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Community Comment

Archive for February 2010

Winter Olympics?

Good morning, Netizens…

David Horsey portrays the winter olympics in a different light.

Here is something to consider: how many of the ski events were canceled or delayed during the winter olympics because it RAINED?

Is it true that all the snow that should have packed the slopes near Whistler in BC ended up rerouted to New York City?

I get it! Next year they are going to cross-train Olympic competitors in the ski slalom on both water and snow. That should solve the problem, don’t you think?

Dave

Weekly news summary…

Good afternoon, Netizens…


This is about as close to one of Dave Oliveria’s infamously unpredictable Wild Cards as I will get, simply because so there is so much national news to be covered and so little time. If you can think of news I may have overlooked, by all means jump in. The water is fine.


Pity the fools Department: The East Coast is whining and muttering constantly today because they had a blizzard, including at least two feet of snow accompanied by 50 mile-per-hour winds. Half a million people are without power as the day begins to wind down, which is quite a mess, even compared to Spokane’s snow non-emergency last winter. La Guardia Airport is all but shut down, with no planes leaving or landing. New York Public Schools are shut down for the day, only the third snow day they have declared since the 1980’s. Three storms they say? I’d love to see the Big Apple smothered in the eight feet of snow we had last winter, maybe a little wind to sweeten the pot. Wouldn’t you?


Pity the whales Department: After Tilikum the killer whale killed one of its trainers, a woman who loved whales and had spent over a decade training and working with Tilikum, today Seaworld has stopped the money-making whale shows where trainers handled and performed various stunts with the giant mammals. Some have said that Tilikum should either be put down or simply released to the wild for having killed its trainer. No such luck, says Seaworld. Tilikum is too much a part of their mating and cash generating programs, and besides probably would not live long in the wild. Bet me and maybe lose. Orcas are a lot smarter than perhaps the folks at Seaworld want us to believe. Seaworld is trying frantically to figure out how to keep the cash flowing in without killing anyone or exposing their mega-corporation to any further liability. Send the lawyers in to interview Tilikum at close range as a requirement of litigating Seaworld. Is that justice?


Pity the Health Consumers: After constant inter-party disagreement, a high-visibility summit conference that went nowhere at all and reassurances issued today by various Democrats, the health care bill, in its various permutations, appears to be floundering on the political rocks of Washington, DC just like it was in the beginning. The obvious solution, some say, is to completely eliminate the excellent health care coverage given to government employees entirely. Let them face the grim reality of having to choose between buying food to eat and paying for their prescriptions; let them make payments to the hospitals for emergency treatment or even forgo medical treatment altogether since they would not be able to afford health care. Shouldn’t we put government employees on an equal footing with the poorest of the poor?


It’s been an interesting week, to put it very mildly.


Dave

The Brick yard gets bigger…

Good morning, Netizens…


The other day I wrote about Ron Wright (rocketsbrain) tossing a brick into the fray surrounding the safety of the Riverpark Square Parking Garage. You could have blown me over with a feather late last night when the Spokesman Review’s journalist, Jonathan Brunt, tossed another brick of his own here: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/feb/26/memo-on-legal-work-in-rps-case-surfaces/


This was all brought about by the actions of former Pend Oreille County Sheriff Tony Bamonte, who filed a memo with the Spokesman written by David Savage, the ex-husband of the woman who died in the incident.


In the memo, David Savage wrote that Scott Marlow, the attorney who handled the the original examination for the State Attorney General’s office, stated that County Prosecutor Steve Tucker’s office had done a substandard job of reviewing the Jo Ellen Savage case for review.


This is not to imply that Ron Wright nor Tony Bamonte have been remiss in their attempts to point out the facts to anyone who will listen, for they (and many others) have been diligent in conveying their facts, including the David Savage memo, to a long list of public officials. Savage said he is concerned that metal plates and bars added by the mall in 2006 to strengthen the garage’s walls may not be adequate to make the garage safe.


Did Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker do a sloppy job with his review of the evidence? The pile of bricks continues building.

(Portions of this story derived from the Spokesman-Review and Jonathan Brunt)

Dave

What did we learn from killer whales?

Good morning, Netizens…


In this photo taken on Dec. 30, 2005, Dawn Brancheau, a whale trainer at SeaWorld Adventure Park, is shown while performing. Brancheau was killed in an accident with Tilikum, a killer whale at the SeaWorld Shamu Stadium Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 24, 2010.

(AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Julie Fletcher)



There have been multiple instances of “trained” killer whales assaulting and/or killing their trainers in the past. The orca, Tilikum, was also involved in the death of a female trainer in Canada in 1991, reports said. There were various other reports of orcas attacking trainers at SeaWorld parks in 2006 and 2004.


