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Community Comment

Archive for April 2008

A Bit of Self-Analysis…

Good evening, Netizens…

After a hectic day and a restful evening with the Prom Queen watching a bit of television, I am finally once more in the Great Chair and as a late friend, John Kitkoski, was once fond of stating, I should be about the business of thinking great thoughts. Except the Great Thoughts are outside gossiping with the Garden Gnomes, waltzing in the corner of the Virtual Ballroom to Strauss or endlessly chattering to me about the nonsensical things in life.

At Jeanie’s recommendation, I am going to cite something that I stated to our “Handlers” before Community Comment became active, in the hopes it will find fertile ground from which to grow:

When I first conceived of this marvelous affair we call commcomm, I told the the Handlers at the Spokesman-Review, among other things, that one of my priorities would be that people who became “regulars” would help sustain one another, through thick or through thin.

While I realize some of you are more attuned to having shorter messages than we often have in this Blog, I firmly believe it is one of our success stories, for everyone at the Spokesman with whom I have discussed this Blog are all unanimous that we have been and are an instant success based upon the rating charts. They cannot tell me why. They simply beat me about the cranium and tell me keep on doing whatever it is I am doing, although I should amend that to say “whatever WE are doing”. After all, this is a collaborative effort, from the faded old ghost who serves as our doorman, the barista who serves us with Virtual Espresso from the endless espresso machine and to you who sit at the improbably gaudy espresso bar and discuss life with one another.

Having arrived at nearly our sixth week of continuous blogging in the Virtual Ballroom, most of the time which was spent sitting at tenth place or better in the rankings for Blogs, and having more or less adapted to the routine of writing every day on a variety of subjects, I guess since caring about the “regulars” is supposedly one of my top priorities, how am I doing? How are we doing at caring and showing tenderness and respect for one another?

If I/we could do something better, what would it be?


JeanieofSpokane turns 29…

Good morning, everyone…

In addition to the loss of her step-mother yesterday, Jeanie announced to me this morning yesterday was her birthday, so everyone send her a virtual birthday card on her 29th birthday, if you please.

Do you see what you can do in the Virtual Ballroom? Yes, 29 and ever been kissed. (laughing despite myself)


Hump Day Wild Card April 30, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

My God, when I first saw this picture last night in the Associated Press I simply knew I could not resist. Normally each morning, I spend an inordinate amount of time going through the various news agencies looking for a story (and a picture) that speaks to me. As you have seen over the past few days, there has been a wealth of new stories from which to choose, ranging from the Todd Chism story which may yet have to unfold, the incredibly macabre story of Fritzl in Austria and the Hanna Montana story.

However, this morning, after some reflection, I decided to allow a picture to speak for itself, as the caricature of Hillary Clinton as a plastic gasbag filled with warm air simply overwhelmed me. Of course, if you are a big fan of Hillary Clinton, perhaps today’s picture and my commentary might not appeal to your tastes. I truly tried seriously to find a similar picture of Barak Obama, but thus far no one has stepped up to the forefront with anything closely resembling this excellent picture.

So, there is your Wild Card for the morning. Granted, it doesn’t have a surplus of content, but even this morning, it almost made me spill a cup of our fine espresso on the counter. So, pour yourself a cup of this morning’s excellent blend, Whoppaloopa Satire Blend. One cup of our Virtual Espresso and you end up hopelessly convulsed in laughter on the floor.


Presumed innocent?

Good evening, Netizens…

I’m going to tiptoe into perhaps what might be considered dangerous territory this evening.

I have been closely following the case involving Todd Chism, a Spokane EMT who once stood accused of purchasing and possessing child pornography. On January 29th, 2008, the Washington State Patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force obtained a search warrant and searched Chism’s Nine Mile Falls home. At that time, he was arrested, and held overnight in the Spokane County Jail.

Today the Stevens County Prosecutor announced that absolutely no child pornography was found on either Chism’s work or home computers, and that no criminal charges would be filed against him.

So where does that leave this story now?

Monday Rush Hour. Monday April 28, 2008

Good afternoon Netizens…

It’s a quiet Monday afternoon, for a change; nothing broken causing me to work, and thus I have been reading in the ballroom for most of the afternoon. Thanks to my friend Michael who supplies Community Comment with its virtual beans that defy, I have been enjoying a cup of our stellar espresso of the day, Bach ala Rock. It is said that two cups of Bach ala Rock and you immediately begin to hear the Brandenburg Concerto in your head, but your results may differ. One aficionado of early Rock and Roll insists that he distinctly hears the music of Cream after only one cup, but that is perhaps part of the magic of drinking virtual espresso. Each to his or her own.

Contrary to what various talking heads of television have said, we have had no rain this afternoon, and the only thunderstorms on the NEXRAD weather radar have been hanging around Lake Chelan and Nespelem, but not in Spokane. Perhaps the sunshine and semi-balmy temperatures outside are caused by our overwhelmingly position attitudes here inside Community Comment.

We have had a robust and thoroughly engaging conversation about the Hanna Montana blow-out, but more about what we are teaching our children. Several new people have weighed in on the conversation and some really thought-provoking ideas have surfaced as a result.

