Friday, October 31, 2008

Well View

Gee, ever since a handful of vacationers bought second homes in Bellevue, they have become quite uppity down there. Next thing you know, they will pass a pallet ordinance, to inspect everyone’s deck for quality woodsmanship.

So somebody please tell me; if you are secretly living off a well in Bellevue, connected to ancient waters spurting up from pristine Idaho batholiths, instead of attached to metered city services, does that make you an awful grid sinner? And that you should shift to sip meekly from the consecrated city waters?

Seems that living off the grid or being homeless now, is either against the law, or on the cusp of being against the law, in so many communities. In some areas, we now have more foreclosed homes than we do homeless people. Fortunately, community leaders in a handful of places have seen what a crisis our nation is in and have thus gained enough empathy to lighten the laws and/or enforcement of laws regarding squatter's rights, etc.

Of course, a few bad squatters, or actors portraying troublemaking destitute, could perceivable tarnish the name of every person trying to live in closer earth harmony.

And when did living in Tipis become more unsanitary than some of the trailers already trashing Bellevue? Does anyone see the underlying racism inherent in this propheteering gridmeister ordinance? Why not just come out and clearly say we don’t want any dirty Injuns-types living in our town?

If this country continues on the path we are on, soon everybody will need to learn more off-grid living.

My gosh, why doesn’t Bellevue just jump in and force shop owners who sell Tipis to make customers fill out a form, asking in great detail what the purchaser’s intentions are and whether they propose to use the tipi within city off-grid limits?

Better yet, hook into an international RFID chip-warning database, which red flags Tipis and yurts coming apart at every seam. Then hire Homeland Security to outpost Bellevue’s ends. (Don’t forget Muldoon and Broadford) with infrared tent auditing equipment, and utilize face scanning equipment that detects - without a doubt – suspected squatters’ intentions.

Or best yet, why not create an exemption for hemp woven structures, to assure every wikiup will meet building codes for structural integrity, snow and wind loads, and the 2006 energy code for insulation requirements.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

U.S. Slaughterhouse ban creates new dilemmas…

…is what I originally titled this letter to the Times-News, last winter solstice; until the editors improved it, to the more aptly titled “Horses need our protection.” Here is the jist of it:

After 1986 Kentucky Derby contender Ferdinand overcame 18-to-1 odds to become champion, he was later sold to stud in Japan. Then in 2002, the victor was evidently sent to slaughter, prompting a “from winner to dinner” hearkening slogan used by the outraged thoroughbred community in its successful campaign to ban the last of U.S. horse slaughterhouses meant for human consumption.

They still kill U.S. horses for food, you know. And a bad hitch is that many of these once-beloved creatures are beginning to face horrifically longer transports to Mexico and Canada, which excludes federal jurisdiction, from our monitoring for humane treatment. Deplorably overcrowded trailers and more obfuscated slaughterhouses continuing with questionable sanitary practices are hot concerns.

Another problem facing new West ranchers are higher hay prices which, coupled with the slaughterhouse closures, has impelled some to abandon their (mostly unbranded) unaffordable horses onto neighboring ranch and public lands.

For those who haven’t heard, it may come as a jolt to the head, that our championed horses now face even murkier final finish lines before export to lucrative overseas markets where horsemeat has long been considered a delicacy. Some horsemeat, after beyond-border-butchering, makes the long haul back into the United States for exotic animal consumption at a controversial zoo near you.

Kwanzaa, a young South African lion at Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas, celebrates his birthday with a cake made from 10 pounds of horse meat, plus whipped cream and a carrot.

After this letter posted, we had some interesting follow up discussions. Naturally, such a sensitive subject could be easily misconstrued as my meaning, “it’s just awful to send an old crippled horse to a packing plant.”

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with people who eat horsemeat. As far as I can remember, the same thing goes for robust ham & buffalo-burger munchers - hidden connection between Mad Cow and misdiagnosed Alzheimer’s disease notwithstanding.

Friends have called me a carnivore before. If offered, I might test a tiny bit of horsemeat “to sate my academic curiosity,” like Commander Tibbets, in the spirit of inspecting dark Nagasaki this time of year, back in ‘45. On the other hand, I might change my mind at the last second and turn away disgusted from the holiday dinner table. Afraid I can’t say for sure, til it actually happens to me.


People from PETA poles apart (People Eating Tasty Animals and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) might agree; that if there’s something more awful than wasting perfectly good meat; it’s the unnecessary harsh treatment, some of these animals are stricken with on their way to slaughterhouses.

Even with the large amount of questionable burgers I’ve madly consumed over the years, I still vividly remember the chapter from FAST FOOD NATION that reveals how the processing plant in Greeley, Colorado slowed production down to a safer level, on days that meat was being shipped to Europe, because they had to meat higher standards!

