27 December 2006

A Tale of Two Trees. No. Two Tales of One Tree

Trish's Story:
anyone who has read the pages of the river journal for very long already knows that Christmas trees and I have a slightly adversarial relationship. Whether it's breaking out in hives while decorating because I'm allergic to the needles; spending hours and hours (and sometimes days and days) getting one to an upright position in a stand; finally getting them up only to discover they're ALREADY DEAD and may catch on fire at any moment; or simply the adventure of finding the tree and transporting it home, there's hardly a season that goes by that Christmas trees don't give me something to write about.

This year, I thought, might be different. My grandson Tyler, and his godmama Susan, took on the task of obtaining a Christmas tree for me, and after a delightful hike in the woods on godmama's property, they found me a perfect one and delivered it to the house. It did lay on my dining room floor for a week, as I scrambled to finish the newspaper in time to print it, but when I finally got around to decorating it I could lift it with one hand, it rested in its stand perfectly on the first try, and I didn't break out in little red bumps when I decorated it. Finally, a Christmas with no tree trauma.

Of course, I forgot about the tree at Clark Fork High School.

Taking a page out of Kinderhaven's book, the booster club (which turned out to be me and my daughter, Amy) decorated a tree for the kids at school, then sold raffle tickets for it so that some lucky resident of eastern Bonner County would have a nice tree for Christmas at a minimal price.

Of course, I was busy, so I didn't actually have time to sell any raffle tickets.

On raffle-ticket-drawing-day, when I saw the pitifully few tickets that had been sold, I dug into my non-existent pile of money and bought some myself. After all, the tree had been MY idea. I won't tell you how many tickets I bought, but suffice it to say there wasn't much chance I was gonna lose in this drawing. Unless, of course, it were a drawing for something I actually wanted, in which case I wouldn't have had a hope in hell of winning.

At drawing time, surprise, surprise, my name was drawn. And drawn again. And again. I kept "donating" the tree back, but every name that came out of that can was mine. Finally, I gave up, and tried to come to terms with having TWO fully decorated trees for Christmas, plus the fact that one of the trees was going to have to be transported from the school.

The only thing to do was donate the tree to someone else, which I did. I signed a Quit Claim Deed (okay, no I didn't) transferring the tree's ownership to one Stacey and Banjo Service.

Which left delivery.

Now, I'm not as stupid as I might first appear. I knew ahead of time that delivery would be a pain in the butt, so I made sure that job got assigned to the men of the Booster Club, Barney Ruen and Dex Vogel.

Well, maybe I am as stupid as I appear. Because on the day of delivery, Dex was coaching the girl's basketball tournament all the way over in Newport, Washington and Barney (like always) wasn't answering his phone. (Darn that caller ID.)

Lucky for me, Stacey is the daughter of River Journal columnist extraordinnaire Jinx, and Jinx is almost as nuts as I am. She didn't hesitate when I told her she was gonna have to help me get the tree delivered. Welcome to the Booster Club, Jinx!

She didn't even hesitate when she realized we were gonna load and deliver it in Amy's Saturn, as my truck was out of commission for the day.

Have you ever tried to load a six-and-a-half foot Christmas tree into a Saturn?

Take my advice - don't.

Given the angle at which the tree was jutting out of the trunk, it was obvious that someone was going to have to ride in the trunk with it and hold it in. Jinx, who I guess is not as nuts as I thought she was, got herself behind the wheel of the Saturn so fast my eyeballs were burning from the friction of her movement.

And given that my arms are not four feet long, I had to take the extension cord for the tree, loop it around the trunk, and hold the tree up off the ground with that as I wedged my butt into the trunk of the car.

As I cracked my head against the trunk lid, I tried to pretend all the pretty stars I was seeing were decorations on the tree.

"Please drive slow," I asked Jinx, right before she jammed her foot down on the accelerator and screeched out of the parking lot.

Greg Flint once told me that God gave me a gift for telling stories and that's why She makes sure I have stories to tell. I love God.

I think the tears streaming from my eyes were from the wind howling past my face as we made the trip to Stacey's house, but maybe not. Maybe they came from the sheer fear gripping my heart as I watched the pavement race by, mere inches from my face as I hung onto that tree and the trunk lid for dear life.

Rather bravely (if I do say so myself) I sang "Santa Claus is coming to town" at the top of my lungs during the trip. I did. No matter what Jinx says.