Something I am working on for later this week is the next permutation of “Our Police Our Selves” when I discuss things not to do when you are pulled over. You might be surprised at how stupid people can be when they are pulled over for a routine traffic stop. Although I know a few things you shouldn’t do, perhaps our police will set the record straight, perhaps show us how they react and why when they make a traffic stop in Spokane.

That nefarious troublemaker, Abby Hoffman, once convinced a crowd of people that they could, with the proper attitude, levitate the Pentagon. Of course, some of the people involved got 30 days for their trouble, which proves the admonition, so always levitate wisely.


The Overt Sexualization of our Generation…

Good morning, Netizens…

Last week Casey King wrote:

Be the sexuality in question homo or hetero or xeno in nature, it is my considered opinion that we are sexualizing our children far to early and that we are damaging them in doing so.

In a day and time when I am increasingly growing desperate to find TV fare that is fit and decent enough for my granddaughter to watch, until now I thought Miley Cryus, AKA Hanna Montana just about fit the bill. While I admit a certain amount of reservation about the mass merchandising of Hanna Montana, the clothing, accessories and of course, her music, it was all being done in the name of wholesomeness and until recently remained adamantly G-rated. To my granddaughter, Hanna Montana is the epitome of what her role model should be. You haven’t heard my lovely little bird warble until Hanna Montana’s show hits the airwaves.

Next month, 15 year-old Miley Cyrus will appear on the front cover of Vanity Fair Magazine in a near-buck-naked photo taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. Oops.

4.7 Earthquake Damages Reno, Nevada

Good evening, Netizens…

I am just now hearing of a 4.7 earthquake that hit Reno, Nevada last night at 11:40 PM, damaging houses near the epicenter, tossing things off store shelves, and severely damaging a wastewater flume. What makes this quake so interesting to seismologists is that more than 100 aftershocks were recorded on the west side of the city after the quake, which was the strongest quake to hit around Reno since a 5.1 quake in 1953.

Seismologists said the recent activity is unusual because the quakes started out small and continue to build in strength. The normal pattern is for a main quake followed by smaller aftershocks.

According to the story carried by Associated Press, John Anderson, director of the seismology lab in Reno is quoted as saying, “A magnitude 6 quake wouldn’t be a scientific surprise,” and urging residents will take the threat seriously.

Judging by the early pictures of some of the damage, a 6.0 earthquake, if it materializes, could easily devastate a considerable number of the homes in Reno, most of which are not built to withstand major earthquakes.


Red Hats and Purple Dresses…

Good morning, Netizens…
Who are the women all dressed in purple and wearing those outrageous red hats? Why, it is the fifth annual Red Hat Society luncheon held in Whitesboro, N.Y. yesterday. (Picture courtesy of AP) In the above picture, Marcia Osvoldik laughs with fellow Red Hat Lady Bugs Friday at the fifth annual Red Hat Society Day luncheon at Hart’s Hill Inn in Whitesboro, N.Y.

The Day of Silence observation…

Good morning, Netizens…

Most teenagers I have witnessed are a bunch of chatterboxes, constantly talking about their hectic social lives, the latest trends or the unfortunate minority discussing continuing education once they survive High School. Teens these days typically have lots to say, although sometimes it is difficult getting them to talk with parents and educators.

Except today.

It’s as controversial as anything else teen-agers do these days, and undoubtedly will raise havoc with some school district rules and regulations, but Gay/Lebian students may be honoring today as a Day of Silence, an event meant to highlight the silence gay students say they often must maintain at school. There is even an article in today’s Seattle Times featuring a student who was part of the original protest held in 2006 which gives you the basic background of the observation itself:

According to the promoters of this event, over 200 schools will be observing the Day of Silence, despite high-visibility protests against the gay and lesbian lifestyle in various places throughout the state.

In the Seattle Times interview, several churches have indicated they will protest outside the schools involved in the Day of Silence, although it remains to be seen whether the protesters will be silent for long. On the other hand, some parents and community members who support the Day of Silence say they’ll gather before school and stand quietly as students arrive, although I would wager they probably will need earplugs to avoid hearing the protesters.

I would also hazard the guess that the gay/lesbian students’ actions by remaining mute probably qualifies as an activist form of courage or bravery, for it has always been my finding it is always much easier to remain in the status quo than it is to buck the tide.

Of course, your thoughts may differ.


My Mother, Myself, Is it Her in the Mirror?

Two years ago my mother passed away after being ill for just two weeks. As I come up to the anniversary of her death, my thoughts of her are still fragmented. I don’t think this is an average every day thought – I don’t think other women struggle with who their mother was in their life. Maybe they do – but they handle it much more maturely than I do. Yes? I have women friends who are very close with their mothers – even best friends. The relationship of mothers and daughters seems complex to me; convoluted. Is it she who I see in the mirror? I desperately hope not.

Reverend Dr. Wright to right a wrong?

Good morning, Netizens…

The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., senior pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, will discuss the role of faith in the public square in a presentation entitled, The African American Religious Experience; Theology & Practice, at a National Press Club breakfast on April 28th.

Dr. Wright will also talk about his pastorate, his development as a theologian and teacher, and the how the issues of social justice and global inequities have shaped his faith and his fight for those who are most marginalized in society. He will address the legacy and tradition of education in his family. And Dr. Wright will put into perspective theologically, historically and politically, his ministry and public service that has been so widely discussed in the media.

