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Archive for January 2011

Dunk in the drink…

Good morning, Netizens…


NEAR SPOKANE — Spokane County Sheriff’s Dive Team members rescued a 60-year-old Spokane woman after she drove her sport utility vehicle off Hangman Valley Road and into Latah Creek.

Former Spokane KXLY-TV anchor Debra Gilbert Wilde was driving southbound when her 2002 Jeep Cherokee left the road and went over a guardrail. She then went down a 20-foot embankment, and then another 60 yards into the creek’s rushing waters.

A passerby heard her calling for help about 1:15 p.m. Sunday and alerted the sheriff’s office.  Deputy Greg Lance arrived and saw the Jeep about 25 feet from shore with water up the bottoms of its windows. It appeared the SUV had drifted downstream about 100 feet from where it entered the creek.

Latah Creek is currently swollen with recent rainwater and snow melt, and is running significantly higher than it does at other times of the year. Firefighters reached the Jeep with a line and had Wilde tie if off so the vehicle would not float farther downstream before the water rescue team arrived.

Wilde was removed from the Jeep and to safety about 2:30 p.m. She was taken by ambulance to a downtown hospital.

It did not appear she suffered any injuries in the crash, but she was hypothermic from exposure to the frigid water.

At the hospital, Deputy Lance conducted a follow-up investigation and arrested Wilde for Driving While under the Influence of Alcohol.

Portions from KREM-TV



Strike One-Half

Hallelujah!  No taser or gun was fired!  

I am pleasantly surprised that, in a struggle with a combatant citizen, the Spokane police officers were able to subdue him without firing their guns or using their tasers - and in this case, it would probably have been justified.  Read about it at KREM.  My philosophy regarding police action has always been that their training should (and does) involve resolving conflicts through a process that avoids at all possible the use of deadly force.  And I consider tasers to be deadly force.  In this case, the officers faced continuous attacks from the resident.


To explain my absences and other things…


Good morning, Netizens…


Thank God it's Friday!


I have studiously avoided mentioning anything related to the ailment that Suzie and I have known about for nearly a month, simply because Suzie did not want to make a “big thing” out of it, and seriously wanted to avoid any public notice. Unlike your truly, she is extremely reticent about sharing the details of her personal life, and until she finally began sharing bits and pieces of her malady, I was content to always let her have her way, and I remained closed-mouth about her cancer and the diagnoses we have received, other than a few friends who I swore to silence upon a number of dire threats.


However, once she let the cat out of the bag, telling a few friends about what was going on, and when one of them immediately blabbed all she knew to the rest of the free world, I no longer felt I had to sit on my hands, hence this morning's entry.


For you see, Suzie has uterine cancer. As opposed to the initial diagnosis, which scared the bejesus out of us both, we now know that on a scoring scale of one-to-ten, ten being the highest severity, she has scored a one, and according to her oncologist, thus is an excellent candidate for robotic surgery. If all goes according to the plan, she will actually be in the hospital for a day while they perform the actual surgery robotically, with an in-home recuperation period of as much as a month. According to the oncologist, if everything works as planned, she has an excellent chance of total recuperation.


Both of us have extensively researched not only the kind of cancer she has on the Internet, and all the possible treatment methods that modern medical science can give us, but even the type of non-invasive removal of her uterus and all the other female plumbing that procedure may include. We are both quite confident that everything will work out, and that everything that can be done has already been done or will be done within the next few weeks.


However, this ordeal has been frightening, to say the very least. I have lost track of the number of hours we have spent sleepless, tossing and turning as we contemplated unraveling our lives together, and of all the ugly possibilities that could take place. I will keep everyone updated as we approach the closure of this arduous affair.



The institution of marriage…


Good morning, Netizens…


I have referred to my wife as “my strong right arm”, which could be construed as a play on words since I happen to be left-handed, the latter of which I will concede is a demographic anomaly in its own right. It stands to reason that this balance of nature works for me since, as a former wild child of the 60's and 70's, I would be lying if I suggested for a moment I never sowed any wild oats in my past. However after nearly 20 years of living together in relative marital bliss, it also stands to reason that I would begin to reflect upon the state of our matrimony.


I did not begin this retrospect lightly, either. The Pew Research Center actually did most of the hard journalistic foot work for me, in their far-reaching study of the decline of marriage as an American institution. While some of the Pew findings surprised me somewhat, some of them were nearly predictable, given the various ways our society has changed over the last few decades. It stands to reason that people are not getting married as often as they were twenty years ago, and those that do fall within a number of social and economic parameters that increasingly are part of the new face of society as we know and accept it to be in America today.


