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Choose Your Hobbies Wisely Perhaps, Stamp Collecting

Everyone needs a hobby to unwind. Some people garden; others join barbershop quartets. Neal Degerstrom is more creative. But then, he has the loot to be. The Spokane mining magnate would relax by paying women $100, cash, to pose nude for private photo sessions. It’s legal - but not something Degerstrom wanted his wife and three daughters to know about. They do now - thanks to a lawsuit filed by a former employee who claims he was fired for raising sex discrimination complaints against N.A. Degerstrom Inc. The suit accuses Degerstrom and his top executives of urging female workers to pose au naturel or to serve as topless barmaids on company excursions. Time will tell if those accusations are true. For now, Degerstrom - honored in 1991 by Inland Empire contractors for his “skill, integrity and responsibility” - wants his nude photos back; he claims he wants to destroy them. Maybe next time, Degerstrom should try stamp collecting. Philatelists generally don’t weave such a tangled web.

Promise Keepers restores marriages, families

I haven’t been to Promise Keepers, nor do I intend to go. A stadium full of weepy, soul-baring men isn’t my idea of a good time. But I’ve seen the positive fallout from that 1990s spiritual phenomenon among men who have attended. I’ve witnessed a man who had treated his wife shabbily become a loving, faithful husband. I’ve seen spiritual wimps become church leaders and begin to take their role as fathers seriously. I’ve seen men learn to cherish their wives. Still, the movement has critics. Gay activists and some feminists accuse it of being anti-women, for white men only and, of course, intolerant. (In other words, they’re afraid Promise Keepers is producing guys who’ll raise their children to be Republicans.) But restored families speak eloquently against such criticism.

If you like home cooking, obey the law

Apparently, Kootenai County Jail cooks don’t make ham and beans like Gordon Ormesher Jr.’s dear ol’ ma. Ormesher whooped happily June 30 when he learned ham and beans were on the jail menu. He’d just been sentenced to 30 days in the hoosegow for refusing to obtain a building permit. Yep, Ormesher is one of those anti-government types who believe society’s rules don’t apply to them - or at least he was. Sadder but wiser, he now characterizes as “nuts” the dozen supporters who had accompanied him to trial - some with breast-pocket versions of the U.S. Constitution. Now, he wants out of jail. It’s amazing how home cooking can bring a man to his senses.

, DataTimes MEMO: “Hot Potatoes” is a feature of the Tuesday and Thursday Opinion pages.

“Hot Potatoes” is a feature of the Tuesday and Thursday Opinion pages.

Top stories in Idaho

Federal agency approves Idaho field burning rules

UPDATED: 12:41 p.m.

Federal officials have approved Idaho’s request to loosen field burning rules that backers say offer more flexibility to disperse smoke away from people but that health advocates say will lead to breathing problems for some area residents.