Dr. Wright will retire from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in June, where he served the 8,000-member congregation for 36 years. While at Trinity he developed nearly 100 active ministries/outreach programs and seven separate corporations that continue to serve the greater Chicago community. He is a sought after lecturer and teacher and speaks at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities and seminaries.

I was originally hoping that KPBX or one of its affiliates was going to carry the National Press Club live, but I was informed by Vern Windham just a few minutes ago they will not. It is too bad, because I gather from reading several variations on their press release that Reverend Wright may be angling to get some personal payback for all the nasty things said about him in the news media.

Perhaps the Reverend Dr. Wright will explain his video seen on the Internet while he is at it.

I asked it before, and I’ll ask it again: who is Reverend Dr. Wright? A demagogue or a holy man on a mission?


True Friendship

Friendship is such a powerful thing. Do you ever think about it? Do you think about who your best friend is? Do you have one main special friend or several?

Earth Day April 22, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

Today is Earth Day. That statement by itself in society’s highly polarized area of social commentary may either bring out the folks from Greenpeace or merit, at most, a polite yawn from others, but either way, most folks will have an opinion about Earth Day, whether they admit it or not.

Why? Because mankind has a rather terrifying habit of taking the Planet Earth for granted. If you are truly ambivalent about Earth Day, one presumes that despite all the hue and cry about Global Warming, nothing much has changed. It’s still our home.

It seems that for every pro-environment scientist who has an opinion about Earth Day, there are scientists who refute everything the pro-environment scientists say. So who do you believe?

Whether or not you believe in the depletion of the ozone layer, that our atmosphere is increasingly laden with toxic pollutants or that our water is itself becoming toxic, you do have to admit that Earth, our home is a work of marvelous beauty and indescribable complexity.

Thus, if for no other reason, it stands to reason that one day each year, we should stand in awe of this place we live, and commit ourselves to protecting it from harm now and forever.

Of course, your thoughts may differ.

Welcome to the Wild Card for Earth Day.


Our Police Our Selves -2

Good morning, everyone…

I am going to open this version of “Our Police Our Selves” by citing a excerpt from a book:

On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs
(From the book, On Combat, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman)

“Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself.
The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?”

- William J. Bennett
In a lecture to the United States Naval Academy
November 24, 1997

As opposed to my initial entry into “Our Police Our Selves” where I asked a question or two out of my own mind, in this instance I am simply going to borrow heavily from Bennett’s questions above, as they open the doorway ever-so-slightly for the topic of social disapproval of police officers in modern society.

Have any officers reading this ever been met with scorn, derision or social disapproval in Spokane simply because they are are police?

While I already think I know the answer, and I do not believe for a moment our discussion will change anyone’s minds, I do believe that some good can come about by stating how it feels to be simultaneously a social pariah and person(s) of honor and defenders of the lambs of society.

Of course, the rules that were originated for the message thread “Our Police Our Selves” still apply to everyone in this exchange, as well. As always, thank you for all that you do…


April 21, 2008

Good morning, everyone…

For most of my life I have always had a dog of one kind or another. For many years, I favored Shar Pei (AKA wrinkle) dogs, and then I discovered the marvelous character of Akitas and until I moved to the city, I was never far from my dog. He slept at the foot of the bed, but beyond a question of a doubt his favorite way of pleasing me was catching, eviscerating porcupines and bringing them proudly home.

Over the years he had somehow learned to dispatch porcupines without getting a single quill in his face, and thus he became the things legends are made of.

However, living in the city is no place for an Akita that loves such things. I had resigned myself to living a dog-free existence until CJ came along, for despite his appearance, CJ THINKS he is a dog.

He sleeps with me, watches the evening news with me and goes everywhere I go, faithfully at the heel position.

In the above picture, he has even donned his little cap preparatory for a hectic day at the office, where he spends countless hours sleeping in the chair.

Here is your wild card for the day, hoping of course that your day will not be hectic and that you find happiness abundant.


What do we do with Duncan?

Good morning, Netizens…

Joseph Edward Duncan III has already pleaded guilty to various violent crimes, including kidnapping Dylan and Shasta Groene, molesting them both and killing Dylan in a remote Montana campground. He has left a vile trail of innocent victims behind him, and now has to stand before a judge for his filthy crimes.

One has to wonder why at this point in time he wants to serve as his own attorney.

Is it because it is part of a macabre death wish, thinking that because of his choice he will speed the process of ending up on death row?

Contrary to what it might appear, he is not a stupid person, in the slightest. He has proven, over and over again, that he is cagey and extremely intelligent when it comes to eluding law enforcement. He has used technology successfully for his own warped and twisted desires.

He is an animal, a loathesome charicature of a man who committed unspeakable crimes against society’s most-innocent victims.

There are several choices: either as many would suggest, he deserves to die. Short and sweet. Eliminate his genes from the gene pool. Sayanora, adios, good riddance.

Or, as some others have written, perhaps he needs to be incarcerated for life and studied, like an insect stuck on a board, until we better understand what makes such vile creatures tick.

If it were left up to you, what would you do with Duncan? Could we possibly learn anything from this freak of society?


What is journalism revisited…

Good morning, everyone…

I’m putting on my thinking cap this morning.