Having seen orca pods in the past, sedately moving through the water, I am as in awe of their beauty and their majestic intelligence as I am of dolphins. However, I have also witnessed orcas being fed in captivity. There is no way you could ever get me to feed an orca, despite all the warm-fuzzy pictures of them being fed at Sea World and other places. Tipping the scales at over 4,000 pounds, they are still dangerous creatures. Speaking for myself, climbing into the water with one of these majestic creatures is out of the question.


Even worse, what would motivate people to come by the hundreds of thousands each year to watch humans sitting inches from orcas or, in some instances, climbing into pools of water with them?


Several sources have suggested we need to study the killer whales to better understand them. It seems more to me that the predominate use, as applied by Sea World and others, is to exploit their strange beauty and majesty for profit, and be damned the cost.


Would this not make the death of Dawn Brancheau, the trainer killed by Tilikum for naught? Please tell me what we learned.


Dave

Snow is required…

Good morning, Netizens…


In this AP picture taken from the Lansing State Journal by Rod Sanford, snowmen populate the lawn of the State Capital in Lansing, Michigan Tuesday.


A group opposed to raising taxes in Michigan, called Common Sense in Government, created more than three dozen snowmen on the state Capitol lawn to greet lawmakers coming to session Tuesday. The snowmen held signs with slogans including “Don’t raise our taxes!” and “I’m mad and I vote.”


My goodness I cannot help but wonder if we had the snow in Olympia, Washington if anyone would have either the temerity or the skills necessary to build such functional snow people? If so, I think I could come up with a few signs suitable for use.


Dave


Rocketsbrain takes a brick…

Good evening, Netizens…


The mouse that roared has once again aroused the powers-that-be in a positive way and, although we haven’t heard a final resolution yet, the fact remains authorities have opened an active investigation. The Washington State Board of Accountancy’s Executive Director, Rick Sweeney, has opened an investigation into allegations by Ron Wright (AKA rocketsbrain) that Spokane’s Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley was listed on a city web site as a Certified Public Accountant. Cooley, by his own admission, was no longer a CPA, having allowed his license to expire in 2006.


I neither know nor do I truly care if I am allowed by the rules of conduct to jump for joy, but given the time and effort Ron Wright put into researching his claim about Cooley, nor the smarmy response he garnered from Cooley when the error, if that is what it was, was first made public, I’m jumping for joy.


It all comes back to something a former editor of mine once stated, lecturing me in front of the entire assembled news room, that any good investigation by a journalist must first begin with a single brick.


“You take the edifice apart, one brick at a time,” he stated, and that quote has stuck with me ever since.


I believe many of the claims that Ron Wright has made over the last few years. I believe we are paying a steep price for the corruption and waste that is being allowed to continue in City Hall. Thus far despite extensive research and studious analysis by Wright, no formal charges have been placed against anyone, and thus that is not really news.


However, despite Gavin Cooley’s weak protestations, one of the bricks of City Hall is being investigated, and that first brick counts, whether or not formal charges are ever brought forth by the State Board of Accountancy.


Kudos are in order for Ron Wright.


Dave

Breean Beggs steps down from Center For Justice…

Good morning, Netizens…


Prior to the arrival of The Center For Justice we, the citizens of Spokane, didn’t really have an advocate in our corner to help us when we ran afoul of the local government or high-end vested interests. Perhaps if the Center for Justice had existed long ago, such malignancies as River Park Square or the travesty of the Otto Zehm and other murders by the Spokane Police Department’s failed policies might never have occurred.


Once the Center for Justice was formed and Breean Beggs assumed the role of chief catalyst, ordinary people had a strong advocate in their corner, a litigator who would fight for the common man, and serve for positive social change.


This week Breean Beggs notified the Center For Justice’s board and staff that he will be submitting his resignation, and thus ending his relationship with the Center. He leaves the door open to various other interests, including assuming public office.


Suffice it to say, we have lost a dynamic, powerful voice for the general public. We can hope that another person will step forward in the vacuum Breean Beggs leaves in his wake.


Dave

When does it become terrorism?

Good morning, Netizens…


A. Joseph Stack III put his name in history books yesterday. He began his day by setting fire to his house in Austin, Texas while his wife and family were inside. He capped his morning off by flying his single-engine Piper PA-28 aircraft into the side of the building in Austin, Texas in the AP picture above, where the Internal Revenue Service had a portion of their headquarters. Having already posted a verbose screed about his failed relationship with the IRS on a website (which unfortunately has been taken down) a number of failed businesses, several tax audits and numerous other complaints, Stack felt he had enough, and simply put, took matters into his own hands.


