now, to enjoy this pastime every bit as popular as baseball, apple pie and mom. 

I wonder how this will affect arrowhead hunting in Idaho. If you can't glance up at a bird, you might as well stare at the ground looking for obsidian chips. But no, this subject looks like he's studying the sand awful hard. Must be devising a method to dig under buildings and do something nefarious. Better re-fund Rat Patrol to guard all of Craters of the Moon's perimeter. And what was he planning to do with those weapons of mass destruction arrowheads once he found them! Better medicate him. Maybe Cheney can hold the needle. Not having a human heart makes him less squeamish than other people who have been inoculated into normalcy. 

So Mom, please bake a file into my next apple pie. Because when our Bill of Rights soon expires, thoughts like these could be deemed unpatriotic and land me in a slammer with no bird's-eye view. Perhaps my opportunity will arise while the guards are watching a tight baseball game in late innings. Cheering fans will cover my filing and I'll be saved by the purity of that last bastion of good old America: Baseball (except for the steroids).

The Sunset Channel
There’s an autistic kid who remembers
Every sundown he’s experienced. 

Tries to see one every dusk
Then invests them in his memory bank 

It’s quite remarkable this ability he’s honed
Cherry-picking shade and spectrum details 

He can tell you –if you want to know- how the landscape shifted
Anywhere in the world on November 22, 1963 - for instants.  

To better see nightfall, he’ll go on hayrides
Sit on top of stacks and find poetry
up there 

Sways back his hip head through covered bridges 

Just spilled off the rear of a spud wagon the other day 

From an early age he realized Sunsets would become something
So important that he would make his mark on the world through them 

Sometimes his kinfolk laugh/splash puddle remarks behind his back
Hardly realizing that it is they, who are more crippled then he is. 

One evening it was too stormy to see much of the sky
So he went down to the Zenith TV factory
Gazed in the window to see if they
Might be featuring a sunset on TV 

Nothing was on, so he begin to kindly query passerby
“Have you seen a hole in the sky,
where some Sol might squeeze through?” 

Burgess Meredith handed him a remote control for parting the stratosphere

Up There

I want to travel to Sirius.
Seriously tonight in a dream.
I’ve Dunn heard that some African tribes believe that this is their true ancestral land.
You can read about it in Graham Hancock’s anthropological tome called Supernatural.
Without apologies, I would like to take off to there, way up over the piney wood
And call in sick tomorrow on a supernatural satellite well phone.

I trust they will have an advanced form of pine nuts for me to munch on
When my years of fascination finally dwindle down to a new hunger.

I’ve heard that the apes on Sirius hold telescopes backwards that really work as microscopes
Speaking of this I saw a photon of Sirius today –it looks like an aspirin.
What up with that?
I suppose I will need to Big Gulp down a cup of genic / cry o’ genetic - chill pill if my dream
Doesn’t instantly transport me there.

But what about a traveling companion?
I almost didn’t even think of that!
So used to flying solo –you know.
Perhaps another soul would enjoy sharing a serious ride with me to Sirius.
Once we get there, I believe I could conjure up a minute bowl of pine nut soup
And boil it over a volcanic crater, in the event we need sustenance.
Hey, if we overdo it, we’ll just break off a chunk of the Sirius.
The whole place is an aspirin –just as the moon is formed from Emerald Cheese.
At least that’s what Neil Armstrong said in an unrehearsed & unreleased outtake,
When he was Captain Crunching on Idaho’s Tamarack pine nuts
Down there around Craters of the Moon
Where the Flag’s blowin’ in the wind
Like American Stars & Bars
All the way from Carey’s Loading Chute
To Arco’s Pickles Place in Atomic City
Where Sirius sometimes winks in the sky

Remember when we were in Africa?

~    ~    ~    ~

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Magickil Sailing

Much like AVON insisted it would happen, we were all now sailing on one salty sea. With a few exceptions at highland points and from those who had listened to their special sights,

Investing  in long-term pods and newlyfangled ocean vessels. From our dead reckoning at the zwolfe-hund hour, we determined we were in old calendar 2017. And floating forward in Jahre 05 of our new life.

We passed through the straits of Matterhorn, gasping at now extraordinary fruit trees, basking in sol. 

By fortunate circumstance, I had trained myself working hard at regular jobs, all the while oriented towards becoming sensibly seaworthy by AVON’S rigorously intuitive suggestion. 