Gary Graham asks in his News Diary Blog, “What is Journalism”? I have found, over the years, that in any discussion of journalism, you are likely to receive nearly as many answers as you have journalists, but this morning as I attempt to answer this question, first, so that I adhere to the unwritten rules of journalism itself, using the auspices of the Internet, I will attempt to clinically define it.

It is defined by Webster’s Online as:
1.The collecting, writing, editing, and presenting of news or news articles in newspapers and magazines and in radio and television broadcasts.
2.Material written for publication in a newspaper or magazine or for broadcast.
3.The style of writing characteristic of material in newspapers and magazines, consisting of direct presentation of facts or occurrences with little attempt at analysis or interpretation.
4.Newspapers and magazines.
5.An academic course training students in journalism.
6.Written material of current interest or wide popular appeal.
Now that is a pretty broad brush, wouldn’t you say? It covers just about everything from newspaper journalism all the way to science fiction and even TV and radio broadcasting. One could almost say that journalism can be best described as any attempt of a writer to communicate with others using the printed word. According to the Poynter Institute for media studies, it should be considered as an art form, and goes on to state “In the most fundamental sense, journalism involves reporting on ideas and events as they occur — the gathering and presentation of information on subjects that may vary each day from dogs that bite children to developments in ideas about the universe.

So, we have here a fairly diverse view of how some critical thinkers of our time consider journalism to be, or viewed another way, how it should function. Pretty much all the sources I cited above agree on one item: it is a written/spoken assessment of the “here and now”, but which can be presented in a comparative sense to the view of history. People who write fiction novels are not necessarily journalists; they are writers, which is pointed out again by the Poynter Institute in a number of places much the same as People who write poetry are poets. Journalists write about news, well, sort of.

There are also two abstract views which do not necessarily agree with one another. One suggests that journalists are borne into this world, and yet another states that journalists are created by instructors and experiences. Since I began writing at the age of ten years, many instructors and college professors assumed that perhaps I was one of the former; as history would prove out, since my style of writing was so radically affected by various professors and several Editors, by default I became one of the latter.

Still there…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Thanks to ya’ll we’re still hovering there, at #9 in the Top Ten Blogs at the Spokesman-Review based on page hits. Ya’ll keep talking while I take a quick powder here and go buy some pills. Be back soon.


Where do YOU draw the line?

Good morning, Netizens…

Okay, this question has been asked before, and I’m certain it will be asked again, but how do you define the right to privacy?

Case in point:

WASHINGTON - The government plans to begin collecting DNA samples from anyone arrested by a federal law enforcement agency — a move intended to prevent violent crime but which also is raising concerns about the privacy of innocent people.

Mind you, the people being arrested by federal authorities are not necessarily guilty of a crime, but have merely been arrested, pending a hearing and/or court trial.

What is your take on this issue of right to privacy?


Wild Card for Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

Come in, come in, have a seat at the Community Comment virtual coffee shop. This morning in our virtual menu we have homemade flapjacks, homemade sausages, eggs from ecstatically-happy hens, pan-fried potatoes and sweet muffins for all. Oh, yes, and even the robin exploiting the lawn outside Community Comment’s front door gets a little bit to eat, as well.

Did I mention our espresso bar is open? This morning’s special blend is la Boombaboomba, an eccentric but titillating blend of espresso beans from far-off places guaranteed to put new polish on your chrome headdress.

So, everyone gets fed from the virtual diner or as Jeanie, our Queen of the Airwaves stated it so eloquently, “we need to wipe our feet, wash our hands and play nice”.

And thus there is your morning wild card.

What’s in your Bluebonnet this morning?

Good morning, Netizens…

Everybody has to have something that is nagging them, right? Well, this is the place to wheel it out and keep the rest of us informed.


Our Police Our Selves

Good evening, Everyone…

At last, we begin the hotly-contested thread called Our Police Our Selves, for which an explicit set of guidelines and rules have been written in advance. The purpose of this thread is to promote and encourage discourse and conversations between members of the Spokane Police Department and the general public, but with the understanding made perfectly clear regarding what is and is not acceptable behavior.

If you haven’t done so, please read the rules, which are also prominently posted in this blog, as they are applicable to one and all.

The Mayor, Police Chief and the Police Guild recently announced having reached tentative agreement on the creation of the Office of the Police Ombudsman. Among many functions of the OPO would be:

Take complaints directly from citizens.
Determine whether investigations of officers are thorough, complete, and fair, and call for additional investigation when warranted.
Recommend mediation between police and a citizen when the ombudsman deems that is the best way to resolve a complaint.
Therefore, one of my first questions relating to the Spokane Police officers is how do you view this development? Do you feel comfortable with the OPO? Are you allowed to talk about your feelings in public?

Respectfully submitted…


Come sit by the River and Pray…

Good morning, Netizens…

We’ve had a terribly interesting week this week in Community Comment, what is this, our third week and we’re still in the top ten SR blogs, as of yesterday? We’ve covered a lot of interesting and difficult topics and we’re still here, writing our thoughts to one another amicably enough, and relatively free of dissension and contention while the whole world gazes our way.

This picture of the Spokane River is one of my favorites. Note the park bench sitting on the banks facing the river. I have often thought about this place, as I would love to spend a quiet afternoon sitting on that bench in quiet introspection.

Since this is a virtual world into which I call each of you, let us gather by the banks of the river this morning and pray, reflect or simply contemplate whatever it is about this week past that we can improve next week, and be strengthened and enjoy one another’s company.

