Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
Sphere: Related Content
Iraq war veterans gather for river trip
Post-war life to include journey on beautiful River of No Return
By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer
The Idaho wilderness could give a few veterans a different perspective this week.
"These trips give them a more positive outlook on life," said Wood River Ability Program Executive Director Mark Mast, who began working with Vietnam War veterans 25 years ago. The American Legion Hall in Ketchum hosted a banquet on Monday evening to welcome a group of recently disabled war veterans before they embark on a weeklong float trip on the Salmon River.
Mast organized the excursion in cooperation with the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and raised 70 percent of the funding for the trip through local donations.
The vets will spend this week navigating the main stem of the Salmon River through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area for five days. The river includes class III and IV rapids.
Since Mast started working with veterans, 120 of them have participated in summer and winter outdoor activities aimed at restoring self-confidence and promoting camaraderie. This week's trip list of 18 will include seven veterans and their families as well as two staff members and several civilian amputees.
Army Staff Sgt. Chad Jukes, 23, lost his right leg four months ago after a supply convoy truck he commanded struck a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) in northern Iraq.
Jukes was transported to Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he continues to receive treatment and rehabilitative services for the use of a prosthetic leg and foot.
Originally from Logan, Utah, Jukes began rock climbing and recently competed in the "Extremity Games" for amputees in Orlando, Fla. This week he is eager to go rafting with other members of the military and their families on the Salmon River.
"I'll be taking medical retirement, but it won't be easy. It's a phenomenal experience to work in Iraq around people 18 to 19 years old who will do anything over there to get the job done," he said. "I'm sorry I won't be there to make sure they are taken care of. I'd make sure they get a laugh in now and then because that's important."
Jukes and other participants in the Salmon River expedition found out about the Wood River Ability Program through "Operation Comfort," a volunteer network of psychologists and family counselors dedicated to working with U.S. war veterans.
"This is a great service," said Jukes. "It is real important in the rehabilitation process. It gets you out challenging yourself doing things you didn't think you could do."
Humvee Gunner and Staff Sgt. Deron Santini, 37, of Lafayette, La., will also join the group. He received head, neck and back injuries after his Humvee hit an IED in Iraq. After 13 years in the military he is 25 hours away from a college degree in criminal justice.
"All you hear about in the news is the negative," Santini said, "but I had people come up to me in Iraq and say, 'If it weren't for you being here, my family would be dead.'"
In addition to military patrols, Santini took part in food giveaways, helping out with schools and guarding gas stations.
"There are guys who will brag about how many of the enemy they have killed, but the truth is if you kill one or 100, that's one or 100 less that is going to kill you or your buddy," he said.
Also on the trip will be Josh Pappas, 21, and Dustin Fleming, 23. Both young men trained for three years together to become elite Reconnaissance Marines. They worked in small teams storming buildings and working in advance of larger military groups. Fleming was hit by a sniper bullet a few moths ago during an ambush southeast of Fallujah, but considers it a lucky shot.
"They are all lousy shots over there," he said.
Fleming was joined by his friend, Pappas, in the Fort Sam Houston hospital three months later after Pappas was badly burned by an explosion.
"This getting out together is really good," Pappas said. "You feel like you've left your buddies behind over there, and it's easy to get depressed. Interacting with other guys helps you feel better about what you did over there and gets you over the slump. It's good for stress."
Vietnam veteran and fellow Marine Dick Jackson, 70, welcomed Pappas, Fleming and the rest to the American Legion Hall banquet with garrulous conversation and questions about the latest military equipment.
"There's a connection that never goes away between Marines," Jackson said. "Once a Marine, always a Marine. There's a saying that if you die a Marine, you live forever."
The float trip will end next Tuesday at Tamarack Resort near McCall with a welcoming party in honor of the veterans.
Posted by JBanholzer at 9:29 PM
Future Friedman: A place for healing war wounds?
