Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In large support of the Galena Cell Tower

I can certainly understand how the Forest Service would not want to give permission for a cell tower very easily; but now we taxpayers are paying for two factions of the government to fight it out. This reminds me of a recent occurrence in Hailey. Also reminds me of when George Carlin said that he was going to buy a humidifier and a dehumidifier for his basement and plug them both in, to see who wins.

A friend from back east, told me there is an American Legion in his neighborhood that wanted to install a cell tower on their property. Many naysayers came out of the woodwork and maybe it is not a good idea to have cell towers in close proximity to elementary schools until we know more, but anyhow, once he resubmitted his proposal with an American flag atop his tower, most of the naysayers flip flopped and began supporting his wrapped in flag tower.

Some readers probably remember that I have made some past statements in strong support of the lifesaving Galena Cell Tower. I still stand by those comments and now since Homeland Security has resuscitated this important issue; would like to repost my earlier Galena tower reflections here:

Cell Towers can be lifesavers:


The safety benefits of a cell tower at Galena far outweigh its appearance:


And; Cell phones, not cell towers, are the problem:


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Ann Sothern Dauntless

Great 1987 N.Y. Times article about Ann Sothern in Idaho


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Monday, September 22, 2008

How will aircraft avoid the new gondola cable?

I’m concerned with the sightseeing aircraft flying daily around Baldy that eventually one of them could hook this cable, causing a horrible tragedy and wondered what steps are / can be taken to alleviate this uneasiness. After all, aircraft have unstrung gondola cables in a handful of unfortunate incidents in other cities.

Working for a brief period in the airline industry, I have a slight understanding of how NOTAM’s, updated maps and restricted flying areas work, but I wondered if somebody more vastly experienced with such flight issues might explain this in fuller depth. For instance, what will the height of the gondola be when it crosses over Highway 75 and how does this compare to normal altitude ranges of various aircraft flying over Ketchum?

Some pilots do not follow every rule to the tee and occasionally pilots become bewildered, due to inclement weather, fatigue or mechanical difficulty. Locals may remember the crash above Owl Creek about a dozen years ago, when the octogenarian pilot apparently mistook Ketchum for Bellevue and kept flying north looking for Hailey, until he crashed. Also, a couple of summers ago a pilot landed his small Cessna on Hailey’s airport runway, even when there was a large X marked indicating that it was closed due to construction. Locals must also remember that over the years we have had dozens of crashes in the hills around here. So what is to prevent a similar wayward plane from eventually snagging the gondola cable?

Would it help to dye the cable florescent orange for airborne sightseers and paragliders who might momentarily forget exactly where it is strung?

Again, I appreciate any feedback on this that aviation experts in the community can give.

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Project Censored's top 25 censored stories of 2008


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Saturday, September 13, 2008

More archiving thoughts

Being a furniture mover with the secret identity of a writer and vice-versa, I wondered how the Wood River Journal was going transport their 127 years of archives, along with its customized bookshelves into their new building across Main Street.

Someone told me that the new publisher, Jerry Brady took these valuable assets to Idaho Falls; presumably to patch up the books that were falling apart and possibly begin a scanning project, working hand in hand with expert Mormon Church genealogy archivists.

That's refreshing to hear, since there is a chance that the Journal will fold by the end of this year. Evidently, their grand announcement of partner shipping with Sun Valley Online never got past the inkubation stage. It would be a shame to see their historical archives warehoused in a place permanently unavailable to the public.

The other thing that would happen with the Journal’s demise would be the lack of healthy competition, which as Statesman editor Kevin Richert suggests would likely result in a slip in quality at the remaining newspaper.

Last year Shea Anderson wrote a piece for High Country News about a New Mexican newspaper, where he used to work, that recently went to the wayside. I responded to Shea’s story with a fundraising suggestion regarding preservation of archives for newspaper going out of business and later passed this on to the Newseum curators.

They were open to this idea, but at the time had their hands full in preparation for the grand opening on our National Mall.

It’s too bad that libraries and newspaper don’t work in closer proximity with each other. For instance, are librarians scanning newspapers into Pdf’s when they could be better investing their time by having the newspaper production managers e-mail them the same thing? Do they ever even discuss such items with each other? Some communities probably work more streamlined than others do, but newspaper insiders here say that whenever they try to obtain grants for such special projects, they come up against a lot of flack, because the newspaper is for profit. Hard to say but it could be that personality issues are flies in these printers ink ointment frays.

Meanwhile, Google has been raising newspaper morgues from the dead.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Is the Post Office trying to be competitive?

A few decades ago in most areas, dedicated postal workers used to pick up mail from neighborhood drop boxes in both mornings and afternoons, where neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night stayed those couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Now they’ve uprooted many of these old neighborhood boxes. Of the ones left, they’ve cut their diligent pickup efforts back to afternoons; meaning that if you mail a letter into your neighborhood postal box, it will arrive a day later than previous.

Currently, your post office is considering cutting back Saturday deliveries. If they “succeed” this means whenever we have a Monday holiday, home delivery will be absent for four-day spans. This makes me think that for better service, many people will shift over to UPS, Fed Ex, or txt mssg.

Another thing that chaffs me about the Post Office trying “to save money” is that they are eliminating the stamp machines from their own lobbies. Although they broke down occasionally, those innovative machines were the kind that gave dollar coins for change, and were prime examples of good government efficiency. The dollar coins put into circulation from stamp machines last 10 to 20 times longer than bills, thus lessening the cost of printing more money.