By all means, contribute your thoughts about the beauty of this scene, if not the day itself.


test picture

Pardon the intrusion…

Another Day in Paradise…

Here, there and nearly anywhere departments…

Here, from the wires of various presses, are the stories that are making news at mi casa this morning, that wonderfully terribly-well managed news we all love and worship so dearly done with just a dusting of irreverence:

Katie Couric may be leaving CBS News sometime soon. According to various rumors this morning, her ratings are sagging nearly as badly as my aging fat body, just in different ways is all. There is even talk of her taking over for Larry King on CNN, and vice-versa and do sound-overs. Say, couldn’t we just switch their heads and see if anyone noticed a difference?

Haven’t you noticed how quickly the news media dropped the implied name “Mormon” entirely from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Texas? Did you know the Mormon Church was once 100% based in polygamy? You can get into very deep turbulent water indeed if you study religious history. All sorts of things that are now considered illegal or sinful just seem to jump right out at you.

Pope Benedict is coming to the United States soon, his first U.S. visit since assuming control of Rome. Until someone in the State Department grabbed hold of him, President Bush was purportedly planning a whirlwind tour of Disney World to celebrate the Pope’s arrival. The rumors have it that the State Department changed the itinerary to include a trip to Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch, instead. Is it true if you have been to Disney World, you have seen the ranch at Crawford, the differences being the cattle and the polygamists down the road?

Well, there’s my updated version of the news. What is news in your neck of the woods this morning?


Ombudsman Agreement in the Works

Please see A Matter of Opinion. I won’t steal Rebecca Nappi’s thunder on this one.

Late evening reverie…

The New Pioneers: A reverie of sorts…
Wall Street Diner (North Spokane)

Tonight I was to meet with my beloved and my two lovely granddaughters for dinner, and while awaiting their arrival, I reminisced about a book I read many years ago written about the women pioneers who came west with the wagon trains. These were not your ordinary pioneers, but rather were a group of young women coming west to teach in various frontier schoolhouses. Some were single, others married and some even about to bear their first children on the trail west, but onward they came.

The hardships of being on the trail in a wagon train were the things legends were made of. Nearly a fourth of the women who began the trip in Kansas City never made it to their destinations which ranged from California north to what is now Oregon. Infant mortality rates that summer were nearly 30%, including the babies that were borne while on the trail. There were, as I recall, a number of serious skirmishes with indigenous bands of Indians along the trail; men and women were severely wounded and/or killed. Halfway through the worst of the trail, the rumor took hold that everyone on the wagon train were going to perish before they reached their goal. Many pioneers were in favor of turning back to Kansas City, yet somehow they persevered onward into the scorching sun of late summer afternoons.

Then still in my reverie-state, I remembered the comments about the End of Times made earlier today, that the world may end in four years, if the beliefs surrounding the Mayan Calendar are to be given any credence. I had already begun falling deep into my most-somber thoughts about the End of Times when my spirit wandering through the darkened plain found a new light.

Four young women, two of whom were pregnant, one of whom had an infant whom she breast-fed beneath a blanket while reading the menu, were seated across from me, and their conversations were enlightening enough that I swam back across the Stygian depths of the End of Times and began to listen most closely to what they had to say. These were indeed hard economic times they all agreed, and furthermore each of them were expressing how difficult it is to bring a new life into a world already fraught with challenges. One cried briefly upon explaining that her husband had just received a severe cutback in his hours at work, and she was worried about paying their bills. The expectant mother explained how, due to the costs of having her baby, she and her husband were turning off their cable television to save money.

In modern-day standards, each young woman had had to make frugal decisions in order to keep their families economically stable for the future, and yet all voiced their optimism that prayer and hard work would see them all through. Two of the group related how they had gotten back in contact with their parents and grandparents seeking advice on how best to deal with the hardships they were facing.

I was not surprised in the last when their meals arrived, without pretext or outward sign, they all bowed their heads and gave a silent blessing for the meal, every bit as much as the early American pioneer women had done around the campfires across the plains, and then they all said Amen softly. No one in the restaurant noticed; I was the only person in the restaurant who bowed my head during the prayer.

What did surprise me is that in a brief interview as I was about to leave, is that each of them women attend a different church, but had banded together as a Christian study group of four independent persons to help one another with the challenges they each perceive. Their commonality is their Faith, and from that they derive courage to march ever onward, much like the pioneer women of old.


What do you do with soap slivers?

Good afternoon, Netizens…

As completely tempted as I am to attempt to come up with J. Grey’s question about UFO’s, I have had this threadlet partially completed for the better part of two days now, and I simply must finish it. It will become a new “feature” of Community Comment, and the title will be “What do you do with…”.

In this instance, every time you jump into the shower or sit in the tub, you are steadily wearing away that bar of soap. Has anyone ever calculated how many showers it takes before you finally wear that once-robust bar of soap away to where it is a sliver of its former self? While I think that is a pretty fair question, the truly great question, which demands a universal answer is, when the bar of soap is finally down to a sliver, what do you do with it?