At least two people, including Stack, are dead.


“Nothing changes unless there is a body count,” Stack wrote.


Nobody, it seems, have warm fuzzy feelings in their hearts for the IRS. Several of the mainstream news media have already made the statement that this was not an incident of terrorism, that Stack was a sadly despondent man, perhaps seriously depressed over his battles with the IRS. Pardon me, but I know a few people who have battled with the IRS and lost, but none of them ever flew planes into the IRS office to express their outrage.


If Stack had been from the Middle East and undertaken the same goals, we would call him a terrorist beyond a doubt. How much difference is there between Islamic terrorists blowing up American assets in the United States and Stack?


In his parting words posted on his web site, Stack wrote, “violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.” I could not disagree more.


Violence against groups of innocent persons, even people as wretched, deplorably unethical and self-serving as the IRS, is terrorism in my book.


What about yours?


Dave

Olympics review by David Horsey…

Good morning, Netizens…


Cartoonist David Horsey has been attending the Winter Olympics and reports the various ways he has been singing along with the national anthemns as each country won the gold.

I had a few permutations of the various anthemns to sing of my own, so I understand Horsey’s delightly off-topic variations.

Of course, David Horsey, being at the Olympics, is why he has been absent from our daily roster as of late. I will grab a few of the more delightful cartoons here in a bit for everyone’s amusement.

Dave

Vote for none of the above…

Good morning, Netizens…


Last night the Washington State House voted by a 51-47 majority to suspend I-960, the initiative that prohibits the state from raising additional taxes, thus clearing the road for Governor Gregoire’s hotly-contested tax increases on soda pop, cigarettes, bottled water, candy and gum.


Last week the Senate passed the same bill, thus clearing the way for Gregoire’s new taxes, all without the voters’ permission or so much as a how-dee-do. The voters approved I-960 so that the State of Washington could not add additional taxes without a majority vote of the full State House and Senate. One has only to ask what pork-barrel deals Governor Gregoire made with members of the House and Senate to get their approval on suspending I-960.


Now, all we as voters have to do is keep a tightly-focused vision of everyone who voted in favor of suspending I-960, a citizen’s Initiative passed into law. Remember that list of names and when the next election time rolls around, vote for none of the above. While you are at it, be certain to take out Christine Gregoire as Governor and Mary Verner as Spokane’s City Mayor for their collusion in approving the new taxes.


We are already living in very tough times economically. We don’t need more taxes to burden down our family budgets.


Dave

A bulldog! A bulldog in our midst!

Good evening, Netizens…


For the edification of those who either haven’t been following local news closely or simply no longer care about such things, there is a little bulldog with a big bite running amok in the current office of the County Prosecutor, Steve (Absent-by-design) Tucker. Tucker, as recently as this afternoon, made local news headlines by firing his Deputy Prosecutor, David Stevens, because he dared to challenge Tucker in the upcoming election. However, unfortunate as it might be, David Stevens has yet to establish any credentials as a bulldog. One may hope that might come later. We need a bulldog as our County Prosecutor, not an absentee manager.


The bulldog who has proven himself quite effective at rooting out white collar crime wherever and whenever it appears is Ron Wright, (AKA Rocketsbrain), a retired Riverside, California white collar crime detective. He has proven himself to be a one-man army filing charges against the high and powerful, getting public documents that are seemingly impossible to obtain without a lot of pain, and most recently, breaking news about both Steve Tucker and Gavin Cooley, neither story which were given much coverage by the news media until recently.


His coverage about CFO Gavin Cooley’s lapsed Certified Public Accountant license caught more than a few in City Government with their hands in their pockets, including Cooley himself. See the link http://friendsofmarkfuhrman.org/blog/?p=225 and it will explain the facts, according to what Ron The Cop has been able to determine. He and former Sheriff Tony Bamonte are unafraid of what others might think; they will pursue what they believe to be the facts, regardless of where the rocks might fall.


But for what this is worth, this is an open door for Ron The Cop to fill in any details I may have overlooked, having just returned from a three-day work project. I am delighted to see Ron is on the job, keeping things stirred up and holding our public officials to a higher set of standards than we have become used to recently.


Dave







Gregoire proposes new taxes…

Good evening, Netizens…


Governor Christine Gregoire, despite her campaign promise of no new taxes has broken her promise to the voters, yet again, in exchange for a way to reduce her blithering budget shortfall. I remember her statement during the run-up to the election when she stated plainly, no new taxes. At the very least, she has broken a campaign promise.


