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Archive for December 2010

Parting Shot: Auld Lang Huh?

New Year's Eve is one of those love-it-or-hate-it holidays. But no matter how you feel about celebrating, odds are you're going to hear “Auld Lang Syne” at least 500 times. There is no escape.

Naturally, Web searches on the song pop like champagne corks on New Year's Eve. Our guess is that folks simply want to know what the song actually means. After all, it's not often that people belt out a tune that they don't really understand. Well, wonder no more. Here's the scoop on the song that is mandatory for one night every year.

According to the good people at TLC, the song is an “extremely old Scottish song that was first written down in the 1700s.” The poet Robert Burns often gets credit for the words. Full story.

Do you know the words to Auld Lang Syne?

New Year’s Eve Wild Card

Light blogging ahead. I've got to get my house ready for tomorrow's Festival of Eating Leftover Christmas Crap. That's right. My Norwegian sister-in-law hosts the Festival of Strange Norwegian Meats and I host the New Year's Day Leftover Extravaganza.

But first I have to clean and stuff.

Besides, I have a feeling most of you actually get the day off. I had a day off once. It was really nice.

Here's your wild card and a wish for a Happy, Health New Year for you all.

Plowing through

It’s 6 o’clock on Wednesday night, and it’s dumping snow. If you’re smart, you’re getting off the roads about now.

But the crew inside the small shop in Spokane Valley – perusing maps and keeping an eye on the Weather Channel – is getting ready to go out into it. All night long. A handwritten note on the board reads “Let it Snow,” and the dense, purplish skies seem ready to oblige for hours.

Welcome to Thanklessville. Whenever the snow flies, so does the snowplow snark: They don’t arrive fast enough. They leave a berm in my driveway. I saw a driver passing with his blade up. They do it better over in Idaho. Full story. Shawn Vestal/SR

Are you happy with the plowing in your area?

2010 Hollywood Sleaze-o-rama

Charlie Sheen’s late-night hookup was the result, he said, of an allergic reaction.

If 2010 made you feel like you wanted to hide in a closet and bury yourself under all the coats, then you were probably just trying to escape the storm of sleaze hurled this year by some of entertainment’s finest – or maybe you were just the woman Charlie Sheen called for that infamous late-night hookup.

Either way, 2010 may have been Hollywood’s nadir year: Mad Mel raged again; “Cheaters” could have done a whole celebrity season with plenty to spare for next year; and Kanye was … well, Kanye. Here’s what made us want to hide the kids, hide the wife and hide our husbands, too, in 2010:

Included in the author's list: Jesse James cheating on Sandra Bullock, more Mel Gisbon hate rants, Naomi Campbell testifying at a war-crimes trial…. ick!

Did Hollywood outdo itself in sleaze in 2010?

Jets fined $100,000

The NFL has fined the New York Jets $100,000 for the Week 14 incident against the Miami Dolphins in which strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi tripped cornerback Nolan Carroll(notes) during a punt return. Alosi was fined $25,000 by the team and suspended indefinitely soon after the incident.

 The league fine wasn't just for the Alosi trip and the fact that he put other team employees in a prohibited position on the sideline; special teams coach Mike Westoff also got popped for speculating that the New England Patriots have used similar tactics in the past. More here.

Does the punishment fit the crime/s?

Fake pot banned

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington state pharmacy board has voted to adopt a rule that would ban the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana.

The board's emergency rule would mirror new Federal Drug Enforcement Administration rules banning five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana. The federal ban went into effect Dec. 24 and will last at least a year while officials consider a permanent ban. The state rule won't go into effect until next month. More here.

Do you think this is a good decision?

My Two Cents: In Praise of Larry Spencer

 He's the guy with the mullet that Huck's Online regulars ridicule religiously. He's got whacky conspiracy theories, has had his own legal troubles and no one seems to know what he does for a living. He makes claims of insider knowlege of senatorial bribery but brings no facts of proof to the table.
But like him or loathe him Larry Spencer does what all citizens should do: he asks questions of those who are elected to serve the public good. And he doesn't accept standard-issue government answers.
That's what makes America great. Ordinary citizens can demand accountability from elected officials. Larry may yell “The emperor's got no clothes!” when the emperor is wearing a tuxedo, but at least he makes his voice heard when it comes to holding public servants accountable— at least some public officials.
Perhaps if more citizens were involved and asking questions, our communties would be better off.
And that's my two cents.

It’s official

JUNEAU, Alaska – Sen. Lisa Murkowski was officially named the winner of Alaska’s U.S. Senate race Thursday, following a period of legal fights and limbo that lasted longer than the write-in campaign she waged to keep her job.

Gov. Sean Parnell and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who oversees elections, signed the paperwork certifying her win in the hotly contested race. The paperwork was expected to be hand-delivered to Washington, D.C., by state Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai to guard against delays that could keep Murkowski from being sworn in with her colleagues on Wednesday. Read more.

Was there ever any real doubt that she'd be sworn in?

In other embezzling news

COEUR d'ALENE - A Bonner County woman who embezzled from the founders of a humanitarian relief organization that helps AIDS victims in Africa was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison on Thursday.

April Leigh Mathews, 40, will have to pay $109,486 in restitution as well as five years of supervised probation after her release, Senior Judge Justin L. Quackenbush ruled.

The stealing wasn't a one-time lapse in judgment, the judge said, rather a meticulous, daily operation that warranted the prison term.

“It is most serious because it was an ongoing breach of trust,” Quackenbush told Mathews. “This wasn't a one-time mistake you made.”  More here. Tom Hasslinger/Cda Press


The Oprah Network

After three years of planning, delays and management misfires, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network finally arrives Saturday, the biggest launch of a cable channel in more than decade.

Industry observers are eager to see whether the celebrity who can unleash consumer trends can leverage the success of her 25-year run in daytime television into a 24-hour cable channel.

Are you an Oprah fan?

A New Year’s Toast

Put a smile on your face
and then lift high your glass,
for another year's gone
but we're still above grass.

The Bard of Sherman Avenue

Trying to revive the ride

Public transportation officials in North Idaho are working with the Kootenai County Board of Commissioners to revive a recently discontinued bus service primarily used by seniors and people with disabilities.

However, commissioners emphasized in a Thursday news conference that there will be no interruption in medical transportation services within the urban areas of the county. They thanked Kootenai Health, which operates Kootenai Medical Center, for stepping up to provide that portion of the services that were recently discontinued. Read more.

How important is public transportation in your community?

Poll: Working New Year’s Eve?

Are you working New Year's Eve?

Taking the day off?

Leaving early?

Kootenai County’s new plan

Kootenai County commissioners on Thursday approved a comprehensive plan that’s been four years in the making.

Updating the 16-year-old plan began in the fall of 2006 and involved hundreds of meetings, with input from developers, environmentalists, mayors, state agencies and ordinary citizens. Commissioner Rick Currie said the plan would not please everyone but is the county’s best attempt at compromise.

“The plan is not perfect. Just by its design, it can’t be perfect,” he said. “It has to represent all of Kootenai County. It is not 100 percent what the business community wanted. It is not 100 percent what the environmental community wanted. It’s not a plan I’m 100 percent in favor of. The best we can hope for is middle of the road. I think we have accomplished that.” Full story. Alison Boggs/SR

Are you pleased with the plan?

Obama’s approval rating lower

LOS ANGELES – Despite a strong showing during the lame-duck session of Congress, President Barack Obama closes out his second year in office with a slightly lower approval rating than at the end of 2009, according to a Gallup tracking poll.

The poll released Thursday found that the president’s approval rating was 47 percent, down slightly from his post-midterm-election peak of 49 percent but close to his average of 46 percent during that period. During the week between Christmas 2009 and New Year’s Day, Obama’s approval rating ranged from 51 percent to 53 percent.

Obama’s standing is better than two recent presidents who went on to win re-election.

Do you think Obama will be a one term president?

Polar Plunging

COEUR d'ALENE - Planning to jump into Lake Coeur d'Alene on Saturday?

Climatologist Cliff Harris has some advice for you.

“Wear a fur bikini.” Because it's going to be cold. Very cold. The Polar Bear Plunge is once again set for its traditional time and place, noon on New Year's Day at Sanders Beach.

About 500 people are expected to run into the lake, dive under, and run even faster back out. The first unofficial Polar Bear Plunge occurred Nov. 21, 1978. This year's plunge promises to be even more challenging - temperatures will be about 10 degrees when the clock strikes 12. The low on Saturday is projected at minus 3 degrees in the morning. More here. Bill Buley/Cda Press

Have you ever plunged? Will you be at Sanders Beach Saturday? (PS: MikeK: Do NOT send me anymore photos! I believe you, I believe you).

It’s a Husky Holiday Bowl

SAN DIEGO — Jake Locker bounced back from an injury and scored on a 25-yard run in the third quarter, and tailback Chris Polk ran for 177 yards and a score to help the Washington Huskies to a 19-7 win over the listless No. 17 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Holiday Bowl on Thursday night.

The Huskies (7-6) avenged a 56-21 loss to the Huskers (10-4) in Seattle on Sept. 18. The Cornhuskers piled up 533 yards of total offense in that game, including 383 rushing.

While Washington was a winner in its first bowl game since 2002, the Huskers came out flat in their second straight Holiday Bowl appearance. More here.

Have a feeling a few folks were suprised by this outcome. Were you?

Parting Shot: Chilly Rescue

A man prepares to climb to safety after fire department rescuers threw a rope down to him near the underside of the Monroe Street Bridge on Wednesday.

Spokane rescue crews used a car from the Riverfront Park Skyride to bring a man up from the river’s edge near the Monroe Street Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

Patrons at the Spokane Public Library reported seeing the man in the river. By the time fire crews arrived at the bridge, he was sitting on the bank, fire officials said. He was unable to climb up the hill, leaving crews to use a gondola car to rescue him.

Idaho Tax Commission chair allegedly used position to help friend

The Associated Press reports that Idaho Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow allegedly tried to use his position to help a friend embroiled in a dispute with a former employer.

The allegations, revealed in emails and documents that the AP obtained under the Idaho Public Records Law, include that Chigbrow sought to provide his friend, Skip Hofferber, with confidential information about the firm's tax problems after the man had been fired from the company; ordered a forced tax collection against the firm; and then improperly handled two company cashier's checks totaling more than $30,000 that Hofferber gave Chigbrow at an Arid Club lunch - and that the firm later reported stolen. Read more.

Isn't it time for someone to express some shock and outrage?

Wild Card 12.30.10

Things got a little wild west-ish  on the blog yesterday. Politics makes strange blogfellows and all that. Anyhow, today is a fresh snowy slate— for most of us.

I've got a busy day ahead what with less than 48 hours left to fufill my 2010 resolution to lose 10 lbs. I've had the same resolution  since 2008 and every year at some point I DO lose those pounds only to turn around and find them again. My plan is to fast until 2011 and run in place while blogging and doing everything else. I may get a little cranky. Low blood sugar has that affect on me.

Here's your wild card.

Former auto industry czar settles with Cuomo

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former Obama administration auto industry czar Steven Rattner agreed to pay $10 million to resolve lawsuits by New York's attorney general over kickbacks allegedly paid to do business with the state's pension fund.

Rattner is the most prominent outside executive and last major figure to resolve charges in a multiyear “pay to play” corruption probe that involved the roughly $132.8 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. More here. 

More greed and corruption. I'm sensing a theme.

Top 5 best and worst movies of 2010

Rooney Mara and Jesse Eisenberg star in “The Social Network.”

DENVER, Colo. — It was the best of movies, it was the worst of movies, and Movies in Toto is here to tally both lists for your consideration. The good news is three of the following five films are already available on Blu-ray and DVD. But so are all five of the clunkers listed below.

Toto lists the best as:

  • The Social Network
  • The Town
  • The Kids are alright
  • The Fighter
  • Toy Story 3

The worst:

  • The Last Airbender
  • Cop Out
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • I'm Still Here
  • Survival of the Dead

I've seen only one of the top 5 and none of the worst. How about you?

O’Donnell: Accusations are ‘thug’ tactics

WASHINGTON – Failed U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell said Thursday that accusations she misspent campaign funds are politically motivated and stoked by disgruntled former campaign workers.

The Delaware Republican appeared on several network morning shows to defend herself a day after The Associated Press reported federal authorities have launched a criminal probe to determine whether she broke the law by using campaign money to pay personal expenses.

“There's been no impermissible use of campaign funds whatsoever,” O'Donnell told ABC's “Good Morning America.” Read more.

Is this the “why is everybody always picking on me” defense?

Food allergies on the rise

It seems that food allergies are more prevalent today than ever. It’s commonplace for food labels to warn that their products may have come in contact with nuts and for preschools to ban nuts of any kind.

Indeed food allergies are on the rise in the U.S., and the top offenders are peanuts, cow’s milk, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, soy, sesame and wheat Read more.

Do you have any food allergies?

Former Israeli president convicted of rape

JERUSALEM – Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav was convicted of rape Thursday, a dramatic fall from grace for a man who rose from humble beginnings to become a symbol of achievement for the nation's Jewish underclass.

The disgraced politician, who had rejected a plea bargain that would have kept him out of jail, will likely be sentenced to four to 16 years in prison.

The verdict was seen as a victory for the Israeli legal system and for women's rights in a decades-long struggle to chip away at the nation's macho culture, which once permitted political and military leaders great liberties. Full story.


High Noon: First Night Spokane

Merrymakers watch the early fireworks show finale obscure the clock tower in Riverfront Park Monday evening, Dec. 31, 2007 at First Night, the New Year's Eve celebration in downtown Spokane.

 On Dec. 31, 2001, Spokane grappled for the first time with a concept called First Night.

It proved an instant hit. About 14,000 revelers jammed downtown streets.

And after that, it really got popular.

Attendance topped 20,000 in its second year and has stayed mostly above that range – with the occasional blizzard-caused dip – ever since.

This year, executive director Chris Martin expects somewhere on the order of 26,000 people for the 10th annual First Night Spokane on Friday. Jim Kershner/SR

The Mr. and are thinking about taking our youngest to the First Night festivities. We've never attended. What are your plans for New Years Eve?


OpenCda:New allegations from anonymous source

Moving this up from yesterday as new information has been forthcoming.

At Open Cda commenter Appalled says: “Over a year ago I formally complained by affidavit to the BOCC and Barry McHugh regarding among other things Sandy Martinson’s operation of a bank account in an unapproved depository, writing checks with one signature, these accounts not controlled being by the treasurer, and funds held for months at a time in some cases over a year before transfer when it was required immediately. This involved numerous inaccuracies, voided checks, and more left unchecked and at no time did the above respond.

I also complained formally to the outside auditor giving copies of checks and transactions but he would never audit these accounts or reply” Read full comment here.

Looks like this mess could get even uglier. Thoughts?

Not for their eyes

LOS ANGELES – Nintendo’s 3DS video game system might be hazardous to the health of children younger than 6, according to a warning posted Wednesday on the Japanese video game company’s website.

“Vision of children under the age of 6 (is in) the developmental stage,” Nintendo’s warning said, according to a Google translation of the website. “Nintendo 3DS, 3-D, including 3-D movies and television, delivers 3-D images with different left and right eye images,” which “has a potential impact on the growth of children’s eyes.”

The 3DS is the gaming giant’s latest version of its DS line of handheld video game consoles.

What do you think about kids younger than 6 playing video games?

Explorers learn rescue/survival skills

They could have been home watching television or playing video games. They could have spent the evening catching up on homework or texting their friends. Instead, a group of teens spent a recent evening learning to tie rope rescue knots.

As members of Spokane County Explorer Search and Rescue, the young people spend time together each month honing their wilderness survival skills and learning the basics of search and rescue operations.Cindy Hval/SR  Full story.

How are your survival skills?

NICE bus riders out of luck

Arleen Grose was stunned to learned that her main source of transportation will be cut after today.

The Hayden 75-year-old is among those affected by the sudden stoppage of the Kootenai Area Transit System (KATS) in urban Kootenai County and the North Idaho Community Express (NICE) in the rural areas of North Idaho, including Shoshone, Kootenai and Bonner counties.

“They may spend millions studying the sex life of the red ant, but don't care about seniors,” said Grose, referring to funding woes for public transportation. “That's atrocious. I've relied on this bus for seven years. “I'm in a wheelchair, and it's how I get out to have lunch with my friends.” Brian Walker/Cda Press Full story here.

How often do you use public transportation?

Larry: Like shooting fish in a barrel

Uncovering corruption in Corrupt d Alene is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. It is easier that that, actually. It is like shooting big fish in a small barrel with a shotgun.

If you don't see it, it is because you don't want to or because you are busy making fun of the people that are trying to expose it. Then, when it blows up, you get all indignant and demand to know why nobody said anything before. There is not just one person out there with stories like his, there are dozens!

I get calls every week from somebody who wants me to look into their bit-o-corruption, but I know that in most cases that if the newspapers were unwilling to investigate for them, they won't do it if I take it to them either.


Sledding Stupidity

Sledders, boarders and parents stand perched atop a hill at Valley Mission Park ready to take to the slopes.

A Spokane man was arrested after two children he was towing on a sled behind an ATV slammed into a parked police car, sending the kids the hospital.

Police say Ramon D. Noggles, 33, was under the influence of alcohol when the collision happened just before 8 p.m. Wednesday in the 3600 block of E. Pratt.

Noggles was booked into jail for two felony counts of vehicular assault. Two additional misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and driving while license suspended/revoked are being forwarded to the prosecutors’ office, Spokane police said. Read more.

Words fail. What would be an appropriate consequence for this dad?



Keeping SCORE

When Carl and Mara Crowell decided to open their specialty pet boutique, Pawpular Companions, in Liberty Lake, they turned to SCORE Spokane and found the help they needed.

A new year often marks fresh beginnings or serves as an impetus to act on long-held dreams. For some residents, 2011 will be the year to launch a new business.

Budding entrepreneurs can find practical help and seasoned advice from the folks at SCORE Spokane. Since 1973, the organization has helped would-be business owners turn their ideas into industry. Staffed primarily by volunteers, SCORE is a nonprofit resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

On Wednesday, SCORE will host its monthly “How to Start a New Business” workshop.Cindy Hval/SR Read more.

Have you ever owned or wanted to own a business?


$139,000 missing

COEUR d'ALENE - Coeur d'Alene police investigating a suspected case of embezzlement by a former longtime Kootenai County employee have determined about $139,000 is unaccounted for from a 10-year period.

Coeur d'Alene detectives received a report Dec. 7 from Kootenai County Clerk-Auditor Dan English of an employee - named by English as chief deputy clerk Sandy Martinson - possibly embezzling money. David Cole, Cda Press More here.

Alison Boggs SR story:

Kootenai County’s former chief deputy clerk is suspected of embezzling $138,905 over 10 years, ending in October, the month before she retired, Coeur d’Alene police said Wednesday.

Sandy Martinson, 62, has not been charged or arrested. Coeur d’Alene police, however, sent a formal request for charges to the Bonner County prosecutor, who is handling the case because Martinson worked for Kootenai County. Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall said he hopes to make a decision by late next week. Potential charges include grand theft and felony misuse of public funds, Marshall said.

The suspected theft highlights a funding loophole within the county that commissioners and the finance director say they are trying to close. More.

Life in a small town has many wonderful benefits. It also has it's drawbacks in that when things like this occur, people are quick to take sides based on who they know instead of the information being presented.

Why do you think the Lake City has seen so much political turmoil recently?

East Coast leaders take heat

An Air India plane is seen at Newark Liberty International Airport on Sunday during a snowstorm that caused thousands of flights to be canceled in the Northeast.

NEW YORK – With many streets still unplowed, New Yorkers are griping that their billionaire mayor is out of touch and has failed at the basic task of keeping the city running, while New Jersey's governor is taking heat for vacationing at Disney World during the crisis.

The fallout against two politicians who style themselves as take-charge guys is building in the aftermath of the Christmas-weekend blizzard that clobbered the Northeast, with at least one New Jersey newspaperman noting Gov. Chris Christie's absence in a column headlined: “Is Sunday's storm Christie's Katrina?” Full story.

Is it fair to blame politicans for the aftermath of snow storms and other acts of God?

Meat labeling

LOS ANGELES – Coming soon to a grocery store near you: Those nutrition labels slapped on everything from cereal to soda pop will soon be required on packages of meat. T

he U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that the new rule, slated to go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, requires that 40 of the most common cuts of poultry, pork, beef and lamb include labels that disclose to consumers the total number of calories, the number of calories from fat and the total grams of fat and saturated fat.

The labels also must include details about protein, cholesterol, sodium and vitamins in the product, according to federal officials.

Do you read food labels?

Zags Win— again!

The Gonzaga men’s basketball team shook off a little rust, incorporated Steven Gray back in the lineup and pulled away from Lafayette College 83-55 Wednesday at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Post-Christmas break games haven’t been kind to Gonzaga in recent seasons. The Bulldogs had dropped four of the last five, but those setbacks came against the likes of Utah, Tennessee, Nevada and Memphis.

Gonzaga, in its first game since defeating Xavier on Dec. 22, opened up a double-digit lead late in the first half against the visitors from Easton, Pa., and cruised to their fourth consecutive win.  More here. Jim Meehan/SR

I'm a one sport per season kind of fan, so I can't get excited about basketball until after the Super Bowl. Are you following the Zags?

Parting Shot: Cat on a cold snowy roof

On facebook BethB posts this photo of her cat Alex peering down at her from his rooftop perch. He then jumped into Beth's arms, which was better for both of them than on her head.

Do your pets enjoy the snow?

Wild Card 12.29.10

Gosh, we had some excitment in blogland yesterday. I'm pleased to say my magic troll wand works just great.

New friends made an appearance and a couple of old favs weighed in. What I've always enjoyed about Hucks Online is the diveristy of opinion and writing styles of the commenters. DFO and I can toss topics all day long, but it's your comments, jibs, jabs and smarts that keep this old blog hopping.

Today's breaking news re: the alleged embezzlement by long time Kootenai Co. employee Sandy Martinson, is sure to have folks riled up.

Fasten your seatbelts. Here's your Hump Day wild card.

All stamps will be forever

This “forever” stamp honoring The Indianapolis 500 is included in the U.S. Postal Service’s 2011 postage stamp collection.

WASHINGTON – Rummaging around for 1- and 2-cent postage stamps when postal rates go up is heading the way of the Pony Express. Beginning in January, all new stamps good for 1 ounce of first-class mail will be marked as “forever.”

The move is designed to help customers cope with postage increases, a U.S. Postal Service official told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

How often do you mail letters or bills?

The Seahawk’s Hope?

Is it just me or does Charlie Whitehurst look like Jesus?

I'm not at all intending to be blasphemous but everytime I look at this picture I think, you know if this guy starts on Sunday, the Seahawks might just have a chance.

Christine O’Donnell under investigation

Defeated Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell, who ran for vice president Joe Biden's former Senate seat, is reportedly under federal investigation for using campaign funds for personal expenses, the Associated Press reports.

The criminal probe is being conducted by two federal prosecutors and two FBI agents, an anonymous source told the AP. The matter has not yet been referred to a grand jury.

Spokespersons with the FBI in Washington and the Delaware Attorney General's office declined to comment.

What is it with politicians mishandling money?