Here, from the fertile imagination of the omnipotent source of the universal gesundheit of the unknown, are some answers to this question that has defied any rational being for an answer:

Place sliver in the blender and turn on high. Let blender run until sliver of soap is completely chewed into powder. Turn off the blender and pour soup into small unbreakable dish and put said dish in the shower. Throw away the blender as anything from that time forward will always taste like soap. Use powdered soap on those especially “icky” places. You know what I mean.

Stack the soap slivers up in a neat orderly pile in some corner of your shower/bath until they reach the approximate height as a newly-opened bar of soap. Using a small tube of glue, fasten the slivers together to form one unified bar of soap made of slivers. If you mash the slivers down very carefully as you glue them together, you may not even notice the difference between that and a new bar of soap, except for the slivers of glue which tend to accumulate in your drain, that is. (See notes below about plugged drains.) A good alternative to this process can be found on the Internet thus:
This is, of course, more proof that you can find anything on the Internet.

Stick the sliver of leftover soap to the new bar of soap. As simple as this might sound, it has some limitations, especially in a household of different soaps. For example, adhering a gold sliver and a white sliver might be color-coordinated, but then you have to experiment a little. Remember, there are two sides to your normal bar of soap so there is always clever color combinations you can use.

Given the high cost of pet food these days, chop up fish or chicken, carefully blending in the slivers of soap and see if the cats will eat it. Our cats will eat nearly anything, and in a moment of cat food deprivation, I tried this once, and only once. Both cats used language very much unbecoming felines of the species for a few days thereafter to describe my ancestry. Oh, and if you try this at home, be sure you have an ample supply of kitty litter.
Throw them down the drain, making certain you call your local plumbing repairman well in advance.

What do YOU do with your soap slivers? Do you have any truly innovative tricks you use?


Spring weather indeed!

Good afternoon, everyone…

Lightning, small hail? My goodness gracious, there was a hailstorm about 20 minutes ago that covered parts of North Division with pea-sized hail. Lightning strikes both South Hill and near North Side. Could it be that Spring is arriving?

It’s starting to look that way to me.

The call of diversity—many are called…

Good morning, Netizens…

In my reverie this morning, and somewhat subsequent to an opportunity yesterday to have coffee with John Olsen, I found myself remembering diversity, such as I knew it to be back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and began pondering all the changes that forty-some years of living have brought. I originally wanted this to reply to everyone’s comments on diversity, but since it ran a bit long, I decided to put it in a thread of its own.

One has to remember that, prior to my experiences in the Bay Area including Berkeley, my only encounters with persons of color were occasional trips down South as a truck driver, largely because I didn’t know my way around and stumbled into several Negro-only businesses in the Deep South. For the most part, people in these racially-partitioned establishments were polite, but terribly curious about what a truck driver wearing Stetson boots and wearing a cowboy hat was doing in their establishments. Some others, a small but vocal minority in most cases, were a little-less receptive, and simply wanted me to return to the “white” side of town and leave them the hell alone. Some old hatreds, mistrusts and resentments die hard, I learned.

Then I stumbled onto, or rather fell into Berkeley, California. Getting acclimated to campus life in Berkeley in the early 70’s took more than simply paying your fees, buying your books and setting up housekeeping. There were people of every imaginable hue and color, each with their own particular of culture and lifestyle. I never forgot the first time I went grocery shopping and stumbled into a grocery store on the corner of Ashby and Telegraph, well outside the boundaries of Berkeley proper, and discovered to my amusement that, despite what I had seen in the South, people of all races, creeds and colors were seemingly getting along fashionably well and buying groceries, all without one hint of discord. Somehow, despite the ethnic differences, people still knew how to buy food for their families and managed to be amiable about it.

However, as I discovered later on, there was an indelible color line about twenty or thirty blocks east, in what was called the Oakland-Berkeley line. Yes, the color of the amount of green necessary to rent a livable apartment dropped to where I could afford to live independently. I remember my first neighbors, as I think they probably remember me. I had the only Peterbilt truck in the parking lot, I had arrived sans any furniture at all, and spoke both English and passable Tex-Mex. To them, I was probably just as odd as odd could be. I had a duffel bag, a box of books and within a few days, a desk and a chair.

For neighbors I had a bachelor next door from the Malagasy Republic who wove incredibly intricate things out of bamboo but who never spoke much, a pair of young twittering gay lovebirds upstairs left, who kept to themselves excepting on Saturday mornings when they shook the pictures right off the walls banging away at each other in their love nest, and, upstairs right, an entire family from fresh off the boats from Cambodia. They taught me my first lessons on diversity in my new home.

When they first moved in, I was astonished to discover their oldest son sleeping in the hall, armed with what appeared to be a sword across his knee, who threatened me and told me do not come any closer. Since they only spoke a smattering of English, it took awhile to learn the reason: he was there to protect his mother and two sisters. His father had died trying to protect his family from the Khmer Rouge thugs in Cambodia, and he was still dancing with the fear that lived on in his young mind that these unimaginable beasts might come again in the night. Eventually, the son found a bed of his own, and put his father’s sword away forever. His mother, who already had a college education by some miraculous means, ended up in one of the thousands of study programs at U.C. Berkeley on Far Eastern Studies.

The neighborhood grocer down the street from my apartment was decidedly transitional Korean, and a grandmotherly type who lived next door to my apartment house spoke English with a heavy German accent. She kept an ornate garden of incredible beauty, and often stop puttering among her roses to talk. I could not help but notice a blue number tattooed on her arm, but I never was able to convince her to talk of that. Some things, she said, were best left forgotten. I never knew much about her but when she passed on several years later, I made it my business to attend her wake, for she always gave me pale roses just before I would leave in the spring, and I believe she understood about dealing with old demons better than I.