Her latest proposal states in part that the State of Washington wants to:


• extend the sales tax to candy and gum;

• place an excise tax of 1 cent per ounce on bottled water;

• place an excise tax on soda that amounts to a nickel for a 12 ounce can;

• increase the hazardous substance tax from 0.7 percent to 2 percent, which sources in the oil industry said could raise the price of gasoline by about 5 cents per gallon;

• eliminate business and occupation tax exemptions for sales of gold bullion and syrup used in carbonated beverages, and require corporate directors to pay taxes on the fees they receive for their services.


Wait a minute! I thought the voters passed a referendum stated any new/increased taxes had to have a 2/3 majority in both houses of the state legislature. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference whether Governor Gregoire or a faceless member of the State Legislature attempts to foist these new taxes on the taxpayers, if both Houses of the State Legislature haven’t approved these new taxes by a 2/3 majority, it is illegal, is it not?


I didn’t see it on the list, I heard it on NPR this afternoon that she also is going to add additional taxes on each pack of cigarettes sold in the state. Poor Governor Gregoire. She cannot remember her promises to the voters made during the election and she cannot recall the state’s laws regarding new taxes.


Vote her out of office!


Dave

Bambi for breakfast, anyone?

Good morning, Netizens…


[Portions taken from the Spokesman-Review]


BOISE - Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, says a constituent of his in North Idaho complained that when he found a bobcat dead in the road near his place, Idaho Fish and Game threatened him with arrest if he picked it up.

“He wrote me, said you’re letting a $200 hide lay there on the road,” Harwood said. So Harwood today proposed legislation to allow people with trapping or hunting licenses to salvage “furbearers” whenever they find them, in season or out of season. The purpose: “To allow road-kill animals to be harvested for the purpose of obtaining the hide.”

Under current law, it’s illegal for anyone to pick up wildlife hit by vehicles; protected wildlife that has died of natural or accidental causes is considered the property of the state.

Years ago, when I lived in Stevens County, and spent most of my time driving the back roads and main thoroughfares between Springdale, Valley, Chewelah and Colville, I suffered from repeated truck repairs caused by animals on the roadway. My worst nightmare, a late night accident near Hunters, Washington, involving a brand-new pickup truck I had just purchased that day in Spokane, and an insurance bill for over $12,000 when I hit Bambi and wrapped her neck around my chrome front bumper.


Fortunately I was able to limp the pickup home, minus a headlight, and given the lateness of the hour, I also took Bambi home in the back of the pickup covered with a tarp. Having already had that experience of hitting a deer, I quickly skinned and butchered that deer before I went to bed that night. Of course, that violated any of a number of laws, but that year I needed the extra meat in my freezer, and the skin was surreptitiously handed off to a nearby back yard taxidermist for his collection.


Washington State needs a common-sense set of laws similar to those proposed in Idaho. If someone hits and then salvages the body of road kill animals, particularly if they are going to butcher and consume the animal, they should be allowed to do so without any intervention on the part of the State of Washington. The savings garnered by having the meat as a resource might cover the cost of the insurance claim.


Have you ever hit a deer?


Dave

Happy Presidents Day…

Good afternoon, everyone…


Today, depending whatever state you reside, is Presidents Day. It also may be Washingtons Day or even various other names. Confused? So am I. You can read a bit more about this confusion here: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/0215/Presidents-Day-2010-facts-about-a-holiday-with-an-identity-crisis and perhaps this source has their facts right, but then perhaps not.


Do you think you can remember the names of all the Presidents of the United States? Here, from YouTube, is a bit of morphing, from the first to our current President.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBrSgyPgwYg


After all, this is Presidents Day, and despite the ambivalence some of us my hold about this day, or our personal opinions about how our government runs or does not run, it all comes back to one of my favorite sayings:


If you don’t like the way things are running, change things.


Happy Presidents Day.


Dave

Absence on Valentines Day…

Good morning, Netizens…


There is a hollowness, an emptiness that takes place on Valentines Day that comes to an unfortunate few, and because most of us are wrapped up in our self-centered celebration of love, we seldom see this woe in others eyes. Those of us who have been blessed in our lives, by flourishing in a strong love relationship typically are so busy feasting upon the richness of our shared lives on Valentines Day we seldom look beyond our immediate joys.


I have known several persons intimately who have lost their spouses, and I bear witness how that empty place at the table, the long silent intervals of time when there is no one to talk with over drinks and the rainy days where no one answers your call causes an ache that only mildly passes over time. It never really leaves you, this missing of your most loved one.