Crazy for Crochet

So my 11-year-old son learned to crochet at school and now he can't stop. He's halfway finished with a hat, and has made scaves for me, his oldest brother and for our cat. He's also made this hat for Milo.

As you can see, Milo really wishes that Sam would not crotchet.

I haven't crocheted since I was in middle school, but I recently bought a hook and yarn and Sam offered to help me relearn the craft.

Do you have any “handy” hobbies like knitting or crocheting?

Storybook brings slain child’s imagination to life

JUPITER, Fla. – The little girl's white, four-post bed is empty, her favorite doll Natalie atop it. Her pink plate and cup are set on the kitchen table; her vitamins await. The last CD she listened to is in her little stereo, the last lesson she learned on the blackboard, the last month she was alive frozen on the unturned page of the calendar.

Since a relative's Thanksgiving Day 2009 shooting rampage at their home, Jim and Muriel Sitton have faced a horrific balancing act: moving on past the time-stopping grief of losing their 6-year-old daughter Makayla Joy, and helping to realize her unfulfilled dreams.

One of Makayla's hopes — to someday publish a book — has now come to life in “The Bear's Castle,” a simple story of a little bear who wants to make all his wishes come true. Full story. MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press

Such a heartbreaking story. Have you ever wanted to publish a book?

This just in: Snow causes problems

Avista Utilities reported nearly 6,200 customers without power at 11:20 a.m. as a difficult combination of heavy snow and wind were bringing down tree limbs and power lines, but that number was cut in half by 12:30 p.m.

The Washington State Patrol closed Highway 27 from Garfield to Palouse due to collisions and blowing snow. WSP said it was responding to two collisions in that vicinity prior to 11 a.m. U.S.

Highway 195 is closed from Pullman to the Idaho state line due to blowing and drifting snow.State Highway 23 is closed from U.S. 195 northwestward to the Lincoln County line due to drifting. Read more.

So, the headline on this post might be a bit snarky, but gosh, snow happens!
How are you coping with this latest storm?

Coach inspires ‘Ducks-style journalism’

A reporter friend in Durango, Colo., Chuck Slothower, calls it, “Ducks-style journalism.”

On Facebook, Chuck writes, “I like to start fast, file a story before lunch. That opens up my ground game with the photographers. Pound the calls. Intercept tipped public documents. No one's seen this tempo. By mid-afternoon, sources are worn down and I'm filing at will. WIN THE DAY.”

He wrote that after reading about Oregon Ducks head football coach Chip Kelly, because we should all try to be more like Kelly.

Question: Who else should we strive to be like in this life?

High Noon: Suing spammers becomes full time job

SAN FRANCISCO – Daniel Balsam hates spam. Most everybody does, of course. But he has acted on his hate as few have, going far beyond simply hitting the delete button. He sues them.

Eight years ago, Balsam was working as a marketer when he received one too many e-mail pitches to enlarge his breasts.

Enraged, he launched a Web site called, quit a career in marketing to go to law school and is making a decent living suing companies who flood his e-mail inboxes with offers of cheap drugs, free sex and unbelievable vacations. Read more.

If you could quit your day job and launch a new career, what would it be?

Favre fined $50K

NEW YORK – Brett Favre has been fined $50,000 by the NFL for a “failure to cooperate” with the investigation into allegations he sent inappropriate messages and lewd photos to former New York Jets game-day hostess Jenn Sterger.

The league said Commissioner Roger Goodell “could not conclude” that Favre violated the league's personal conduct policy based on the evidence currently available to him. Full story.

Did he or didn't he? And if he did, WHY?

Rangel establishes defense fund

WASHINGTON – Rep. Charles Rangel has established a defense fund that will allow supporters to contribute up to $5,000 a year to help pay his legal bills.

The New York Democrat still owes money to his former lawyers, who represented him in an ethics case that ended with his censure.

The Charles B. Rangel Legal Expense Trust was approved by the House ethics committee, the same panel that successfully recommended that the House censure Rangel for financial and fundraising misconduct. More.

I've often wondered who would contribute to a fund like this. Would you give $$ to a politician who was censured for financial misconduct?

Vernon J. Baker Boulevard

COEUR d'ALENE - Vernon Baker's name is now firmly etched into the Kootenai County landscape.

County commissioners on Tuesday officially named a new road north of Hayden after Baker, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and World War II veteran who lived in St. Maries until his death in July.

Baker's widow, Heidy Baker, was thrilled to hear the news.

“Oh, I can't believe it. That is such an honor,” she told The Press by telephone from her home in St. Maries. “This is absolutely wonderful. I thank everyone who was involved. I thank everyone for this.”  More here. Maureen Donlan/Cda Press

Who would you like to see a local road named after?

Recently retired Kootenai County employee suspected of embezzlement

Coeur d’Alene police are investigating a suspected long-term pattern of embezzlement by Kootenai County’s recently retired chief deputy clerk, a county employee for almost 35 years.

Kootenai County’s top elected officials announced in a news conference late Tuesday that a routine review of Sandy Martinson’s records upon her retirement last month revealed irregularities that led them to notify authorities.

The Coeur d’Alene Police Department has been investigating the situation for a month. Bonner County will handle the expected prosecution due to Martinson’s former employment with Kootenai County, said county Clerk Dan English.

English said he understands Martinson has made a statement to the police, but he doesn’t know what was said. He sat ashen-faced Tuesday with the three county commissioners in the Board of Commissioners meeting room. Alison Boggs/SR Read more.

Here's an update.

Martinson is suspected of suspected of embezzling $138,905 over a 10-year period ending in October.

What a sad turn of events. What motivates those in a position of trust to steal from their employers?

Early challengers for 21 Dem seats

WASHINGTON – Less than two months after voters gave Republicans six more Senate seats and control of the House, the GOP is lining up candidates for 2012, well ahead of the pace of previous election cycles.

Looking to ride what they hope will be a continuing Republican wave, nine potential challengers, including two each in Missouri and Virginia, already have said they are weighing bids for the U.S. Senate.

They have an abundance of targets. Twenty-one of the 33 Senate seats up in 2012 are held by Democrats and two others are occupied by independents who align themselves with Democrats.

Do you foresee a continuing Republican wave in 2012?

Cell phone fracas leads to punch

A 68-year-old Boise man is charged with misdemeanor battery after punching a teen on a flight that landed in Boise Tuesday night.

According to Boise police, the suspect, Russell Miller, was upset with a 15-year-old boy who refused to turn off his cell phone after directions from the flight crew.

“He thought he had to take action,” said Lt. Kent Lipple. The boy was flying alone and did not require medical attention.  Read more.

Bubblehead wants to know if it's “OK to punch self-important jerks who think the rules don't apply to them?” I'm thinking our Hucks legal eagles would say no. But have you ever wanted to punch someone over cell phone issues?

Another Tubbs Hill?

The trail around Tubbs Hill and along Lake Coeur d’Alene is well-worn and suitable for running.

COEUR d'ALENE - The goal is to create another Tubbs Hill-type recreation area for the public.

Before that can happen, the city of Coeur d'Alene would have to purchase seven acres of platted land that's for sale to put in parking, trailheads, and benches for hikers and nature lovers. The parks department is proposing to do just that.

Tell me,” said Doug Eastwood, parks director, touring the views surrounding the seven acres for sale on the south side of Fernan Lake off Potlatch Hill Road, overlooking Lake Coeur d'Alene to the south, Fernan Lake to the east, and Canfield Mountain to the north. “What is the price on that?”

The asking price is $462,500. Tom Hasslinger/Cda Press Full story.


Poll: What do you dip your fries in?

Jim_Bob_Cornbread on December 28 at 4:19 p.m.

It's never so much about the fry itself than what is available to put on the tater. Zip fry sauce is top, followed by tartar dip from Dick, Wendy doesn't salt her fries which is too plain Jane but her ketchup is fine, malt vinegar from the Skipper, and to end the list, a choco shake from McDonald with fresh fries, the long greasy type, not the short and crunchy.

Newbie Jim Bob introduces an excellent poll topic: What's your dip of choice for  french fries?

  • Ketchup
  • Fry Sauce
  • Tartar Sauce
  • Malt Vinegar
  • Tabasco
  • Other

Minnesota upsets Philly

Rookie QB Joe Webb guided the Vikings to upset win over Eagles.

PHILADELPHIA – Considering everything else the Minnesota Vikings have endured this season, it was silly to think two extra days sitting around a hotel room would bring ’em down.

No way a determined rookie quarterback named Joe Webb was going to let that happen.

Webb threw for 195 yards and ran for a touchdown in his first career start filling in for an injured Brett Favre, and the lowly Vikings stunned Michael Vick and the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles 24-14 in the NFL’s first Tuesday game since 1946. Read more.

I hate to offend BethB, but I love, love, love it when the underdogs win! How about you?

Parting Shot: Winter’s just warming up

“I caught the limit,” said Tom Colnaric, of Hayden, after ice fishing at Fernan Lake in Coeur d’Alene on Monday.

Winter – barely seven days old, according to the calendar – is making a powerful return to the region this week.

Snow, possibly heavy at times into Wednesday, will be followed by a blast of arctic air from Canada to keep the New Year’s bubbly plenty cold. The low on Friday morning may only reach the single digits in Spokane. More here. Mike Prager/SR

Related snow news.

Are you ready for more snow?

Yes to mega-loads

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Associated Press is reporting that a hearing officer has recommended the Idaho Transportation Department issue permits to ConocoPhillips to move four giant truckloads of equipment across U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho.

The permits were the subject of earlier hearings in Boise, in which opponents argued that the trucks would block the twisting, two-lane road entirely, creating safety concerns, in addition to possibly damaging the pristine river environment and harming tourism.

The transportation department previously had issued permits for the four loads, but they were suspended while the permits were contested. Full story.

Some folks are going to be mighty unhappy.  How about you?

Wild Card 12.28.10

Yesterday was a record-breaking day at Huck's Online. A new page view record was set at 2.56 million views, breaking the old 2.5 million mark. Great job hucksters! Thanks for reading.

Yesterday also marked the first time I received a picture of a shirtless Cda city councilman in my inbox. All I can say is I hope this doesn't mean there's a Councilman Calendar on the way.

Who know what surprises I'll find today, but I'm kind of scared to open my email.

Here's your wild card.

He’s got his own tiny dancer

Sir Elton John is holding close a new tiny dancer.

The piano man and husband David Furnish have become parents to a 7-pound, 15-ounce baby boy born on Christmas Day. The news was first reported Monday night by and confirmed to The Associated Press by John's Los Angeles-based publicist.

. Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John was born in California via a surrogate, whose identity is being protected by the new parents.. Zachary is 62-year-old John's first child with the 48-year-old Furnish. The couple married in 2005. More here.

That's a long name for a tiny dancer.

Ryan Leaf to pen trilogy

For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been!”

Those words by John Greenleaf Whittier might be the mantra for former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf as he sets down to write his autobiography in three volumes.

Sporting News is reporting that Leaf, considered one of the biggest busts in draft history after being No. 2 overall in 1998, will pen three books for Crimson Oak Publishing on his college career, pro career and his battle with painkillers. Full story.

Will you be buying Leaf's new book?

Flying the too-friendly skies posted this yucky tale: 

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — A 50-year-old Florida man has been arrested after an Idaho girl reported the man exposed himself during a flight from Salt Lake City to Lewiston.

The 17-year-old girl says she switched seats when the man sitting next to her began masturbating aboard the Skywest flight.

The Lewiston Tribune reports the girl told her father what happened and he reported it to the Transportation Security Administration. TSA officials notified Lewiston police, who arrested the Gulf Breeze, Fla., man while they investigate him on suspicion of misdemeanor indecent exposure.

Police say the man told them he spilled Tabasco sauce on himself, which caused his crotch to burn and itch.

Words fail. Tell us about your most unpleasant flight seatmate.

Unhappy Meal in Ohio

SANDUSKY, Ohio – Police say a dispute over the freshness of french fries got heated at a McDonald's in northern Ohio. Authorities say a customer refused fries waiting Sunday night in their serving pouches at the restaurant near Sandusky. The manager insisted the fries were fresh.

Police say they were called when the customer said he wouldn't leave until he got different fries. He told officers a McDonald's employee struck him with a mop.

The Sandusky Register reports that a witness said the worker acted only as though he was going to hit the man and said the customer called the employee a derogatory name. No charges were filed.

Police say the man got his money back and left without fries.

What restaurant makes the best french fries?

Judge rules U.S. must provide lawyers

LOS ANGELES – Two mentally disabled immigrants must be given lawyers as they fight deportation, a U.S. district court judge has ruled. Jose Franco-Gonzalez, 29, of Costa Mesa, Calif., and Guillermo Gomez-Sanchez, 48, of San Bernardino, Calif., are at the center of a case that marks one of the first instances in which a judge ordered representation for an individual in immigration proceedings, according to a coalition of advocacy lawyers arguing the men’s cases.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee came last week just before Christmas. In a March lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and other advocates argued that the men’s diminished mental capacities made them unable to voice their own interests.


High Noon: Keith’s Bent Stick Lager

At his Beer Garden blog, Bent details the making of his latest batch o' beer. This one was created with keithincda and Stickman.

As you know by the earlier post, we have been playing with the carboys again and we whipped out a nice batch of hefeweizen a couple of weeks ago, which was spectacular (my reserve was gone on Christmas Eve). But, we also brewed a European Lager that is intended to be as close to Stella Artois as possible.

Stella was originally brewed in the 1300s as a holiday beer, so it only seemed fitting to bring some to life in Keith's garage this holiday season… plus Keith has one of those beverage coolers that we used to cold ferment the beer, which is the true way to brew an authentic Lager. It was my first time using this method, and so far I am pleased with the results — with one minor exception. Read more.

What's your favorite beer?

2010 a deadly year for law enforcement

Two officers in a remote Alaska town were ambushed as they chatted on a street. Two California deputies were killed by an arson suspect with a high-powered rifle as they tried to serve him a warrant. Two other officers doing anti-drug work were gunned down by men along a busy Arkansas highway.

These so-called cluster killings of more than one officer helped make 2010 a particularly dangerous year for law enforcement. Deaths in the line of duty jumped 37 percent to about 160 from 117 the year before, according to numbers as of Dec. 28 compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit that tracks police deaths.

Why do you think there's been an increase in police fatalities?

Raising the bar

COEUR d'ALENE - Wanna serve? Pass a course. Need a ride? Wait in the designated area.

The city of Coeur d'Alene is considering a pair of rule changes it hopes makes downtown's nightlife a little safer. The first is to establish an evening taxi parking, pick-up and drop off zone on the east side of Fourth Street between Sherman and Front avenues.

The second is to require bar and restaurant servers to pass a certified alcohol training course to dish out drinks. “This is basically an option, an effort, a try,” said Mike Kennedy, city councilman, on the city's attention to downtown safety. “If it doesn't work we can” change it. Read more. Tom Hasslinger/Cda Press

Would these new rules make you feel safer in downtown Cda?

Time Capsule: 1986

Garrett Smith, left, opens one of three time capsules buried in Riverside State Park that he and some former sixth-grade classmates unearthed and opened Monday. The group buried the items in 1986.

A group of former Spokane elementary school students reunited Monday to open three time capsules buried in 1986, bringing a flashback of the Ronald Reagan era, Brat Pack movies and leg warmers.

The capsules were an assignment for 15 sixth-graders from throughout Spokane Public Schools who were in a talented-and-gifted class together. The cookie tin and two plastic containers were buried in Riverside State Park.

“We originally said we were going to wait 30 or 40 years, but one of our teachers (Linda Andrews) was afraid she wouldn’t be around that long, so we set a date for July 4, 2010,” said Garrett Smith, one of the students who buried the capsules 24 years ago.  Read more. Jody Lawrence-Turner/SR

What were you doing in 1986?

Goat Hunting

A slight decrease in Panhandle Region moose permits is proposed for 2011, but hunters will could get the spice of two new mountain goat hunts. These and other 2011 Idaho trophy big-game hunting proposals have been released for public comment through Jan. 14.

While moose tags will be increased in a few Panhandle units, they'll be reduced in others according to the proposals for a total of three fewer bull moose tags and five fewer antlerless moose tags, said Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager.  Rich Landers/SR

Really? My first thought when I read this blog post was, They don't shoot mountain goats do they? But apparently they do.

Do you enjoy hunting?

I like big brains and I cannot lie

NEW YORK – Do you spend time with a lot of friends? That might mean a particular part of your brain is larger than usual.

It’s the amygdala, which lies deep inside. Brain scans of 58 volunteers in a preliminary study indicated that the bigger the amygdala, the more friends and family the volunteers reported seeing regularly.

That makes sense because the amygdala is at the center of a brain network that’s important for socializing, says Lisa Feldman Barrett, an author of the work published online Sunday by the journal Nature Neuroscience.

For example, the network helps us recognize whether somebody is a stranger or an acquaintance, and a friend or a foe, said Barrett, of Northeastern University in Boston.

The study can’t figure out whether having a bigger amygdala leads to more friends, or if socializing with a lot of friends creates a bigger amygdala. Barrett said it might be a bit of both.

No word on what this means for facebook users who have more than 1,000 friends. How important to you is socializing with your friends?

Husband facing jail for hacking wife’s e-mail

Leon Walker has been charged under anti-hacking laws aimed at preventing identity theft in the US. The 33-year-old had suspected his wife Clara, who had been married twice before was having an affair with her former husband. He is alleged to have used his computer skills to gain access to her Gmail email account on the shared home computer.

Mr Walker discovered a series of emails which confirmed his suspicions that his wife was cheating on him. With nearly half US divorce cases involving some form of privacy invasion such as the reading of text messages or social networking web pages, the case could have significant legal repercussions. More here.

Are you surprised to learn you can possibly go to jail for hacking an account on your own computer?

Where are the jobs?

nic on December 28 at 7:49 a.m.

Why (when corporate profits are soaring) aren't businesses hiring? Why is unemployment continuing to be a problem?

In this post on yesterday's wild card nic goes on to say that companies aren't hiring here— instead companies continue to outsource. Indeed here's an article supporting his claim:

Corporate profits are up. Stock prices are up. So why isn't anyone hiring?

Actually, many American companies are — just maybe not in your town. They're hiring overseas, where sales are surging and the pipeline of orders is fat.

More than half of the 15,000 people that Caterpillar Inc. has hired this year were outside the U.S. UPS is also hiring at a faster clip overseas. For both companies, sales in international markets are growing at least twice as fast as domestically.

The trend helps explain why unemployment remains high in the United States, edging up to 9.8 percent last month, even though companies are performing well: All but 4 percent of the top 500 U.S. corporations reported profits this year, and the stock market is close to its highest point since the 2008 financial meltdown.

But the jobs are going elsewhere.  PALLAVI GOGOI, AP Business Writer


Steve_Mic: Tomato fillets?

Steve_Mic on Diners, Drive-Ins, Dives & Capones on December 28 at 7:13 a.m.

When Tom Capone made his uncooked pizza sauce, he used something called “tomato fillets.” I never heard of them! Anybody have any idea what they are and where to find them?

Can anyone answer Steve's question?

O Christmas Tree how do we get rid of thee?

Pastor Debra Conklin plugs in the Christmas tree outside the Perry Street Cafe on Tuesday Dec. 14, 2010

SPOKANE, Wash.—Neighbors have a few environmentally friendly options to discard their dried up Christmas trees. Spokane Trash Service will pick up trees placed alongside garbage bins on regularly schedule pick up days. The city will accept trees up to 6 feet in height but if they are taller, they must be cut in half.

Those trees will be chipped up and composted. All Spokane city and county residents can also take their trees to the Waste to Energy Facility on Geiger.  Posted at Read more.

When do you take your Christmas Tree down?

Obama most admired: Palin top religious newsmaker

It was a tough year to be Barack Obama in many respects—but he's ending it on a strong note. Not only did the president rack up a number of key legislative wins in the lame-duck 111th Congress, but he also won the honor of being the man Americans admired most in 2010, according to a Gallup/USA Today poll released Monday.

Twenty-two percent of Americans surveyed said that the president is the person they hold in highest esteem, granting Obama the titled of “Most Admired Man” for the third year in a row in the annual survey.

George W. Bush placed second with 5 percent, and Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Bill Gates rounded out the top five, in that order.

Hillary Clinton placed first in Gallup's survey of the woman Americans most admire. However, while Obama is holding steady in terms of mundane esteem, one of his best-known detractors made impressive inroads in another poll gauging popularity in a beyond this-worldly scale. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin—who also finished second in the “Most Admired Women” tally, ahead of another longtime rival, Oprah Winfrey—took top honors in an online poll Monday for her influence on the country's religious values.

Who do you most admire?

Parting Shot: New puppy eases pain of loss

An Athol woman whose dog died in April after a suspected poisoning has found a new puppy.

Kathleen Callahan turned 58 on Dec. 4. The day before, she brought Aussie, a 6-month-old Shih Tzu-terrier mix, home from the Kootenai Humane Society.

“You were my birthday present,” she said, snuggling the small orange-and-white dog in her lap. “I’ve never had a small dog. I’m not used to a dog sitting in my lap.”

Aussie has brought Callahan and her older two dogs a measure of peace and joy this holiday season, following the horror of losing Paddee on April 27. Paddee was 10 when he died of injuries her veterinarian told Callahan were consistent with consuming rat poison. Alison Boggs/SR

A sweet ending to a tragic tale.

Wild Card 12.27.10

Hope you heard Christa Hazel on Main Street Monday with Kerri Rankin Thoreson. She rocked! And I'm not saying that because my cat and I got a special shout out. (Though Kerri did NOT have to mention my bathrobe). It was worth waking up for!

Moving right along. It has come to my attention that due to Christmas falling on a Saturday, SOME of you have today off. All I can say is: No fair!

Because of the holiday, not only do I have to work today, but I've got an early deadline. Now that I've got the whine out of the way, I'll be on the lookout for some cheese. And blog fodder.

Use this wild card to post some fodder of your own.

Name that food

So, if you've been around Huck's Online long enough you know I refer to Christmas Eve as the Festival of Strange Norwegian Meat. Each year we spend Christmas Eve at my in-laws. My father-in-law and one of my brothers-in-law are first generation Norwegian immigrants. So I've learned to embrace the taste of the Norske.

No lefse this year :-( And we NEVER have lutefisk. The Norwegians' tastebuds have become somewhat domesticated. 

The foods pictured are: potatoes,  Norwegian sauerkraut  (surkaal), medisterkaker (pork patties) with ligonberry sauce, Medisterpoelse (pork sausages), rutabega, ribbe (pork belly).  Not pictured: pinnekjott (salted, dried lamb ribs).

Good times. 

Kennedy’s departure marks end of an era

 WASHINGTON – The Kennedys have held congressional seats, the presidency and the public’s imagination for more than 60 years. That era ends when Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island vacates his U.S. House seat next month, leaving a City Council post in California as Camelot’s sole remaining political holding.

The son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy says he has no qualms about walking away from politics. His departure marks the first time in 63 years that a Kennedy won’t be serving in elected office in Washington.

The son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy says he has no qualms about walking away from politics. His departure marks the first time in 63 years that a Kennedy won’t be serving in elected office in Washington.

The 43-year-old Kennedy said that in his family, “the legacy was always public service, and that didn’t necessarily mean public office.”