Visionary Temple Grandin

For those who believe that the term “Humane slaughtering” is oxymoronic, please reflect upon this quote from visionary Temple Grandin; who designed the sweeping curved corrals that reduce stress in animals being led to slaughter and are used for fifty percent of the cows slaughtered in America.

Curved cattle race coral used to guide cattle into a slaughterhouse.

“I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we’ve got to do it right. We’ve got to give those animals a decent life and we’ve got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect.”

And this from Wikipedia:

One of Temple’s most important essays about animal welfare is “Animals are not Things,” in which she posits that animals are technically property in our society, but the law ultimately gives them ethical protections or rights. She uses a screwdriver metaphor: a person can legally smash or grind up a screwdriver but a person cannot legally torture an animal.

In Idaho, horses are considered production animals, whereas in California, the State has deemed horses “companion animals.” This gives horses improved legal rights against inhumane treatment.

However, this is a murky issue, since there are many parameters, which define production animals, versus companion animals. I would be interested in hearing viewpoints from equestrians familiar with this issue, especially anybody who knows about the challenges that the California Humane Society must have come up against, while trying to implement regulations with such far-reaching ramifications.

Every Idaho Agriculture inspector has more than a handful of revolting stories involving severe horse abuse. With the higher price of hay, reports of horses starving in Idaho increased 5% this last year. This summer, The Times-News reported that Horse abuse cases are almost certain to increase and while local law enforcement doesn’t have the resources to cope, the editorial board offered some potential solutions.

State equine regulators and BLM officials fear that in this economic pinch, more Idahoans will dump their horses on rangeland rather than euthanize them. And this has been happening, ever since the closure of the last U.S. horse slaughterhouse meant for human consumption.

Some horse-lovers have wondered how an impact of several thousand horses running newly wild again on BLM lands, compares to the vastly larger number of cows now grazing on Idaho Public Lands. Then again, anybody wanting to speak up against the powerful cattle industry, should probably remember the difficulty given to Oprah.

Truly, the way in which we treat animals, reveals much about ourselves.

Abused horses

This summer solstice, Cassidy Friedman wrote a brilliant front-page article for the Times-News, which encompassed many of these same high horse concerns.

Since then, a new horse rescue operation opened their gates, led by some local concerned citizens. While it took a lot of hard work, their first mission was highly successful, and they found homes for almost all the horses. (I’d be happy to update in greater detail, where this group’s rescue efforts now stand, as soon as I hear back from them)

Meanwhile, here are two stories about “Betty’s Girls Rescue” written by Katy Moeller for the Idaho Statesman:

“Rescued Paint horses in Wood River Valley need homes, help”:

And “Paint horses find new homes inValley”:

Another Idaho group supporting equine rescue, of older, abandoned and troubled horses is the non-profit Orphan Acres. Twin Falls photographer Scott Sommers has a plan to try to sell 2 million calendars featuring horses, to help support Orphan Acres.

I think the Ag Weekly article “Abandoned horses pose dilemma for ranchers”, describes best the slaughterhouse dilemma many New West Ranchers face, when it says: “There is no perfect answer to this problem, and the horse processing thing certainly is not a solution for a lot of people. But it is for a lot of others.”

With the shift in horse slaughterhouse laws, it’s nice that these rescue operations are giving people one more option to choose from, while they are facing the difficult decision of what’s best to do with the beloved horses they can no longer afford to keep.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ginormous Whale Tale


A dozen years back, a whale beached itself directly in front of my Brother David’s seashore apartment. This uncanny event occurred on one of the rare occasions that he was out of town. We considered this symbolic, since David is a top-notch wildlife protector for the State of
North Carolina. While he has a rascally background, Officer Banholzer takes his job as seriously as I do mine -as if our lives depended on them.

Once a whale beaches itself; that’s about it for the creature. The weight of its body, adapted to buoyancy, crushes itself without the encompassing ocean-water to buttress its gravity. Many people wonder why so many of these creatures continuously thrust themselves onto our sandy shores.

Some say that whales are becoming disoriented by modern sea vessel sonar and other mitigating factors –known and unknown. Ever since TV first radiated, we have placed technology on fancy pedestals, while allowing vital nature impact studies to become mostly burning afterthoughts. After all, consider the astronomical disparities between clean oceanography research and NASA’s luxurious ships shuttling through our drone-filled skies.

Could it be that the whales are sending us a bottled text- message from the once crystal seas, that they now mourn the earth we all share? Some look at their giant sacrifice as a clarion call for better caretaking, while others laugh this off as meaningless myth.