Although there are some indicators that the Post Office is trying to stay completive with its online services, when we see the basic bread and butter services offered for so many decades sink to the wayside, Postmasters in general, are sending us mixed messages.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another Ant Tribute

I kept thinking about that heroic alpine ant you witnessed and remembered this Anthropik Network special tribute to the ants:
"I noticed, when she delivered the plate of fruit, that my Balian hostess was also balancing a tray containing many little green bowls-small, boatshaped platters, each of them woven neatly from a freshly cut section of palm frond. The platters were two or three inches long, and within each was a small mound of white rice. After handing me my breakfast, the woman and the tray disappeared from view behind the other buildings, and when she came by some minutes later to pick up my empty plate, the tray was empty as well.
On the second morning, when I saw the array of tiny rice platters, I asked my hostess what they were for. Patiently, she explained to me that they were offerings for the household spirits. When I inquired about the Balinese term that she used for "spirit," she repeated the explanation in Indonesian, saying that these were gifts for the spirits of the family compound, and I saw that I had understood her correctly. She handed me a bowl of sliced papaya and mango and slipped around the corner of the building. I pondered for a minute, then set down the bowl, stepped to the side of my hut, and peered through the trees. I caught sight of her crouched low beside the corner of one of the other buildings, carefully setting what I presumed was one of the offerings on the ground. Then she stood up with the tray, walked back to the other corner, and set down another offering. I returned to my bowl of fruit and finished my breakfast.
That afternoon, when the rest of the household was busy, I walked back behind the building where I had seen her set down two of the offerings. There were the green platters resting neatly at the two rear corners of the hut. But the little mounds of rice within them were gone.
The next morning I finished the sliced fruit, waited for my hostess to come by and take the empty bowl, then quietly beaded back behind the buildings. Two fresh palm leaf offerings sat at the same spots where the others had been the day before. These were filled with rice. Yet as I gazed at one of them, I suddenly noticed, with a shudder, that one of the kernels of rice was moving. Only when I knelt down to look more closely did I see a tiny line of black ants winding through the dirt to the palm leaf. Peering still closer, I saw that two ants had already climbed onto the offering and were struggling with the uppermost kernel of rice; as I watched, one of them dragged the kernel down and off the leaf, then set off with it back along the advancing line of ants. The second ant took another kernel and climbed down the mound of rice, dragging and pushing, and fell over the edge of the leaf; then a third climbed onto the offering. The column of ants emerged from a thick clump of grass around a nearby palm tree. I walked over to the other offering and discovered another column of tiny ants dragging away the rice kernels. There was an offering on the ground behind my building as well, and a nearly identical line of ants. I walked back to my room chuckling to myself. The balian and his wife had gone to so much trouble to daily placate the household spirits with gifts; only to have them stolen by little six-legged thieves. What a waste! But then a strange thought dawned within me. What if the ants themselves were the "household spirits" to whom the offerings were being made?
The idea became less strange as I pondered the matter. The family compound, like most on this tropical island, had been constructed in the vicinity of several ant colonies. Since a great deal of household cooking took place in the compound, and also the preparation of elaborate offerings of foodstuffs for various rituals and festivals, the grounds and the buildings were vulnerable to infestations by the ant population. Such invasions could range from rare nuisances to a periodic or even constant siege. It became apparent that the daily palm-frond offerings served to preclude such an attack by the natural forces that surrounded (and underlay) the family's land. The daily gifts of rice kept the ant colonies occupied and, presumably, satisfied. Placed in regular, repeated locations at the corners of various structures around the compound, the offerings seemed to establish certain boundaries between the human and ant communities; by honoring this boundary with gifts, the humans apparently hoped to persuade the insects to respect the boundary and not enter the buildings.
The maintenance of such boundaries is the essence of magic, but our civilization has lost its magic, and we have violated every boundary. We've been as short-sighted as the man who hated frogs. Could it ever be as simple as just asking the frog to come back to our stream?"

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Sharing a basketball trade secret in the Olympic Spirit

Along with a billion other riveted viewers, it was with great interest that I watched Yao Ming ceremoniously open the first game versus the United States by zinging through a three-pointer. During a break from the game, the T.V. featured a brief documentary of how popular basketball has become in China and as a lifetime basketball aficionado, this also enthused me.

With the economic development of China, incorporating thousands of new basketball-courts into the land, I would like to point out an observation from the viewpoint of aspiring school-ground players. Every bouncing kid knows that when they come upon the court, if the net is torn or missing, it takes some of the wind out of their sails. With the great expense of new courts, poles and baskets, the net is usually first to go bad. And with the nets gone, children will often go off to play a different sport.

Nylon nets attached to heavily used basketball hoops, often wear out within a few weeks. A way to remedy this is to soak the net in boiled linseed oil for a day and then let it dry out for another, before hanging it from the basket. Preparing a net in this way increases its life tenfold. Soaking a net in linseed oil sometimes shrivels it up a bit; requiring maintenance staff to shoot swishes for stretching it back out.

In this manner, the workers will have achieved what many amateur basketball players dream of, as they will then be receiving pay for shooting baskets!

In the course of writing this, I discovered some other solutions:



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