By Jim Banholzer
For The Wood River Journal
Original post here: http://www.woodriverjournal.com/articles/2007/07/31/features/sockdolagers/sockdolagers.prt
Ancient warriors were given special care upon returning from battles. They were brought into spas at outskirts of cities and slowly cooled down with extraordinary nurturing concern for long spells until it was determined that it was safe for them to return into communities-unlike modern times when soldiers more often get dumped straight back onto the streets with little or no benefits. Nowadays, many of our Country's Veterans are homeless or incarcerated at record levels without support, while perpetually mired in post-traumatic crises. As Dennis Kucinich put it, “Homelessness and poverty are weapons of mass destruction.”
Men develop with different levels of mettle, but sanity has limitation points for even the bravest of soldiers. “Soldiers Heart” affected many Civil War Veterans (and their families). In later wars, this became “Shell Shock” then “Battle Fatigue.” Now “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” is the expression. During World War II Gen. George S. Patton was nearly court-martialed after slapping a hospital patient whose conscience was suffering from “Soldiers Heart”, thinking that he was just a coward.
A historically safe place, which soldiers used to convalesce, both physically and psychologically was the Sun Valley Lodge. Many World War II soldiers, who rehabilitated there in its fresh air, became attached to this area -and for good reasons. Some remain as helpful contributors within our community to this day.
What safer place and further away from war (Mountain Home Air Force Base notwithstanding) could there be for a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center, then the good earth on where Friedman airport currently sits? It's been reported that if the Friedman family recognizes a suitably significant cause, that they will consider donating this prime Hailey Real Estate for that concern -if the airport relocates, whereby the site reverts to the family.
I believe it's not too early for our community leaders to begin contemplating constructive ideas about what they might create from this once-in-a-lifetime possibility.
We could transform this airport acreage into something for truly banking on; besides generous monetary donations from valley benefactors to help establish a healing foundation center, this could also be a prime opportunity for us to show how rich we are in spirit, by personally welcoming these recuperating warriors back into our community. As part of their continuing recovery, we could thank our Veterans for their Herculean efforts by offering desirable jobs-some perhaps related with support services for the healing center.
Moreover, we could construct hundreds of affordable-housing units on the land, along with potential worker-retraining facilities for displaced warriors to re-attach to our community by becoming useful contributors. Some of the recovered will have rejuvenated with a broader sense of understanding and develop the desire to become healing practitioners themselves. A “Walter Reed West” center would create bountiful meaningful jobs here. Already established organizations such as Sun Valley Adaptive Sports and The Advocates could tie in well with such a “permanent wellness festival”. The College of Southern Idaho could even expand its nursing center here. Perhaps an owner of one of the locally underutilized hot springs could pipe in some of their healing waters into such a splendiferous spa with government stepping in to help fund construction logistics of the donation.
The relocated airport could even benefit, becoming a busy transport center for the steady streams of patients, visitors, hospital personnel and supplies.
Posttraumatic stress disorder therapies could feature recently advanced Somatic Experiencing, MDMA and Propranolol treatments, as well as other well-proven curative methods-both ancient and newly developed. Even if we are somehow fortunate enough to be without war as the airport shift occurs, Doctors are now seeing that PTSD is a condition that is a normal part of life, which often actually strengthens us. How many times for instance, have you heard someone say about an adverse situation, “I wish it hadn't happened, but I'm a stronger person for it?” A trauma-stren transformation clinic could assist and focus on numerous variables of this.
Let us extend our common senses with high-tech hospital wings, blooming with curative physicians.
You priests and holy leaders who keep so mum about the wars, now are the times to call for fresh miracles. Let us forcefully implore that our Pentagon redirect its forces into tools that enable the blind to again see, the deaf to hear and the lame to walk. Let us ask for a peaceful turnover of these suppressed cutting-edge technologies, so we may transform our energies to relieve this terrifying violence, which only perpetuates further violence. Let our common senses soften no more. Those in wheelchair pews ascend over foxy TV skies. Demand that your tax barrels of cash handed to war profiteers is flip-flopped to trickle down just amounts of funds to help our globe spin a little truer, for battle amputees, brain-injured and psychologically traumatized.
Let us hope that our soldiers' hearts heal well enough in this Idaho land to walk again peacefully on the world we worship, and that through another miracle, diplomacy prevails rather than our wrongly “war shipping” of the good earth, with land mines, undepleted uranium and a general malaise to eliminate those who we do not understand.