So I feel very fortunate on this Valentines Day to have and hold a dear creature who means more to me than myself.


We are going to go traveling in the rain this afternoon, wandering as is our wont, and constantly be attempting to speak to one another about how it was, is, and will be inexorably bound to one another on this, a day that celebrates our hearts bound together.


I urge everyone to closely clasp that person who means the most to you, and tell them those three little words, “I love you” and the meanwhile, remembering those who are alone on this day.


Dave

The Alaskan Tavern burns to the ground…

Good morning, Netizens…


Here we have The Alaskan Tavern, a Hillyard edifice as viewed in its better days. This morning, shortly after 5:00 AM, the building was engulfed fully in flames, and by shortly after 9:00 AM, the building formerly at 5108 North Market, was reduced to ashes. What makes this story even sadder is that, as of ten minutes ago, the only news source in Spokane covering this three alarm fire was KHQ-TV, but KHQ pretty much covered the fire from the time it was first reported.


According to several sources, the building was originally for sale for $295,999. Considering the building is now a total loss, according to authorities, and since as of several minutes ago, demolition of the building’s remains was underway, it seems unlikely the building can be sold in its present condition. I will now remove my tongue from my cheek.


In the past, I had been inside the tavern in its heyday, not so much for the beer, but for the people who once came to the Alaskan to imbibe, party and sometimes even have outstanding fights out in the alley or upstairs in the apartments above the tavern.


It is just about noon, and I have just returned from the former location of The Alaskan Tavern and can state, without much doubt, it is a total loss. It is so unfortunate that this piece of Hillyard history is gone.We have lost a vital piece of the color in downtown Hillyard.


Dave



These little stents of mine…

Good morning, Netizens…

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine…”

Author unknown

As I expected, they have released Bill Clinton from the hospital this morning after placing 2 stents in his aorta yesterday in what most new sources are calling “an emergency heart procedure”. I remember when the surgeons put two stents in my heart, following much the same procedure they used on Clinton, yesterday. With a few minor exceptions, that is.


Like Clinton, I had a heart blockage, that is a portion of my aorta had been blocked by plaque, caused by poor diet, lack of exercise or even stress. Doctors stuck a huge needle into the femoral artery in my groin, through which they introduced a tiny balloon, with a nearly-microscopic sized set of tools. Once they had gotten the tiny balloon wedged in where the blockage had taken place, POP, they blew up the balloon, thus compressing the plaque blocking my artery.


They then slid the first of two stents into place, blocking my aorta open, ostensibly for good. However, as several cardiology experts in this morning’s news have observed, stent procedures never last forever, because once you have heart disease, you have a sentence to serve. How long that sentence will run largely depends upon a wide variety of factors, only some of which you can address or control.


Like Clinton, I came back home one day after the stent was introduced into my heart, the heart pains gone, and feeling none the worse for having my aging fat body poked and prodded by those practioners of medical malfeasance on the house of pain atop the hill.


Stents save lives. Compared to 20 years ago, there are thousands upon thousands of people walking around whose lives have been saved by having stents put in their hearts.


Dave

Working Connections to be cut by 30%?

Good afternoon, Netizens…


The Working Connections Child Care Program, underwritten and administered by Washington State’s DSHS, helps low-income families pay for their child care while the parents are working. Governor Gregoire has proposed cutting this program by 30% in the current budget proposals. This would impact over 600 daycare centers in Eastern Washington, or approximately 20,000 children in more than 10,000 families and could also force the closure of hundreds of child care providers.


Most people enrolled in Working Connections are employed, but have low income levels. In this ultra-tight economy, they should be the last people to fall beneath the rolling stone of budget cuts, for without subsidized child care, most of those enrolled in Working Connections would no longer be able to afford child care, and thus probably lose their jobs. However, this does not appear to be the case according to one source within Working Connections I spoke with by phone this afternoon.


One might think that Gregoire would carefully consider the number of low-income families that would be impacted by this budget cut and carefully reconsider before she begins cutting.


What other places should our Governor consider cutting before she slashes Working Connections by 30% or more?


Dave



Weather report… sort of…

Good morning, Netizens…


As if we did not have enough issues to fill up my INBOX rather nicely, I received an e-mail from an attorney I know in Dallas, Texas, informing me that the schools are mostly closed in Dallas this morning due to an unprecedented snowfall. Bad enough that our humble digs are sitting hunkered down beneath umbrellas waiting for it to stop incessantly raining, but it hasn’t stopped the Zags fans from sleeping overnight in tents on campus so they get prime court-side seats for tonight’s big game.