According to Pew, people who have better-than-average incomes stand a better chance than everyone else to have a sustained marital community, as do people with college educations. Pew also states that “In 1960, two-thirds (68%) of all twenty-somethings were married. In 2008, just 26% were.” They raise the question, as do I, how many of today's youth will eventually formally tie the knot, as they seem much more inclined than their elders to view cohabitation and various other forms of family, including gay and lesbian relationships, in a much more positive light.


I have always had a nearly morbid curiosity, perhaps even a suspicion about other people's marriages. Given the statistics from Pew, I have always had a hunch about how faithful and monogamous apparently-happily married couples really are. Pew suggests, and I once again concur, that the number of truly monogamous couples has been steadily dropping in the last decade. I cannot help but remember a well-respected member of the community, a Mormon with a good professional career and a picture-perfect family according to everyone who knows him, who was accused by his spouse of infidelity. I am somewhat surprised that their marriage still survives.


That is not to suggest for a moment that our marriage has not been tested in the fires of turmoil. Despite the fact my wife is very reticent about my discussing details of our private lives together, perhaps as well she should, we have had a number of personal tribulations that would perhaps try others. We conceived a daughter late in life, which we lost with terrible sadness and grief. We have endured financial hardship just when we thought we were safe. I lost several close personal friends, one to murder, several others to cancer, and in each case, we drew closer to one another rather than apart.


We have close personal friends who are not married, at least in the conventional sense our more-austere predecessors would have accepted. The thread of divorce runs as rampant through the lives of our friends as in our combined pasts, and yet we believe in the institution of marriage itself.


In the coming days and weeks, I will be exploring more about the bond (some refer to it as a jail sentence) of marriage. Feel free to share any insights you may have into marriage or other form of family-building.



Dinner Bell burns…

Good morning, Netizens…

The Dinner Bell Restaurant in Loon Lake, one of my favorite eateries has apparently burned to the ground this morning. Early information from the scene is that they suffered a grease fire, which got out of control.


Disposable society…


Good morning, Netizens…


Perhaps I am feeling my age, or perhaps it is the impact of David Horsey's latest cartoon this morning, when it is cold enough outside for even our resident starlings to stick close to their nests. I am feeling more like a disposable something, although I am uncertain if my wife and family know for certain just what that is. One thing is certain: disposable employees have become a sad but true statistic of the current American economy. Super employers use them for a little while, and unceremoniously dump them in the employment trash can, hopefully before they have accrued enough time-on-the-job to be worth unemployment benefits.


Of course, I sagely advise, nodding my head wisely, I saw this all coming. Yup.


There are, unfortunately, several big disadvantages to the “disposable society”, because our landfills are are not only filling up with all those disposable plastic pieces we've been throwing away, as they simply do not recycle worth a damn, but the long-term repercussions extend further. Our society is filling up with disposable people for whom society-at-large have no further use. You often see them, standing in small circles downtown, huddling together waiting for the homeless shelters to open their doors for a bit of warmth, a spot of breakfast perhaps and then waiting outside until the next time. The best they can hope for is a minimum-wage job at a fast food joint, if that.


During one of my sojourns into Downtown Spokane which are increasingly less and less frequent, I once interviewed a former software support employee who hailed originally from down in Silicone Valley who was staying at a homeless shelter, looking for work every day. The unfortunate part, however, was that he once worked for a major San Jose, California software developer who laid him off with less aplomb than a visit to your favorite public restroom for a quick bit of recycling. With a good college education, he was hopeful for a management position slightly above minimum wage, which was the best he could hope for.


His job was exported to China who, it seems, is always willing to help us with our human recycling efforts. They help us by manufacturing and selling us trash cans for our human being disposal, those that couldn't cut it as temporary employees, that is.


Maybe that is why we have Obamacare. Your results may differ.




We were lucky. Next time we might not be…


Good evening, Netizens…


We were damned lucky last Monday!


Of course, no one publicly made such a statement after a sophisticated bomb was left Monday directly along the path that Martin Luther King Day parade marchers would have been following if a remarkably resourceful group of city employees had not summoned police in time. However, given what little we know of the (a) bomb's construction, or (b) the manner in which it was to be detonated remotely, we can only speculate at the amount of damage, in terms of human injuries and/or deaths that this device would have caused. Once again, depending upon the explosive charge, the bomb could certainly have caused a lot of collateral damage to surrounding businesses.


Once you begin to really assess the possibilities one can quickly see just how lucky we were.