Needless to say, I'm writing this now, so we got there in one piece, as people in their yards and on the street watched us pass in awestruck bemusement. (Is bemusement a word? It should be.) And God, in her almighty wisdom, made sure I had a Christmas tree tale to tell.

Jinx's Story:
Christmas time. A time of love and warmth and laughter, a time of fun andgiving and receiving. Nowhere in there does it say a time to laugh at Jinx. Nowhere.

My friend, Patty Speelmon told me that someone turned my girls infor a Christmas box, which was so nice, I was thrilled and the girls were soexcited. Not only that, but GRANDMA would get a picture of Billie Jaye andKelsie with Santa. How great was that?

Off to Hope Community Center we drovein the little Sunfire, borrowed from Carolyn Vogel. Jamie and I in the frontseat and Stacey wedged in the back seat with Billie Jaye and Kelsie in theircar seats. It was a tight fit, but Patty said they would get their picture made and have to pick up a turkey or a ham, so off we drove.

We arrived and unloaded the car, which was no small feat. Billie Jaye and Kelsie immediately wowed Santa with their cuteness and Patty sent me off to "shop"for gifts from the babies to their parents. It was so much fun and watching all the kids pick presents and they even had "Santa's helpers" to help wrap them. Then came the time to get our turkey and ham, finding out the Patty put my name in the mix and oh, could we deliver a turkey to another young lady in town? Well of course I said yes, I mean a couple of turkeys and aham can't take up THAT much room, can it?

I didn't pay much attention, just went out and opened up the trunk, turned around only to realize they were bringing Yokes to my car. My mouth had tohave fallen open, looking at the fruit and potatoes and everything they and brought to the car. Even Santa's helpers began laughing at me. They filled the trunk to its small capacity and I instructed Jamie and Stacey to go ahead and get in, so we could pack around their feet. Kelsie propped her feet up on one of the turkeys, Stacey held a box in her lap and looking out the back window was not an option.

I thought we were ready to go, but then a bright red Santa hat popped out the Hope Community Center doorway. "Wait", they called," you forgot your gifts!" Gifts? We were packed like stinky sardines in this poor little vehicle, its sides were already bulging. I laughed out loud, because we truly looked like the Beverly Hillbillies after Santa's helper handed us 3 garbage bags full of gifts.

We drove back to ClarkFork giggling hysterically, excited because Christmas was going to be quite the event at our house this year. Of course, that whole loaded to the gills with gifts and groceries wasn't to be my only embarrassing incident of the season.

It would seem that my friend Trish Gannon decorated this incredible tree forClark Fork High School, sold the tickets to herself and oh what a surprise, she won it!! However, Trish had already scoured the mountains and cut down a tree that her kids almost liked, so she didn't need the Wampus Cat tree. Mydaughter Stacey thought the tree might just be perfect, so Trish gave it to her.

I happened to pull up in Stacey's yard at the wrong moment and Trish coerced me into delivering it to Stacey. That doesn't really SEEM like that big of a deal, does it? Unfortunately, we were delivering it in Trishs' Saturn. You never realize how small a small car is, until you try to get a 6 and a half foot fully decorated tree in its trunk. Wrestling the tree out the school door was pretty difficult, putting it in the trunk, only to realize that Trish would have to ride back there WITH it in order to hold itup, now THAT was and experiment in terror.

Trish used an extenstion cord to hold it up with one hand and held the trunk with her other hand. "drive slow" Trish cautioned me. Drive slow? All I could think of was trying to answer the sheriffs questions. "Uh, ma'am, can you tell me again exactly how the Christmas Tree and the owner of The River Journal became one with the Saturn?"

Down Main Street we drove, I was singing Christmas Carols to Trish and she was shouting "Hail Mary" at the top of her lungs, which was mildly amusing even then because I know she's Baptist.

It's only a few blocks to Stacey's house from the high school, but it seemed like it was 10 miles at least. People were waving, pointing and it didn't help that Trish was still praying"oh my GOD, please don't let Jinx hit any bumps"! I didn't go fast, never even used the gas pedal, was terrified to even tap the breaks, and a corner was coming up. Exciting, huh? I could see Trish in my mind, flying around the corner, hanging onto the Christmas tree for dear life, cussing at me and praying to God and thinking what a great cartoon that it would make for Boots.

We made it back to Stacey's without incident though and I was pretty proud of myself as we set the tree up in her house. Proud that is until a little knock came to the door and LuciAnne Stevens was standing there, laughing at me, thanking me for giving her such an amusing moment. Tis the Season to be Jolly, I suppose, but couldn't we just this once find someone ELSE to laugh at?