Down the street, there was a simply divine barbecue rib/chicken/fish restaurant, owned by a black minister and his wife, who handed out Bible tracts along with their food. It was their intention, in their own words, to not only feed me, but feed my soul, and I never walked away from there hungry again.

Before, where I only occasionally had seen persons of color, suddenly I was immersed in an entire kaleidescope of human diverse cultures, and largely due to the training of my grandmother, I embraced them all. In those days I seldom spoke to anyone about my family, or why I disappeared during the summer months and most major holidays in that big red truck. Eventually, most of them understood that, and yes, eventually my own personal brand of healing began.

After that first year of diversity, I began a trait that has lasted through the test of time, that is I seek out diversity rather than ignoring it. If you open your arms to it, give it a welcome in your heart, it will make your life richer for having known it.

Of course, your results may differ.


Caregiving the Caregiver; or Not

This is a double-edged post. First question: Are you a caregiver? If so, what do you do to take care for yourself?

Second question: Did you or are you putting your aged parent(s) into a nursing home or will you care for your loved one yourself?

I help my Significant Other care for his mother. He doesn’t work. I’ll call him Lovie to protect the innocence or guilt of any party to my story. He moved from my house to his mother’s, once she was released from a nursing home. Here’s the history: Lovie’s Mum had a very serious stroke May 16, 2005, one week after Mother’s Day. Life has not been the same since. She was in a hospital for three weeks and only because she had an emergency surgery for peritonitis. They wanted her out in two weeks – so I frantically traveled around Spokane checking out one nursing home after another and nearly all of them dismal and grim at best. I found one in the general area of where her house is so friends would find it easy to visit her. Medicare will be for 100 days nursing home care after a hospital stay of overnight (maybe two nights – I can’t remember). However, 100 days to the second, Lovie’s Mum was out of there and we took her home to her house. It was a surreal nightmare for me. I knew we were stepping into it big time. We were met by a nurse who showed us how to thread the feeding tube pump. She showed us how to change the colostomy bag, how to cut just the right hole to place the colostomy seal over the stoma just right, like a donut. She showed us how to handle any breathing treatments. We had already learned how to change diapers and handle the breathing tube; how to exercise her atrophying left arm and left leg. While we were in this educational mode, I had a steady white noise blaring in my head caused by the unending, overwhelming, detail of it all.

We chose home for Lovie’s Mum because that is what she wanted. However, I have talked to lots of adult children who replied, “of course that’s what she wanted! That’s what they ALL say!” It is around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week care. There is no such thing as a “good night’s sleep.”

I happen to be solo care giving this weekend so Lovie can “get out of Dodge” and go to a swap meet/car show in Portland. So far, no problems and it’s kind of nice not to have to go to work AND come home and work.

So – back to my two questions:

First question: Are you a caregiver? If so, what do you do to take care for yourself?

Second question: Did you or are you putting your aged parent(s) into a nursing home or will you care for your loved one yourself?

The Scientology Revolution…

The Art of Scientology…
One man’s view…

Back in the 60’s I encountered my first taste of Scientology in their headquarters, Los Angeles, California. I had come down to La Jolla Institute to study at a summer seminar on meteorology and the ocean and on a weekend escape, I chanced upon a group of Scientology advocates who were playing on the beach. Being a former theology student, I had more than a passing familiarity with Ron Hubbard’s various quasi-religious and philosophical works as set forth in his original book “Dianetics” which was, for a time, required reading at most theological schools throughout the United States. During the course of that summer, I increasingly became as involved as one could be at that time without becoming one of their members, as I was and still am intellectually curious how cults come into being, and of some of their various histories evolved.

I rapidly found out that if I asked “hard” questions, such as the relationships between their corporations, various churches and other companies they deployed at that time, I was discouraged politely but firmly from ever asking those kinds of questions again. If I persisted, and I did upon several occasions, I was ignored entirely. Several highly-veiled threats were made of what would happen if I persisted in asking questions, most of which I ignored.

You have to remember that was over forty years ago, and today, according to various sources, the size of the Scientology base has trebled or even quadrupled, largely depending upon whom you believe. Perhaps a good source of current information about Scientology would be that you read the website on Scientology, which is located at:

The “net wars” between Anonymous and various other Internet groups and the Church of Scientology are nearly legend now. For reference sake please refer again to the Wikipedia page to learn what little is known about this shadowy but highly-active group that seem intent upon removing Scientology from the Internet entirely.

If you perform the requisite research, and I’ll concede it can be a time-consuming process indeed, perhaps you will understand why I state categorically in my opinion that Scientology is not only a dangerous cult with far-reaching implications, but has powerful lawyers that have repeatedly attempted to shut down any persons or organizations that criticize or question any part of their religious activities, operations or history.

Moreover, they are among only a few world religions that are specifically banned in many foreign countries. One of the more glaring examples of the tremendous power this cult exerts involves The Cult Awareness Network which listed the Church of Scientology at the top of their cult list, until they went into bankruptcy from suits initiated by Scientology (1996). Ultimately, they were bought in Bankruptcy Court by the Church of Scientology (1997), which now operates the new Cult Awareness Network as a promotional arm of the church. (Wikipedia).