The only methods of preventing similar incidents such as this from occurring again in the future are  Monday's are constant vigilance and rapid response. If you see something that just “doesn't fit”, such as a backpack or other container sitting unattended, do not assume someone else will report it to authorities.


While the FBI is quoted as saying “The confluence of the holiday, the march and the device is inescapable, but we are not at the point where we can draw any particular motive…” I do not believe that coincidences such as Monday's event ever take place without a motive. Had the bomb been detonated during the march, and I believe that was what the bomb's creator had intended, we could easily have lots of dead and injured bodies with wholesale property damage and be no closer than we currently are in resolving who was responsible.


We were just lucky someone was vigilant.



The Miss America runner-up…


Good morning, Netizens…


I did not watch the Miss America contest. In fact I cannot recall a time in my life when I watched it ever for a remarkable number of reasons which I will perhaps elucidate later on. However, there was one contestant that left me speechless, laughing and stomping my feet (which probably woke up half the house at this ungodly hour of the morning) with good humor.


Miss Arkansas, Alyse Eady, stole the Miss America show, in my opinion and should have won the show for sheer cheek and perhaps even talent. I come from the Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney generation of ventriloquism, which tells you a lot about my age, but this link pretty much says it all.


I know from having interviewed an aspiring ventriloquist upon several occasions back in my college days that creating and throwing your voice for one dummy is quite an accomplishment, let alone for two dummies while singing a pop-western song. Like any good ventriloquist, however, I didn't see Mz. Eady's lips move once.



We Need to Dream Again

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth (January 15, 1929).  Mr. King was a remarkable figure in our history - for all cultures, for all faiths, for all beliefs, for all people.  As we seem to be muddled in the middle of a lot of negative news, let us get back on track.

Below are some excerpts from his 17 minute speech:

Key excerpts (from Wikipedia)

  • “In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men - yes, black men as well as white men - would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'”
  • “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.”
  • “The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people. For many of our white brothers as evidenced by their presence here today have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”
  • “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'”
  • “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
  • “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”
  • “This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”
  • “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.”
  • “Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

May peace be with you, may peace lead you.  May you dream a dream that makes a difference in your life and the lives you touch.


Police-involved shooting on North Side…


Good afternoon, Netizens…


As if we didn't collectively have enough sadness and woe to fill our consciousness, as of early this morning we have another officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of a citizen. Although there is very limited information available to the public at this time, noon on Sunday, this much is known: at four AM, two Spokane Police Officers were responding to a report of domestic violence in a home and shot and killed a man who was armed with a knife at the 5700 block of North Elgin in North Spokane. Given the limited information being released to the news media, I do believe that does count for domestic violence, yes.


Today's shooting is the seventh officer-involved shooting in Spokane County since August, and the fifth fatal shooting. Of course, County Prosecutor Steve Tucker, recently re-elected into office by popular accord, has not ruled on any of these officer-involved shootings.


Of course, so long as we never question the manner in which justice is administered in Spokane County we may never locate it. Of course, your results may differ.



Carrying a child’s coffin…

Good morning, Netizens…

I have have spent an entire week huddled meekly in the corner of my office contemplating all the various opinions that have rumbled forth from Community Comment regarding the shootings in Tucson, Arizona and for what? Could I by holding my peace undo any of the terribly sad events that took place; could I somehow thwart the angry ebb and flow of opinions regarding Sarah Palin's opinions, if not half the ultra-conservative blog posts? I simply sat and watched everyone's opinions splat vociferously against the walls of the Internet and tried to make a peace of it all. For what it is worth, I believe I failed miserably at making an inner peace within myself regarding the controversy over mental illness and the right to bear arms.

Perhaps the uppermost vision that swam through my mind was how horribly sad it must be to carry a coffin bearing the last remains of a small child to its final resting place. Such a somber image as the pallbearers carrying the tiny body of Christina Taylor Green out the door of the funeral home should never be visited on the hearts of parents or grandparents anywhere.

Then there is David Horsey's cartoon that spoke volumes about this little girl, dead long before her time, who in life was full of great hopes and aspirations, who truly wanted to fulfill the dreams and hopes of the best and finest that is America.

People can politically say what they want about President Barack Obama but it remains certain that he is  a masterful public speaker, of crafting durable, vibrant verbal images that speak to the American experience.

Just one time give me my heartfelt wish: no more tiny children in coffins, shot dead by a terribly deranged young man with a gun and uncertain motivations. No more murder and mayhem in the streets, regardless of their political beliefs.