However, nothing across the country seems to surpass the mess facing the East Coast, ranging from Boston, to Philly, New York and eventually Washington, DC. Major Interstate Highways are just now opening back up after being closed for most of yesterday. Planes are not flying as they should, and even some trains have been severely limited. The government offices and public schools are still closed for the third straight day in some cases.


I suppose if we were to look at Spokane’s dismal politics, the closest we can come to an unnatural disaster would be the snafu evolving around Gavin Cooley, Spokane’s CFO in the absence of an open, independent City Auditor. Dick Adams and Ron The Cop are just a few of the people who have looked into this bit of clever mischief and are already hot on the trail.


However, more news of this later on this morning.


Dave

A 4.3 shakes Western Chicago suburbs…

Good morning, Netizens…


Photo: Chicago Sun-Times


A 4.3 earthquake hit the western suburbs of Chicago at 3:59 AM this morning, and although police and other emergency phone lines were swamped with phone calls in the aftermath, there were apparently no reports of damages or injuries. A shakemap from the U.S. Geological Survey depicts the epicenter of the earthquake that struck Illinois Wednesday morning. What is a shakemap? Is that like when your spouse crawls back into bed with you at 4:00 AM? I’ll probably fill out my will over that one.


Dave





Returning to the fray once more…

Good morning, Netizens…


We spent an idyllic day in South Stevens County this last weekend with friends Susan Waters and her extended family, and I must admit I have been playing catch-up with this Blog ever since. Since both Susan and myself are amateur historians, particularly with some of the more obscure bits of trivia that occasionally crop up in our Eastern Washington annals, we spent an entire afternoon discussing all manner of things, including how the Town of Springdale has changed and, of course, the little-known history of a former resident of the West Plains, Pea Vine Jimmy.


After feasting ourselves half-silly on Susan’s unbelievably good sausage and bean soup, the adults spent nearly the entire afternoon rediscovering our past lives together, while our granddaughter, Lilly, discovered the livestock and took a brief tour of the garage where an antique car lives. The day must have been good for her, because we had barely made it back to the paved road when she promptly fell asleep, slumbering peacefully all the way back to the city. Contentment is made of such things in the eye of an eleven year-old girl.


No sooner than we had landed safely at our home than the reality of my professional life hit harder than a brick, as I was distressed to discover a number of system errors that took place during our absence, and I have been buried in work trivia ever since.


We have made, and I believe we will keep a promise to Susan to return soon, and bring our granddaughter along once more, as there is a special place in the hearts of all children on the cusp of maturity for peaceful country farms a long ways off the highway.


So, onward into the fray, as they say on the streets outside the Virtual Ballroom.


Dave



A snow emergency?

 

Good evening, Netizens…

Mark Jordan digs out of snow on Capitol Hill that was left from an intense winter blizzard that hit the nation’s capital and much of the Mid Atlantic region. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Do you remember last year’s snow storms that paralyzed Spokane? Well, here is a view of the last storm to hit the East Coast, and now another storm is hovering, waiting to unload its next band of fury. Move over, Tom Sherry.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpxiCxO5k0g&feature=player_embedded


I believe we had it worse here in Spokane last year than they have had in our nation’s capital, Boston and New York. The only thing we need is for someone in authority to step before the microphone and announce, “There is no snow emergency” to make their plight as bad as Spokane last winter at this time.


This would be a comedy of astronomical proportions were it not for the fact the entire federal government in Washington, DC is shut down at the present time. More than a million workers were told to stay home until further notice, now that another storm is hacking its way ever eastward. Trains, planes and most automobiles have stopped running on-schedule since last Friday.


In your opinion is the storm on the East Coast as bad as what we endured in Spokane last winter?


Dave

Dave Stevens files for his boss’s job…

Good morning, Netizens…


Thanks to John Olsen for forwarding a copy of the Spokesman piece about Steve Tucker and Dave Stevens.


However, this Spokesman picture of Deputy Prosecutor Dave Stevens doesn’t really do the job justice after he threw his business card into the ring for this August’s Primary Election, running against his absentee boss, Prosecutor Steve Tucker.


Fortunately, there are several other persons interested in running against Tucker, several of which have not only the technical experience in law enforcement, if not law. Surely we can do better than another term of office for Steve Tucker.


Is it true that Steve Tucker spends more time at The Globe on Division than he does in his office? Just curious.


Dave



The history of military discrimination…

Good morning, Netizens…


Cartoonist David Horsey hit the nail on the head in today’s cartoon. In the 1940’s the minds of America refused to admit that persons of color could fly planes. Once the Tuskegee Airmen took to the air, no one could deny them their rightful place in history. You can read their entire history at http://www.tuskegeeairmen.org/ but one has only to ask where are the members of Congress who once said black pilots could never fly?