Do you have a favorite Kennedy?

Obama calls Eagle’s owner re: Michael Vick

Michael Vick has been getting support from all sides during his road to redemption. He's now getting it from the leader of the free world.

NBC's Peter King reports that Barack Obama called Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie earlier this week to congratulate him for giving Vick a second chance after his release from prison. According to King, the president said that released prisoners rarely receive a level playing field and that Vick's story could begin to change that.

Forget your political allegiances or feelings about Michael Vick and take a step back to think about this. The sitting president of the United States went out of his way to publicly praise a man who, 3 1/2 years ago, many thought would never play again in the NFL. Even the most ardent believers in Vick couldn't have fathomed a turn-around like this. Read more.

What do you think of Michael Vick's road to redemption?

Baby Boomers turn 65

The first baby boomers are turning 65 in 2011 and they may just change the world for older citizens. Front to back are Martha Chadwick, Dick Warwick, Loni Daly and Ed Clark.

The first baby boomers will turn 65 on Saturday. Every day, for the next 19 years, about 10,000 boomers “will cross that threshold,” as the Pew Research Center puts it.

On Jan. 1, 1959, these same first boomers turned 13. No one back then predicted the myriad ways they would revolutionize youth culture. These boomer teens eventually redefined style, trading crew cuts and skirts for long hair and bellbottoms. Rock ’n’ roll became their anthem. Drugs, their escape. And free love? Groovy, man. They took to the streets in their later teens, protesting the Vietnam War and other causes that limited their freedoms, such as curfews in college dorms.

Will these first among the 79 million boomer senior citizens begin an older age revolution? Likely, the experts say. Rebecca Nappi/SR

What do you think this means for our culture's view of aging?

Fill in the Blank

The coldest I have ever been was_______

Idaho’s oldest Grange

This is going to be my new life,” said Karen King, left, of Coeur d’Alene, as she talked with Angela Thompson, of Post Falls, about the Cloverleaf Grange in Post Falls on Dec. 17. Attendance at the grange – established in 1906 – is currently on an upswing.

Yellow lights shone from the Cloverleaf Grange’s windows on a recent snowy evening, and the parking lot was full of vehicles.    Two dozen people gathered inside for a Christmas potluck. They also were celebrating the comeback of Idaho’s oldest grange.

Not too long ago, the Cloverleaf Grange’s future was in doubt. Membership in the grange in Post Falls had shrunk to 22 members – only a handful of whom were still active.

In April, Idaho State Grange Master Donald Billmire sent a letter to the grange, saying he was “regretfully” taking action to revoke its charter. Becky Kramer/SR

Have you ever been part of a Grange?

Hucks column to have new home

This’ll be my last Huckleberries column as part of Handle Extra. When you next see Huckleberries, it’ll be after the new year, included in the weekend edition of the regular Spokesman-Review. The Handle Extra is going away at year’s end. Read more. D.F. Oliveria/ SR

 What will you miss most about the Handle Extra?

OTV: New Year’s Eve North Idaho style

Fashion wise, different cultures bring in the New Year in a variety of different ways. For example, fancy panties are de rigueur for folks in Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela; red underpants are supposed to bode well for love in the new year, while yellow knickers indicate dreams of money.

Here in North Idaho it doesn’t really matter what color your skivvies are, at least for the most part. It’s what you’re wearing on the outside that’s important and you’ll want to break out your finest ski bunny outfit for New Year’s Eve at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort ($40). Patrick Jacobs/SR

What are your plans for New Year's Eve?

Hef to wed again

CHICAGO – Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner says he's gotten engaged again. Hefner said in a Twitter message early Sunday that he'd given a ring to girlfriend and Playmate Crystal Harris, saying she burst into tears. “This is the happiest Christmas weekend in memory,” he wrote.

To clear up confusion over whether the ring was simply a Christmas gift, Hefner later tweeted: “Yes, the ring I gave Crystal is an engagement ring. I didn't mean to make a mystery out of it. A very merry Christmas to all.”

This would be the third marriage for the 84-year-old, star of E! reality series “The Girls Next Door,” which chronicles Hefner's life at the Playboy Mansion. He divorced Playmate Kimberly Conrad last year. Read More.

There's a 60 year age gap between the two lovebirds. What's the age gap between you and your spouse or S/O?

Land Board’s PR agent top GOP operative

BOISE – Idaho’s state Land Board has paid more than a quarter-million dollars since 2007 to one of the state’s top Republican operatives for a public relations campaign, but officials say the state’s getting a great deal. “We’re very happy with the results so far,” said Lands Department Director George Bacon.

Mike Tracy’s one-man PR firm has developed a DVD about state endowment lands, scheduled dozens of presentations by Tracy or state officials to everything from school boards to Rotary clubs, and commissioned two polls to track how much Idahoans know about the state endowment and how they view it. Read more. Betsy Z. Russell/SR


iluvcda: McEuen Field plans posted


iluvcda on December 27 at 10:18 a.m. The design concepts are now uploaded. We could all share our inputs on:

Are you going to log onto facebook and weigh in on he proposed design plans?

Polar Plunge Proof

Mike Kennedy sends this photo along as proof that he has indeed plunged. He also sent other photos, but I've chosen not to post those. I think FCC decency standards apply to blogs.

“Use the pictures if you must, but please tell them you airbrushed weight onto me lest women begin throwing themselves at me during council meetings,” says Kennedy.

Like that's going to stop women from throwing things at him during council meetings.

What say you? Has MikeK met his burden of proof?

Hawaiian governor takes aim at birthers

HONOLULU – Frustrated by what he sees as a never-ending campaign to undermine President Barack Obama, Hawaii’s new governor says he plans to use his new post to counter conspiracy theorists who continue to allege that the president was not born in the United States. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat who took office Dec. 6, has known Obama since the president’s days growing up in Hawaii. He’s also one of the few people who knew both Obama’s father, also named Barack, and mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.

That long-standing relationship is a major reason Abercrombie, 72, takes umbrage with the persistent effort by Obama’s most ardent foes to assert that he was born in Kenya, which would constitutionally bar him from holding the office of president. “Now that I’m governor, I’m going to do something about that,” Abercrombie vowed during an interview in his fifth-floor office in the state capitol.

Do you think birthers will ever be convinced that Obama's presidency is legitimate?

Mike K to KT: I have done the plunge!

Oh dear. There's trouble brewing in Huckleberry land. On this morning's Main Street Monday radio show, Kerri Thoreson asserted that Cda City Councilman Mike Kennedy had not done the Polar Bear Plunge.


I didn't hear the show (weekly 7 am Monday staff meeting) but I HAVE DONE THE PLUNGE! There are pictures, and I demand equal time. I'm calling the FCC. Or the FEC. Or the SEC. Whomever I have to.”

Should we demand MikeK post pictures of himself participating in the Plunge? Is that something we really want to see?

Have you/will you do the Polar Bear Plunge?

Minnick’s concession made Twitter history

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick talks about the race on Election Night in Boise

BOISE – Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick’s election-night concession on Twitter made history – according to Twitter. It was ranked No. 8 on the site’s list of the “10 Most Powerful Tweets of 2010.”

The tweet, sent by campaign manager John Foster around 2 a.m. as Election Night stretched into morning, said, “Congratulations to Raul Labrador on a hard-earned win, and best of luck as Idaho’s next Congressman.”

In its “Year in Review,” the microblogging social network site reported, “Twitter was a powerful campaign tool during the 2010 U.S. Midterm Elections, and Election Night results often broke first on Twitter. Demonstrating how quickly the world of political communications is changing, Idaho incumbent Walt Minnick’s campaign manager issued a concession Tweet.” Betsy Z. Russell/SR

Who do you follow on Twitter? Or are you not a Tweeter, er Twit, uh Twitterer. Oh, you know what I mean.

KTEC on fast track

It's full speed ahead for the Kootenai Technical Education Campus. The Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene and Lakeland school districts, along with their business partners, are proceeding ahead with the professional-technical high school on the Rathdrum Prairie as if a planned bill expediting the construction will pass in the upcoming Legislature.

“We are hoping the construction timeline can be moved up (to 2011 instead of 2012) if the legislation is changed to allow us to start construction before we collect all the money” said Post Falls Superintendent Jerry Keane, who is helping shepherd the project. “We've decided that we are going to operate for now as if the legislation is going to be changed.

“We are moving forward with our design and programming work on a fast track schedule.”  Brian Walker/Cda Press


Allred stays focused on citizens’ interests

Keith Allred, left, talks with 1st District Rep. Walt Minnick during a picnic for Canyon County Democrats  July 10 in Nampa, Idaho.

BOISE – Before Keith Allred ran for governor of Idaho, the former Harvard University professor was becoming an increasingly common sight in Idaho’s state Capitol, where he spent five years lobbying for what he called “the common interest” on behalf of his nonpartisan citizens group.

Allred brought together people of all political stripes from throughout the state into a group that collectively studied and debated issues, and where they reached broad consensus, he lobbied for those positions in the state Legislature, with some notable successes.

Now, after running on the Democratic ticket and losing to Republican Gov. Butch Otter, Allred says he plans to focus on business consulting work for the next two to three years, but he says the idea of the common interest isn’t over – and he still hopes to expand it nationwide. More here.  Betsy Russell

Losing Seahawks may be division champs

TAMPA, Fla. — The tailspin continued Sunday for the Seahawks. So, too, did their playoff chase. Yes, it’s been that kind of season for the Seahawks and the NFC West. Seattle suffered its seventh lopsided loss in nine weeks, falling 38-15 to Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium, but in a historically bad division, that result once again didn’t hurt the Seahawks’ playoff hopes.

And after an up-and-down season it all comes down to the final game for the Seahawks. Beat St. Louis at Qwest Field on Sunday, and the Seahawks, 7-9 record and all, will be champions of the division that has turned into a punch line. More here.

Watching a Seahawk game lately is like undergoing a voluntary root canal. But I'll still be watching next Sunday. WIll you?

Don’t forget to tune in

Hucks Online regular Christa Hazel will be Kerri Thoreson's special guest on Main Street Monday. You can hear Christa at 7 a.m. on

Who wants to call DFO to make sure he's awake?

Christmas Weekend Wild Card

Merry Christmas Hucksters!  I'm already knee-deep in wrapping paper.Hope your weekend is filled with all the things and people you love most.

Leave your own Christmas greetings or other thoughts on this wild card.
See you Monday!

Poll Results: Working Christmas Eve

60% of Hucksters had today off. 20% had to work and 20% had to work but are leaving early. I'm with the second 20% and I'm outta here :-)

Merry Christmas to all!

Christmas Eve Wild Card

I'm still recovering from my adventures at Sushi Track last night. I had to grab my food from a moving conveyor belt. I confess I got a bit competitive with the gal acrosss the belt from me and grabbed some plates just because it looked like she wanted them. And honestly, her size 0 frame probably needed the protein more than my size None of Your Darn Business.

But onward and upward. Or downward. Or something. Today, I must gear up for the Fesitval of Strange Norwegian Meats. This afternoon I will meet my sister-in-laws and we will make meatballs and brown sausages while making a lot of inappropriate jokes. We all have our ethnic traditions.

Christmas Eve is the only time I envy vegetarians.

Tell us about your Christmas Eve traditions or anything else that's on your mind on this Wild Card.

Football Moms

New York Giants defensive end Dave Tollefson is one of the bit players on a defensive line that has ranked among the league's best in recent years. A seventh-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2006 out of Northwest Missouri State, Tollefson has worked his way into the Giants rotation and has played in every game but the opener this season. But in last Sunday's thrill ride against the Philadelphia Eagles, Tollefson suffered a knee injury and was taken to the locker room so that the team's medical staff could get a look at the severity of the situation.

They shouldn't have bothered. You see, Tollefson's mom, Debra Crocker, was waiting for her son in the locker room, and she made it very clear as to where he should be after traveling 3,000 miles to watch him play.

“Tape it up! I didn't fly here from California to watch you ride the pines!” Mrs. Crocker said, in a tone that certainly would have made head coach Tom Coughlin proud.

“She was like 'What are you doing?'” Tollefson told the New York Daily News. “I said, 'Mom, I'm hurt.' She said, 'I don't give a [expletive]. Get it taped up and get the hell in there! I don't want to hear this. More here.

Wow! Football moms don't pull any punches, do they?

Community provides Christmas for All

The 25th annual Press Christmas for All campaign is now officially in the books, and the towering goal of $200,000 - the most ambitious goal yet - was conquered.

Told that the goal had been reached, Anonymous in Athol, who helped this year's campaign with a pair of challenges and some massive giving, said: “In this economy most things are way down.

The success of Press Christmas for All really speaks to the people of North Idaho.” The success spoke to the hundreds of donors - and to the thousands of recipients. Cda Press

Do you give more to charities during the holidays than during other times of the year?

Hmoffsuite: How do they count eagles?

hmoffsuite on December 24 at 1:04 p.m.

Maybe powderfarmer (or anyone else) can answer a question for me. When the F&G, or whomever, is out on a counting expedition, how do they actually go about that? Do they count each and every one they encounter and add to a total? Or, use some averaging method? How do they know that each bird they have counted is a unique eagle, and they are not counting the same ones over and over again?

I resisted the urge to say they count them like this 1, 2, 3… But hmo has a good question. Anyone know the answer?

Santa Skis on Lake Cda

Don Sausser snapped this photo moments ago. Here's an even better shot than the earlier pic. Seems Santa is taking a water ski break from last minute preparations.

Christian tourism paying off

A Russian tourist touches a column inside the Church of the Nativity, where  Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, on Thursday.

NAZARETH, Israel – Strains of “Silent Night” stream from the tour bus speakers on what has become known as the Jesus circuit in Nazareth, northern Israel. Locals here joke that the carols constitute a whole new category of music in the largely Palestinian city, but the bigger joke, they claim, is making money selling Americans their own Christmas music. “There have always been Christians who come to the Holy Land. But in recent years they come in huge groups, in tour bus caravans, in the thousands!” said Ibrihim Mansouf, a local shop owner in Nazareth. “They want to buy anything, anything that was made in the Holy Land.” Read more.

Have you ever been to Israel? Do you want to go?

Fill in the Blank

My favorite thing about Christmas is _________

Cat Napping

In the interest of full disclosure I should divulge that I just woke up from a mid morning nap. I had a late night last night and I'll have another late one tonight.

At least I'm working from home so I could actually nap in my cozy bed, unlike poor DFO who naps at his desk.

Are you a fan of naps?

Black Friday: The Sequel

NEW YORK – It’s Black Friday, The Sequel. Stores are rolling out deals and expect to be swimming in shoppers on Christmas Eve as stragglers take advantage of a day off work. For retailers, the last-minute rush caps the best year since 2007. With Christmas falling on a Saturday this year, today is a holiday for most U.S. workers. That lets shoppers hit the stores first thing in the morning. “I’m calling it Fantastic Friday, because I really do think it’s going to be one of the busiest days of the year,” said Marshal Cohen, an analyst with researcher NPD Group. More here.

When did you finish your Christmas shopping?

Biden: Gay marriage invevitable

WASHINGTON – Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that the country is evolving on the issue of gay marriage and he thinks it's inevitable there will be national consensus. He said on ABC's “Good Morning America” the same thing is happening with the issue of marriage that happened with gays' service in the military. Changes in attitudes by military leaders, those in the service and the public allowed the repeal by Congress of the “don't ask, don't tell” policy that will eventually allow gays to serve openly in the military. Gay marriage is still not legal in most states.

President Barack Obama recently said his feelings on the gay marriage issue are evolving, but he still believes in allowing strong civil unions that provide certain protections and legal rights that married couples have.

Gay marriage inevitable: Agree or disagree?

Comp plan revisions finally done

After several years, it's done. The Kootenai County commissioners wrapped up deliberations on all chapters of the updated Comprehensive Plan this week, completing the process that began with the Keziah Watkins report in 2006.

It feels good,” Commissioner Todd Tondee said on Thursday.

The officials' most recent review of the document primarily involved reorganization and wordsmithing, said Commissioner Rick Currie, which he said was crucial for condensing the massive visionary document.

“It's saying the same thing, but with a lot less words,” said Currie, whose term ends the first week of January.

He added that the commissioners had earlier voted on significant changes to the plan, submitted by the county Planning and Zoning Commission last January, including the removal of acreage designations the commissioners felt would be better specified in zoning ordinances.

Tondee said he expects the document, which acts as a roadmap for future development in the county, to offer clear direction on shaping the area. More here. Alecia Warren/Cda Press


Joker: Larry Spencer drinking game

Joker on December 23 at 10:04 p.m.

In the spirit of holidays, I have invented the Larry Spencer drinking game. If Larry appears in a news story claiming somebody broke the rules or law, down a shot.

If a newspaper publishes a Larry Spencer letter to the editor or opinion piece that alleges corruption by the establishment, down a glass of wine or beer.

If Larry Spencer sends out a press release that promises to bring down the system, chug three beers.

If Larry Spencer files a lawsuit against a government entity, down five shots of vodka.

If Larry Spencer mistakes the facts, lies or distorts the truth online, slip yourself a mickey and pray you don't wake up in front of the Kroc Center naked.

Please feel free to add more rules to the Larry Spencer drinking game.

Camp Four Echoes facelift

Work continued at Camp Four Echoes near Worley, Idaho, on Monday. The camp is undergoing a $1.2 million upgrade.

Construction of a $1.2 million lodge at Camp Four Echoes, south of Coeur d’Alene, has begun. Pam Lund, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, said crews are trying to make up for time lost to the unusually snowy November. Girl Scouts hopes the 11,500-square-foot camp centerpiece will be ready by July, she said. Read more. Bert Caldwell/SR

Were you ever a Girl/Boy Scout?

Slobbery, tail-wagging reunion

Ray Behrens, his wife, Kaci, and son, Danyole, 2, meet Bullet, left, and Trigger, right, the two beagles given up by Behrens six years ago when he went into the military.

A reunion between a former soldier and his two long-lost friends – beagles named Bullet and Trigger – was not short on slobbery kisses, wagging tails and treats Thursday. Since they parted in 2004, Raymond Behrens, 24, served as a Navy Seabee in Japan, Iraq and twice in Afghanistan. When he enlisted, he begrudgingly gave up the two dogs, which he got when he was 16. Six years later, he has his dogs back.  Chelsea Bannach/SR

Great story. Do you have a pet you'd like to be reunited with?

Record 254 bald eagles sighted

A migrating mature bald eagle cruises above the cold water looking for prey during a stopover  at Lake Coeur d'Alene.

 “I can hardly believe it myself, but the total today was 254, well over the record!” said Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist on Thursday after completing her weekly survey of bald eagles at Wolf Lodge Bay. In the more than two decades BLM has been surveying the annual eagle congregation, the previouis highest count was 156 eagles in December 2004. The 254 birds counted today compares with 104 at the same time last year, Hugo said. And it's a huge leap from the 117 she counted just last week. Read more. Rich Landers/SR

Stories and photos like this remind me of what I miss, stuck indoors. My only experience of bald eagles this season has been through Landers' blog and Brian Plonka's photos. How about you? Have you witnessed the return of these magnificient birds?

Parting Shot: Bubbly

People spray champagne after winning a portion of the main prize of Spain's Christmas lottery in Palleja, Spain, Wednesday.

Do you like champagne?

Wild Card 12.23.10

My kids call today Christmas Eve Eve. I think they do that just to remind me of all I have left to do. Fudge-making, present-wrapping and sending out last-minute Christmas cards to people I didn't know were sending me Christmas cards that I now feel obligated to send Christmas cards to.
It may be a tense 24-hrs.

Some of yesterday's fill-in-the blank responses re: what do you most want for Christmas moved me. LastDem's hope for the troops to come home— CdaMom's wish for her husband's safe return, and kamm's yearning for solitude.

Some things can be wrapped in paper and placed under the tree. As for me, I'll just settle for a little peace and goodwill in blogland today.

Here's your wild card.

McEuen Field possibilities

COEUR d'ALENE - The plan is in place.

With it come state-of-the art features such as a giant water fountain south of Fourth Street and Front Avenue, a meeting point that displays public art with walking paths through it.

Stepping southwest from the fountain is the Grand Plaza, a courtyard to host farmers markets, art shows and gatherings, its southern steps descending to Lake Coeur d'Alene.

To the east of the plaza is a promenade, with sun chairs and landscapes, which runs south to the city marina, with double the existing boat mooring slips. There a waterfall and garden features greet hikers around the Third Street entrance to Tubbs Hill. Tom Hasslinger/CDA Press

What do you think of the proposed plan?

Suspended college professor still collecting salary

An Idaho State University (ISU) professor suspended almost four years ago after being hit with federal charges stemming from a hoax involving threatening to mail someone a deadly virus is still receiving a yearly salary of close to $70,000. Professor Thomas F. Hale was suspended from teaching by ISU in early 2007 after being indicted in a Utah federal court in late 2006. Hale was charged with mailing a substance with a message saying the substance may contain the hantavirus, a deadly virus humans can contract from rodents. He was also indicted on two other counts related to a bankrupcy filing. More here. Brad Iverson-Long/Idaho Reporter

Spencer strikes again

BOISE - A North Idaho political activist and backer of embattled Rep. Phil Hart is trying to file a House ethics complaint against Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake - though only House members can file such complaints. Anderson filed an ethics complaint against Hart last month, charging that the Athol Republican has violated his oath of office by refusing to pay state and federal income taxes and contending they’re unconstitutional; by invoking legislative privilege to try to win delays in his tax cases; and by illegally logging state school endowment land to build a log home and then refusing to pay a still-outstanding judgment for the 1996 timber theft. Activist Larry Spencer, in a five-page letter to House Speaker Lawerence Denney dated Dec. 20, claims Anderson has a conflict of interest because he’s a contractor and voted for contractor licensing legislation that Spencer opposes; and because he worked on a state milfoil eradication program and lives on Priest Lake, which is among the lakes where milfoil is now being eradicated. Betsy Russell/SR

Larry Spencer has been busy! Any predictions as to the outcome of his attempt to file an ethics complaint against Rep. Anderson?

Extra benefits for some former Idaho lawmakers

Some former lawmakers will receive extra benefits within the state retirement system thanks to a provision of Idaho Code that defines who can be considered a full-time public employee of the state of Idaho. Public employees, including state legislators, are part of the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI), the agency which administers the state’s retirement accounts. When lawmakers take office, they automatically have a portion of their legislative pay deducted and contributed to their personal PERSI account. That money is then saved, invested, and paid out when a legislator retires.

But for a select few lawmakers-turned-administrators, time in the Legislature followed by an appointment to a state administrative position can mean big bucks at retirement thanks to Idaho Code 59-1302 (14), a statute which determines how employees are defined with regard to PERSI. Dustin Hurst/Idaho Reporter Read more.


Poll: Christmas Eve

I'm wondering if I'm the only one who'll be working on Christmas Eve. Are you:


Leaving early

Taking the day off

  • Wednesday Poll: 88 of 127 respondents (69.29%) believe they'd be rated “nice” on Santa's list this year, while 39 of 127 respondents (31.71%) said they'd been “naughty.”

Main Street Monday special guest

Kerri Rankin Thoreson writes that Hucks Online regular Christa Hazel will be her guest on Main Street Monday at KVNI 1080. Tune in at 7 a.m. to hear Christa.