Hallelujah revisited…


Good morning, Netizens…


Before I even begin to wander through the malaise of claims and counter-claims surrounding the shootings in Tucson, Arizona this morning, because I feel compelled to be cautious in condemnation, slow to commit judgment and unswerving in my belief that despite all that horror that took place near a Safeway Store, I must be true to myself. Leonard Cohen is perhaps one person who has had the most influence on how and when I developed my philosophy of life. The first time I heard him sing Suzanne live in New York I knew I had found a mentor, a spiritual guide who could help me unravel all the internal anger and confusion of my youth.


But this morning, as Arizona's Representative Gabrielle Giffords fights for her life in a hospital bed, even that song cannot reach past the outrage I feel at what Jared Loughner did in his act of anger and violence, who indiscriminately killed six people including an innocent child, perhaps Mr. Cohen's song that most-strongly reaches into my psyche is “Hallelujah”, here performed at Helsinki.


Then, in Cohen's own words, I must reflect upon:


I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah


At this ungodly hour of the morning, although I cannot cry for the faceless dead, the injured dwelling in hospital beds crying out in their pain, all I can say is Hallelujah and thank Leonard Cohen for setting my philosophy straight just one time more.


It is time we learn that words have power, and that they can destroy as easily as they uplift our souls.



Looking in the mirror…


Good morning, Netizens…


Several things leaped out at me from this morning's David Horsey cartoon about the aging of the Baby Boomers. I was a predecessor of the Baby Boomers, since I had nearly a year of age on top of most Boomers, and a world of experience beneath my belt.


I never wore bell-bottoms or granny glasses. Even back then my ample backside didn't fit with the latest fashion trends, so I stuck with plain blue jeans suitably adorned with a big belt buckle from one of my favorite truck stops. Even worse, back then I wore thick glasses, coke bottles I believe I called them, just barely legal to get my commercial driver's license. Later on in life, I had eye surgery which, while it corrected my cataracts, also altered my eyesight to 20-20 without need for those glasses anymore. It changed my life forever.


My hair was a little longer then, but one has only to realize I have a hell of a lot less hair now than then.


Most predominantly, however, I never felt comfortable using such words or phrases of that era such as “far out” or “groovy” simply because they didn't fit in comfortably with my educational background. Today using either phrase truly dates the speaker, as both have fallen out of contemporary use, thank god.


In short, I never truly fit in with the “in crowd” of the 60's. I had just enough hair to not appear like a redneck, enough facial hair to allow me to pass for one of the “chosen ones” and during the summer months, I always had a job, and even other times I was always looking for work despite being a full-time student and a long-haul truck driver.


When I look back on the 60's and 70's in the mirror, all my mistakes, perceived and otherwise, stand out tall. Of all the musicians and songwriters of that era, hundreds stand out tall in my memory's horde for I always had the itch to hear new music. However, a song that has stood the test of time, written by the incomparable Tom Paxton, probably states it all when it comes to that era of my life.


I could have done it better, I didn't mean to be unkind, you know that was the last thing on my mind.”



Find the cost of freedom…


Good morning, Netizens…


Was the person who shot and gravely injured Arizona's Rep. Gabrielle Giffords partially motivated by a website filled with rhetoric by Sarah Palin that featured gun sights in Giffords state, among others? Political rhetoric that encourages violence is not unknown in America, but yesterday's event, which resulted in the deaths of six people, clearly crosses over the line of freedom of speech, in my opinion.


When are angry statements, even implied statements that promote violence on the Internet, such as the gun sights, to be condoned in American politics?


Ultimately Sarah Palin is responsible for the content of her web site, While this web site has been pulled down in most regions, questions remain, grave questions about civility and propriety still linger and all the apologies by Sarah Palin for the death of many and grave wounding of Arizona's Represenative Gabrielle Giffords will not undo one iota of the horrific damage done.


What motivated the shooter? Although we may never truly know that answer anytime soon, once one stirs the pot of righteous indignation by encouraging violence, you have left the world of politics in the dust.



New lobbyists take over House…


Good evening, Netizens…


Here we have cartoonist David Horsey taking a well-aimed shot at the latest GOP feather merchant class of legislators to hit the House and Senate. Although I have been avidly listening to the various members of the GOP, both Tea Party members and those not, I cannot help but be fascinated at all the lofty-sounding predictions of what they are going to do in the near-future. Things such as scratch Obamacare off the map leaves me aghast and laughing. My belief is that both parties are equally adept at accepting legalized bribe money, freshmen or not.