12 December 2006

Simpler times?

The other day, while scrolling through my photos on the computer (my grandson and I were making a Christmas present) I came across one of David and myself this last Fourth of July (see below). In the picture, we look tired, but happy, and I put it on as my computer wallpaper for a while. I look at it every now and then and think back to "simpler times."

Of course, they weren't simpler - they just weren't right now, as I struggle to deal with all the year-end things that need to be dealt with. But I recall that prior to the picture being taken, I had spent nine straight hours working in the booster club's food booth. (You wouldn't believe how many people are willing to order hamburgers at 9 am on the fourth.) I'm sure I wasn't thinking of the day as "simple" while it was occurring.

What I really find myself wondering, however, is what things I might have done differently if, then, I could have known how the rest of the year would go, and just how doggone tired I would be here with just three weeks (more or less) left to go in the year.

For one, I would have gotten my firewood a heck of a lot sooner, so I wouldn't be struggling this morning with trying to keep a fire going with wet wood.

I would have written my columns for the newspaper much earlier in the week than I actually ever did.

I would have fixed those leaky tires before they went flat on me, and probably turned down some of the extra projects I instead said "yes" to.

In fact, I would have done a lot of things earlier, instead of putting them off until they became even more of a burden to accomplish.

Of course, it doesn't do us any good to spend a lot of time dwelling on the past and thinking about what we could have done differently then. The point is to figure out what we can do differently tomorrow.

So I wonder. At this time next year, will I look longingly at a picture and wishing my days were just a little simpler, or will I be proud of taking a lesson from this picture and staying on top of things a little better?

09 December 2006

Using your work computer for personal "stuff"

Seems like that's a big issue in the CDA/Spokane area these days. As such, I thought I should check the policy and procedures here at little ol' TRJ, and check out my employees' computers to see what I've been paying them to spend their time on.

Whoo Hoo! Lots of personal emails, chatting, blogging, reading of personal material, visiting questionable websites (I mean, Harpers? Come on!) This just can't continue.

My biggest problem, however, is determining how to deal with the problem. I mean, my only employee is... me. I'm the guilty party.

"But boss," I say to myself. "My work computer also happens to be my personal computer."

"Doesn't matter," I reply sternly. "If it's work time, you should be doing work."

"But boss," I meekly cringe, "I do work things outside of normal working hours. I can be working on the River Journal at 5 am, at 10 pm and heck, I'm working on the River Journal most weekends, too."

"Doesn't matter," I reply sternly again. "If it's work time, you should be doing work."

Okay, I don't want to make fun of what might be a serious problem in the south, but let's face it - I just can't relate. And I must admit - I don't hesitate to send personal emails to people during the times I KNOW they're at work. And I expect a response. Thank goodness, most of the people I know are either business owners or independent contractors.

But enough is enough. NO MORE PERSONAL STUFF FOR ME ON MY WORK TIME. That means, of course, that I'm going to have to re-define work time, a process that should fit hand and glove with my goal to GET MYSELF ORGANIZED, FINALLY! I'm gonna try to do that at the end of the month. I'll let you know how it goes.

02 December 2006

Thank Goodness It's Saturday?

When the alarm went off at 5 am, I slapped it off and went back to sleep. I can't remember why it's set for 5... I think I had to get Amy to a bus for a game way early a couple of weeks ago... but every morning when it goes off it occurs to me that I should re-set it for a more decent hour. Then I go back to sleep and forget about it.

I finally got about about 5:45 and began my Saturday. First, I heat up a cup of coffee left from the night before and start a fresh pot making. Then I check my email, and delete the 76 spam items that promise me low-interest home loans, the hottest new stock picks, and erections that will never end. That done, I take a look at the real mail I've gotten, and respond where necessary.

Then I catch up on the news. I start with the New York Times (today there was a great story on an old mission project in South America, and a new update on what must be one of the most bizarre stories I've read in a while - the (apparent) intentional poisoning with radiation of a Russian dissident. The Times done, I check out what my brother's up to with my "google alerts" and then move on to Dave Oliveria's Huckleberries blog, and catch up on what Marianne Love has to say. I see if there's anything new from Molly Ivins (there isn't yet... bummer) and, of course, find myself in a number of unexpected places following intriguing looking links. This all goes a lot faster, by the way, with my new high-speed internet connection.