Movers and shakers heed this clarion call. Come together with equally powerful ideas for the potentially soon to be changed vast ground where Friedman Airport now abounds. It would be nice to have feasibility studies set up in advance to see what else might be achievable for improving our community in positive ways, if the Friedman family continues to stand by this intention.
With the sunny climate, fresh air and clean water inherent to this valley, enhanced by the numerous enlightened compassionate people who flourish here, our community could set a new standard for positive rehabilitation by improving on some of the shortcomings now plaguing Walter Reed Veteran's hospital and hand our modern warriors the deserved special treatment, most have earned.
I ask that our community leaders strongly consider holding a feasibility study, in the near future, to see if this idea or similar ones hold enough water to transform soldier's widow tears into flowing fountains fronting a first class “Friedman Memorial Trauma-Stren Conversion Center.”
Posted by JBanholzer at 9:27 PM
Tibetan lama speaks about death
By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer
Tibetan Lama Tenzin Dhonden drew from years of monastic studies and his own personal work with the dying during a teaching session in the Wood River Valley earlier this month on "Near Death Experiences."
Using translations from Tibetan texts on "Sutra" and "Tantra" traditions as well as stories from his experience as a Tibetan monk, Lama Tenzin presented an intricate outline of the many subtle categories of human thought and sensory experience that dissolve at the time of death. These categories are familiar to Tibetan monastics as they prepare for the 49-day intermediate "bardo" state between death and re-birth.
About 40 people attended the session at the home of David and Bex Wilkinson.
"The bardo is a state of wandering in which the soul is looking for something unique," Lama Tenzin said. "During the bardo state of mind, we go through the manifestations of our life experiences. Fear is the biggest obstacle in taking advantage of the bardo state. We should face our fear, analyze its nature, and ask why we take it so seriously. If you try to escape from it, you will never learn."
"The Sutra practice provides a background for Tantric practices," he said. "Sutra teaches the altruistic aspiration to attain enlightenment for all sentient beings, which is buddhichitta. This is the method in sutra practice. It involves the six perfections: giving, morality, patience, concentration, effort and wisdom."
"In Tantric practice," he explained, "the unique method is the visualization of deity yoga. Rare practitioners will have the opportunity to visualize themselves as a deity. The visualization process is subtle and complicated, even envisioning entire mandalas. You can think of it as being compressed, digitized information, rather than an old single-frame movie."
According to Lama Tenzin, "Compassion beginning in the heart has no end. If it begins in the brain, it won't last very long. You see, the mind is self-grasping, and once grasping begins, you no longer have compassion. Compassion and kindness surpass all religion. The more you share yourself with others, the more peace you will experience. Jealousy and anger create fences between people. I want to see beyond the fence. Compassion is a genuine motivation to be in service to all living beings without having any expectation in return."
Lama Tenzin led a breathing practice and a guided visualization during his teaching, which drew from the 2,500-year-old Buddhist tradition. He also described some 22 distinct mental faculties, 25 gross bodily materials, and several categories of invalid thought or delusions inherent to the human condition, all with corresponding "karmic formations" that can be transformed into an experience of "clear light" during spiritual practice.
"There is no such thing as guilt in Buddhism," he said. "Everything can be purified through a deep sense of genuine regret and further good deeds in life. Someone who lives an ethical life and trains himself in meditation and compassion will have strength and focus of mind when he comes to the near-death experience. Without this, one loses focus and strength as he approaches the dissolution of life. The enemy is not out there. It is within us. It is a projection of our own thoughts. In the end, our life's perceptions are less important than how we take them into account."
Lama Tenzin advised praying for departing loved ones, asking "may all of their wishes be accomplished," rather than grieving in front of the dying person.
"Grieving will cause them to be sad and discouraged," he said. "The mind should be more happy than worried at the time of death. The mind in a state of fear is unstable. The more you rely on fear, the more unstable it becomes."
"The bardo is when we download all of our life's meditation experience," he said. "The highest practitioners are the ones with the most compassion. We never know who these people are. Only you can know. There is an unknown being inside us, one which even our closest friends and relatives cannot know."