I was also mildly amused at the fact the Republicans read the entire Constitution of the United States into the public record. My goodness, according to several sources, the Constitution has never been read into the House record. The reading also skipped the 18th Amendment that was ratified in 1919 to institute prohibition of alcohol. That amendment was overturned in 1933 by the 21st Amendment.


So we march onward into an uncertain future, with the same bunch of lobbyists dispensing monies from the public till. We have the best Congress that money can buy.



Thumbs down for the Twilight Saga…


Good morning, Netizens…


With the announcement that the movie “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” won top awards at the People's Choice Awards yesterday, I immediately reached for something to stem the immediate onset of diarrhea and an upset stomach, because I am already sick to death of movies and TV fare of all kinds relating to vampires. Perhaps it is an age thing, where people in later years simply do not connect with such fare. Or, if you allow me the right to wax more vitriolic I fail to see any social significance to vampire shows; none whatsoever.


Mind you, I have never seen Twilight, nor am I apt to. I go to an occasional movie to be entertained, not watch a pair of 20-somethings gnawing on each other like a starving street pit bull mutt on someone with a tight body.


What is perhaps more distressing to me than the award being given to Twilight are the number of ostensibly sane, morally healthy and responsible members of the news media who have given kudos to the movie. Have they lost their marbles? Their accolades for this fare does little to add to their credibility.


Of course, there are lots of people who must have voted for Twilight, and I suppose I pity them and any innocent children who may inadvertently attend its showing.


I haven't even begun my vituperative rant on books written exclusively about vampirism.


We are long overdue for movie fare that uplifts the soul, that enlightens its viewers and sings the praises of living in peace with one another, not vampire movies, regardless of how attractive the packaging Hollywood may put on it or the advertising hyperbole that has crept, unwanted, into prime time television advertising slots. Of course, one should be quick to note the deplorable lack of demand for such fare.


Of course, your results may differ.



Empyrean closes its doors…


Good morning, Netizens…

As Tom Sowa noted in the Spokesman-Review online this morning, the Empyrean Coffee House will be closing its doors January 15, 2011. However, there is more to the story than was noted.

Michelle Riddle and her sister, Chrisy Riddle, ran the shop first at 154 S. Madison. After building owners raised the rent they moved to 171 S. Washington, according to the story in the SR. However, I do recall that at the South Madison location they were faced with installing fire suppression equipment, which was cost-prohibitive and resulted in the move to the location, 171 S. Washington, the former location of The Big Dipper.

They moved in Jan. 13, 2010. They’ll hold their final music show Jan. 15, Michelle Riddle is quoted as saying.

Now I do not know if Tom Sowa ever set foot in either the Madison Street address nor the new address for Empyrean. However, I know my wife and I attended several shows in the Empyrean before the move and we were not impressed. Although it had every reason to be successful as a dinner and music house, they never pursued dinner offerings as part of their venue. They simply tried to make Empyrean work on espresso drinks and snacks, and in this town, that simply won't cut the mustard, regardless of the musical talent they brought to the fore.

I would be more concerned about the potential closure of The Mac. It has historical and social significance which The Empyrean never seemed to have acquired.



Forecasting the future…


Good evening, Netizens…


It has been highly popularized that we should attempt to predict the future as we pass by the New Year, and cartoonist David Horsey has depicted poor old Uncle Sam getting his fortune professionally told. Given the overwhelming burden of debt our country owes to the Chinese, much of what David Horsey has stated in this cartoon seems quite accurate.


Does this imply that our debt-burden is going to increase or decrease in the coming New Year? The more I thought about this, I cannot help but believe unless we, the people, take aggressive action to stop the constant purchasing of trade goods from China and various other Far Eastern bloc nations, and begin manufacturing more of the things we consume, matters will only tend to get worse, not better.


However, in order to accomplish that goal, one of the toughest high-level decisions our government will have to make is that of whether or not to pursue trade embargoes, which have never been popular since the advent of transistorized circuit boards back in the 70's. We would have to forgo products made by Panasonic, Sony, Sanyo and various other offshore manufacturers, all of whom are able to manufacture electronics at prices well below what U.S. manufacturers would cost for comparable products.


Not to mention the number of ongoing loans from China which have increasingly been used to balance our somewhat unstable national economy. I believe first we will have to come to grips with just how unstable our economy is. That, too, might be an unpopular decision.


Somehow we have to stop this invisible economic landslide before it, and our country, simply slide off the economic cliff, thus fulfilling the prediction of which David Horsey has depicted with such eloquence.



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