I'm thinking she'll be even MORE coherent than DFO was when he made his appearance. But I could be wrong. Can't wait to hear what Christa has to say. Maybe she'll give a shout out to her FAVORITE facebook friend and SR columnist Cindy Hval.

Hey. It could happen.

Inlander Short Fiction Contest Returns

After a one-year hiatus, we’re back with a different kind of fiction contest. This year, we shortened the word limit (to 1,500) and added a thematic requirement (tell us something about redemption). Thirty-two regional writers responded with stories involving dystopias and disillusionment, broken relationships and ghosts, the Civil War and Earth, Wind and Fire. A panel of four Inlander writers — Luke Baumgarten, Nicholas Deshais, Jacob H. Fries and I — evaluated the entries.

Here we present our favorite story, Robert Salsbury’s “Resource Management,” along with “Alive and Well,” “A New Mexico Story,” and three runners-up. Michael Bowen/Inlander

Have you ever entered a writing contest?

Fill in the blank

The most surprising thing I found in my Christmas stocking was________

Angels I didn’t hear

They arrived at 10:30 p.m., which is a bit late for guests. I opened the door and a gust of chill winter wind swept through the entryway. Somewhat self-consciously, I read a prepared speech: “Hello and welcome archangels to our home.”

My husband shook his head and the cat slipped out through the partially opened door. After herding Milo back inside, I found myself at a loss. I’ve never spoken to one angel before, let alone hosted five of them.

A few weeks prior, I’d received a note from my friend Beth asking if I’d host five archangels for five days. In return the angels would grant me three wishes, one for the world, one for my family and one for myself. “So, are they breakable?” I asked, picturing the havoc my boys could wreak on porcelain or pottery figurines.

“No,” she replied. More here. Cindy Hval, SR

Do you believe in angels? Have you ever been visited by one?

Obama marks accomplishments, spending fights loom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he expected a robust debate with Republicans next year on the need to cut spending but was encouraged by the climate of compromise that led to a string of recent legislative victories.

When Obama returns to Washington from a Christmas break in Hawaii, he will face tough fights over reducing government spending, tackling record $1.3 trillion U.S. budget deficit and reforming the tax code with Republicans who will take control of the House of Representatives and gain strength in the Senate. Read more.


Spider-Man: a dangerous musical

NEW YORK – The curtain will go up again Thursday on “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” after the producers of the accident-plagued Broadway musical agreed to new safety precautions to prevent another fall like the one that left a stuntman seriously injured.

The state Department of Labor said it is satisfied the producers of the $65 million musical have made the necessary adjustments.

Wednesday night's performance was canceled so that the cast and crew could rehearse the new precautions, which include a requirement that a second person ensure that the harnesses used by performers during the show's high-flying stunts have been put on properly. More here.

What's your favorite Broadway musical?

Bell-ringing record shattered

Captain Kyle Smith, of the Salvation Army, mans his post outside the Northpoint Walmart, Dec. 17,  in Spokane. Smith was trying to break the record for continuous bell ringing. He was hoping to stay for 32 hours – and did.

He rang in the morning. He rang at night. He rang in the sunshine. He rang in the snow. For 36 hours, Salvation Army Corps Capt. Kyle Smith stood by his red kettle and rang his bell. By doing so, he shattered the previous world bell-ringing record of 30.5 hours. Read more. Cindy Hval/SR

Is there a world record that you would like to set?

APhoto of the Day

Smiles en route: 7-year-old Mary Berglund of Boise, gets a high-five from an actor dressed as the Nutcracker as she waits for a flight at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Wednesday.


You write the cutline.


Embassy blasts in Rome injure 2

ROME — Package bombs exploded at the Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome today, injuring the two people who opened them, officials said. Police ordered checks at all embassies after a false alarm was also reported at the Ukrainian embassy.

No one immediately claimed responsibility, but authorities appeared to discout domestic anarchists or protesters.

“It’s a wave of terrorism against embassies, something much more worrisome than a single attack,” Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said.

Do you believe acts of terrorism like this are on the rise? Why or why not?

Holiday Goodies

Rum raisin bars combine eating, drinking in one yummy treat.

If Thanksgiving is about eating, then surely New Year’s Eve is about drinking.

And what’s better than eating or drinking? Eating while drinking.

“The best stew I ever had someone made with Scotch,” says Patricia Helding, founder of New York’s Fat Witch Bakery, who likes to frost brownies for New Year’s Eve with Champagne icing.

“It just gives it a little fizz and that lovely Champagney flavor.”

We all know booze adds body to stews and roasts, but Helding says it also imparts aroma and sweetness to baked goods. It makes a classic brownie festive – think Kentucky bourbon balls – and far-out confections like rum raisin bars as playful as ice cream. Read More.

What's your favorite holiday treat?


Victim of hammer attack improving in Cda

A woman seriously injured in a hammer attack that killed another woman is improving at a Coeur d'Alene hospital.

Lorraine Y. Wallis, 58, has been upgraded to fair condition, Kootenai Medical Center employees said Wednesday. 

Wallis was in critical condition after being beaten with a hammer at a mobile home in Bayview on Sunday. Patricia A. Heath, 43, died from head injuries suffered in the attack. Meghann Cuniff/Sirens and Gavels

Herb Huseland reflects on the tragedy which hit very close to home for him, here.

Mr. B’s Night Before Christmas

Mr_Bloggy on December 22 at 8:07 p.m.

Twas the Night of the Living Dead Before Christmas (Part 1)

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was living, not even a mouse;

The stockings were torn from the chimney with hate,

In hopes that St. Nicholas would always be late;

The children were wrestled and slugged in their beds,

While visions of torn thumbs shrieked in their heads;

And mamma in her death-rattle, and I torn and scabbed,

Had just settled down for eternity’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

More zombies shambling and chewing brain matter.


WSU Wins BSU Wins GU Wins

Gonzaga forward Elias Harris shoots over  Andrew Taylor in the first half of Wednesday night’s 64-54 home win over the Xavier Musketeers

Big night in sports!

Cougs win first Hawaii game 83-57

Boise State downs Utah 26-3

GU men defeat Xavier 64-54

Favorite game of the night? Favorite highlight?

Parting Shot: Spokane Valley gets a new fire truck

The new Spokane Valley Fire Rescue 8 fire truck will be dedicated in a ceremony on Dec. 23, 2010. The photo is courtesy of the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Spokane Valley Fire is taking a ceremony used in other cities and making it it's own. A housing ceremony for the department's new Rescue 8 truck is set for 11 a.m. Thursday at Fire Station 8.

Wild Card 12.22.10

On the first day of DFO's vacation Santa gave to me…

Nothing yet. But I'm asking the folks in the newsroom to keep an eye on my mailbox. I mean, DFO wouldn't forget to send me a firefighter calendar two years in a row, right? It's not possible! On the off chance that he's mailing it to my home address I'm sending my kids out every hour to check our mailbox. I'll let you know when it arrives. I'm so excited!

Use this Wild Card to discuss whatever you're excited about. Within reason.

Senate ratifies nuke pact

President Barack Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden at left, speaks Friday before signing the bipartisan tax package.

WASHINGTON — The Senate today ratified an arms control treaty with Russia that reins in the nuclear weapons that could plunge the world into doomsday, giving President Barack Obama a major foreign policy win in Congress’ waning hours.

Thirteen Republicans broke with their top two leaders and joined 56 Democrats and two independents in providing the necessary two-thirds vote to approve the treaty. The vote was 71-26.

The accord, which still must be approved by Russia, would restart onsite weapons inspections as successors to President Ronald Reagan embraced his edict of “trust, but verify.”

Vice President Joe Biden presided over the Senate and announced the vote. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton observed the vote from the Senate floor. Both had lobbied furiously for the treaty’s approval.



Voyaging to Narnia

Will Poulter, right, and Reepicheep the warrior mouse  in a scene from “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

I'm a big C.S. Lewis fan and am looking forward to seeing this movie tonight with my family. If you've already seen it and hate it, don't tell me! Movies can never really capture the essense of a book, just like books can never have the sensory appeal of movies.

What's your favorite movie that was based on a book?

Going to the gym can be unhealthy

New equipment at the North YMCA, such as this treadmill, overlooks the pool.

If getting in shape via a gym membership is on your list of New Year's resolutions— think again. I felt a teensy bit guilty about missing my workout last night, until Berry Picker LizA posted this on my FB wall:

Consumer Reports Insights: Health clubs harbor hidden dangers: Joining a health club can make it easier and more fun to exercise. But gyms can also present safety problems. Bacteria in poorly maintained pools can spread disease. Antibiotic-resistant staph infections can be picked up in crowded locker rooms and from heavily used exercise equipment. You can be injured or even suffer an exercise-related heart problem.

Whew! Thanks Liz.

Do you belong to a gym or health club? How often do you go?

What we have here is a failure to communicate

WASHINGTON — Even as the White House sought to reassure Americans that it has fixed mistakes that nearly allowed al-Qaida to take down a U.S.-bound airliner last Christmas, it acknowledged today another security misstep: The nation’s top intelligence official was never briefed about a terrorist plot and numerous arrests this week in Britain.

The past year has been the most challenging yet for President Barack Obama on the terrorism front. After the failed attack last Christmas, the administration has dealt with an attempted car bombing in Times Square, a nearly successful attack on U.S.-bound cargo planes and several nascent plots disrupted by the FBI.

Security officials have been on edge for days because of an increase in intelligence “chatter” about a possible holiday-season attack. Officials have said there is no specific, credible threat and White House homeland security adviser John Brennan said Wednesday that authorities are working around the clock.

But Obama’s security team was forced to defend itself amid questions about why Director National Intelligence James Clapper was not in the loop about a roundup of terror suspects in London. Clapper, appearing with Brennan on ABC News on Tuesday night, appeared stumped when asked whether the plot in London could have threatened the U.S.

How confident are you in the competency of our national intelligence officials?

7 ways to puncture a wine windbag

Elizabeth Richardson pours wine for a tour group at the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery in Woodinville, Wash.


Uncle Patrick gargles his wine. “I taste blackberries and cherry and oak,” he says, “and a lot of tannins.”

The only thing you know about wine is that it comes in different colors. But, with holiday meals approaching, here’s how to puncture wine windbags, thanks to Washington State University Professor Kathleen Williams:

Precipitate saliva. When Patrick says he tastes tannins, you say: “Tannins don’t have a taste. They create a sensation as they precipitate the proteins out of your saliva.” Tip: Stroke your chin sagely as you pronounce “precipitate.”

Throw in a German word. Patrick swirls the glass. “Good legs,” he observes. You say, “The French call them tears. The Germans call them Kirchenfenster or church windows, because they form an arch.” Read more.

Are you knowlegable about wine? Do you have a favorite you'll be serving with your holiday meals?

BNSF resists more aquifer funding

Spokane Valley project manager Ken Knutson plugs an ear against a BNSF freight train horn blast at Park Road south of Trent Avenue.

Each year, BNSF Railway Co. pays about $100,000 for programs that protect the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

The money is funneled through the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, where it helps teach school kids about the aquifer that provides drinking water to more than 500,000 of the region’s residents; pays for inspections of industrial sites, including BNSF’s diesel refueling depot in Hauser; and funds collaborative work with other agencies aimed at keeping the aquifer free of contaminants.

The payments date to the 2004 opening of the depot, where up to 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel is pumped into each locomotive. But BNSF wants the payments to stop after 2013. Becky Kramer, SR

What do you think of BNSF's position?


Fill in the blank

What I most want for Christmas is________

Net Neutrality

LOS ANGELES – In a highly controversial vote, the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday approved new regulations for Internet access designed to prevent large telecommunications companies from squashing competitors.

The “net neutrality” rules prohibit companies that provide high-speed Internet service from blocking access by customers to any legal content, applications or services, such as using the free Skype online phone service.

For the first time, there will be government regulations to keep information flowing freely on the Internet and requiring Internet service providers to give customers more details about how they run their networks.

What do you think about the FCC's decision?

Deal reached on aid package for 9/11 responders

The T-shaped steel beam that gained fame as the ground zero cross.

WASHINGTON – After a last-minute compromise, the Senate passed legislation Wednesday to provide up to $4.2 billion in new aid to survivors of the September 2001 terrorism attack on the World Trade Center and responders who became ill working in its ruins.

A House vote was expected on the bill within hours as lawmakers raced to wrap up their work for the year. Read more.


Wednesday Night Football

Boise State's Travis Stanaway (30) causes an interception against Idaho's Preston Davis (7) during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 in Boise, Idaho.


A berry picker notes that tonight BSU will take on Utah in the MAACO Bowl and wonders if there could possible be a more lame bowl name? I suppose they could call it the Auto Paint Bowl.

Click here for all the blue and orange news.

Any predictions as to the outcome of the game?

NW News Roundup

Workers remove the word Potlatch from a building that’s now part of Clearwater Paper. Clearwater was created in December 2008 when Potlatch  separated most of its manufacturing operations from the rest of the company. Lewiston Morning Tribune

Idaho mill faces $14K in fines after worker death LEWISTON — A North Idaho paper mill faces $14,000 in fines after a federal inspection into an industrial accident that killed a 35-year-old worker. John A. Bergen III died in June while working on a paperboard machine at Clearwater Paper Corp.

Idaho man charged in mayor assault goes to trial: HOPE, Idaho — A North Idaho man accused of slugging the 78-year-old mayor of Hope in a dispute outside the city hall in July says he acted in self defense. Dan Shanahan, a 35-year-old former city councilman, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor battery. His 1st District Court trial started Monday. Police say Shanahan struck Mayor Jake Both after a confrontation over the placement of a newspaper delivery box turned violent.

Friends come to aid of former U of I player MOSCOW, Idaho – Moscow resident and former University of Idaho basketball player Brandon Brown remains in a coma after an alleged fight at a Moscow nightclub last week left him with what is likely permanent brain damage. Brown, 25, is at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston following the Thursday morning incident at CJ’s, where he works as a bartender. His alleged attacker has been charged with felony aggravated battery.
More on these stories.

Idaho 4th fastest growing state

COEUR d'ALENE - The sign welcoming travelers to Coeur d'Alene saying pop. 34,514 will need to be replaced or repainted.

Actually, many signs across the state will.

Idaho's populations grew by 21.1 percent from April 2000 to April 2010 according to initial 2010 Census data released Tuesday - the fourth biggest jump in the nation.

While the growth hasn't yet been pinpointed to individual cities, the 273,629-person bump from the 2000 Census boosts Idaho's total to 1,567,582 residents.

Overall, the Gem State ranks 40th in population. But the jump more than doubled the national rate of 9.7 percent.

“It doesn't surprise me,” said Gary Clark, retired, who moved to the area with his wife, Colleen, from Yuma, Ariz., 14 months ago for the scenery and pace of life. “It worries me. I'm a hypocrite - I don't want to be - but I don't want anyone else moving here.” Tom Hasslinger, Cda Press

To what do you attribute Idaho's population growth?

Have a Happy, Tacky Christmas

This is my husband's favorite Christmas decoration. One year I tried “forgetting” to display it. No luck. My husband found it. Homer sings “Deck the Halls with Buddy Holly” among other tunes. And he uh…dances. He also says many phrases like “Mmm eggnog” and “There's only one fat guy who brings presents and his name is Santa.”

This year, I thought Homer had finally died. His voice sounded great, but he no longer danced. My husband sprayed Homer's joints with LPS lubricant and Homer got his groove back. Darn it.

Do you have a favorite Christmas decoration?

Who is your town’s superhero?

This is The Dreamer, formerly known as The Rumor. He is the superhero of Seattle, Washington. Did you know there is a Real LIfe Superhero website? Oh yes. On the site Phantom Zero says: The Real Life Superhero social movement is composed of many individuals, hundreds strong, united by missions which contribute positively to society through service and self-funded good deeds. We hope to enact social change by encouraging and inspiring citizenry to become active and give back to society. See more.

Kinda cool stuff in spite of the dorky costumes.

Who would be your town's superhero and what kind of super powers would he/she have?

Driver high on fake pot when he hit 3 people

King County prosecutors filed vehicular assault charges Tuesday against a driver who struck three pedestrians outside Pike Place Market.

Filing the charges, prosecutors claim Travis Clinton Lipski was high on Thursday morning when he drove a Subaru through a red light near the market and struck three people.

According to charging documents, Lipski, 39, has twice been convicted of driving under the influence. The Seattle resident is alleged to have admitted to smoking an herbal substance similar in its effects to marijuana shortly before the crashes. Read more.  LEVI PULKKINEN SEATTLEPI.COM

In Spokane several students at a local high school were sickened by Spice— a substance that give a marijuana-like high. Do you think the DEA should ban these substances?


Demand for Santa declines

 Freelance Santa John Wenner  waits to greet people last week  in Philadelphia. Wenner says he’s reduced his fee to help business.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Craig McTavish – a.k.a. Santa – has the beard. He has the belly. He even has a few tricks up his sleeve, like pulling up to parties on his Harley-Davidson in full Kris Kringle garb.

But there’s one thing he doesn’t have: work.

For freelance Santas, this holiday season has been more “no, no, no,” than “ho, ho, ho.” Bookings have declined as paying $125 an hour for Santa to visit a holiday party has become an unaffordable luxury. It’s the second year of declining parties and events, Santas say.

Are you having an office Christmas party this year? Will Santa make an appearance?

Poll Results: Naughty or Nice?

72.53% of Hucksters said they'll be on Santa's nice list this year. 27.47% are expecting lumps of coal due to naughtiness.

Joker: Santa vs. Kootenai County Dems


Joker on December 21 at 2:49 p.m.

In the spirit of Christmas, let's compare Kootenai County Democrats to Santa Claus.
Santa is real, Democrats here are only figments of liberal imagination. Advantage: Santa.
Santa is adored by tens of thousands of people. Only a few thousand vote For Democrats. Advantage: Santa.
Santa delivers presents and makes dreams come true. Democrats never deliver, but they keep dreaming. Advantage: Santa.
Santa wears red, Democrats wear blue. Advantage: Santa. Nobody wants a blue Christmas.
Santa returns every year. The Democrats forget to put candidates on the ballot most years. Advantage: Santa.
Santa has to squeeze down chimneys to arrive. Democrats go down easy. Advantage: push.
Santa hires little people. Democrats look down on the regular people. Advantage: Santa.
Merry Christmas!

 I know there are Democrats in Kootenai County, I've met both of them.  But seriously, how long do you think it will be before another Dem holds office in Kootenai Co?

Nearly 1 in 4 can’t pass military’s aptitude test

U.S. Army soldiers leave Iraq on a C-17 transport aircraft Tuesday after a nine month tour of duty.

MIAMI – Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a study released Tuesday.

The report by The Education Trust bolsters a growing worry among military and education leaders that the pool of young people qualified for military service will grow too small.

“Too many of our high school students are not graduating ready to begin college or a career – and many are not eligible to serve in our armed forces,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the AP. “I am deeply troubled by the national security burden created by America’s underperforming education system.”


Winter Solstice Wild Card — 12.21.10

In 22 minutes, I'll turn controls of Huckleberries Online over to CindyH, to run things through the end of the year. Mrs. O and I are looking forward to hosting Amy Dearest for the holidays. 2010 has been an 8 or a 9, as far as numbers and quality of interaction is concerned. But I'll have to start back at 0 when I return for 2011 and the beginning of the Legislature. Then, there's always blogfest in February (we'll figure out how to put this together) … and a wild & woolly City Council race beyond. Now, it's time to get into my Santa mode. See you next year …

Parting Shot — 12.21.10

Imagine a small music room full of third-grade students armed with fiddles and instructions to “warm up.'' Clay Hickman, front, manages a cool smile during those few minutes at Brooklyn Primary School recently in Baker City, Ore. (AP Photo/Baker City Herald, S. John Collins)

Poolman: Better To Receive Than Get

Poolman: I rather like having my own performance review because I get to talk about myself and all the great things I accomplished throughout the year (even if I have embellish a little). What I don't look forward to so much is giving reviews. It's never fun to tell people they are “average”. In my mind they should mostly be “above average”. But - that wouldn’t form a bell curve.

Question: Do you get an annual job evaluation at your place of work? Do you find them helpful?

PM Scanner Traffic — 12.21.10

  • 5:25 p.m. Coeur d'Alene Police Department activities report for Dec. 20-21 here
  • 4:46 p.m. A 54YO Rathdrum man who didn't get a job he wanted is threatening to borrow a gun and kill himself.
  • 4:28 p.m. Possible illegal burn reported @ McKinley Lane & Hayden Lake Road.
  • 4:18 p.m. Possible structure fire @ Greensferry & Cougar Gulch.
  • 3:56 p.m. Kootenai County Jail reports someone on grounds is suffering a seizure.

PM Headlines — 12.21.10

Nicole Nolan of the Shoshone News-Press provides a nice wrap-up story of the 2010 Roller Derby season enjoyed by the Snake Pit Derby Dames, whom you can see above in a Facebook photo taken by Lillie Belle Photography. You can read the News-Press story here.

APhoto Of The Day — 12.21.10

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews looks a the New England Patriots cheerleaders dressed as Santa's during the second quarter of a NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Sunday. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Top Cutline:

  • 1. “If I do, I won't be able to click 'nice' in the HBO Poll,” thought Matthews, who decided to anyway — Brent Andrews.
  • 2. Look at me girls, I'm Cap'n Morgan. Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of rum, Santa's run off to the Caribbe-un — Eddie Torreal; and: All I said was, “Wanna get naughty?” That's no reason to criticize my hairdo. You try wearing this helmet instead of that little cap — FlorineD.
  • 3. When the Santas said “ho, ho, ho”, Mathews asked “Oh, yeah, where's the third one?” — JohnA.
  • HM: Jen

Breast Cancer Bracelets Trenday

Hunter High School students show off their breast cancer awareness bracelets outside the school in West Valley City, Friday. As part of a national breast cancer awareness campaign aimed at youth, rubber wrist bands emblazoned with that message have become trendy teen wear. Sales of the brightly colored bracelets raise money for the Keep A Breast Foundation, a California-based nonprofit that funds research and education programs. The group sees the accessories as conversation starters, using language that dispels some of the scariness associated with cancer. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Djamila Grossman)

Utah Player Disses ‘Girlsie State’

The battle between Boise State and Utah is still more than a day away on the football field – but the back and forth between the teams continues to heat up. After a physical scuffle Sunday night between players at a welcome event, one Utah wide receiver took the smack talk to Twitter. DeVonte’ Christopher wrote “I can’t wait to get out here with these Boise State or should I say Girlse State they a bunch of cheerleaders…lol”/KTVB. More here.

Question: Do you plan to watch Utah play 'Girlsie State' at MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas Wednesday?

Semi Crash Spills 100 Gallons Of Fuel

A semi truck high-centered on a jersey barrier along I-90 near the Spokane Street exit in Post Falls briefly plugged up the morning commute Tuesday.Washington State Patrol says a car using the Spokane Street on-ramp to Westbound I-90 failed to yield and crashed into the semi. The impact of the crash caused the truck to swerve and become high centered on the jersey barrier dividing the right-hand shoulder from an embankment.Traffic was backed up for about an hour Tuesday morning. Hazmat crews were called in to clean up diesel fuel that leaked from the semi/KXLY. KXLY site here. Post Falls police report that 100 gallons of diesel spilled in crash. You can read that report below. (Photo courtesy of KXLY)

The Old Shepherd Struggles To Recall

Could such a night have happened
all those decades long ago?
My memory grows hazy
and it's hard for me to know.