My reading fix sated for the moment, I move on to work. This morning, I took all the final drafts of stories I could find and pasted them into the pages of what will be the latest issue of the CFHS newspaper. I do this so that when Amy finally wakes up this morning, she can begin formatting and playing around with the design so this paper can be published next week. I'm noticing a lot of items are missing - obviously, it's going to take longer than I thought to teach these kids the simple basics of publishing. (Saving final drafts to the stories folder, making sure all photos needed for stories are in the correct file, that type of thing.)

And then it's on to the River Journal, which also publishes next week. Many pages have to wait as quite a few of my writers did NOT meet their deadline of Thursday, and there's not much I can do until I have the words that need to be placed. What I can get done this morning is the Staccato Notes - cutting and paring the dozens of press releases I receive about what's going on in the area through the month of December. I'll go ahead and admit it - I hate Staccato Notes. It is the one job I'll put off as long as possible. Which is probably why I'm posting on this blog instead of actually beginning to work on those pages.

Now it's 7:15 and that first pot of coffee is almost done. I'll stop to eat something soon, if I remember, then work on pages as long as I can. I'm hoping to take some time off this afternoon to catch the CFHS girl's basketball team in a game at Sandpoint, then it will be back to this chair to see how much work I can get done.

I won't be heading in tonight for Kinderhaven's Festival of Trees - I neglected to buy tickets before they sold out - but go ahead and keep your fingers crossed for me that the tree the River Journal donated will raise lots of money for this deserving charity. Here's a pic of the tree - the theme is "have a celestial Christmas" and everything is space-related.

27 November 2006

High Speed

No, this is not my annual encouragement to just slow the hell down when the roads are bad, though you can go ahead and take that advice anyway. This is just me crowing that, as of about 4 pm today, I finally have satellite internet.

I'm on high speed baby, so bring it on - send me all those stupid emails with PowerPoint presentations, 32 photographs, huge sound and/or movie files that you just have to forward. I can handle it now!

I think. Hard to tell when I've only had high speed for about three hours. And of course, if you really do that to me, I'm gonna have to hunt you down and do something to you - in honor of the memory of ten years of dial-up.

26 November 2006

A weekend project

Tried to post to this blog last week but couldn't log on and then it was deadline... family visiting... the holidays... and other projects.

On Saturday, my daughter Amy and I went over to the high school here in Clark Fork and decorated a Christmas tree for the school. This was a booster club project... folks are welcome to buy a $1 raffle ticket, and one lucky winner is going to get a fully decorated Christmas tree delivered to their home.

The tree, a 6' fir purchased from Wilson Auto in Sandpoint at a discounted price, includes the stand, over 1100 lights, over 8 dozen ornaments, a wampus cat tree topper, a storage box for the ornaments, surge protector, glass vase, blue fleece blanket/tree skirt, and a CFHS stadium seat to cushion those bleachers during basketball season. Get a ticket by calling the school at 266-1131 or stopping by some day. The tree will be delivered December 16.

17 November 2006

It's Landon!

A warm welcome to David's third grandson, Landon Hughes. He was born about 11:15 this morning in Spokane. His parents are Erin and Nic Hughes, and his grandparents are Claire Biseline and Terry Gonzales of Hope, and David Broughton of Sandpoint. Landon weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces at birth and was 19 inches long. Isn't he beautiful?

13 November 2006

Monday Reflections

The day started with a call from my oldest daughter, telling me that the television news said school was closed today. I told my youngest daughter to go back to bed. About 45 minutes later the oldest daughter called back to say the TV news apologized for the misinformation, Lake Pend Oreille School District schools were actually open (while the news bar scrolling school closures still had it listed). I woke youngest daughter and let her know she was going to be late for school.

I'm learning that if I don't put things on the calendar, I forget to do them. I think the days of keeping everything in my head might be gone. At 11:30 I had a call from Eve's Leaves wondering why I wasn't there to try on the clothes I'll be modeling on Holly Eve (Oh, yes, I model. Let that be a warning to you, stay away from Marilyn Sabella when she wants something.) I wasn't there because my HEAD said I was supposed to be there Wednesday morning. 30 minutes late before even leaving Clark Fork, I followed a car pulling a boat in today's gusty winds - he never made it over 35 mph. I applaud his sense of safety, but why does that always happen when I'm late?

Just FYI, Eve's Leaves carries clothes that will cover up a LOT of belly fat.