Among the copious foods we subsisted on were pollinated hybrid fronds of which I was unfamiliar with. The vines had found Avon, clinging to her before we even began our perilous journey,

Electrified eels had taken fancy to our boat, along with myriad varieties of hummingbirds, bees and other living entities. One sublime afternoon, our friend Mandy the Narwhal, who had grown telepathically close to us in our marvelous journey, attached her spire to AVON Of The Sea for an Aqua trip invitation. Avon & I helped each other balance across Mandy’s precarious spire, by holding hands until we set upon her slippery back for a quick submersion. Although we had evolved into aqua-practitioners in our five seagoing years together, it was nice to see breathing tubes extended for us, growing out like organic

Fronds from the Narwhals’ sleek body.

We shared sips of marine-mead and clung fast to each other, as Mandy dove dark deep leagues. She directed us to an underwater cavern in the Nepal region, where in the lower depths of the fissure we discovered a sealed off air pocket. With her sword-nose Mandy pressed the Open Sesame button and directed us to enter.

How nice it was for us again to be walking about freely on terra firma, with this short reprieve from the bobbling boat. We strolled through a torch-lit ancient hall within the underwater hill, until we came upon a twelve-foot golden door. As we approached, it automatically opened, where inside we witnessed a single CD disc levitating in the epicenter of the chamber, projecting all encompassing tales about earthly man-beasts brilliantly slow learning process. The holographic recording ran backwards, encircling such

things as the Antikythera mechanism, and Cheerleaders of Gomorrah.

Avon and I ascended from the belly of the narwhal, returned to the rocking sea and discussed this in depth for about three weeks.

Nighttime, we gazed upward at our other ancestors, honored gently in silver cups of fiery sky. Once I dreamt that AVON allowed me to rest in the calm pillow of her breast. As she spoke a silent cuneiform language, I observed luminescent sparks dance about her sweet tongue to match the sea, in weird and wonderful words, all of which Mother Earth’s animal kingdom fully comprehended in a tenderly loving manner.
This is the highland point at which I began better appreciating powerful Magick sailing realms.

~    ~    ~    ~

Selkie swayed to speak hidden truths
From the Wood River Journal
May 8, 2007

I was privy as to certain information regarding the Mermaid of the Bigwood. She was captured in an underwater cell video, tranquilly sipping liquid from a simmering coconut shell she discovered floating downstream. Within the tempting coconut slices was sprinkled an elderberry mead concoction, which persuaded the tastee to speak the truth three times consecutive. The trick was in the form of the question, for if the questioner were not careful he could still come away deceived. In addition, one man’s truth might not match that of another’s.
One renewing millennium as I ducked under the river’s edge for a simple splish-splash, the mermaid’s nemesis Mr. Mossinghoff, heralded this super-secret into my ear. He had recently come undone, from being ensnared spellbound in her Venus flytrap garden. I came away with a surprisingly cleaner covenant than what was expected from the foamy spring. Wanting to know and deeply believing she would speak truth, I asked the mermaid, what was the most exhilarating day of her life?
Standing beside the river, I reflected how we each have our best moments. Every fish in the sea experiences its brightest flashbulb instant. Sometimes these singular seconds illuminate all day, or imbed in head for life. Like two good sports hitting it off for the first time as fine friends, watching a younger sibling catch her first immaculate cutthroat from the Bigwood. Or for cliff rock-divers, attaining that ideal ten from their acrobatic acts into that twelve-foot opening. Maybe an X-streamed sportsperson unwinding half-piped troubles via impeccable pitch. Or a perfect called third strike to end the World Series in a game to transform people’s lives. Perhaps one Giant leaper for humankind agilely exceeding a tip-top bar, by several inches on that important jump, which for a cool second levitates gravity laws –outdoors naturally.
The mermaid must have read my mind, because she said that her favorite day was when she learned to chant alarming siren songs concerning nature. Then she backpedaled stroking upstream, tugging behind a leaky barrel of the singular serum, further defying natural order. Mr. Moss looked a bit bewildered.
My second question struck as a bolt from the blue while jogging along shore leaves. I asked the Mermaid to thrust her mischievous redhead into the grandpa-elder hollow to ask the former towering tree, what its sunniest day was. After a glistening spell, she pulled her head from the wound’s twisted vortex, with three replies scribed on woodchip endings: Through the mermaid, the elder-tree communed; that there was a day that broke open like so many others. The elder had been weeping for loss of its willowfriend over a bridge. Then a plump robin redbreast laid her eggs in its lower branches. Sensitivity nestled back in the tingling wind. Soon the elder grasped bird-by-bird songs sufficiently striking as to startle lumberjacks in tracks. Chainsaw strings pulled loose from mechanisms like useless nooses. The aura of elderberry enchantment even deflected lightning off and over to smoldering Trail Creek boulders.
With polished question number three, I pointedly asked this babe of inland sea, why were reporters not conducting more man on the street interview questions like this across town traffic: What was your shiniest moment sir? What is the secret talent of your children? In what arenas do you foresee glimmers of hope after the slow crash, which we are inside the bubble of?
The mermaid flipped me out a third time, by singing, “it is because in this realm most media outlets –including many ‘alternatives’ are controlled by vast underworld networks, where power frequently pollutes spirit. To herald some shining news without being too sappy, courageous captains will have to continue dipping into a sea of metaphor and fairy tale to convey veiled messages of valor.”
Then, she continued her watery whisper, spouting these prime Tolkien words, There are truths that are beyond us, transcendental truths about beauty, truth, honour, etc. There are truths that man knows exist, but they cannot be seen, they are immaterial but no less real to us. It is only through the language of myth that we can speak of these truths. We have come from God and only through myth, through story telling, can we aspire to the life we were made for with God.”
This was enough hearkening for one day. Last, I heard the Mossman took a cue from an Amish nymph and adorned a plaque, speckled with moss that certifies his historical forgiveness of the Mermaid. He now chases a Lorelei on the north side of trees out Warm Springs where sometimes they both can be seen swinging from the same vines.
~    ~    ~