I was a little boy then,
out alone upon a hill,
but yet that lovely music
seems to echo in me still.

Perhaps I was just dozing
as I watched my flock by night,
and maybe I was dreaming
when I saw that brilliant light.

Did I but just imagine
lovely creatures in the air?
Did I but just imagine -
or were angels truly there?

The Bard of Sherman Avenue

Crapo, Risch Wolf Action Falls Short

Idaho GOP Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch's bill to remove wolves from Endangered Species Act protections failed Tuesday when they couldn't get unanimous consent to move the bill in the final hours of the 111th Congress. Crapo and Risch, along with Republican colleagues from Utah, Wyoming and Arizona, introduced their bill in September, as efforts to resume hunting of wolves in Idaho were blocked in federal court. To move quickly, SB 3919 needed to overcome Senate procedural hurdles/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: What action would you like to see next year re: wolves?

GOP States To Gain From Census

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves announces results for the 2010 U.S. Census at the National Press Club earlier today in Washington. The census shows slowing U.S. growth, and more House seats for GOP-leaning states. Story here. Also: Idaho population grew 21.1%, easily outpacing the national average of 9.7%, here. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Question: What do you make of the results of the census — Idaho gains 21.1% and GOP-leaning states will get additional House seats?

Melissa Attracts F-bomber

On her Twitter account, KXLY’s Melissa Luck writes: “Nothing like an f-bomb-laden viewer phone call to start your Tuesday!” I can’t remember the last time someone’s dropped an F-bomb on me or flipped me off. I’m sure that it has happened this past year. I simply don’t remember them. How about you?

Question: When were you last the target of an F-bomb or a one-finger salute?

Dan: Am I The Last Of The Dems?

Dan of the Community: As I spend the last few weeks of my last term (mostly on some leave time since I've about cleared out all my desk and most real decisions should now be left up to the new clerk) it struck me that I may occupy a bit of a historical position in KC. Since the new legislators have already taken office so we don't have any D's in legislative District 2 or 4 and the new Congress starts on January 3rd, for about a week I will be the last elected Democrat in Kootenai County until the morning of January 10th (some of you can stop clapping now). Even with the recent low outcomes for D's, it still meant that at least one out of every three people at the polling place was voting Democrat and now won't have any official representationf from the Courthouse to the Statehouse and beyond. Some other old timers may know, but I'm not sure if there has ever been a time in KC history that there wasn't at least one elected Democrat around here. Full post below.

Question: When will the next Democrat be elected in Kootenai County? Who do you think it'll be?

28% Quit Over Bad Bosses

Workers are quitting their jobs and even switching chosen careers because they’re fed-up with their boss. A survey found 28% of workers have moved work in an attempt to find someone who can motivate them more. More than one in ten have taken up a completely new career in their search, while one in 20 has decided to set up their own business to get away from bad management. Asked what they thought were the qualities of a good manager, the top credentials were: Approachability (83 percent), a good communicator (82 percent), supportive (81 percent), a good leader (80 percent) and someone who respects their staff as individuals (76 percent)/KHQ. More here.

Finish this line: I’d love to tell my current boss …

State Mulls Getting Out Of Cabin Biz

The state will take public comments for 90 days, starting Thursday, on a plan to get out of owning lots on which private owners build and own cabins, in some cases by giving the lessees a chance to get ownership of the land. The board also voted to extend current lease terms for one year, but move leases after that up to 4 percent of the land value for annual rents, from the current 2.5 percent/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Should the state sell the land that they’re now leasing to the owners of private lakeside columns?

PM Headlines — 12.21.10

Joey Rathbun-Dickson gets a gift from Santa Claus, during the recent Rotary Club's Annual Christmas Party at the District IV Human Resources Development Council building in Havre, Mont. The girls received wooden jewelry boxes from Santa, and the boys got ThunderTumbler Remote-Controlled cars. (AP Photo/Havre Daily News, Nikki Carlson)

Question: Have you ever told a store Santa what you wanted for Christmas?

High Noon: Christmas Songs, Carols

It’s not often that a new Christmas song shoulders its way to a place among my favorites (“Silent Night,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “Come All Ye Faithful,” etc.). But “Mary, Did You Know” has done just that. If you’ve never heard it, enjoy the YouTube video below. It’s my way of wishing you a Merry Christmas.

Question: Which Christmas song or carol is your favorite?

AM Scanner Traffic — 12.21.10

  • 11:55 a.m. Officer on scene of 11:40 call advises dispatcher to call a chaplain.
  • 11:40 a.m. Someone is unconscious & not breathing in 8500 block of Cloverleaf.
  • 11:39 a.m. 3-vehicle crash at entrance to CdA post office involves traffic lights @ 7th & Lakeside, which are now all flashing red.
  • 11:29 a.m. A man is lying on lobby floor and unable to get up at Life Chiropractic on Shetland/PF.
  • 10:59 a.m. Non-injury accident blocking busy H95 & Appleway/CdA.
  • 10:44 a.m. Caller sez sheep have long dirty fleece @ Strahorn & Honeysuckle/Hayden.
  • 10:08 a.m. 5-vehicle accident is reported on w/b I-90, east of Spokane Street Bridge/PF.
  • 10 a.m. A deputy is transporting a male from Silverwood to Athol gas station.
  • 9:52 a.m. Caller has questions re: qualifications for a Coeur d’Alene tribal officer.
  • 9:48 a.m. Holiday station @ 8100 Cornerstone reports a gas drive off.
  • 9:38 a.m. Caller from Ashland/Hayden reports that a contractor who lives elsewhere leaves his construction vehicle parked on the street, creating a problem for snowplows.
  • 9:14 a.m. Woman reports that 2 females on horses are trying to get her father’s dog to chase them.
  • 9:03 a.m. Some sort of trauma is reported on S. Wood & Stonehaven/Hayden.
  • 8:17 a.m. Mountain Lake Bible Church on 7th reports person is having psychological problems.

DFO: State Of The Blog 2010

As many of you know, I’m delighted with the record-breaking year at Huckleberries Online, pageview & unique view wise. That shows that things are still interesting enough here, after almost 8 years, to still attract viewers. Equally important, I’m enthused that Hucks Online has as broad of a range of commenters and viewers as it has ever had. My goal here is to provide an online source for news & commentary that will attract readers — and a comments section that featured a broad range of political, social, philosophical, and even theological opinions. It hasn’t been easy. Some personalities don’t mesh well. At various times, individuals have stomped out of here, never to return. I’ve tossed a couple. I’ve made mistakes re: deletions and use of the cooler. It goes with the territory. I’m happy with the return of a couple of commenters who were a big part of this blog’s past. I’m also happy that most commenters have learned to appreciate what other’s bring to the table — and have put down their weapons of cyber warfare. The comment section is as close as ever to being what I wanted it to be when I started this thing. Of course, it can all fall apart tomorrow. But I won’t worry about that today. Merry Christmas, all/DFO.

Hucks Poll: Home For The Holidays

  • Monday Poll: Most of us will be spending the holidays with family this year. A combined 68% will host family or visit family or both. Broken down, 33 of 115 (28.7%) said they will host family. 27 of 115 (23.48%) said they will visit family. 18 of 115 (15.65%) said they will do both. On the other hand, 28 of 115 (24.35%) said they will do neither. And 9 of 115 (7.83%) said they don’t celebrate Christmas.
  • Today’s Poll: On Santa’s list, would you be considered naughty or nice this year?

The Shows Must Go On

An unidentified Charter cable technician works to restore service to homes in Carnelian Bay around Lake Tahoe, Ca., Monday. Over 10 feet of snow fell in parts of the sierra during the latest storm. (AP Photo/Scott Sady)

Question: Do you have to work outside during the winter?

Kerri’s Looking For Polar Bears

On her Facebook page, Kerri Thoreson is looking for “a little help” from her friends. Seems she’s trying to determine which local polar bear has been jumping into Lake Coeur d’Alene on New Year’s Day the longest. Hey, don’t look at me. The closest I ever came to the polar bear plunge was 17 to 20 years ago when I covered the event as a reporter for The Spokesman-Review. I know a couple of you have taken the plunge, and lived to tell about it.

Question: Have any of you taken more than one polar bear plunge?

Idaho Reporter Turns 1YO

On its Twitter site, Idaho Reporter announces that it is celebrating its first birthday as an online news source of Idaho politics. Tweets IR: “We thank our loyal readers for a great first year! We also look forward to the future of our site as we continue working for a more transparent and open government. Now, time to eat cake.” I know the hard core of our Left Bank will never accept Idaho Reporter as a legit news source as a result of its ties to the Idaho Freedom Foundation. But I consider the news site as a welcome addition to the Idaho blogosphere. Dustin, Brad, and the two Jays have provided news coverage over the past year that others have missed. I’m glad they’re out there. BTW, the Capitol Correspondents Association gave Idaho Reporter a lump of coal for a birthday present today by again denying the outlet legislative credentials.

Question (which I know is going to attract a snarky remark or two from the usual suspects): Have you changed your view of Idaho Reporter over the past year?

Ferndale Confirms Sam As City Clerk

Put your hands together for Sam the Reporter, who is now officially Sam the City Clerk now, after being approved on a 4-3 vote by the City Council of Ferndale, Wash., Monday. Seems one of the council members voted against Sam because he thinks the Bellingham Herald reporter is a closet Democrat. Sam claims no allegiance to either party. I’ve known Sam since he interned for us in the Coeur d’Alene office of the SR a few years back. Nice to see he’s made something of himself.

Question: Any words of advice for Sam?

Sarah Disses Michelle Over Dessert

Item: Palin disses Michelle Obama over ‘dessert’/Alexander Moody, CNN Political Ticker

More Info: Sarah Palin is again taking aim at Michelle Obama over her anti-obesity campaign, taking the opportunity in Sunday’s “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” to land a diss against the first lady’s efforts to improve nutrition. While making s’mores at one point during Sunday’s episode, the former Alaska governor proclaims the marshmallow and chocolate treat is “in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert.” It’s not the first time Palin has taken a jab at Mrs. Obama over her campaign to discourage fattening foods, especially from public schools. H/T: Sam Taylor.

Question: Would you rather eat s’mores or carrots?

Solon Wants To Eliminate K-Teachers

Item: Emmett Republican wants overhaul of Idaho’s kindergarten system/Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter

More Info: Rep. Steve Thayn, R-Emmett, wants to completely overhaul the Gem State’s kindergarten system and integrate parents into the education process.  The move, Thayn believes, would save more than $50 million and that’s a figure he is counting on for the plan to gain traction with state representatives and senators.

Question: Do you think Idaho could keep kindergarten going if it eliminated teachers in favor of volunteer parents?

AM Headlines — 12.21.10

Grizzly bears Loulou, Dolly, and Koda explore their outdoor enclosure at ZooMontana in Billings, Mont. on Friday. The bears are set to make their public debut in the next several weeks after spending five months in quarantine. They were given to the zoo after their mother led the animals on a summer rampage through a Montana campground that killed one person and injured two more. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

Escapee: ‘Two & A Half Men’ Sucks

Escapee: In CDA, for the longest time, there was channel 2 (Krem), channel 6 (KHQ), channel 4 (KXLY) and if you moved the TV antenna around just right, and didn’t step in front of the TV you could maybe see PBS (channel 7). I’m thinking that some of the lame comedies that are shown these days wouldn’t stand a chance back then, because there’s so much TV Time to fill with So Many Different Channels available nowadays. For instance, “2 and a half men” wouldn’t have made it past one month way back when.

Question: Is there a sitcom today that could rival those of times gone by?

JohnA: Cosmic Moses Helps Eclipse

JohnA: What a remarkable show last night as the clouds parted just in time for us to witness the total eclipse of the moon. It was as if some cosmic Moses drew the drapes and let us see the golden orb as the earth did its best to get between it and the sun. Quite remarkable, this place we live, and the spectacles God gives us from time to time.

Question: Did you enjoy the eclipse?

Bloggy: 2010 Generally Sucked

Bloggy: 2010 The Year of the Suck. Lost a wonderful friend to a stroke. Way, way too young and vital. Went trudging thru the overflowing sewer drain of a toxic relationship with a HPD/NPD heartslinging bald faced lie bag. As Jack White and Alison Mosshart from The Dead Weather sing, “just because you caught me, does that make it a sin?” Sometimes. Yes, sometimes it surely does. 2010 can get sucked out into the intergalactic entropic zone of being and nothingness and become nothing. Did I have some good times in 2010? Yes, I had some good times in 2010. Did I rekindle a relationship w someone who matters? Yes, I did that. Yes, it might have saved some of me.

Question: On a scale of 1 to 10 (with one being hellishly dreadful & 10 being mahvelous), how would you rate 2010?

Anderson: Repealed

Nick Anderson/Houston Chronicle

Wild Card/Monday — 12.20.10

Cindy’s warming up in the bullpen to take over the helm of Huckleberries Online on Wednesday as I close out the year on the bench. Sorry, Brent, but I have one more week-plus of vacation to take before the end of the year. The good news? We aren’t facing furloughs next year. So I’ll only get my customary 5 weeks of vacation. Hey, after 26 years of breaking big rocks into little rocks, a guy can’t be blamed for snapping up 5 weeks of vacation. Can he? Expecially when Cindy’s in the wings to provide a break from Hart, Brannon, & Souza. Now for your first Wild Card of the week …

Parting Shot — 12.20.10

Three snow hikers watch the almost full moon rise behind the Weissfluhjoch in Arosa, Switzerland, Monday. There will be a total lunar eclipse visible from Britain on Tuesday morning, when the Earth casts a shadow onto the Moon. On the day of the winter solstice, December 21, the full Moon will start to pass through the cone of Earth’s shadow at 6.32 GMT. (AP Photo/Keystone, Alessandro Della Bella)

Attacker Claims He Was Watched

Cragun was booked into the Kootenai County Jail on one count of Burglary and four counts of Aggravated Battery. He made his first court appearance Monday, and also conducted a jailhouse interview during which he claimed his neighbors were hurting his family and repeatedly breaking into his house.Cragun claims they were breaking into his house, poisoning his food and repeatedly hurting his 3-year-old daughter and ex-wife.“I wasn’t planning on busting them up or anything like that,” Cragun said Monday.He added that when he went to confront them they came at him with a knife, a claim that investigators say just isn’t true. Investigators say they haven’t been able to prove Cragun was provoked during the attack in any way or that his neighbors had done anything to harm Cragun or his family/Tori Brunetti, KXLY. More here.


Recalling Candy I Ate As A Kid

There used to be an old time candy store in downtown Coeur d’Alene on Sherman Avenue. I miss it. They had everything! Hard to find candies that we can’t find locally anymore. Stuff from the 1920’s, 30’s, and so on. Stuff like…

Wax Lips, Abba-Zaba bars, Sassafras drops, Candy Buttons on paper tape, Kits, Wax Syrup Bottles, Bonomo Turkish Taffy, BB Bat and the list goes on and on.

I remember walking through one hot summer day and watching a mom and dad wrangle their 4 kids with high-pitched screams and enough hands to make a rugby team jealous. Those kids were wild. And cute. I admired the talent of the youngest (probably 4 yrs old at the time) as she proceeded, with exact precision, to wrap her daddy around her little finger. In the matter of seconds she had a 10 pound bag of sweet deliciousness clutched in hand and perched herself atop her daddy’s shoulders. That kid was good!/ More here.

Question: Can you think of a candy that you ate as a kid that’s no longer around?

PM Headlines — 12.20.10

This photo provided by the Blue Mountain Humane Society shows a Blue Mountain Humane Society staff member holding Monty the pythong Friday at the society’s Walla Walla, Wash., office. The python crawled onto a porch and was captured in a pillow case. Now, the humane society is looking for the owner. Story here. (AP Photo/Blue Mountain Humane Society via Walla Walla Union-Bulletin)

APhoto Of The Day — 12.20.10

I’m going to rerun this photo from the weekend for more comments, because I think it’s so dang good: “A house cat named Taz, tries to get a drink from a dripping faucet at a home in Washington, Ill., on Friday.” You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Peoria Journal Star - Ron Johnson)

Top Cutlines:

  • 1. All Cindy wanted for Christmas was a calendar of herculean firemen under a shower of fire hoses. All Dave could find was a calendar of cats drinking from unconventional water sources — Nic.
  • 2. Tired of wasting his burlap bags throwing them off a bridge, Orville finds an easier way to dispose of his unwanted kittens — JohnA.
  • 3. Proving once again that given the choice between sink or swim, cats always choose sink! — Formerly Sandpoint.
  • HM: Phaedrus, Herb, Gary, & everyone else. Good job all.

PM Scanner Traffic — 12.20.10

  • 6:07 p.m. A wounded animal is lying on road @ Whispering Pines & Strahorn/Hayden.
  • 5:59 p.m. Coeur d’Alene Police Department activity report for Dec. 19-20 here.
  • 5:31 p.m. A wounded deer lying on H41, just south of H41, needs to be put down.
  • 5:11 p.m. Traffic lights at H41 & Mullan/PF are malfunctioning.
  • 5:09 p.m. N. has questions re: her neighbor’s not registering their vehicle in Idaho.
  • 4:57 p.m. Caller from condos at 701 E. Front/CdA wants to report being threatened.
  • 4:31 p.m. House sitter, in car outside, reports someone may be in residence b/c TV is on downstairs in 2200 block of Sundown/CdA.
  • 4:17 p.m. Caller from 800 block of Compton reports 2 shots from a handgun may have been fired near Post Falls library.
  • 4:12 p.m. Woman reports a female driver hit her vehicle @ 9th & Best/CdA and then parked in The Altar church and went inside.
  • 4:10 p.m. Scott reports a neighbor’s Australian shepherd jumps in & out of fenced yard.
  • More Scanner Traffic below

GATT: ‘White Christmas’ Connection

Before viewers could tape shows, buy the movie, stream them into your computer, or have them mailed to your house you had one time in a Christmas season to see a favorite show. That was it. Somehow we always seemed to be home on the night “White Christmas” was on. We saw it many times. Dad and Grandma Woolum loved Bing Crosby and his connection to Spokane and Gonzaga. He was one of those ” we are not worthy” actor/singers that Dad would have called ” a class act”. It helped that Dad enjoyed the actor, the song and the movie otherwise when the movie came on that one time we may have had to compete with Bonanza, Gunsmoke, or Dean Martin.
I remember waiting for it, seeing it together, singing “White Christmas” and “Sisters”, and loving the plan with all the servicemen to come to the place in Vermont/Gathering Around the Table. More here.

Question: Which movie connects you to Christmas?

NIdaho Blogosphere — 12.20.10

CdAJim snapped this unusual guest at his bird feeder outside recently. Jim applauds the doe for her nice balancing act as well as being creative.

Hucks numbers (for week of Dec. 12-18): 51146/31592

1 Of 4 Dies In Hammer Assault

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office reports that one of the victims of the bludgeoning yesterday in Bayview, has died at Kootenai Medical Center.  Patricia Heath was pronounced dead shortly before 1:00 p.m. today from massive head trauma. Larry Cragun, 31 of Bayview is in custody on a variety of charges and is being held on $1,000,000 bond.  One charge will be amended to the charge of murder based upon the death of Mrs. Heath.  The investigation is on-going by detectives from the Sheriff’s Office/Major Ben Wolfinger, KCSD report. Also: Media swarm hammer attack scene (w/names of other victims).

Clouds Threaten Lunar Eclipse View

Cloudy skies tonight could shield the Inland Northwest from the first total lunar eclipse in nearly three years, forecasters said. The eclipse comes within hours of the winter solstice at 10:16 a.m. Tuesday, which is the official start of winter. The partial phase of tonight’s eclipse begins at 10:33 p.m. The moon enters its total eclipse when the Earth’s shadow passes across the face of the full moon at 11:41 p.m. The total lunar eclipse typically shades the darkened moon in a coppery or rusty glow due to sunlight passing through the Earth’s atmosphere/Spokesman-Review. More here. (2007 AP file photo of lunar eclipse)

Question: Are you looking forward to tonight’s lunar eclipse? Or already regretting that the cloud cover may block your view of it?

JibJab’s ‘So Long To Ya, 2010’

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Media Swarm Hammer Attack Scene

Herb Huseland of Bay Views reports that all 3 Spokane TV stations and the Coeur d’Alene Press are swarming his ‘hood to report on the hammer attack that left 3 neighbors seriously to critically injured and a fourth slightly injured. The injured are (according to KCSD reports):

  • Michael Heath, 40:  His injuries were minor and he refused medical attention.
  • Patricia Heath, 43:  Her injuries were CRITICAL and she was transported to Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene where she was listed in CRITICAL condition.
  • Lorraine Wallis, 58:  Her injuries were SERIOUS and she was transported to Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene where she was listed in serious condition.
  • Jedidiah Heath, 21:  His injuries were serious and he was transported to Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene where he was listed in stable condition.
  • Kootenai County sheriff’s report below:

Cheaper By The Dozen & A Half

Seven Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies from a litter of 17 look out of their box in Nauen, 50 kilometers outside Berlin earlier today. On Sept 28, and 29, the 4-year-old Ridgeback Etana had 17 puppies. All of them survived. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Are You Going To Miss 2010?

Jammin: This just so happens to be my year of crap, devastation and heartbreak, but now that it’s over, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I attribute it to the painful process of ridding my life of crap, but negativity really has no place in my mind these days.

DFO: I have a close friend who lost his father this year, whose wife has gone through 3 operations, whose mother-in-law has gone through cancer surgery, and who suffered a bad bout of kidney stones. He’s taken all of this in stride. But he admits he’ll be glad when 2010 is over.

Question: How about you? Will you miss 2010 because it was chock full of wonderful adventure and happiness? Or will you, like Jammin & my friend, be glad when it’s over?

Dive Bar Review: Bobbi’s (Plummer)

At, a reviewer recommends readers to drop by Bobbi’s in Plummer, next time they’re in Idaho buying fireworks, cheap cigarettes, good soap, or simply visiting the Coeur d’Alene Casino. Quote SDB: “It’s down the road from Worley and full of cheap beer.” The reviewer continues: “The inside of this place is huge, so you should not have a problem finding a place to sit.  On the night we went at about midnight there were about 4 other people in the bar.  If you choose to sit at the bar you’ll immeddiately notice all of the knickknacks and crafts for sale.  There’s everything you’d expect to see being sold at a bar on an Indian reservation, from dream catchers to candles.” More here. H/T: OrangeTV

Question: When did you last stop in Worley or Plummer? Why?

Root-Toot-Tooting For Home Team

After a four-decade absence, I was tooting my trumpet once again at an Eastern Washington University football game. Well, whaddya know. Guess you can go back. Pity my lip didn’t join me Friday night. No surprises there, of course. Nixon was still corrupting the White House the last time I logged any serious practice time. But I wasn’t about to let a little thing like a case of the flubber chops stop me. With most of the student musicians gone for winter break, my alma mater was in a desperate fix to fill the band for its nationally televised playoff game against Villanova/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Did you ever play in a school band? Or pep band? Which instrument? What do you think of the experience?