Occasionally I browse the North Carolina newspapers where Brother David lives. In fact, a “Mountain Xpress” comes out every Wednesday in the enlightened mountain town of
Ashville. When the entire hullabaloo came into our hollow, about a rancher in Mackay who legally shot a local man’s dogs that were chasing his cows, I found a fascinating story in this seemingly parallel paper. It shows that the ways in which we treat animals, reveals much about ourselves.


After serendipitously discovering this story, I remembered a similar passage from
Carson’s / Sam’s Medicine Cards, which testifies to the loyalty of dogs:

“If Dog has been yelled at or paddled, it still returns love to the person who was the source of its bad treatment. This does not come from stupidity, but rather from a deep and compassionate understanding of human shortcomings. It is as if a tolerant spirit dwells in the heart of every canine that asks only to be of service.”

David gets to bark up all sorts of trees as a Wildlife Officer. In the cover of night, when citizens hear gunshots of unknown origin, police dispatchers page him first, under the assumption that poachers are out spotlighting again and David is the man who knows this territory best. Occasionally he rescues stuck deer, by gently unwinding barbed-wire fences from around their forepaws, using the same strong wrassling moves, I was only too eager to use on him, before he joined the Marines. In between teaching hunter safety courses, David occasionally captures and relocates wayward alligators away from Golf Course Links.

Captured Aligator

One dark night, David caught a preacher illegally taking deer from a marsh area. The preacher shrieked, in an inhuman voice, “I can’t help it; it’s a disease!” After his court date, the preacher continued crying shrilly from his pulpit, that his parishioners “may have read some things in the local newspaper, but that they are all fallacious.” Soonafter, people attending worship came to David and asked, “What is the truth?” David told them that in this case they should be believers –of the news of record accounts, of their preacher’s poaching conviction!

David has discovered that half the populace will try to take the easy way out, when they think there is no watchdog. Many do not abide by the simple rules. David says that of the potential “violators” he surveils; fully one-half eventually litter something during the course of a typical afternoon. I have often asked him about this and he says that this statistic remains stagnant. Ironically in North Carolina, newspapers and political signage are not considered trash, even if they are stained full of things more unseemly than bloody poaching convictions; before being tossed aside into un-receptacled areas.

Imagine the sausage-like mechanisms that went into passage of a law like that.

Sometimes Brother David finds fish choked in plastic, discarded from six packs. Some wormy anglers find this funny. I suppose then for them, a keg of beer gone overboard, to block up a whales blowhole, is about as good as it gets.

Perhaps the true reason the ocean is so saline, is that every animal on earth has been filling it with saltwater tears, trying to rinse clear their eyes from how diseased men have wrongly war-shipped good Mother Earth; ever since we tossed the first rotten apple core aside; violating that archetypical preacher’s foremost snaky riparian area.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

The little collider that could dance

Friends asked me to try to determine what the secretive construction project at the old Drug Store is, so I spied up the hill and saw right away that they appear to be building an extension of the Great European Hadron Collider, in the subterranean tunnels beneath Hailey’s streets! The reasoning behind this is that European dance floors close their doors, around the same time that bands in the Western U.S. are beginning to warm up. In this manner, we will be able to transport our European partying pals here and decompress them in time, so they may buy dinner at a local restaurant, before dancing the night away.

The ambitious project will soon extend into a great zero beneath Hailey’s busiest streets and will be a positive boon for our fledging economy. Sworn-to-secrecy archaeologists will take great care overseeing documentation of every opium pipe and historical artifact unearthed from the ancient Chinese tunnels. An extra benefit to Hailey’s Hadron collider will be a radiant heat effect, cleansing Main Street of pesky ice, while enhancing the lifesaving effects of our innovative LED crosswalks. This will also make it more suitable for waltzing around town in dance shoes.

While it’s true that we are not yet officially up to snuff for instantaneously transporting humans on a regular basis, by the time construction is complete here, say December of 2012, the greater scientific community will have by then become more enlightened of the psychical similarities between photons spiraling and angels dancing on their respective high-speed atomic pins.

This will become a frequently pinpointed topic of conversation at Chester’s & Jakes.

After the freewheeling Euro-spending patrons finish their nightly dancing under Hailey’s mighty stars, some will desire immediate transport over to Tokyo or Hong Kong, where the fanciest dance palaces there, will just be opening. As Hailey will mushroom into a major dance hub, entrepreneurs will demand space for more local nightclubs. Heavily pressured council members will then convert part of the mostly obsolete Friedman airport into a wide dance hall. As a backup plan, a short runway will still be made available for emergencies, such as the rare occasions when the collider might break down, to the point that replacement parts cannot be drop-shipped directly through the transporting collider, to itself. Although private aircraft hobbyists will still occasionally land at Hailey’s shortened runway, a larger portion of the old airport will transform into a Choo-Choo station, as town sentimentality for nowhere going Mountain Express trains will win out in a hard-fought compromise.