A blogger’s brief history of anonymity

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
Rep. Stephen Hartgen is crafting a bill requiring bloggers and online commenters to post under their real names. While some say this is sensible, when authors reveal their true selves, they often surrender much power. If Steve’s law actually passes, how do we purport to penalize, parables and plenteous poems posted by Anonymous?
And what sentence would we mete out, for someone like Samuel Clemens who blogs whimsical wisdoms under Mark Twain’s pseudonym?
Will readers be more or less intrigued when they discover George Eliot is masking femininity?
Please don’t tell me Stephen King was disingenuous when he penned his entertaining Richard Bachman mysteries.
Should we have lashed JCampbell for his posting a treatise about the hero with a thousand faces?
And how should we expect Clint Eastwood to sign his mark as Pale Rider’s nameless preacher?
Is our government suited to sue in matters of the Bible’s true author, shaky proofs of Shakespeare and secret scribes of the Koran?
And what about unidentified whistleblowers, who sense the importance of reporting unfortunate industrial mishaps, in hopes of preventing needless recurrences.
As such clampdowns made little sense for anonymous authors of antiquity, we should not impose speech-crippling regulations on our modern-day blogosphere.

~    ~    ~

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.

~    ~    ~    ~

Ein Hemingway Bummel durch den Adams Gulch

Last column for the Mountain Express
June 2006

Sometimes all it takes is a simple hike out Adams Gulch to remind me why men like Ernest Hemingway loved Idaho. While walking along the trails, a German expression sometimes winds through my mind as much as it did in Herr Booz'es Language class thirty years ago.
Mr. Booz—I kid you not, his real name—taught us there was no exact translation into English for the word "Bummel" "Bummeln durch Den Park," he said, kind of means "bumming around or strolling through the park." For a more in depth explanation, try searching the word Bummel on Wikipedia.

Adams Gulch is a perfect place for bummeln. It's close enough to town that you don't need a car to get there. There is a shady side for hot days and a sunny side for chilly ones. Children from seven to 107 can enjoy soft scrambles on these trails, while enough water usually flows to keep the area "Fido Friendly".

And don't be fooled by the parking lot if it looks crowded. Those at play are generally widespread, frolicking on the numerous paths threading the popular valley.
It's pleasing to Bummel by Lane's picnic bench for a minute. Sometimes first time visitors from big cities are encountered here, genuflecting in awe, while swallowing views of spectacular cliff formations. The area is enchanting and "In Our Time" worth exploring every corner.

Three miles straight past the 142-loopoff on trail 177 is an area where hikers seldom Bummel. More commonly the territory of bikers, you might cross paths with riders coming from the East Fork of Baker Creek. "During the Torrents of Spring," wet evidence drips from their equipment revealing snowfield negotiations.

One crack of dawn while map gazing, I imagined the trails branching off 177 must have been where Hemingway galloped on horses to shoot at grouse and whatnot—days when I was just a baby. So I was bound to see this area.