High Noon: Snow-shoe Coordination

On her Facebook page, CindyH writes that she’s “thinking about attending the midnight snowshoe tour on Mount Spokane.” But she’s never showshoed before. Asks Cindy: “Does it require coordination or balance? ‘Cus I lack those skills.”

Question: I’ve skied cross country but never snow shoed. Which one is harder? Do you need coordination and balance to snow-shoe?

INW Headlines — 12.20.10

An out-of-service pressurized rail car is lowered onto its wheels with help from Hulcher Services employees Sunday at the Kootenai County Fire and Rescue District’s new training site on Seltice Way in Post Falls. BNSF railroad provided two rail cars, ties and tracks, along with the costs of decontaminating the cars. Mike Prager SR story here. (SR photo: J. Bart Rayniak)

AM Scanner Traffic — 12.20.10

  • 11:58 a.m. A male & a female are yelling at each other in 1700 block of 5th/CdA, after one of them pushed the other against a wall inside a house.
  • 11:23 a.m. Caller reports someone was battered @ Playfair & Timber/CdA.
  • 11:14 a.m. Caller reports 2 dogs loose in 900 block of Cloverleaf, an ongoing problem.
  • 10:52 a.m. Grocery Outlet security reports that it has caught a cooperative shoplifter.
  • 10:43 a.m. 2 females are arguing over someone changing locks on Bark Loop/PF.
  • 10:07 a.m. Caller reports an auto burglary in 500 block of Dollar/CdA.
  • 9:25 a.m. Caller reports that a 4-5YO girl in pajamas is walking on snow-packed road in 8600 block of Salmonberry/Hayden.
  • 9:23 a.m. Twin Lakes woman reports that her roommate threatened to harm her brother and her with a gun. But the roommate didn’t display weapon.
  • 9:16 a.m. Caller reports a rollover on H41 @ M/P 17 (may be same one as 8:36 a.m. report) and says roads are extremely icy & slick in Twin Lakes & Spirit Lake area.
  • 9:12 a.m. Snowplow crews report there’s a chunk of a barrier on e/b I-90 @ M/P 17 (east of Sherman Avenue exit).
  • 8:52 a.m. A business alarm has sounded at Pool World in Sunset Mall.
  • 8:40 a.m. Crash between a snowplow & a vehicle reported @ Dakota & Reed/Hayden.
  • 8:36 a.m. A one-vehicle rollover is reported on H41 @ M/P 14 (Seasons Road)
  • 8:15 a.m. Frank, from 11000 block of Braemar/Hayden, reports that a parked vehicle sticking out into road has created safety hazard for days.

Post Falls Man Shoots Self After Stop

An Idaho man is in critical condition after shooting himself in the head following a traffic stop north of Roseburg on Interstate 5 on Sunday. Igor V. Niaki, 31, of Post Falls, Idaho, is in critical condition at a Springfield, Ore., hospital, police said Monday morning. Sgt. Dave Randall said a driver barricaded himself inside his pickup around 8:42 p.m. Sunday after a trooper noticed the driver was visibly intoxicated. After refusing to take a field sobriety test, the driver rolled his window up and reached for a small caliber handgun inside the pickup cab/KVAL. More here.

Idaho Officer Applauds DADT Repeal

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach of Mountain Home Air Force Base told the Statesman Monday, “I’m doing great,” after Saturday’s Senate vote to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Fehrenbach was in the Senate chamber as the votes were counted. “It was overwhelming,” he said. “I was very emotional.” Fehrenbach will appear on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show at 7 p.m. Monday with three other gay servicemembers and a live audience. Fehrenbach first appeared with Maddow in 2008 and became one of the most prominent faces in the fight for repeal. On Tuesday, he’ll be at the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol where the repeal bill will officially be sent to President Obama. He also hopes to be at the subsequent signing ceremony at the White House/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here. (AP file photo/Ted S. Warren: Margaret Witt and Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach leave federal courthouse in Tacoma Sept. 24. Both fought their discharge from the service for being gay.)

Question: Were you surprised that Congress repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” this year?

Poll: Labrador Will Serve 1 Term

  • Weekend Poll: Hucks Nation believes Raul Labrador will continue the string of one-and-done representatives from the 1st Congressional District. 75 of 143 (52.45%) said Labrador will serve one term, like Walt Minnick & Bill Sali before him. 68 of 143 (47.83%) said Labrador will serve more than one term.
  • Today’s Question (from Kootenai Conservative): What are your plans for Christmas?

Tiny Houses Could Meet Big Need

Rich Daniels stands in front of a half-pint in North Powder in eastern Oregon. Daniels, 50, has come up with an idea that may prove both brilliant and quixotic: a subdivision for 50 to 100 pint-size homes geared to folks hurt by the real estate bust, jobless or on fixed incomes. Increasingly, he’s approached by people desperate to cut their living expenses. Story here. (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Richard Cockle)

Question: Would you like to see something like this in the Coeur d’Alene area?

Counting Blessings

In church Sunday, one of the wise Seasoned Citizens mentioned to me that so much more good things happen to people than bad. But we tend to remember the major bad things that happen. And forget the good that happens most of the time. He calculated that there have been 5 or 6 major bad things in his life. Which prompted me to think about my life. I probably have as many earth-shaking bad things, including the premature death of my father in an auto accident and the loss of our second child at birth. Those things are seared into my memory. Yet, every day nice things happen. I’ve been forcing myself to take note of those and to be thankful. How about you?

Question: Do you focus on the major negatives that happened to you in life and miss the many, many little good things that happen every day?

Henry: Modern Christmas Sucks

My main frustration with the Christmas holiday is, as Dr. Sheldon Cooper says, the “non-negotiable social convention” of gift giving.  Perhaps I’m being cynical but I’ve become burned out over the commercialized focus of exchanging gifts.  I have traditionally given gifts to family and friends who are very close to me and I very much prefer searching, selecting and giving a thoughtful gift.  Unlike birthdays, anniversaries or graduations, giving a value gift card to a national retailer for Christmas is, in my opinion, impersonal and quite akin to wrapping up a funnel and transmission fluid because the 7/11 was the only store open on Christmas Eve/Henry Johnston, Moscow-Pullman Daily News. More here.

Question: Are you bugged by the commercialization of Christmas?

Fishwife: Argument For Hart Lame

Fishwife (re: Misadventures in Idaho’s frat house): The pro Hart’s mantra that he gets a clean slate because he was re-elected is lame. The fact is that voters in his district had no knowledge of his huge problems before the primary filing deadline back in March. It they did, Hart would be toast. He surely would have had a viable opponent. The details of his problems were cleverly concealed. Luckily, the intrepid Betsy Russell broke down the details of Hart’s tax problems. This is not going to end well for Hart. (See history of tax protestor ex congressman George Hansen).

Question: Would Phil Hart have been re-elected if the details of his tax problems and timber theft had been known prior to the 2010 primary?

OtisG: Immigration Thing Lost On Me

The whole immigration thing is a little lost on me. Several things I don’t understand:

  • They come here to work, which means they are being paid by someone who is a citizen. Why doesn’t anybody go after them?
  • Why are we only concerned with Mexicans? I don’t hear any desire to build a wall on the Canadian border.
  • It seems like it’s fairly obvious where they are. If that’s the case, then why not just round them up and bus them home?
  • America was established by immigrants. At some point, did we decide that we don’t need anymore?
  • What system is in place that actually causes them to come illegally? Do they have options to do it legally? Or… is it solely based on the fact that we don’t want them here? If that’s the case… why? Because they drain social services? Again, if they were hired legally, they would pay taxes and contribute to the system.

Maybe these are stupid questions, but I really don’t get what’s so complicated about it.

Question: Anyone out there who can answer OtisG’s questions re: immigration?

AM Headlines — 12.20.10

On a walk along the beach trail in Priest Lake, Pecky Cox discovered a moon beam coming off the lake and an unexpected guest.

Hucks: Keeping Holiday Beliefs Aloft

My son, Seth, is a 31-year-old doctor today, in his first year of neurosurgery residency at the University of Florida. But 26 years ago, he was a kindergartner suffering a crisis of faith in Post Falls. (Spoiler alert: Don’t allow small children star-struck by Santa Claus to read further.) In September 1984, we moved from Lewiston to Post Falls, after I accepted a job as a government reporter in the Coeur d’Alene office of The Spokesman-Review. Sometime that fall, Ben Clark, the precocious son of friends Doug and Sherry Clark, had spilled the beans to Seth. Ben had alleged there was no Santa Claus. The revelation hit Junior hard. He moped around much of the holiday season, challenging Mrs. O and I, whenever we mentioned the Jolly Old Elf. We were wondering how to lift Junior’s spirits when Santa and his reindeer appeared to do the heavy lifting for us/DFO, Huckleberries. More here.

Question: Who told your children that Santa Claus wasn’t real?

Review: Giving Canton 2nd Chance

The cosmetic improvements alone make the Canton that I reviewed back then seem like a dusty old dive stuck in the ruins of some old Chinatown. Changes have been gradual, but Alex and staff have managed to clear up the dinginess that once lingered with fresh paint, a bit of modern-feeling décor and, most likely, a lot of elbow grease. The seemingly low turnover level of servers has created a sense of familiarity and friendliness, and I never have to worry about returning late from my break after stopping in for lunch. There’s almost always enough time left over to relax and ponder the deep, hidden meaning of my fortune cookie. But really, the most impressive difference at Canton in the last few years has been the upgrade of the food itself/OrangeTV, Get Out! North Idaho. More here.

DFO: Canton has a special place in my family’s history. My son announced to us during a meal at the Canton that he had fallen for a girl who later would become his wife.

Question: Is there a restaurant in town that has a special memory for you?

Herb Reports Violence In His ‘Hood

Herb Huseland reports from Bayview Sunday afternoon: “Just 50 feet from my back door, my closest neighbor, allegedly bludgeoned my other neighbor and her guests with a hammer. At least one person was transported to Kootenai Medical Center, apparently with survivable wounds. This happened just less than an hour ago.  He then drove down to the Bay Cafe where he called the sheriff department on himself. It is suspected that he either has been hallucinating on drugs or his mind is gone. The alleged perpetrator recently tacked up a letter to the community accusing the government of invading his mind, which upon reflection, may be the only lucid thought he has had recently.All of this happened just after I left to drive to the Patio to watch the Seahawk game. It was a real good time to not be home.” More here.

Question: Have you ever lived in a neighborhood where a violent act occurred?

Kennedy Bill Busts Litigation Budget

Item: The rising cost of litigation: Like others, Cd’A splits city attorney duties from courtroom cases/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: The city of Coeur d’Alene will pay $108,434 in legal fees defending the 2009 general election challenge. That total more than quadruples the $24,770 the city’s legal department had budgeted for litigation in each of the last two years. That’s because the city agreed to pay the fees for two defendants, City Council seat 2 incumbent Mike Kennedy, who was sued personally for his then 5-vote victory, and the city of Coeur d’Alene, which was included in the yearlong suit as a potential remedy provider had the judge ruled for another election. While paying Kennedy’s tab was unique, hiring outside counsel to defend the city was not. Coeur d’Alene, as other Idaho cities do, separates its city attorney office duties from courtroom cases.

Question: Should Coeur d’Alene pay for outside counsel for courtroom cases involving the city?

Ramirez: Lame Ducks

Michael Ramirez/Investor’s Business Daily

Weekend Wild Card — 12.18-19.10

I’m nursing a twisted knee tonight as a result of one of the 4th Street businesses not clearing a snow mound from its sidewalk from the last big snow fall. I went for a long walk in the snow Saturday afternoon until I reached Pilgrim’s Market northbound. At that point, the sidewalk was blocked with old snow & parked vehicles with their noses well over the sidewalk. So I decided to detour through the parking lot, where I hit a monster ice slick that was lightly sprinkled with snow, so I couldn’t see the black ice. Luckily, I didn’t blow my left knee again. But it’s barking tonight. Pilgrim’s isn’t the only business along 4th with nearly impassable sidewalks. Now, for your re-posted Wild Card …

Gonzaga 68, No. 9 Baylor 64

Baylor guard LaceDarius Dunn (24) reacts as Gonzaga guard Demetri Goodson (3) steals the ball from him in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game this afternoon. in Dallas. Baylor’s Quincy Acy is in the foreground. Gonzaga lost Steven Gray to back spasms early and Elias Harris to fouls late but still gutted out a 68-64 upset win over No. 9 Baylor. Jim Meehan’s preliminary game report here. And: ESPN boxscore here. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Senate Votes To Lift Military Gay Ban

In a landmark for gay rights, the Senate on Saturday voted to let gays serve openly in the military, giving President Barack Obama the chance to fulfill a campaign promise and repeal the 17-year policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Obama was expected to sign it next week, although the change wouldn’t take immediate effect. The legislation says the president and his top military advisers must certify that lifting the ban won’t hurt troops’ fighting ability. After that, there’s a 60-day waiting period for the military. … The Senate vote was 65-31. The House had passed an identical version of the bill, 250-175, on Wednesday/Associated Press. More here.


GOP Senators Block Immigration Reform

Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats voted Saturday morning to block legislation that would grant legal residency to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16. The DREAM Act, which would give legal status to illegal immigrants who came to the country at a young age, lived here for at least five years, graduated from high school and attended college or served in the military, fell five votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a GOP-led filibuster — 55 to 41/Alexander Bolton, The Hill. More here.

Question: Do you agree/disagree with U.S. Senate GOP action to block the DREAM Act?

Gonzaga Finally Has A Fight Song

It’s a university steeped in tradition, both athletic and academic. But, something has always been missing at Gonzaga University. Until this fall, GU had no official fight song. But, the work of two former students and the leadership of Gonzaga’s Kennel Club changed that; GU finally has a fight song all its own/Melissa Luck, KXLY. More here.

Question: Do you remember your high school or college fight song? Was it a decent one?

Dennis: Staying Alive At 55

The speed limit sign is becoming way too familiar to me on this roadway of life. Max speed, we were once federally mandated to abide by, was 55. Sometimes I’ve wondered if my max just might be 55 … for politics, for business, for challenges. Signs seem to be everywhere. Maybe, maybe not. A major road runs through the southwestern part of Idaho. Yep, you guessed it: Hwy 55. maybe they’re just street signs.  Maybe I am just getting warmed up, though mid-way through a person’s “6th decade lap” seems an odd place to gain momentum, I’d suppose. My own “roadway” has been a bit too well worn at times with semi-frequent potholes and some erosion at the edges. Some of the asphalt might be a bit soft in the summertime heat and in the wintertime, my curves may just be scary. yet I keep drivin’ on/Dennis Mansfield. More here.

Question: How fast are you traveling on the roadway of life, if you could put a mph speed on it? Please explain your answer.

No Penalty For Deputy In Sex-Toy Biz

The deputy who shot a Spokane Valley pastor will not face discipline for failing to disclose his co-ownership of a business that sold sex toys online. Spokane County Deputy Brian Hirzel (of Hayden, pictured) remains under investigation for the Aug. 25 shooting that killed Pastor Wayne Scott Creach near his home and greenhouse business in Spokane Valley. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich announced in September that he had assigned investigators to determine whether Hirzel broke department policy when he failed to disclose his co-ownership in a business called Vanessa Allure that was being operated out of his Hayden home.  “It was being run by his wife,” Knezovich said Friday. “Hirzel gave us full information. He didn’t hide anything. He said he helped set up the website but she ran it”/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

Question: Did the Spokane County sheriff and investigators make the right call in deciding not to discipline Deputy Hirzel for failing to disclose his role in an online sex-toy outlet?

Costello: Left Wing Takes On Left Wing

Can the Democrats heal the rift between the extreme left wing of their party and the scorched-earth left wing of their party? While the last election evoked considerable commentary regarding Tea Party intolerance for “moderate Republicans,” a less-covered story was the growing intolerance within the left for its own apostates. Certainly the vulgar, spittle-flecked vitriol that the left loosed on Barack Obama after his compromise with Republicans on taxes and unemployment compensation revealed a severe distaste for those who stray from the shining path. Obama seems to have moved a little farther along the mourning process than they have. He’s negotiating. They’re still in denial/Michael Costello, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Is Michael Costello right? Do Democrats have the political equivalent to the Tea Party — an extreme left wing that’s splitting with main-stream party liberals?

EWU 41, Villanova 31 In Semi-Finals

As Villanova University’s Ronnie Akins (6) closes in, Eastern Washington University wide receiver Tyler Hart (33) tries to break a tackle from Villanova’s James Pitts (1) Friday during the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs on Roos Field at the EWU campus in Cheney, Wash. EWU beat Villanova 41-31 to advance to the subdivision title game in Frisco, Texas. ESPN/AP game story & boxscore here. (AP/Colin Mulvany)

TGIF Wild Card — 12.17.10

For you fans of regional football, Eastern Washington is leading Villanova 13-7 at the end of the first quarter of the semi-final game of the NCAA Division I-A playoff game at Roos Stadium in Cheney, Wash. You can watch the game on EWU’s red turf on ESPN 2. Villanova scored on the opening kickoff. Then, EWU drove for a touchdown on 5 plays to tie and later turned two fumble recoverys into field goals. You can also check in on the game by reading John Blanchette’s SR Twitter here. Now, to replay the Wild Card …

Parting Shot — 12.17.10

Cody Laur, 22, left, of Metamora, Mich., gets some help from Santa while waiting for the hospital to take a photo of him with his wife Alecia and their twins Wyatt and Westley in Hurley Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Flint for Hurley’s 2nd Annual Baby’s 1st Christmas Party earlier today. Santa was on the scene to take pictures with the babies, and he volunteers to give each family a special scrapbook page, prepared especially for them. (AP Photo/The Flint Journal, Ryan Garza)

Question: What is the oddest thing you’ve seen a man dressed in a Santa Claus outfit do?

Meghann: That’s My Store He Robbed

On Twitter, SR colleague Meghann Cuniff tweets: “Scary. The convenience store I frequent just got robbed at knifepoint. I was in there about an hour ago.” According to a preliminary police report, the robber threatened a clerk at Divine’s Food Mart and gas station at 2nd and Walnut and left with an undisclosed amount of money about 4:15 p.m.

Question: Have you ever been the victim of an armed robbery or an innocent bystander when a place was being robbed?

PM Scanner Traffic — 12.17.10

  • 5:33 p.m. Coeur d’Alene Police Department activity report for Dec. 16-17 here.
  • 5:13 p.m. A problem with juveniles is reported on 8th & Locust/CdA.
  • 5:08 p.m. Woman on Hudlow wants to take 15YO daughter to KMC b/c she’s acting out.
  • 4:45 p.m. Motorist w/b on Dalton from 4th/CdA is throwing things out his window.
  • 4:24 p.m. A large chair is lying in roadway @ H95 & M/P 453 (Kelso-Granite/Athol area).
  • 4:11 p.m. 2 females are fighting in 500 block of E. Orchard/Hayden.
  • 4:08 p.m. Resident in 400 block of Lena Louie/Worley reports neighbor tossed frozen soda bottle through his back door. Problem with neighbor is ongoing.
  • 4:04 p.m. Someone’s suffering a seizure @ U.S. Forest Service office on Schreiber/CdA.
  • Much more below

PM Headlines — 12.17.10

Jackson Barth, 12, shares a laugh with his parents, David and Lisa Barth, during a video interview in Sandpoint on Monday. Jackson, who has autism, is the inspiration for a group from Sandpoint that will compete next June in Race Across America, one of the nation’s most challenging endurance bicycle races. Alison Boggs’ SR story here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

APhoto Of The Day — 12.17.10

A Great Dane stands between his handler, left, and the ring judge during conformation competition at the 2010 Crown Classic Dog Show in Cleveland, on Thursday. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

Top Cutlines:

  • 1. Questioning both the teacher’s royalty and gender, her principal said “Who called the school marm a duke?” — JohnA.
  • 2. Victory is great, but oh the agony of de feet — Herb.
  • 3. Victor Borge gets ready to play the piano. The song, “Who Let The Dogs Out” — Charlie.

Tax Commish Chair Aided Son’s Firm

The Associated Press reports today that public records it obtained under the Idaho Public Records Act show Idaho State Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow intervened on behalf of clients of his son’s accounting firm, over the objections of Tax Commission employees, bringing the clients significant breaks on their taxes. “The heavily redacted documents were among those collected by the Idaho attorney general’s office while representing the Tax Commission in a pending lawsuit that alleges commissioners have given politically connected taxpayers secret sweetheart deals for years,” reports AP reporter John Miller/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Are you surprised at this point that sweetheart deals seem to be regular fare at the Idaho Tax Commission?

FB: Don’t Like Dead-Animal Shots

Facebook Friend Kelsey Lightning wrote today: “Why must people take photos of the animals they kill? Why? I am not opposed to hunting as long as what’s killed gets used. But no one really wants to see a photo of a dead animal on Facebooks. Show someone a photo if they ask to see one. Which is kind of weird.” Whenever I see someone posed with the photo of an animal they’ve shot or fished from some waterway, I think of that “Planet of the Apes” scene in which a group of ape hunters is posing with 3 or 4 dead humans that they’ve hung upside down from a rack. I sorta agree with my Facebook friend on this one. I don’t get queasy seeing dead-animal shots. But I don’t enjoy them much either. (AP file photo/20th Century Fox: scene from “Planet of the Apes”)

Question: Do you take photos with the dead animals you hunt or fish? Why?

Obama Signs Tax Deal Into Law

President Barack Obama, joined by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, looks up after signing the bipartisan tax package that extends tax cuts for families at all income levels, during a signing ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex today in Washington. Aimed at helping to stabilize the recovering economy, the bill keeps in place tax cuts instituted by President George W. Bush for another two years. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Question: Is this the beginning of bipartisan cooperation between President Obama and congressional Republicans? Or an exception to the rule of hostile partisanship in D.C.?

Kroc Center Mulls Parking Structure

Item: A case of spaces: Kroc Center considers parking structure/Tom Hasslinger, Press

More Info: An upper level parking structure that could cost more than $1 million could grace the west side of the Kroc Community Center parking lot by late next summer. Right now, the center is working on a conceptual design for the one-story project with around 120 additional spaces, hoping to send it out to bid by February.

Question: Do you avoid the Kroc Center at certain times because it’s hard to find parking?

Cindy Checks Out SArmy Bell Ringer

On her Facebook page, Cindy proclaims: “I am going to Walmart!” Nah, she’s not going to shopt there (so you anti-WalMart readers can take your fingers off the keyboard. Rather, Cindy’s getting paid to go to WalMart. More Cindy: “Salvation Army Captain Kyle Smith is trying to break the continuous Kettle bell ringing record. He started at 5 this a.m. and hopes to ring until 1 p.m. Saturday. He must stand the entire time and even ring while in the restroom! He’s at WalMart Northpointe by the N. Division Y and he’d love lots of company and support. Now, to find a disguise… (KREM story here.)

Question: How long do you think you could ring a Salvation Army red-kettle bell without going bonkers?