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Sphere: Related Content
Commentary by Tony Evans
I'm writing a novel about the future when search technology becomes obsolete because everyone finally knows everything. After the guru wars of the 21st century, the remaining Internet traffic will be composed of R2D2 beeps and squeaks transmitting messages of universal compassion between men and women of many nations who will finally understand one another completely. Death will be considered an ancient superstition as all life and human consciousness are viewed as an uninterrupted stream of heavenly genius jumping from organism to organism. Most bodily functions will be abandoned in favor of simple chemical reactions and every sport will have clowns, not just rodeos.
There will be no scandal, corruption, or holes in the historical and scientific record. Miniaturization will have made for easy transport of everything from major home appliances to entire buildings, which will be produced from small wafers of self-organizing materials shipped by zeppelin and sailboat. Heating will come from the center of the Earth. Electricity will be accumulated on the spot whenever needed by Nicola Tesla's forgotten inventions including the neutron solar cell and recyclotron. There will be avant-garde windmill design competitions.
Actual travel will be mostly passé and the environment will rebound completely with small pockets of tribal societies flourishing in the rampant foliage. But, for most of us, nature will have become too gradual an experience. We'll prefer instead scale models of virtual scenery designed by geneticists with a flair for the original, inhabited by friendly polar bears, talking sea mammals, non-biting insects and heroes from the past, including Nobel Laureates, to keep an eye on politics. Mark Twain will be president.
The Etruscan-Land theme park will be quite popular with wine and Goddess worship, while the Norse Park will feed the desires of the more war-like among us who will of course grow new limbs at the Mead Hall during Ragnorok at the end of each day. Kids will design their own playgrounds and get hugged all day long by parents with nothing more pressing to do, other than boutiquing. Underground robot-sweatshop labor will be utilized for the production of industrial goods.
The rapid advancements in cellular intelligence will of course involve the arts, as our minds will be freed by virtual memory to continually enrich an ever-deepening human story. Sensitive babies will grow into wise, literate and benevolent adults, many of whom will make love all day long like bonobos chimps.
Deep in the sea and on the prairies of America, the octopus and cricket will be recognized finally as the most intelligent creatures on Earth, but they won't try to take over. Who in their right mind would want a job like that? They will merely be consulted from time to time on the meaning of things.
Of course, there will be pockets of resistance begun by a cabal of disgruntled aristocrats and their generals from the "regime ancien," which will enlist the aid of tribal freedom fighters within the overgrown jungles who they have brainwashed with religious ideas and tempted with promises of eternal life. There will be a few battles and then a victory party so exclusive that no one at all will be there.
Posted by JBanholzer at 8:00 AM
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
This, despite the fact that reviews, critiques and essays over the decades say that is precisely what it is all about. Even Bradbury’s authorized biographer, Sam Weller, in The Bradbury Chronicles, refers to Fahrenheit 451 as a book about censorship.
Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.
“Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,” Bradbury says, summarizing TV’s content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: “factoids.” He says this while sitting in a room dominated by a gigantic flat-panel television broadcasting the Fox News Channel, muted, factoids crawling across the bottom of the screen.
His fear in 1953 that television would kill books has, he says, been partially confirmed by television’s effect on substance in the news. The front page of that day’s L.A. Times reported on the weekend box-office receipts for the third in the Spider-Man series of movies, seeming to prove his point.
“Useless,” Bradbury says. “They stuff you with so much useless information, you feel full.” He bristles when others tell him what his stories mean, and once walked out of a class at UCLA where students insisted his book was about government censorship. He’s now bucking the widespread conventional wisdom with a video clip on his Web site (http://www.raybradbury.com/at_home_clips.html), titled “Bradbury on censorship/television.”
As early as 1951, Bradbury presaged his fears about TV, in a letter about the dangers of radio, written to fantasy and science-fiction writer Richard Matheson. Bradbury wrote that “Radio has contributed to our ‘growing lack of attention.’... This sort of hopscotching existence makes it almost impossible for people, myself included, to sit down and get into a novel again. We have become a short story reading people, or, worse than that, a QUICK reading people.”"
Posted by JBanholzer at 7:28 AM
Saturday, July 21, 2007
In the hot summer of ‘66, while skidding my toy bike in front of Lubber Run ESSO station, I received a flat tire. A man of about the age I am now, was picking up his reworked Chevy, saw my distressed look and kindly handed the shop owner a shiny Kennedy coin for quick patch of my tire.
