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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Sharing a money-laundering recipe

Twelve years ago, a Clark County, Nevada investigation showed that a Vegas clinic was not using clean syringe procedures, which over a four-year period contaminated dozens of anesthesia patients with incurable hepatitis C. This was odd and unsettling, especially since Las Vegas is the same city where casinos and hotels often offer to help clean your money. When did we start giving sanitized money a higher priority than we did to our medical patients?

More recently, another news item indicated that prison inmates often conceal illicit money in especially unsavory places. With filthy money in troublesome mind plus flu season approaching, it would be refreshing to see a few local banks offer this new service of disinfecting paper currency and coinage. Besides defending customers from nasty germs and diseases, banks would also be protecting a most valuable asset - their dedicated tellers, lessening sick days, etc.

Along with Vegas now improving their odds for healthier patients and casino customers, money purification programs also have become popular in countries like Japan, where clean bills sprout widespread from ATM’s. Local banks ‘wishing well’ could stand to profit karmatically from similar hygienic upgrades.

Meanwhile, my recommended home-style method for freshening coins follows: Lay out a large dry towel on a counter. Place a screen over the sink drain. Then position a colander over a large pot and insert the dirty coinage. Rinse with as-warm-as-you-can-stand water; add liquid dish soap in small squirts and repeat, jiggling the coins until they sparkle. Spray disinfectant before a final rinse, and then towel dry, ensuring that you’ve cleaned both the colander and dirty pot before done. Seasonal dashes of pumpkin spice or peppermint extract can add glistening holiday coin flavor. When finished, invest new coins in most useful things that matter.


Next tip: The importance of purifying bed-sheets and pillowcases with hot water to ensure bedbug purges.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Sad spring snow surprise
2nd draft

Back in 1993, my first job in Idaho was working with the Blaine County Recreation District. After a bond approval our valley workers and volunteers built a world class bicycle trail on the old railroad right of way. In winter we groomed the same path for a cross country ski trail, which thousands of winter recreationalists delightfully used.

Back then the Rec district had only one snow-cat groomer, which we used primarily for the popular Harriman ski trail. For the local path we used a modern snowmobile, dragging behind it a rudimentary 200 pound steel groomer. For colder days when the surface was icier, we added barbell free-weights, which locked into small poles at the end of the groomer and tugged behind. In front I carried additional weighted disks to dig deeper where the top snow crested hard at the few shady spots where cottonwoods arched over the trail.

Usually, we began grooming two hours before sunrise, slowly combing our way north to higher elevations, hence following the trail temperature at an even keel.

If the weather forecast was warm, we started at night, hoping to encounter prime grooming conditions. Sometimes, this was challenging; for instance when a cold snap followed a sunny day, this would result in 3 to 4 inches of crusty hard freeze. In cases like this, I would be required to repeat the grooming process several times, focusing firmly on the most traveled spots. Even so, there were times when skiers complained, thinking that we had not yet groomed, though it was often an area that we had already combed over repetitively.

It was a pristine job, and it led me to idealistic thoughts and musings as I groomed along my merry way, encountering folks who were enjoying healthy sunshine and happy exercise. Part of the task consisted in picking up stray trash, which didn’t seem too bad since I only needed to stop a handful of times. It was important to carry a shovel as well, since there were spots where the snow-machine would bog down, especially in warmer climate. Moreover, since the air-cooled snowmobile overheated under the stress of pulling large weights, I was required to unhook the heavy groomer and go play, spinning speedily around in snowdrifts to cool the engine.

I soon learned it was important to dress smart for the grooming task. This included sunglasses, warm hats, thick and thin gloves and spares, a face shield with defogger, first aid kits, warm fitting snow boots, layered jackets -the outer waterproof, toe warmers inside quality socks, but not too tight. It was also important when dressing to make sure my feet had fully dried from morning showers before pulling on socks to prevent foot moisture from freezing fast in the below zero temperatures.

When spring arrived, we would try to time it right to plow the south half of the path to provide eager bicyclists a safe place to ride. This, while continuing to snow groom the north section through late spring. As the melt-off continued and snow receded I was surprised at the large amounts of trash and dog poop tarnishing the trail. There were even McDonald’s wrappers in the wet dirt, and back then the nearest Mickey-D’s was 80 miles away! The first spring cleaning day our boss had expected me to finish renewing the south bike path in around three hours. But picking up hundreds of pieces of trash spread afar filled many bags. When the boss asked, “What took so long?” I replied, “Oh, the humanity.”

That next season I worked as an itinerant cab driver, and one day my fare was a young lady. Soon after introductions, in an impromptu manner she suddenly told me the story of how she had arrived in the Wood River with great expectations; seeing how immaculate the area was painted with its virgin snow surface. This bright luster helped convince her that Sun Valley was a power spot or some sort of a fantastically exceptional place. Then she started weeping as we passed a gas station as she saw stacks of trash blowing around. She said that she was disappointed when the pristine snow melted, which had been hiding the filth and dirt of the entire town. Then she equated the sad snowmelt to some of her broken friendships. As she began sobbing more uncontrollably, all I could say was, “I know what you mean, Honey.”