Misadventures In Idaho’s Frat House

House Speaker Lawerence Denney (pictured) and Rep. Tom Loertscher have pulled off the nearly impossible. They’re making themselves look almost as bad as state Rep. Phil Hart, the Legislature’s resident tax dodger and timber hound. … By now, the allegations against Hart are well-established: the self-styled tax protestor owes hundreds of thousands in back taxes, interest and penalties to the state and the feds; he has repeatedly tried to delay tax cases by invoking legislative immunity from arrest or civil filings; he cut down timber from state endowment lands — and, 14 years later, finally got around to sending what he called a “donation.” …  Here’s another thing about an ethics complaint: The process reflects well, or poorly, on the people in charge. Denney’s performance has been pathetic at best/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Do you think more/less of House Speaker Lawerence Denney & Rep. Tom Loertscher as a result of their involvement in Phil Hart’s misadventures?

INW Headlines — 12.17.10

“Because I am working the late shift,” posts Colin Mulvany/Snaps & Frames recently, “I’ve been shooting a lot of basketball this week, In my quest to shoot photos I wouldn’t normally bother with, I spotted Sadie Porter, a WSU Crimson Girl’s dance team member as she flipped her hair during a timeout break in the WSU vs. Texas Pan-American game  in the Spokane Arena.More here.

High Noon: Too Much Stuff

I have too much stuff. This is not some blindingly new realization for me; I’ve known I have too much stuff for an awfully long time. But I’ve noticed that my discontent with owning too much stuff has been growing, day by day. This feeling has been exacerbated by the movement of all my now-grown children to homes of their own because, surprisingly, when children move out most of their stuff stays behind. And it grew exponentially when my brother Joe moved in with me, and his stuff was added to my own. Seriously, I can’t find anything in the kitchen cupboards anymore without a dozen things falling out on top of my head/Trish Gannon, River Journal, Politically Incorrect. More here.

Question: Do you feel that you have too much stuff? What do you do about it?

AM Scanner Traffic — 12.17.10

  • 11:40 a.m. Some sort of road hazard is reported @ Government Way & Canfield.
  • 11:37 a.m. Caller reports smoke coming from garage @ 102 W. Cosmos/PF.
  • 11:29 a.m. Green traffic light is burned out @ H41 & Poleline/PF.
  • 11:17 a.m. An unknown medical situation is reported @ 16th & Dalton/Dalton Gardens.
  • 10:35 a.m. Officers are responding to suicide threat on Carpenter Loop/PF.
  • 10:11 a.m. Olympia restaurant, 3rd & Lakeside/CdA, reports a citizen dispute.
  • 10:06 a.m. Woman reports she’s chasing a man in a silver pickup who was checking out her place on H53 & Chase/Hauser. She suspects he may have burglarized home in February.
  • 9:55 a.m. NIC worker asks boss if drivers can park w/o permits for wrestling tournament and is told that the college won’t be enforcing unauthorized parking this week.
  • 9:54 a.m. Deer thought to be killed in 9:31 a.m. incident wanders off into bushes.
  • 9:46 a.m. Suicidal woman at NIC keeps saying she wants to be with her dead father.
  • 9:37 a.m. A garbage can is lying in intersection of H95 & Ironwood (near KMC).
  • 9:36 a.m. Llamas are walking on H97 @ Beauty Bay Recreation Area, in open range.
  • 9:31 a.m. A vehicle has hit a deer on H95 near Fighting Creek Store/Worley.
  • 9:25 a.m. Jason has contained a dog @ H41 & Wyoming/Rathdrum.
  • 9:06 a.m. 4-5 bales of hay are lying on s/b H95 @ M/P 442 (Chilco). Both lanes blocked.
  • 8:44 a.m. Department of Motor Vehicles reports a wanted person is in the office.

MoscowM: I Love Winter

Moscow Minidoka: Does anyone else get annoyed by the way our Inland Northwest “radio personalities” (and I suppose “television personalities” too) act when giving the weather forecast? Just this morning the guy on our local oldies station reported the possibility of snow with the same tone of dread that he might use to announce that he’s been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Does it not occur to these folks that some of us LIKE snow, and maybe even PREFER snow over four months of dreary sogginess? Did these people get stuck up north against their will, and cannot control their compulsion to complain about winter all winter long? I love winter. I love snow. I love when it’s cold. More below.

Question: Anyone else out there who loves winter?

Zogby: Bush, Palin Win People Polls

An ABC cameraman tapes as Robin Roberts, far right, rides a snowmobile with Sarah Palin (in orange helmet) and her daughter Piper during an interview with Sarah Palin for ABC’s Good Morning America at the Palin home in Wasilla, Alaska. In a Zogby International Poll, Palin edged President Barack Obama as person of the year, while former President George Bush easily bested Obama as person of the decade. Story here. (AP Photo/ABC, Matt Hage)

Question: Do you agree that Sarah Palin is person of the year and George Bush, person of the decade, in polls in which President Obama finishes second?

HBO Poll: PCs Preferred Over Macs

  • Thursday Poll: Mac users may be fanatical about their computer, but most in Hucks Nation prefers PCs. 99 of 134 respondents (73.88%) said they prefer PCs to Macs. Only 27 of 134 (20.15%) choose Macs. 5 of 134 (3.73%) said they like both types of computers. 3 were undecided.
  • Weekend Poll: Will Raul Labrador serve more than one term in the U.S. House of Representatives?

Roll Call: Minnick’s Done w/Politics

The Capitol Hill newspaper “Roll Call” reports today that Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick says he’s “gone for good” from elective politics. “I think I’m done with elective politics,” he told the newspaper.  “I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I think it’s time for somebody else.” The article examines the dismal elective record of Democrats in Idaho in the past three decades, and the Idaho party’s future prospects, perhaps with conservative, well-funded Democratic candidates like Minnick/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Will Raul Labrador break the string of one-and-done representatives from the 1st Congressional District?

SR To Idaho: Restore Monitoring $$$

It should surprise no one, therefore, that a number of business interests have lent their support to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s appeal for $350,000 to restore a water-quality monitoring program that was largely suspended two years ago. Numerous Idaho cities, including Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls, have spoken out, too. The Beneficial Use Reconnaissance Program – more familiar as BURP – was first conducted in 1993 as a pilot program to track the health of some 96,000 miles of Idaho streams, plus the state’s beloved lakes. Every summer thereafter, DEQ has hired college students to collect samples from hundreds of surface water locations around the state. Every summer until two years ago, that is/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Are you as amazed as I am that southern Idaho solons who rightfully obsess over water in their ‘hood can’t find $350,000 to protect water in North Idaho?

Is RSVP Passe?

Marjorie George poses at her home in Durham, N.C., earlier this week. George wrote an op-ed on the subject of RSVP for her local newspaper some time ago. George wonders whether busy lifestyles have begotten a culture of not committing, even to a few hours of socializing. Story here. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Question: Do you always RSVP when you receive an invitation to a hosted event?

iPad Could Help Cull Bad Teachers

Item: Bad teachers, fear the iPad: official believes trendy machines could help identify poor performers/Jay Patrick, SR

More Info: Earlier this year, (Scott Woolstenhulme of Bonneville Joint School District in Idaho Falls) spent $30,000 on 34 top-model iPads for principals and other administrators. The idea is that the machines will enable school principals to spend more time in classrooms evaluating teachers because they can collect and record evaluation observations at the same time. When questioned the purchase, Woolstenhulme touted the iPads as tools to improve teacher performance by delivering feedback faster.

Question: Describe the worst teacher that you ever had?

Washington Atheists Put Tree Up

With little fanfare or complaints, Seattle Atheists have erected a decorated tree and a sign on the Capitol campus in honor of not-Christmas. A tree? As in, a Christmas Tree? Not exactly. The group calls it “A Tree of Knowledge” — although it’s  unclear if they’re unaware of the Biblical implications of such a title, or co-opting it. But their tree looks suspiciously like a Christmas Tree, considering it’s about a 6-foot conifer with decorations hanging from the boughs. No toys or angels or smiley snowmen for the atheists, however. Their decorations consist of pictures of famous scientists like Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein, covers for books like “Cosmos” and a small copy of the Periodic Table of Elements. (I know what you’re thinking: These atheists sure know how to trim a tree!)/Jim Camden, Spin Control. More here.

Question: Can you trim a tree better than an atheist can?

Avista Fined For Assistance Snafu

State regulators fined Avista Corp. more than $60,000 for improper handling of customer accounts. Most of the violations were related to errors in how energy-assistance dollars were credited to low-income families. Avista was putting the money toward customers’ old past-due bills, instead of crediting it toward current and upcoming payments. “That money is intended to keep the heat and the lights on right now,” said Sharon Wallace, assistant director for consumer protection at the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. “What happened was that the company applied the money … to old balances.” That put some customers at immediate risk of having their power shut off, she said/Becky Kramer, SR. More here. (SR file photo: Protesters demonstrate against high power bills last February)

Question: Do you think Avista’s mishandling of energy-assistance dollars was intentional?

Shawn: Holdout Loertscher Has Point

So it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that (Rep. Tom) Loertscher is ethically dim. Craven. Corrupt. I had my brickbats ready. But then, as we talked about it, I started seeing his point. Sort of. “I’m not a fan of Phil Hart’s, but I think he deserves a fair shake in this,” he said. “By that, I mean I’m not trying to defend him or his behavior. I don’t think that’s appropriate for me to do. I think it’s up to the voters. … I would not have pursued this as he did.” Loertscher says the ethics committee has already ruled on the tax question, and he’s right, however lousy that ruling was. He’s one of the people responsible for its lousiness. As for the theft of the logs, it did happen 14 years ago, before Hart was a lawmaker. Still, I’m not persuaded/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Should Tom Loertscher be chairing the House Ethics Committee hearing into a complaint about Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol?

AM: California Poachers Nabbed

State wildlife officers photographed Richard Raine and his daughter, Barbera Johnson of Sacramento, Calif., putting out feed to lure elk in Boundary County. The two, along with Robert Johnson, were fined a total of $9600 for poaching and lost their hunting privileges for five years. Story here.

Question: Can you think of something lower than an poacher?

Brent: Proud To Be A Luddite

Brent Andrews: I don’t “prefer” any computers, tho we use a Mac at home. If anything happened to Honey I’d let all our technology expire - the computer, the hundred channels on the Devil’s Eye, and subscribe to a couple more papers. If HBO ceased to exist I doubt I’d go on the Internet three times a year - except for work. Work keeps me on the Net too much. Dave’s right; I’m a Luddite. I’d buy the Unabomber’s couple of acres over in MT and fence it good and live in a shack and grow marijuana for a living, reading a few papers and ‘Lonesome Dove’ at my leisure, but Honey would never live that way - probably wouldn’t step foot on that property, even as a tourist. More below.

Question: Do you appreciate our technological times? Or do you wish we could go back to a slower time when electric typewriters were considered advanced technology?

Druid: Why DG Lowers Speed Limits

Arch Druid (a Dalton Gardens resident): As for why the speed limit drops to 25 on 15th or 4th once those routes cross into Dalton Gardens, well, you might want to be aware and beware of multitudes of animals, kids, people who literally have to cross the road to get to their mail boxes and wild deer roaming about even in broad daylight. I have lived in Dalton Gardens for 6 years and hopefully this will provide an answer to Last Demo’s beef.

Question: Do you mind the slow speed limits on 4th & 15th through Dalton Gardens?

J-Mac: Reconnecting w/Lost Sister

Jimmy-Mac: Long story short, I was raised by my grandmother and have not VERY limited contact with my father (who passed this year) or that side of the family. After non seeing my half sister for around 25 years, I woke up to a message on my phone last Tuesday morning that went, “hi Jimmy, I found you online and think you might be my little brother that I have not seen since he was 5”. Needless to say the message sent shivers down my spine as I had been looking for her for a loooong time. Longer story short, she did not have very much contact with that side of the family as well but over the past week or so I have been reunited with this wonderful beautiful person and feel such an incredible connection with. More below.

Question: Have you ever reconnected with a long-lost relative or friend?

Heller: A Lack Of Communication

Joe Heller/Hellertoons

Wild Card/Thursday — 12.16.10

I’ve been so busy today, trying to blog around my annual trip to the Spokane office, that I forgot to mention that — yes, indeedy — Hucks Online topped 2.5 million page-views Wednesday evening. The blog topped a record 1.5 million unique views on Tuesday. Last year, Hucks finished under 2.1 million page-views. When all is said and done, the blog will attract around 500,000 more page-views this year than last. I tip my cap to the dancing monkeys who made this happen. Now, for your re-posted Wild Card …

Parting Shot — 12.16.10

Marianne Love/Slight Detour has published several more of her cool, ski-joring photos from Bonner County. Matt Smart (on horse), owner of Mountain Horse Adventures, and Janice Wood Schoonover, owner of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, coordinated efforts in yesterday’s skijoring practice Wednesday. Laura Gillet is the woman who makes first practice jump of the day. More photos here.

Library Scofflaws Win Amesty w/Food

Patrons participating in an overdue-fine amnesty at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library donated a record amount of food to a local food bank. From Nov. 15 to Dec. 4, patrons gave 892 pounds of food as part of the Fa La La La La Food for Fines. A donation of nonperishable food for people or pets could be donated at the library in lieu of payments for late fees. The amnesty did not apply to charges for lost or damaged items. Since the periodic Food for Fines program was introduced, the largest donation to date was in March 2008 when 510 pounds was collected/David Townsend, Coeur d’Alene Today. More here.

Question: I’ll confess right up front that every other book that I return to the library is overdue. How about you? Do you get your library books back in time?

PM Scanner — 12.16.10

  • 5:17 p.m. 2 drunk males are fist-fighting in 500 block of East Orchard/Hayden.
  • 4:47 p.m. A vehicle that was abandoned at a business along Chilco Road/Athol five months ago by a Bonner County man reportedly was stolen from Bannock County.
  • 4:25 p.m. A boy reports to his mother that a white pickup w/a canopy is following him home from Hayden Meadows Elementary.
  • 4:27 p.m. Rhonda reports that someone listed her home as a rental on CraigsList.
  • 4:20 p.m. 52YO man accidentally took a pill overdose in 900 block of Spruce Court/CdA.
  • 4:18 p.m. Caller reports man in red Toyota Highlander stopped @ lights on Prairie & Government Way/Hayden was driving at varying speeds & had hit a curb.
  • 3:59 p.m. Several callers report a male was driving recklessly before crashing into a snow bank in median in front of Lake City High. Driver may have suffered seizure.

NIdaho Blogs: Tamale Food Porn

“I had some chickpeas on hand, so she cut up some tomatoes, mixed them with the chickpeas and some herbs and stuffed the tamales with the mixture,” posts JeanC of JeanC’s Cathouse & Shooting Gallery. “We steamed them in my bamboo steamers over a pot of water and enjoyed. The above is my lunch.” You can read how she topped things off here. Also, Jean shows how you can go gluten-free for an office party here.

Hucks Online numbers (for Wednewday, Dec. 15): 10,562/6566

APhoto Of The Day — 12.16.10

Japanese monkeys have a bath together in a pond filled with hot spring water at a municipal tropical botanical garden in Hakodate, Hokkaido, northern Japan, on snowy Wednesday, with temperature below freezing. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Kyodo News, Hiroko Miyoshi)

Top Cutlines:

  • 1. DFO’s dancing monkeys get rewarded with a warm bath after HBO hits 2.5 million page views — Phaedrus.
  • 2. The Phil Hart ethics committee adjourns to it’s favorite watering hole to scratch each others backs — Charlie.
  • 3. (tie): The CDA Press staff bathes in anticipation of a Christmas visit from “The Duane” — Dennis; and: The ethics committee ponders whether to censure the member who made bubble — DCR.
  • HM: Herb

DanH: Oprah Isn’t Lesbian, Nor Am I

Oprah and I are a lot alike. Oh sure, there are subtle differences. Even with just one name, everyone knows her. I have three names - not counting what readers call me - yet nobody knows me. She lives in Chicago. I live here. But other than other minor items, Oprah and I are one of kind. She is not a lesbian. I am not a lesbian. While everyone already knew that about Oprah, I think it is important that I announce my heterosexuality. Actually, I don’t think it’s all that important. In fact, I’m like you. I am really weary of all the TV chatter about “a person’s sexuality.” It is much more important to me to know whether a person is going to root for those cheaters from Auburn in the national title game/Dan Hammes, St. Maries Gazette Record. More here. (AP file photo of Barbara Walters & Oprah Winfrey)

Question: Did Barbara Walters step across the line when she asked mega-star Oprah Winfrey about her sexuality?

Mowing Your CdA Lawn In December

A Berry Picker in the Bentwood Park subdivision, off 15th Street/CdA, was stunned today — Dec. 16, for goodness sake — to hear the sound of a lawn mower in the ‘hood. She reports to Huckleberries Online: “I heard the mower noise, and it took me a moment to realize that it was mower noise in December. When I looked out the window, I saw him mowing away.” The neighbor mowed his front and back yard but didn’t mow the snow-filled swales. Now, the Berry Picker is puzzled: “I’m now well versed in lawn care, so maybe this is a good thing to do?”

Question: Should you mow your lawn in December, if weather permits?

Rammell, Loertscher, & Hart, Oh My

Embroiled in a scandal? Caught breaking the ethical rules? Facing a criminal charge? Guilty as hell? Come to the firm of Rammell, Loertscher and Hart. Former Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rex Rammell, state Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, and state Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol have pioneered innovative ways to excuse, explain away or just outright stampede any and all allegations of impropriety/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you agree with Marty Trillhaase that Rex Rammell, Tom Loertscher, & Phil Hart have raised the bar for explaining away bad behavior?

Barber Retires After 61 Years

Everyone knows him as Nick Nickerson, and he was born in Spokane in 1929. That makes him 81 years old, and for 61 of those years he’s been a barber. At the end of this year, Nickerson is putting away his scissors for the last time when he retires from his job at Heads Up Barber Shop in north Spokane. “I never really wanted to do anything other than cut hair,” said Nickerson. A trim man with an engaging smile and a knack for telling a story, Nickerson is not really sure what he’s going to do after he retires. “I’m going to have all this time, I don’t know,” said Nickerson, trailing off a bit/Pia Hallenberg, SR. More here.

Question: Who cuts your hair — a barber, a beautician, someone in your family, or you yourself?

INW: Caught In Hospital Politics

Three-year-old Hudson Kramer kisses his 6-month-old little sister Lily, as his mother Brandy Kramer holds Lily’s twin sister Dahlia at their home in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday, Dec. 8. The babies were born premature and Dahlia needed surgery. The family became caught in a hospital dispute that has split a surgical group in Spokane. SR story by John Stucke here. (SR photo by Kathy Plonka)

City Dock Repair

Don Sausser snapped this photo a half hour ago of a silhouetted tug boat pshing a crane-ladened barge that has been replacing worn pilings on the City Docks for the past two days.

Way We Were: Takara Restaurant

On his Facebook page, OrangeTV posts an April 2007 review of Takara restaurant, the first one he wrote to Handle Extra. He thought it appropriate now that the Japanese restaurant on Lakeside is about to go out of business: From my experience, sushi makes for one of the best pre-night-out-on-the-town meals possible. It’s not really a hot idea to eat anything too heavy duty before indulging in a night of hi-balls and disco dancing. No one enjoys feeling painfully bloated while attempting the Electric Hustle. Sushi is light in substance, yet filling, and all that sticky white rice will help soak up some that booze you’ll be enjoying later in the evening. Plus, eating sushi with some close friends can be a ritualistic, bonding affair, a relaxing way to wind down and let the week’s chaos dissolve like wasabi into soy sauce. Takara Japanese Restaurant, located on Lakeside Avenue, is the perfect way to dine before venturing out to explore the downtown Coeur d’Alene nightlife. More here.

Question: Is there anything about Takara that you’ll find irreplaceable?

LDII: Sweet Deal For Dalton Gardens

LastDemoInIdaho: Did all you gentle readers know that the town of Dalton Garden gets police protection from Kootenai Cty. for free? All they have to do is pass out a few heavy-duty flashlights once a year, and the deputies will patrol and protect…at no cost to the Dalton taxpayers. But, doesn’t that mean the rest of us county taxpayers are subsidizing this cost? How can this be? Why can’t the city of Hayden where I reside get the same deal? Actually, this thread is linked to my envy of my across-the-street (city boundary) neighbor who gets Dalton water very, very very cheaply and I have to pay North Kootenai an arm/leg for my water. In the heat of summer, when my water bill is pushing 80 bucks/month my Dalton friends are watering their lawns 24/7. Grrrr.

Question: I’m miffed that Dalton Gardens imposes a 25 mph speed limit on traffic within its city limits on 4th & 15th streets. Anyone else have a beef with Dalton Gardens?

Man Claims Attack By Vandal Players

A 20-year-old Lapwai man alleges he was the victim of an unprovoked attack by University of Idaho football players. Lamont Phillips told the Lewiston Tribune the attack over the weekend landed him in the hospital for nearly a day with a concussion, a fractured orbital bone around his eye, seven stitches next to his eye and bruises on his head and body from being kicked and punched. The alleged attack occurred at a Moscow apartment party on North Polk Street where people were celebrating the end of the football season, Phillips said/Joel Mills, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Does this incident sour your appreciation of the improving Idaho Vandal football team?

BSU 2nd Academically Of Bowl Teams

If academics determined the Bowl Championship competitors, Oregon and Auburn would not be playing the championship game this year. They would be ranked seventeenth and twenty-first in the BCS standings. This is actually an improvement for Oregon over last year’s Academic BCS, when the team placed twenty-third. So who would be contending for the crystal trophy in Glendale, AZ, if the match-up was determined by academic performance? Stanford and Boise State are the class of the BCS, according to our rankings of the top 25 college football teams. That’s impressive, when you consider that both schools are in the top ten athletically as well — Stanford is ranked fourth, and Boise State comes in tenth in the BCS standings/Maggie Severns, Higher Education Watch. More here. (AP file photo: Boise State vs. Utah State Dec. 4)

Question: Does it matter to you how well the players on your favorite college team perform academically?

Film Director Blake Edwards, 88, RIP

In this May 9, 1992 file photo, British actress Julie Andrews, poses with her husband, American film director Blake Edwards, after he was awarded the Legion Of Honour, in Cannes, France. Edwards, 88, the director and writer known for clever dialogue and occasional belly-laugh sight gags in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “10” and the “Pink Panther” farces, died from complications of pneumonia on Wednesday at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. Story here. (AP Photo/Gilbert Tourte, file)

Question: Which Blake Edwards film is you favorite?

Teen Accused Of Killing Dogs w/Ax

Spokane sheriff’s deputies have arrested a 19-year-old man who allegedly killed his mother’s dogs and held his mother and grandmother hostage with a butcher knife after his mom refused to give him money.The incident happened Monday night along Deer Creek Road in Chattaroy. Deputies said the teen, Michael Shartle, was holding his mother and grandmother hostage in their own home. Shartle doesn’t have a job, and relatives said he “mooches” money off of them for the things he needs/Jeff Humphrey, KXLY. More here. And: Meghann Cuniff’s Sirens & Gavels story here.

Question: Am I the only Huckleberry who shakes his head sadly after reading a story like this?

Hucks Poll: Connecting With Facebook

  • Wednesday Poll: A plurality of Hucks Nation connects socially online via Facebook. Which isn’t a surprise. 80 of 213 respondents (37.56%) said Facebook is one of the social networking tools they use. 62 of 213 (29.11%) said that they connect online via blogs. Only 23 of 213 (10.8%) said they connect via Twitter. Also, 31 (14.55%) said they don’t connect online, while 17 (7.98%) reported that they use other social networking.
  • Today’s Poll: Which type of computer do you prefer for personal use?