Joyfully, I biked home to tell ma. She asked if I had thanked the nice man. I had not. So, I hastily pedaled back, shortcutting through the alley, on a mission to thank the kind sir. However, he had already left and sometimes I feel as though I’ve been trying to thank him ever since.
Last year I returned to the shopping center in a dream. I’ve done this on several occasions -both in reality and in dream- revisited this childhood
The only unchanged icon from the past is the Lubber Run Amphitheatre, where our family sometimes watched magicians perform astounding slight of hand magic tricks late into the twilight.
In the most recent dream, a new-wave mechanic shop of some sort reappears there. I gape at the shop activity with fascination, which causes a woman grinding down a modern automotive component, to come to a halt, as she steps outside to scowl at me, saying, “What the heck are you gawking at!” I slide into the shop to re-route her onto my aged ‘66 storyquest and about how I never find that elusive man. Then, I awaken to present-day
~ ~ ~
The next morning is one of the first hot dog days of summer.
The oppressive Ketchum heat is multiplying my numerous work demands into an overwhelming feeling, when suddenly a damsel in distress, calls to say she has run out of gas. I promise my help, figuring that if I skip lunch, I’ll have about twenty minutes to spare. However, the gas station attendant and I notice that whoever last borrowed their container, has so far neglected to return it. The hardware store next-door stocks zero gas cans. Suddenly, my simple task of rescuing a fair maiden has transformed into a much larger test. Every car on the road seems to be taking extra eons, being too darn courteous to let the most lackadaisical of jaywalkers cross the road. I feel stupidly frustrated and try to dig in harder to figure out some way to untwist the crushing heated day into something better.
I hoof it up to always-reliable Chateau Drug Store. There to my sweet delight, I see two gas cans sitting atop the far wall. Grabbing both, I dash back to the gas station, fill one, and then donate the second can, so that the next person, who runs out of gas, won’t have to face this same grinding aggravation. Even though this is kind Ketchum, The attendant is surprised and offers me a hot dog. I take a rain check.
Later, I mull over that old dream again. I feel that I’m a slow learner, at paying back random acts of kindness, but this time I finally got one right and figured a practical answer to the gnawing inside me about finding that impossible man.
Indeed, it feels as though I’ve finally paid - some of the karma allotted to me - back to the service station dream world deities, by probing deep to imagine what kind magic leveling act, needed performed to patch things up.
I wonder what scenario I’ll skid onto, whenever I re-dream about
~ ~ ~
Next time I pass though the old neighborhood, maybe I’ll paste this story to the reflective outer glass of whatever accepting store window, happens to be there for passerby to contemplate. Perhaps a man much like the one, who originally rescued me from the oppressive summer heat forty years ago, will enjoy a reflect like this.Sphere: Related Content
Posted by JBanholzer at 12:35 PM
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Subject: Jesus vs Satan
>This is one of the best clean jokes I've seen!
>Jesus and Satan were having an on-going argument about who was better on
>the computer. They had been going at it for days, and frankly God was tired
>of hearing all the bickering.
>Finally fed up, God said, "THAT'S IT! I have had enough. I am going to set
>up a test that will run for two hours, and from those results, I will judge
>who does the better job."
>So Satan and Jesus sat down at the keyboards and typed away.
>They e-mailed with attachments.
>They did spreadsheets!
>They wrote reports.
>They created labels and cards.
>They created charts and graphs.
>They did some genealogy reports
>They did every job known to man.
>Jesus worked with
>heavenly efficiency and Satan was faster than hell.
>Then, ten minutes before their time was up, lightning suddenly flashed
>across the sky, thunder rolled, rain poured, and, of course, the power went
>Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the
>Jesus just sighed.
>Finally the electricity came back on, and each of them restarted their
>computers. Satan started searching frantically, screaming:
>"It's gone! It's all GONE! "I lost everything when the power went out!"
>Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the
>past two hours of work.
>Satan observed this and became irate.
>" Wait!" he screamed. "That's not fair! He cheated! How come he has all his
>work and I don't have any?"
>God just shrugged and said,