In the 1980’s the big controversy of the time was whether women could serve in the military. Today we have women deployed around the world, including some high-ranking officers in the Pentagon. Women, however, still cannot serve in submarines, the logic being includes the fact that doses of radiation from nuclear submarine reactors can result in infertility, since women do not continually produce eggs as men do with sperm. Also, the finite amount of space available on submarines limits the ability to offer separate berths and lavatories for females. Of course, all one has to do to further exploit this is ask what about male infertility on nuclear submarines?


However, in my opinion, no military policy is so flawed as Pub.L. 103-160 (10 U.S.C. § 654 the so-called “don’t ask, don’t tell policy about gays and lesbians in the military.

In a time of war, this is just more of the same narrow-minded arrogant and discriminatory mindset that has sought, throughout history, to set policies based upon discrimination, rather than fact.

Dave

Dying To Hear You

I am very interested in a proposal by State Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, to make it a primary offense to talk on a cell phone held to your ear or to engage in text messaging while driving.  (http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/jan/18/secondary-offense-is-a-primary-concern/)

I think it is dangerous, if not downright deadly, to talk on your cell phone while driving.  Parents should be especially diligent in making sure their new teen drivers do NOT use their cell phone in any way (whether to dial, text, or talk), while driving.  It could kill them!  A young girl was killed just a few weeks ago while talking to her boyfriend on her cell, while driving in road conditions that would challenge an experienced driver.

When my children were little, the Big Wheels driving age, they nearly got killed by a neighbor driving by, who didn’t see two little boys charging out between two parked cars.  I watched in horror, just as he missed them by a fraction.  I grounded them for EVER (two weeks) and took their Big Wheels to the basement, and ended with a lecture that featured two eggs with their names printed on them.   “This is YOU being hit by a car!” I shouted, dropping each egg onto the pavement, producing a very effective splat.

Now if I could demonstrate to people using their cell phones without hands’ free devices, I would use the eggs again.   Splat!  This is YOU talking/texting on your cell phone and not paying attention while driving!

Can you hear me NOW?

~Jeanie~

Is public education in Spokane on the ropes?

Good morning, Netizens…


It comes with absolute despair that I must announce my granddaughter Lilly probably suffers from that most terrible learning disability, Dyslexia, although given the lack of support on the part of Spokane School District 81, she may never receive the screening she needs to fully diagnose the issues she has with reading and mathematics. Somehow this makes sense. Her father has it, and others in her immediate family were once diagnosed as having Dyslexia, and some of them received remedial therapies which helped them lead functional lives as they matured into adulthood.


Her teachers have been advocating for her, at least one of whom nearly put his job on the line attempting to get her the testing she needs. The Superintendent has spoken to family members several times, but the answer remains the same. There simply is no money in the budget for testing. What little money the school district has apparently is already being spent on ADHD students who otherwise would disrupt the classroom, as well as students who speak English as a second language.


Last evening, we held a family meeting to discuss what we can do to help her with her learning disabilities, and despite the tragic news, we have begun putting together a working plan, including a quasi-home schooling tutoring program based upon what information we will have put together over the coming week.


In other news this morning, we have heard that funding for our local colleges and universities is being drastically cut with what some are saying are revoltingly predictable results.


Our country was erected through an educated populace. Fat and stupid never created the technological edge we once used to hold. The abandonment of Dyslexic students by School District 81 suggests there are children being left behind.


Is the educational system falling apart?


Dave



My Kingdom for a Tractor!

The Ag Show has started and that means one thing.  Tractors!!!  The tractors are here!!!  

I love tractors, especially John Deere.  I want my own tractor, right here in my yard.  I’ll use it, too, if for anything else but especially the sound.

There is a sweet little yellow tractor parked in front of Yokes on Montgomery and Argonne that I deeply yearn for.  I’m thinking if it comes up missing, it would go unnoticed, parked innocently, like it belongs, in my yard.  Don’t tell.

When I was a teenager, we lived in a little white farm house, which is still there, in what is known as Qualchan Estates.  My Dad had a tractor that he used to till the garden and plow the meadows on either side of the house – just to plow.  Our neighbor across the road did the same thing, just plowed to plow.  To listen to the chug-chug-chugging and roll through the fields one slow row at a time, hat shading the sun, no place to go but forward, turning and coming back, and continuing through the lazy sunny afternoon.

My brother coveted that tractor and when our parents moved away from Spokane, and their children (because they thought we would never do it ourselves), the tractor became his.  