Parking the Ford at Rooks Creek fjord, I hiked up to the remnants of an old cabin. The Forest Service burned the place down 10 years ago in a preemptive strike to keep squatters from bumming around. As a reward for my eventual return, I cached a Samichclaus Bier within the frame confines. I hoped to hitch a Wagon Train ride to town, but had to bike-bummel back through Board Ranch to Heidelberg Hill. But I was then ready for some real Bummeln.
I mixed a copy of Papa's "Across the River and into the Trees" along with "A Moveable Feast" of soft granola into the bummel sack. Then, attaching it to a hiking staff, pitched it over my shoulder. Heading straight out trail 177, it only gets semi-steep for a short span of about four miles. Then there is a tremendous double tree trunk, a picturesque scene with the uniquely Idaho backdrop of the towering Pioneer Mountains. Continuing along, a pond springs up in the area just before 177 turns left. I plunked down next to a hobo spider, pulled out a musing pad from the sack and scribbled: "This must be a watering hole where Hemingway sat with his horse for a snort."

If you promenade across the ridge trail to the right, it leads back on 142C, returning to the Adams Gulch trailhead for a 14-miler. You need not have the piercing vision of "The Old Man and the Sea" to spot a round teahouse across the way. This lively spot on top of the world is a special place from which gallant warriors and stouthearted sheepherders have, on occasion, filled the valley with tall Hemingway tales.

On that day, though, I continued on 177. Towering piney trees stretched into high wildflower meadows, where abundant wildlife includes predators nearly as ferocious as those in the "Green Hills of Africa." Way up yonder, Baldy reappears as "The Sun also Rises." Then the trail intersected an auspicious loop from the yurt above. There I heard some good spirited voices, belonging to three Fraulein Princesses who overnighted at the hut. We chattered about my Hemingway quest until they thought I was "running with the bulls." Then I trailed back down the tumbling Rooks Creek.

The trail there is coarse with plenty of large loose rocks. I recommend high quality gripping boots --not the bum shoes I wore. About Halfway down, some motorcyclists rode up gingerly and we asked about what lay ahead for each other. After dozens of stream crossings joined with flowery butterflies, I finally reached the cabin remnants. Curbing the musing pad with the hiking scepter, I prepared to breathe deep an "Earnest" draught of ale strong enough to make Papa Claus jolly. But, what a bummer, it had evaporated—bottle and all! I guess this bum needs to be on his toes for wood sprites when he conceals good spirits.

Though I was derelict in my studies in Herr Booz'es class, at least I retained three key words of Deutsche: "Bummeln, Samichclaus (strongest of ales in the world) and Fraulein." Therefore, the best German advice I can muster up today is, if you ever need to Geocache a Samichclaus during a Hemingway-Bummel, holen Sie einen Fraulein fur einer Ausblick. (Bring a young miss for a lookout).

Field Test : Samichlaus

Express photo by Dana DuGan
Seeking to advance my mediocre drinking skills and knowledge, I sauntered into one of the valley's finest wine markets. Perusing the vast selection of decorative ales in their cooler, an old favorite caught my eye, Santa Claus. Actually called Samichlaus and known as the strongest lager in the world—14 percent alcohol—it was originally brewed in Switzerland by Hürlimann.

After a four-year absence, it is now brewed at the Castle Brewery Eggenberg in Austria, in collaboration with Hürlimann. Castle Brewery has produced beer since the year 999.
This beer is only brewed once a year each December and aged a full 10 months before bottling. Though the last word in the dictionary is often zymergist (brewmeister) the uber-zymergists at Castle Brewery take first prize and sweeten it, mixing secret ingredients and methods into what becomes one of the creamiest, dark, magical malts with a chocolate nose that you'll ever taste. It's recommended that you share this potent drink with a friend because all you need is one to feel rich in Sun Valley. More than one and you, like the beer's namesake, might mistake the chimney for the door.

~    ~    ~

Praise for shinier Lincolns

Friday, October 31st, 2008
Sun Valley Online
Because Abe Lincoln helped establish our Idaho territory, it’s refreshing to read that devoted curators will be refurbishing the Boise Lincoln statue and transporting it from its obscure, foliage-hidden-area at the State Veterans Home to a more prominent spot, in time to celebrate our Great Emancipator’s 200th birthday.
This move follows the spirit of Washington, D.C.’s, Lincoln Memorial, in the sense that our ancestors deliberately installed that monument in a remote area of the National Mall. Although this tied in symbolically with the remote nature of Lincoln’s personality, people wishing to honor our founding Republican did not accept his inaccessibility; and have made the pilgrimage to that isolated area so much that it is has now become a “destination monument” and one of the most romantic spots to visit in Washington.
For more about what our historic sites get right or wrong, check out James W. Loewen’s groundbreaking, “Lies Across America.” Dr. Loewen also authored the American Book Award-winner,“Lies My Teacher Told Me.”Â
From the book: “More than any other marker or monument on the American landscape, it continues to speak of later times, even of our time. Its fascinating history offers suggestions as to why some historic sites ‘work’ while others do not.