George & Laura’s Book Signing Tour

Former President George W. Bush, right, and his wife Laura appear together to sign their books ‘Decision Points’ by him, and ‘Spoken From the Heart’ by her, at a bookstore this morning in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Question: Would you be more likely to read George’s book or Laura’s?

Boise Airport Dissed As ‘Plain Vanilla’

This just in from the state that fancies itself as bigger and better than everywhere else: Dallas’ airport renovation won’t emulate Boise’s recent river-themed remake. Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt is citing the Boise Airport as a model of what not to be as the city prepares to renovate Love Field. “We’re not Boise, Idaho,” Hunt said Wednesday. “We don’t have to have this plain vanilla look about our airport. I think we should be proud of the fact that we’ve got the cowboy thing going on and the incredible landscapes to choose from.” Hunt’s dismissal of Boise, which completed a $108.5 million expansion of the terminal in 2003, came during a City Council meeting/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here. (SR file photo: Dan Pelle)

Question: Would you rate the look of the Spokane International Airport as “plain vanilla,” too? Or do you consider it to have an interesting appearance?

Spokane 15th Safest Place To Live

Spokane is the 15th most secure place to live in the United States among mid-size cities, according to the Seventh Annual Farmers Insurance Group of Companies study. The rankings, compiled by database experts at, took into consideration crime statistics, extreme weather, risk of natural disasters, housing depreciation, foreclosures, air quality, environmental hazards, terrorist threats, life expectancy and job loss numbers in 127 U.S. metropolitan areas with populations between 150,000 and 500,000/KHQ. More here.

Question: Do you think Spokane is safer than your North Idaho community?

Kevin: Keeping Tabs On Rex Rammell

Anyway, the caller says, everybody knows what Rex Rammell is all about, so why give him space on the opinion page? Her theory was that I ran the piece simply to stir up some controversy. Not so. First, since Rammell’s arrest was a high-profile story, I thought it only fair to give him his say. Second, since Rammell has run for statewide office (and might quite possibly run again), I think it’s important for voters to see Rammell as he presents himself. Including his weak “big-box retailer” defense, and his over-the-top tasteless Nazi analogy. Perhaps this is all old news to the Idahoans who have long since pegged Rammell as a wingnut and a blowhard. I do know this much: 42,436 Idahoans voted for this guy in the May Republican primary. The media has a responsibility to help voters know what they’re doing/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: I agree w/Kevin that the media should keep tabs on wingnut & former U.S. Senator/governor candidate Rex Rammell. How about you?

Teacher Tenure Under Attack

State legislators in the neighboring states of Wyoming and Montana are working on bills that would end teacher tenure. Not everyone is happy about the prospects of the change, especially teacher associations in the two states. Besides sharing geographic borders, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho all share another trait – heavily-Republican legislatures. With the anti-tenure ideas coming from Republicans in the other states, one might wonder if a similar plan could – or should – come to the Gem State anytime soon. Rep. Steve Thayn, R-Emmett, is a member of the House Education Committee.   Thayn says that he would like to have the discussion about enduing tenure, but wouldn’t make a firm commitment to supporting the idea/Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter. More here.

Question: Would you like to see Idaho end teacher tenure?

AM Headlines — 12.16.10

Kinder-Magic kindergartner Lance Emery makes his Christmas wish Wednesday at the school in Coeur d’Alene during their Christmas party. The kids got to wear their pajamas, have breakfast and exchange gifts. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Bob Feller, 92, Hall Of Fame Pitcher

Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians, acknowledges the crowd before the Hall of Fame Classic baseball game in Cooperstown, N.Y., last summer. Feller, the Iowa farm boy whose powerful right arm earned him the nickname “Rapid Robert” and made him one of baseball’s greatest pitchers during a Hall of Fame career with the Indians, has died Wednesday. He was 92. New York Times report here. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli, File, File)

Question: Who do you consider to be the greatest Major League Baseball pitcher of the last 50 years?

Post Falls Reports Child Enticement

Post Falls police are looking for a suspect in a possible child enticement Wednesday. In a news release, the police department reported that the incident occurred at 8:10 a.m. when girls, 11 and 6, were walking to their school bus on Warm Springs Road. More: “A male in a full-sized, navy-blue van with a large horizontal grey stripe on the side drove up to the juveniles and stopped his vehicle. The male looked at the females (who) fled to a neighboring house for safety. This same van was seen parked outside of the juveniles’ home with the engine running.” The van is described as having only front passenger windows, silver wheels, and possibly Idaho license plates.  The van is estimated to be a late 90’s model. The driver is reported to be a white male with grey hair and a slight beard/Mike Prager, SR. More here.

Sam Isn’t First Reporter To Leave

Sam Taylor’s decision to leave journalism (Bellingham Herald) to take a job as city clerk for Ferndale, Wash., prompted me to think about others who have left the news biz — Erica Curless (horse masseuse), Taryn Hecker (photography), Marc Stewart (public relations), Keith Erickson (public relations), Susan Cuff (college alumni director), Julie Titone (college instructor), Dave Bond (independent mining reporter), etc.

Question: Can you think of others who have left the news biz for a career outside the media?

Dan: Mac? Or PC?

On his Facebook page, Dan Mitchinson mentions that his computer has died, and he’s thinking about asking Santa for a new one. Then, he writes: “Hmm, Mac or PC? I’ve always been a PC guy, but those Apple laptops look tempting.” I advised him to try the Mac. I have one of each — PC at work and Mac at home. I had to un-learn some things to adjust to the Mac. But it seems to be far less complicated and more dependable than a PC. What do you think?

Question: Mac? Or PC? Why?

Pastor: OK To Have ‘Blue Christmas’

A Port Orchard church held a “Blue Christmas” service where the pastor told worshippers it was OK to be sad. Pastor Joe Smith told about 30 worshippers at the First Lutheran Community Church they didn’t have to be cheerful and were welcome “just the way you are.” The Kitsap Sun reports one couple at the Tuesday service were mourning a miscarriage. Smith held his first Blue Christmas service last year to minister to those dealing with deaths, lost relationships, unemployment and other trials/Associated Press. More here.

Question: Do the Christmas holidays ever make you feel blue?

Anderson: Everbody Wins?

Nick Anderson/Houston Chronicle

1 Dead, 1 Critical After I-90 Accident

One person was killed and another is in critical condition after a two-car crash in the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 today about 3:45 p.m. west of Post Falls. Idaho State Police said Donald Graham, 77, of Rathdrum, was driving a yellow Chevy Equinox westbound on the freeway near milepost 3 when he was rear-ended by a Kia Optima, driven by Lisa Calbick, 33, of Coeur d’Alene. Graham lost control of the vehicle, which rolled off the right shoulder and landed on its top. Graham was pronounced dead at Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene, police said/Spokesman-Review. More here.

Hump Day Wild Card — 12.15.10

Izzit just me — or did the weather guys & gals from Spokane get away with another bobble? Didn’t they predict a snow storm for Tuesday into Wednesday. Yet I don’t think a flake fell. Not that I see anything wrong with a brown, dreary day in December. Last week, they also predicted heavy snowfall at one point. And nothing happened. Should we keep track of these things? Or are we happy that weather guys & gals get things right most of the time? You can discuss weather forecasts or anything else you like with this Wild Card …

Parting Shot — 12.15.10

Hundreds of students jostle to get a glimpse of Alpha Phi Omega fraternity members as they run naked dubbed “Oblation Run” through the University of the Philippines campus at Diliman in suburban Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines, earlier today.

48YO Hayden Driver Kills Himself

A Hayden man died after shooting himself in the face today around 1:45 p.m. during a traffic stop in Dalton Gardens, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.  Robert J. Kilborn, 48, was driving a red Chevrolet Blazer when a deputy tried to stop him near Government Way and Hanley Avenue for having a faulty exhaust system. According to the sheriff’s department, Kilborn failed to stop and continued driving at about 20 miles per hour. He went east on Hanley Avenue then south on Valley Street before he pulled into a friend’s driveway in Dalton Gardens at 6167 N. Valley Street. The deputy approached the vehicle and saw Kilborn, the only occupant in the vehicle, had a long gun in his hand. The deputy backed away from the vehicle and the driver shot himself in the face/Chelsea Bannach, SR. More here.

Herb: Saying Goodbye To SR Gig

I have been writing for the Spokesman-Review since The beginning of the Prairie Voice and subsequently, the Handle Extra. That, if I remember correctly, was the spring of 2007. April to be precise. In the beginning, I wrote news and features for Bayview, then included Athol as well as a few stories from Spirit Lake. At the time, I was writing at least two and sometimes more stories per week. Then the paper started cutting back. First, I was down to two to three stories a month, then the Prairie Voice was discontinued. I then started covering a little more territory and was published in the “Handle Extra.” At the end of December, the Handle Extra will cease publication, and me with it. It has been a great run/Herb Huseland, Bay Views. More here.

Question: Have you ever been paid to free-lance for a newspaper or magazine?

PM Headlines — 12.15.10

Michele”Mikey” Squires sits in her restored 1965 Volkswagen Microbus, which was stolen in 1974, discovered on a ship heading to the Netherlands last year, and finally returned to Squires last week. On Tuesday, she held a party at the Cathay Inn restaurant to celebrate its return. (SR photo: Colin Mulvany)

APhoto Of The Day — 12.15.10

Acrobats perform in front of Pope Benedict XVI, during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Wednesday. The “Pellegrini brothers” took off their shirts as they came on stage Wednesday to begin their show, which lasted a few minutes. They lifted each other in different acrobatic poses, keeping balance with their bodies often supported only by their arms. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

Top Cutlines:

  • 1. In an attempt to make peace with the Vatican, Madonna has hired Pope Benedict XVI to supervise the auditions for back up dancers for her upcoming “White Pants After Labor Day” world tour — OrangeTV.
  • 2. This is not what I meant when I asked for ideas on how to rebuild the image of today’s catholic priest from the bottom up! — Formerly Sandpoint.
  • 3. Still confounded by the clergy sex abuse issue, His Holiness gets a refresher course — JohnA.
  • HM: Gary D. Rhodes

PM Scanner: Motorist Kills Himself

KXLY provides the photo above from sight of motorist shooting that occurred at 1:51. Story here. And: Meghann Cuniff’s Sirens & Gavels report here.

  • 5:54 p.m. Deputies are looking for a 30s-40s, heavy-set shoplifter near Del Taco @ Prairie & Cornerstone/Hayden. Man shoplifted from Kohl’s.
  • 5:39 p.m. Someone has a dislocated shoulder @ Coeur d’Alene High.
  • 5:23 p.m. KHQ is reporting that one person died in that 3:37 p.m. I-90 rollover.
  • 5:01 p.m. Coeur d’Alene police activity report for Dec. 14-15 here.
  • 4:45 p.m. Injury accident @ H95 & Lacey/Hayden is blocking n/b lanes.
  • 4:40 p.m. Caller reports a male @ Zips/Post Falls grabbed a child roughly before putting the child in his black vehicle and driving off. The car is registered to a Black Rock man.
  • 4:36 p.m. ISP notice: “The Idaho State Police are on the scene of an injury blocking crash on Interstate 90 near milepost 3.  We are asking for all motorists to please find alternate routes of travela and avoid this area until further notice.
  • 4:21 p.m. Vehicle has hit a deer @ Strahorn & Lacey/Hayden.
  • 3:45 p.m. The man that shot himself during a traffic stop in Cd’A only had a suspended license and warrant for failing to appear for DUI, according to Mike Perry/KHQ.
  • 3:37 p.m. A rollover involving one or two vehicles has occurred on w/b I-90 b/n M/P 3 (Pleasantview area), blocking median and in closest lanes of traffic in both directions. Patrolman on scene reports 2 possible injuries.

Minnick, Simpson Split On ‘Don’t Ask’

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed an amendment to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act which would repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuals serving in the armed forces.  Idaho’s House delegation vote was split; Congressman Walt Minnick voted to repeal it, while Congressman Mike Simpson voted to keep it in place/Jay Howell, Idaho Reporter. More here.

Question: Which Idaho representative voted the way you wanted?

Adam: Hart Ethics Hearing A Mockery

The Ethics process in any legislative body serves best when it investigates legitimate wrongdoing as happened during the Jack Noble case when Noble introduced a bill to benefit his own convenience store. What’s going on in the Idaho legislature with Phil Hart is nothing more than a mockery of the process. As happened with Sarah Palin in Alaska, spiteful folks are trying to drive a conservative from office through spurious ethics complaints.  The legislature is now investigating a 14 year old case of illegal timber cutting that happened 8 years before Hart was elected to the State legislature. Mind you the total cost of timber that Hart took was $2,450, which he’s already paid despite the fine not being enforcable by the State of Idaho/Adam’s Blog. More here.

Question: Do you agree with Idaho Conservative Blogger that the House Ethics Committee hearing on Rep. Phil Hart is a mockery of justice?

Senate OKs Tax Bill, Simpson Wary

The Senate-passed tax cut compromise is on its way to the House — with support from Idaho Republicans Mike Crapo and Jim Risch But 2nd Congressional District Rep. Mike Simpson is concerned about the bill’s impact on the deficit, and isn’t sure how he’ll vote. “I’ve got some real concerns with it,” Simpson told the Statesman Wednesday afternoon. Simpson, R-Idaho, said he has not had a chance to read the bill, which passed the Senate today on an 81-19 vote. But he is concerned with some of the add-ons that have found their way into the bill — including subsidies for wind and solar power, ethanol and sports stadiums/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Do you agree with the votes by Idaho’s U.S. senators in favor of the Senate-passed tax compromise?

NIC POST Academy Graduates 17

A total of 17 graduates recently completed the Peace Officers Standards Training (POST) Academy at North Idaho College. For the first time, the class included self-sponsored students in addition to the students sent to the academy by the law enforcement agencies they are employed by. You can find the identities of the 17 graduates above and read the rest of the story here.

Question: Do you have any police officers in your family?

Hustler Buying Photo Of Signal ‘Finger’

Update: The newsroom has learned that Hustler magazine is buying this photo by reporter Meghann Cuniff of a Spokane traffic signal that appears to be flipping the bird.

Spokane city street crews today fixed a malfunctioning crossing signal that appeared to be giving the one-finger salute. The crossing light at 2nd Street and Walnut Avenue appeared to be flashing the bird when the “Don’t Walk” hand is displayed. Employees at nearby A to Z Rental said they noticed the change last week. “People sure got a kick out of it,” said Carrie Wisenor. “They’d come in here in a crummy mood then I’d say ‘look at that’ and they’d crack up.” City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said vandalism is not suspected. “I think it would be pretty difficult for somebody to be that specific,” Feist said/Meghann Cuniff, SR. More here.

Question: Why did this photo go viral?

Wild Turkey: Toughest Bird Around

In a testament to the species’ hardiness, reports of white wild turkeys among the region’s big wintering flocks are fairly common. First, one must marvel that there are big wintering flocks after two bad winters in the past three years followed by this year’s unusually wet spring nesting conditions. Then, to see white wild turkeys surviving through spring, summer, fall and into winter reinforces the bird’s top survivor status. Albinism and white phases occur in many species, including skunks. But nature tends to be harsh on these aberrations. Lacking the natural camouflage, predators key in on them easily, although they might have some sort of advantage in the scattering of weeks when snow is on the ground/Rich Landers, Outdoors Blog. More here.

Question: Have you ever eaten wild turkey? Would you recommend it?

Crump: Go Ahead Mama, Kiss Santa

The late Bill Studwell, a longtime librarian at Northern Illinois University who was the acknowledged expert on Christmas music, likened carols to code that admits Americans to full membership in our culture. The lyrics are universally known, much beloved, badly sung and — let’s be honest — surpassingly dumb. No? Don’t you think “We Three Kings of Orient Are” is an odd concept for a cabal of camel-riding Mesopotamians from the Psychic Friends Network? But it’s no worse than the “Carol of the Bells,” which is neither singable nor playable on any instrument except a collection of empty beer bottles/Steve Crump, Twin Falls Times-News. More here.

Question: Any nominees (besides “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”) for worst Christmas carol of all time?

Hitting The Slopes

A skier enjoys opening day at Showdown ski area at Kings Hill near Neihart, Mont., recently. (AP Photo/Great Falls Tribune, Rion Sanders)

Question: Do you ski or snowboard?

High Noon: Job Evaluations

I just received my annual job evaluation for my work in the online department of The Spokesman-Review. I received a fairly nice review for the things I do here, including some constructive criticism and challenges to achieve new goals. I’ll be taking a few hours in the middle of the day Thursday to travel downtown to discuss the review with my boss, Blogmeister Ryan. I’d rather get a job performance review, than give one, especially if you, as boss, have to say some hard things. I take the reviews to heart and try to work on areas that can be improved, while maintaining a standard of excellence elsewhere. How about you?

Question: When did you last have a job performance review? Do you consider them of value?

AM Scanner Traffic — 12.15.10

  • Noonish: Myra reports large rabbit problem on Altamont/Rathdrum.
  • 11:55 a.m. EMTs are responding to Lakes Middle School, where an overdose is reported. Student reportedly took 10 to 20 pills, including Ibuprofen, at 7 this morning.
  • 11:43 a.m. Caller reports a strong smell of natural gas @ 2329 Honeysuckle/CdA.
  • 11:31 a.m. Red Volvo reportedly passed several vehicles on shoulder of I-90 @ Huetter.
  • 11:26 a.m. Cheryl has questions re: automated call she got from police department.
  • 11:10 a.m. Steven has questions re: neighbor’s horses on Timberland/Athol.
  • 10:26 a.m. A brown dog is running along H95 & Haycraft/CdA, creating traffic hazard.
  • 10:05 a.m. Nicole, who has a 951 area code, reports a contained dog @ Arrow Point.
  • 9:46 a.m. Landlord has left scene of a dispute w/a tenant on Hauser Lake Road.
  • 9:24 a.m. Caller reports a suspicious male in a van at the end of Breezy Way/PF.
  • 8:24 a.m. Driver reports a sleeping bag, which appears to be occupied, along e/b I-90 @ M/P 6 or 7 (near H41 exit).
  • 8:05 a.m. A vehicle is stopped at a gas station after hitting a deer on H95 @ M/P 486 (Samuels Road/Bonner County).

Hucks Poll: Yes To Bike Helmets

  • Tuesday’s Poll: 75 of 137 respondents (54.74%) voted that children under 16 years old should be required to wear helmets when riding bikes. 57 of 137 (41.61%) said they shouldn’t be required to do so. 5 were undecided.
  • Demari DeReu: A whopping 93.16% (177 of 190 respondents) agreed with the decision by the Columbia Falls School Board not to expel honor student/cheerleader Demari DeRue for accidentally bringing her hunting rifle to her NW Montana school. Only 11 of 190 (5.79%) voted that she should be expelled. 2 were undecided.
  • Today’s Question (which allows multiple answers): Which of the following social networking are you involved in (Blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?

Facebook Founder Is Person Of Year

Time Magazine has selected Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg as its 2010 “Person of the Year.” Story here. (AP Photo/Time Magazine)

Question: How important is Facebook to you? Can you think of anyone more worthy of Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” selection?

‘Rich Dude’ Gives Birds To Food Bank

In his Twitter account, Dustin Hurst/Idaho Reporter notes that a ” … white, rich dude in Coeur d’Alene donates $38,000 worth of turkeys to food bank.” Dustin meant no disrespect to Doug Parker of Parker Toyota who donated all those turkeys this holiday season. Rather, he was making the point that progressives tend to clamor for “rich white guys” to pay more when rich guys like Parker are regularly involved in opening their checkbooks to support community events and the needy. What do you think?

Question: How do ‘rich white dudes’ help your community?

Maryellen: Red Lights Equal Bad Day

In a tweet today, Maryellen Livingston Garasky (pictured) comments that she hit every red light on Highway 95 as she started her morning commute. And she wondered whether that the close encounter with red lights was a sign that it was going to be “one of those days …” I try to avoid Highway 95, b/n Appleway and Hayden Avenue as much as possible, opting for Government Way or even 4th Street to get from Coeur d’Alene to Hayden and other points north. I’m like Maryellen when I’m on 95 or Government Way, however — counting the lights and fighting low-level road rage when I hit too many of them. How about you?

Question: How do you cope with all the red lights on Highway 95?

Marty: Idaho Raids Higher-Ed Bank

When it comes to digging out of budget holes, Idaho’s legislators consistently raid the biggest piggy bank — colleges and universities. On the eve of the Great Recession, Idaho allocated $285.2 million for its four-year institutions of higher learning. To balance the budget, lawmakers pulled back $68 million. Next year, the state faces a $340 million budget deficit. Higher education has been told to brace for a cut of between 4 percent and 13 percent, University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis told the Tribune Tuesday. Don’t be surprised, however, if colleges and universities take an even bigger hit to spare public schools, prisons and health care for the poor. All of which begs the question: When will it end?/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you think Idaho legislators have an appreciation for higher education?

Ex-Con Holds Board A Gunpoint

In this image taken from video and released by WJHG-TV, Clay A. Duke points a hand gun at Bay City school board members and staff Tuesday. Duke, a 56-year-old ex-convict, calmly held the school board at gunpoint and said he was seeking redress for his wife’s firing before shooting at the superintendent at short range and then killing himself. Story here. (AP Photo/WJHG-TV)

Question: Would you be too concerned about your safety to want to seek a public office?

Packages Being Stolen Off Doorsteps

Thieves are targeting packages delivered on doorsteps.  One Spokane Valley woman says a shipment of Christmas gifts from her mother was stolen last week. When packages that were set to arrive by Wednesday weren’t there by Friday, Christie Hoiles became suspicious. Delivery drivers say the crime isn’t uncommon.  They say people follow their trucks and watch them drop stuff off, then steal it.  A UPS driver also told KREM 2 News he watches his back to make sure people aren’t following his route.  He also tries to hide packages on a porch so you can’t see it from the street/Marissa Bagg, KREM. More here.

Question: Does the practice by delivery companies of leaving packages on your doorstep make you nervous?

Sunset Hails Sandpoint As Ski Town

Item: Sunset mag ranks Sandpoint as West’s most under-the-radar ski town/Cameron Rassmusson, Bonner County Bee

More Info: The publication focused on Western living recently named Sandpoint the West’s most under-the-radar ski town. After parsing through several options including Driggs and Ogden, Utah, the editorial staff of six selected Sandpoint as the clear victor.  “I really love Sandpoint,” Sunset editor-at-large Peter Fish, who first nominated Sandpoint, said. “But I think with the lake, people consider it more of a summer destination. They don’t realize that it has a lot to offer during the winter, too.”

Question: Which Inland Northwest ski area is your favorite?

AM: Ex-Lakeland Star Leads Carroll

Carroll College tight end Bubba Bartlett beats Marian University linebacker Brock Caraboa for a 25-yard catch in the first quarter of an the NAIA quarterfinal football game at Nelson Stadium Nov. 27 in Helena, Mont. The former Lakeland High football star set a single-season reception record for Carroll College this year. See story below. (AP Photo/The Independent Record, Dylan Brown)