Have you ever been involved with Scientology? How aware are you about it? Who is telling the truth: the Scientologists or Anonymous?


The Art of Human Caring…

Good morning, Netizens…

[Originally attributed to Megan K. Scott of the Associated Press]
Maybe men had it right all along: It doesn’t take long to satisfy a woman in bed. A survey of sex therapists concluded the optimal amount of time for sexual intercourse was 3 to 13 minutes. The findings, to be published in the May issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, strike at the notion that endurance is the key to a great sex life. (Sex therapists: A few minutes is best, Associated Press)

I absolutely LOVE these surveys, where clinical psychologists, sex therapists and other clinicians expend gobs of hours and resources studying our sexual habits. I remember how, in my generation, there was a time when sex was still considered to be a taboo subject, when polite society did not openly discuss such things in public. I remember the consternation and pandemonium the Masters and Johnson’s study on human sexuality made when it first went into print. According to some, this was the proof that the Last Days had truly arrived.

I think these clinicians, and so many others, may have missed the boat entirely.

Nothing in my life prepared me for human sexuality in my 50’s. Nothing in any book I have ever read told me how, in the parlance of the male gender, “it still works”, because obviously it does. It is just not as often, that’s all. Please stop laughing.

When my wife was 50 years old, incredible as it might seem, she conceived a child, and for nine long, hot summer months, she carried a baby girl nearly to full-term. We were both exhilarated beyond words, and both of us absolutely ecstatic. In my mind’s eye I still can clearly see the day she came stumbling up the sidewalk in front of the house, tears streaming from her eyes for she had miscarried at 9 months 3 days. For several days, the ashes of our daughter, Camilla Laird, sat on the bookcase, and a week or so later, we put her ashes to rest in the silent waters of the Clearwater River near Kamiah, Idaho during a Bluegrass Festival. I cannot write this without tearing up, so intense are the memories of those days that followed. Later on that day, Rhonda Vincent sang an Alison Krause song that somehow gave us closure:

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol’ way
And who shall wear the starry crown?
Good Lord show me the way!

We sat there, amid hundreds and hundreds of strangers holding hands and bawling like a pair of motherless calves.

Our marriage, were it not based upon compassion, would have never survived the test of the loss of our daughter. We learned more about compassion and supportive tenderness from that terribly sad experience than either of us have ever known in our complex experiences in life. I have never heard of nor read any book that prepares people for tragic losses in their lives, although there is no lack of books about sex. Someone needs to write an instruction manual for tenderness.
It’s a beautiful (but crisp) day breaking outside. What is the worst loss you ever suffered personally, and how did it impact your lives later on?


Introducing a Co-Host

Dave Laird has graciously asked me to help him with Community Comment. I am thrilled to be so honored.

I am a sort of shy, introspective, middle-aged woman (I follow the latest theory that 58 is the new 40); single Mom with two gorgeous sons who are little hunks and the light of my life. I am simple and quiet but have occasionally had a brilliant thought that I hope I can carry on here. So - let’s start: How about this latest headline. We have heard from so many politicians confessing their sins - how about the spouses:

Senator’s husband admits paying for sex
By Korie Wilkins and Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press

The husband of U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told police he paid a prostitute $150 for oral sex at a hotel, according to a police report.

Speaking for the first time about her husband’s acknowledgment that he paid for sex with an alleged prostitute, Stabenow told the Detroit Free Press this afternoon she’s going through a “very difficult and personal” time and will continue to work through it with her family.

Question: In politics, are the sins of the non-politician spouse passed on to the politician?

Conspiracy Theory Corner…

Good morning, Netizens…

Do little green men really exist?

Is this country secretly run by a shadow-world organization that meets in the fourth floor restroom of the Pentagon Building?

Is it true that Hugh Hefner is actually the Anti-Christ?

Oh, the list could go on and on, with no end in sight. So do you know of or have a pet conspiracy theory that needs to be vented where everyone can see? Remember, leave the Cowles family and/or River Park Square out of your theories. We’ve already heard those theories, and there are lots better places to discuss them.


The Sky is falling! The Sky is falling! Is it?

Good morning, Netizens…

The newspapers across the nation are cutting back personnel and expenses as never before seen in history. Carla Savalli of the Spokesman-Review predicted this trend before it was front-page headlines, and now the chickens have come home to roost with many prestigious newspapers in steady decline.

The national economy is, according to the majority of financial analysts, in steady overall decline. According to several British tabloids, 28 million people in the US now rely on food stamps to feed their families. The price of bread and milk, staples of the American diet, have steadily been creeping upwards.

The mortgage crisis continues unabated, with no sign that subprime mortgage loans are improving. As more Americans are losing their homes in foreclosure, the Fed has been attempting to inject money into the pockets of big-ticket banks and lending institutions.

The Middle East war continues unabated, and the incredible mind-boggling debts that are steadily mounting up, the number of dead American soldiers and the general unrest which continues are doing nothing to placate Americans fears.

Do you feel secure? Do you believe the dire economic predictions that are floating like so many dead cadavers in the waters of our lives? Is Spokane truly exempt from all the dire circumstances taking place back East? Inquiring minds want to know.


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