Jim Banholzer was an active Idaho resident for 25 years. Currently he is residing in Pennsylvania with family.
Sad spring snow surprise

Back in 1993, my first job in Idaho was working with the Blaine County Recreation District. After a bond vote our valley workers and volunteers created a world class bicycle trail system on the old railroad right of way. In winter we groomed the bike trail into a cross country ski trail, which thousands of skiers delightfully used.

Back then the Rec district had only one snow-cat groomer, which we generally used for the popular Harriman ski trail. For the local bike path we used a regular snowmobile, dragging behind a rudimentary 200 pound steel path-comber. For colder days when the snow surface was icier, we would add barbell weights, which locked into small poles at the end of the groomer and tugged behind. In front I carried extra weights to dig deeper where the top snow crested harder at the few shady spots where cottonwoods arched shadows over the trail.

Usually, we began grooming two hours before sunrise, slowly working our way north to higher elevations, hence following the trail temperature at an even keel.

If the weather forecast was warmer, we started earlier in the night to encounter prime grooming conditions. Sometimes, this was challenging; for instance when a cold snap followed a sunny day, resulting in 3-4 inches of solid top freeze. In cases like this, I would be required to repeat the grooming process several times, focusing especially on the most traveled spots. Even so, there were times when skiers complained thinking that we had not groomed; though it often had been an area we had combed over repetitively.

It was a pristine job, and it led me to idealistic thoughts and musings as I groomed along my merry way, encountering folks who were enjoying healthy sunshine and happy exercise. Part of the job consisted in picking up stray trash, which didn’t seem too bad since I only needed to stop a handful of times. It was important to carry a shovel as well, since there were spots that the snow-machine would bog down, especially in warmer climate. Moreover, since the air-cooled snowmobile would overheat under the stress of dragging large weights, I was required to unhook the heavy groomer and go play, spinning speedily around in snowdrifts to cool the engine.

I soon learned it was important to dress smart for the grooming task. This included sunglasses, a warm hat, thick and thin gloves and spares, a face shield with defogger, warm fitting snow boots, layered jackets -the outer waterproof, toe warmers inside of quality socks, but not too tightly snug. It was also important when dressing to make sure my feet had fully dried from morning showers before pulling on the socks to prevent foot moisture from freezing fast in the below zero temperatures.

When spring arrived, we would try to time it properly to plow the South half of the path to provide eager bicyclists places to ride. This, while continuing to snow-groom the north sections through late spring. As the melt-off continued and pristine snow receded I was surprised at the large amounts of trash and dog poop tarnishing the trail. There were even McDonald’s wrappers in the wet dirt, and back then the nearest Mickey-D’s was 80 miles away! The boss had expected me to finish cleaning the renewed bike path in about three hours, but picking up took over a day. When the boss asked, “What took so long? I replied, “Oh, the humanity.”

That next season I worked as an itinerant cab driver, and one day a young lady was my fare. In an impromptu manner she suddenly told me the story of how she came to the Wood River with high expectations; excited seeing how pristine the area was with its immaculate snow surface. Then she started weeping as we passed a gas station and she saw stacks of trash blowing around. She said that she was disappointed when the snow melted, which had been hiding the entire towns’ dirt and filth. Then she proceeded to equate this snowmelt to some of her broken friendships. As she began sobbing more uncontrollably, all I could say was, “I know what you mean, Honey.”


Jim Banholzer was an active Idaho resident for 25 years. Currently he is residing in Pennsylvania with family.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

My friend has a blind spot

My marginally disabled friend gives me rides sometimes, so I hesitate being a backseat driver, but recently I noticed a pattern he employs that bugs me when it comes to his restricted parking ways.

My friend has a disability permit. His first physician said he was well enough and that he should walk more. The doctor would not recommend a special placard. So what did my friend do? He drove to the next town for a second opinion.

I don’t believe he told the second doctor what the first advised. Perhaps my friend exaggerated his difficulty, trying to gain quick empathy. What bothers me more is that when my friend aims to park in a designated handicapped spot; a regular parking spot is often available nearby, mere steps away. What if someone with a more challenging disability needs the spot my friend just snagged? Someone blind who’s experienced a horrific crash or a quadriplegic needing wide berth, (which those spots provide) for maneuvering a wheelchair?

Mt friend thinks otherwise. For him it’s “First come, first serve!” When I see attitudes like this I’m reminded of the nine UCLA football players who counterfeited disability placards in 1999*. Here was a sad case of our most able-bodied men, who trained lifting weights and running many miles, getting caught being parking cheats.

My friend makes the argument that he needs the closest spot in the event of an icy pathway. Well, maybe so, but ironically for him sometimes those much desired spots are the iciest, since they’re the closest ones to the building shade! I would hope for snow days my friend would don proper shoes or use lightweight cleats. And call on me to guide him to the door.

 If my friend would consider more mindful courtesy toward those with less fortunate ambulatory capabilities, it would be a nice turn of a walk for him to take.