~    ~    ~    ~

Friday, December 11, 2009

Synchrosecrets blog

In this new era of electronic mail, it’s not often that I receive greeting cards; however, two months ago, I received a heartfelt condolence card from an out of town friend, offering support, when my good friend Mary Anne passed on. The card chosen had on its cover, a photo of a little girl pushing a Ginormous elephant onto a cart, which symbolized the small level of support my friend felt she was offering, since she was unable to be here in person.

A month later, I received another card in the mail. This one was a thank you for helping another friend move some large furniture around her house and featured an elephant on the cover. This friend included the notation: “No kidding, you’re my biggest friend.”  I set the second card atop the refrigerator, by the other elephant card, thought it was a nice coincidence, and pointed it out to a few friends that came by.

Then a few days ago, my Aunt Jane sent me a classic care package for my birthday.[i]Aunt Jane is a nature lover and vibrant cloud-watcher and for years, has sent out hand-painted cards as seasonal gifts. Well, lo & behold, among the thoughtful items she included was a personalized water coloring of an elephant grazing!

This third friendly-looking elephant left me a little stunned, and soon the wild synchronicity prompted me to tread softly over to the world of animal totems:
Here the twelfth totem says:
The Elephant
“Throughout history elephants have been prized for their power and strength. They are extremely intelligence and honored by many cultures. Elephants are the largest land animals and among the longest lived, with life spans of 60 years or more. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha chose the form of a white elephant as one of his many incarnations and the rare appearance of a white elephant is still heralded as a manifestation of the gods. The Hindu god Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, is depicted with the head of an elephant.

Despite their great weight, elephants walk almost noiselessly. Their stride is exceptionally graceful and rhythmic. Their hearing, smell, taste and touch is acute. This compensates for their poor eyesight. Their eyes are small in relation to the enormous head, which can only turn slightly from side to side. This limited movement results in restricted side vision. Those with this medicine feel things deeply and respond to those feelings from a place of inner knowing. Because their peripheral vision is limited, they have a tendency to look straight ahead and not always see what is around them. Learning to shift ones focus to encompass the whole is helpful.

Loyal and affectionate elephants are willing to risk their life for the sake of others in a family group. Wild elephants have been known to grieve and even shed tears over the death of a family member. They have excellent memories and when mistreated they often seek revenge.

Elephants have four teeth, all molars. The first pair of molars is located toward the front of the mouth. When they wear down, they drop out and the two molars in the back shift forward. Two new molars emerge in the back of the mouth to replace those that have moved forward. Elephants replace back molars six times throughout their life. When the last set wears out, they are unable to chew and die of starvation.

Teeth have great symbolism. They are considered receivers and transmitters of energy linked by connecting paths throughout the astral body. Because the elephant is highly intelligent, those with this totem make excellent researchers and alternative scientists. The complex study of numbers, energy meridians and the tie in between the physical brain, the teeth locations, and the major and minor head chakras is fascinating as well as beneficial.

Elephant tusks point backwards, are used as weapons and for digging edible roots. From a spiritual point of view, this suggests an ability to uncover the secrets left behind you and bring them to the consciousness for evaluation and healing.

These beautiful creatures hold the teachings of compassion, loyalty, strength, intelligence, discernment and power to name a few. If this is your medicine, these virtues are a part of your natural character. By applying these gifts in your life soul evolution is achieved.”

As I began identifying with this elephant talk, it resonated within; that the best part of my 50th birthday (12/12) is that close friends have sent me this synchronicity - practically on a silver platter - and the fact that I could recognize their big gifts so readily.
~    ~    ~

Monday, February 20, 2012

Seashore soaring
For Daniella Chace
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.

~    ~    ~    ~

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 a
nd 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

"Who were lost in crystal canyons

"Where the aimless blade of science slashed the pearly gates."

~    ~    ~    ~

Magic Valley Times News

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.

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.

Being interested in synchronicities and such, especially those involving close encounters with nature, I feel it pertinent to point out the following observations: In my article The Midday owl who withdrew from the bank, I said:
“That's just great, I thought, they're going to eradicate an innocent bird on Main Street with the bullet ricocheting off the vaulted bank and straight into an Arlo Guthrie ballad about Homeland Security—lampooning the whole town. Surely, the young constable would transpire a different hoot himself upon actual approach, by merely setting his sunny stun gun one octave below "Night Owl" and just Tasering this talonious threat away.”
I wondered how that would go over with the general public, as this was a time when many folks were still mired in blind patriotism and  before it was stylish to criticism our Transportation Security Authorities. ……………to be continued.

~ ~ ~

Quotes about book
Banholzer, your writing seems oddly timeless. – Pam Parker

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