A strong selling point of the meteoric transmogrifying collider was that it would bring humanity some of the peaceful projects we’ve been starving for, perhaps even ending all wars! However, on the offbeat chance that our Eurasian and Eastasian conflicts will continue past 2012, farsighted City official’s should set aside specific sections of the valuable airport land for relevant projects.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

I have a Disc-Golf Dream

By Jim Banholzer

Men spend their time in following a ball or a hare; it is the pleasure even of kings. - Blaise Pascal - The Penses: 141

Ever since my friend Colt - who we sometimes call the Dick Fosbury of Disc Golf - turned me on to the sport two decades ago by showing me some thrilling trick shots, I felt that Disc Golf was going to have a great future, perhaps someday even evolving into an Olympic demonstration sport.

For those who don’t know much about Disc Golf, and would like to learn more; perusing through a few linked websites is informative; while even more instructive are several in-depth YouTube demonstrations. A common theme is that courses can be found in almost every city, with the majority accessible at no cost. Unfortunately, our area of Idaho is one of the rare exceptions. The good news for disc-enthusiasts, though, is that this could soon change, with a recent Sun Valley Online poll indicating that our community has more than a passing interest in the inventive sport.

The inexpensiveness of installing and maintaining disc golf courses makes a good argument for more recreation districts, schools and cities to embrace and construct them. A new disc-golf course would greatly complement our other excellent recreational amenities, especially our destination skateboard parks, to which world-class athletes have already flown for the singular purpose of using.

Most Disc Golf courses are wheelchair friendly, while injuries are seldom. The receptacle baskets are designed, so you can easily move them out of the way when multipurpose field needs arise. The baskets also lock down onto non-protruding metal bases to prevent theft. You can even shift the poles into different positions to avert soil erosion and to make the courses more interesting. Seeing that this sport attracts users of all ages, our abundance of public lands, should offer plenty of options for courses where kids in their single digits could share lighthearted smiles, alongside easygoing Idaho old-timers.

A few years ago, some outdoor disc fans cobbled together a makeshift course up Ohio Gulch. However, a Bureau of Land Management agent soon informed the players that they needed a permit to continue and the course was dismantled. It could be that a few bad apples here ruined a good thing, but I don't know the full story. For a while, there was talk of procuring a permit, with the BLM officer offering advice, but then those efforts seemed to float away. It would be interesting to hear from any readers linked with that course.

We local disc-golf-enthusiasts should be able to map out a handful of potential sites and then present our case to the relevant authorities. If the permit-issuing powers-that-be are indecisive, we could ask them to allow a demonstration course and then let the public use it for a season, before gathering more useful public input.

It would be nice so see us lay out some snowshoe disc-golf courses around South Idaho this winter. Perhaps we could start with a prototype in the wide-open area by Billy's Bridge. This would require taller poles, especially in years when local bees build higher nests in anticipation of heavy snows.

Other appealing sites that visionary disc golf aficionados have suggested for potential courses are:

The area upstream from Magic Reservoir

Picabo Desert near the lone water hazard

Between the two remote East Fork Campgrounds

Area by the new Woodside Park

Some of the airport sites not chosen for the new airport.

Near the Galena Lodge or Tornock yurts

By the Wildhorse Canyon campgrounds, working your way up to the secret waterfalls, with hole-18 behind the widest fall.

Pole Creek drainage, over by Smiley Creek

Frisbee disc golf courses have flourished in most areas, so why not here? Although I have not yet achieved a hole in one, I sometimes daydream that soonafter we christen a new course here, my friend Colt will witness me score my first Idaho Ace. Chances are though, that this will be flipped the other way around, as he once attained 17 under par, at Virginia’s challenging Burke Lake course.

~ ~ ~

Footnote: Soonafter writing the above, I was able to get in contact with some authorities well versed in how permit processes for projects like this usually work. They reminded me, that a proposal like this in the SNRA (as with the recent Galena Cell Tower efforts) would likely run up against a great deal of bureaucratic red tape. Although, I was looking forward to using my multifaceted cell phone to keep score on a Billy’s Bridge snowshoe course; it probably makes more sense to kickoff a disc-golf project in a recreational area that is openly trying to attract more park-goers, such as Woodside’s brand new Keefer Park.

This sounds like an excellent place to begin shifting this idea past its long incubation stage. So stay tuned to this channel, for more disc golf news. And thanks again Sun Valley Online for your insightful poll!

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