I picture him jealously and lovingly driving that tractor from “Vinegar Flats” down the freeway to Hatch Road and all the way up that steep and twisty road to his house.

I’m thinking he could help me acquire the little yellow tractor.  :)

~Jeanie~

Phil arrives at the Virtual Ballroom…

Good morning, Netizens…


Yesterday, as you probably know, was Groundhog Day. Ostensibly on that day if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow it means we will have another six weeks of winter weather and, since Phil saw his shadow yesterday, our goose should be cooked and that was that. You can imagine my shock when sitting on my favorite bar stool at the Virtual Espresso bar when who should waddle unceremoniously in the front door of the Virtual Ballroom but Punxsutawney Phil, who sat down and ordered a cup of the today’s special blend, Somnolent Predictions.


“Holy crappola,” I muttered to myself. “I saw you on the TV yesterday when you predicted another six weeks of winter, and now I am wondering what you are doing here.”


Furtively looking at me, Phil snapped, “Don’t remind me of that dog and pony show. I am sick to death of the Town of Punxsutawney, and the ham-fisted handlers who annually take me out of my cage and wave me around like I was a prime piece of sausage ready for the frying pan. They squeeze my guts, grab me by the balls and in general disturb my rest.”


“What about your predictions of the next six weeks of winter? Any truth in that?”


Phil nearly choked on his Virtual Espresso and then commented wryly, “If you take the number of my relatives, including Uncle Cedrick who lives right up the road from here, all of our predictions are accurate. The only prediction I made was for Punxsutawney, and that wasn’t really a prediction. More like a guess depending upon where the sun was or was not shining on Groundhog Day.”


“So, with the fog dragging the ground outside this morning, we can count on winter ending really soon now?”


“Of course,” Phil said, taking another sip of his espresso. “However, what I need now is a place, preferably underground, where I can hide from the television cameras. I have to get away for awhile.”


Without thinking really hard about it, I answered, “We have a large family of Garden Gnomes who take care of our Virtual Garden that live out back. You might be able to make a deal with them…”


“Good”, Phil said as he finished his Virtual Espresso. Rising from his bar stool, he headed out the door without further comment.


An hour later, as I was leaving the Virtual Ballroom, I did notice a freshly-dug hole across from the garden, adjacent to a nearby Garden Gnome’s burrow. I cannot help but wonder if next February 2, we might see Phil emerge once again.


Dave

Spokane Stupid, put the marmots to good use…

Good morning, Netizens…


Well, it’s official, if you can take the word of an East Coast Groundhog. We’re in for six more weeks of winter.


Famed weather prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil made his annual prediction while being held by Co-Handler Ben Hughes on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on the 124th Groundhog Day, February 2, 2010. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter. REUTERS/Jason Cohn



Oh, great! According to Phil’s prediction this morning, we are going to continue to have another six weeks of winter-like weather. Our winter this year has been more in keeping with lawn chairs, Sea-and-Ski suntan lotion than heavy-duty snow removal equipment. However, were Phil in residence in Spokane, he would not have seen his shadow, which might mean winter is over.



What we need here in Spokane is an equally well promoted animal to accurately predict how long winter will last each year. Since we have an apparent surplus of the little furry creatures, I was thinking along the line of Spokane Stupid, a marmot that resides next door to our own City Hall. I was originally thinking of getting a cranky, morose badger for this job, but since marmots seem less-likely to remove body parts with one crunch of their jaws, marmots it is.



Fresh from her high-visibility role in Washington DC newsbytes, Queen Mary Verner could make it happen with just a wave of her magic scepter. On cue, she whips out Spokane Stupid from his burrow, and marmots being smarter than your average house cat, would immediately piddle on Queen Mary’s designer jacket, revealing his displeasure at being manhandled in front of the TV cameras and throngs of people.



However, this morning, he would not see his shadow, which means winter is coming to an end.



I’m delighted I was able to debunk the claims of Punxsutawney Phil.



Dave

Religion at the USAF Academy…

Good morning, Netizens…


In this photo taken in August 2003, cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado are seen walking past the Chapel at the academy. The Academy has set aside an outdoor worship area for Pagans, Wiccans, Druids and other Earth-centered believers school officials announced on Monday, Feb. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)



Oh? Given all the Earth-centered believers, one might think the Air Force would permit Atheists, Deists and other non-believers to have a meeting space of their own. Now if the Academy set aside an outdoor worship area for the Pagans, Druids and Wiccans, where would they put the Atheists?



That seems a fair question for a rainy morning, doesn’t it?



Dave





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