I got home around ten after five after doing all my "town" chores, checked my email, and found one that included an agenda for the Festival Board meeting - which started tonight at 5:30... in Sandpoint.

I called with my regrets. I rarely miss a meeting, and I HATE to miss one due to stupidity. My only excuse is that these meetings almost always take place on a deadline Monday - which would be NEXT Monday. See, the head is not reliable anymore.

I also had an email from Avista, letting me know where all the power outtages are. I'm so glad they email to let folks know. Why did that make me laugh?

I discovered that if you spray paint in the house, 'cause it's cold and windy and wet outside and the rain has blown all over the porch and gotten it wet, you will get high. You will also get paint on the kitchen floor that's almost impossible to remove, and you will discover the kitchen floor is much too close to the woodstove for spray painting.

If you spray paint a rubber ball, it takes a LONG time for it to dry. And yes, the fingerprints will show from checking.

If you spray paint golf tees, the spray shoots them all over the front porch (once you've moved there from the kitchen floor.)

If you're wondering why anyone would spray paint a rubber ball and golf tees, then you've never tried to create a tail for a wampus cat.

If you don't remember to make all the phone calls you need to make before you leave the house, then don't plan on remembering to take the phone numbers with you so you can make the calls from town on the cell phone.

And finally, if you're not willing to wait five minutes with the front door open while the cat decides whether it REALLY has to go outside when it's cold, rainy and windy outside, then the cat will pee on the floor.

No new stadium for Seattle

With all the other election news, I missed this story about Seattle residents voting against a measure to pay for a new arena for the Sonics.

I gotta confess - as much as I love professional sports, I think they made the right choice, and my reasoning is reflected in the name of the group that opposed the measure: "Citizens for More Important Things."

Given the amount of money generated in pro sports, I find it hard to believe that there's no way to fund a stadium privately, or that there's no way for it to be funded publicly, but with taxpayers getting their money back.

If it costs $500 million to build - how long would it take to sell 500 million tickets that included a dollar surcharge to go back into the taxpayer kitty? Or even 50 million with a $10 surcharge?

Good job Seattle. I'm glad to see voters are finally getting smart about where their money is going.

12 November 2006

New Issue is Online

Well, I'm not sure what went wrong, but it seems to be fixed now and the current issue of the River Journal is available online to read here.

Of special interest - our newest columnist, Paul Rechnitzer, makes his debut. Paul was the former head of the Bonner County Republican Committee and is an avowed train buff. His first column talks about "post-election blues."

It's a championship issue as Marianne Love writes about a National Horse Judge champion and other winners from the area, and Scott Johnson writes about the championship athletes at Sandpoint High School.

Lou Springer tells us about a new book out from the Sanders County Historial Society on the 1910 fires; Cassandra Cridland talks about living in bear country; Marylyn Cork points us toward a "caring gift" for the holidays.

Check it out... see if you agree that there's more to life than just bad news, and that the River Journal is a "newspaper worth wading through."

12 November 2006

Spent most of yesterday cleaning house and refusing to do any work on the newspaper at all. Then I got an email telling me my website is not displaying the current issue of the paper. I STILL refused to do any newspaper work, but that means I have to get to it this morning - plus write checks, do billing, do taxes and file a lot of paperwork. Still, it was nice to have at least one day off.

Now it's nose to the grindstone time.

06 November 2006

The Story 'Behind' Cheney's Visit

My David, who sells ads for the radio, likes to say, "tell me and I'll tell thousands." But I'm thinking Dave Oliveria, of Huckleberries fame, could give him a run for his money 'cause even stuck out here in Clark Fork I've already heard that at least a partial version of my story on Cheney's visit is making the rounds... courtesy of Dave.

So here it is - the story I promised days ago but am just now getting around to after spending a weekend doing volleyball in Spokane and trying to catch up on my newspaper deadline.

My David (this is to distinguish him from Dave O) emailed Wednesday to see if I'd like to attend the Cheney extravaganza with him, bringing my teenage daughter, Amy, with me, and by the way, respond within five mintues as we have to get our names/addresses in for approval.

Of course I said yes, even though it's fair to say Cheney is not one of my favorite people in the world. My David, however, IS.

I turned in my name and address (initially I said my name was Trish "Squeaky Fromme" Gannon but I figured the Secret Service would not see any humor in that... and to tell the truth, I didn't either. I'd rather wait for Cheney's black, evil heart to give out on him than see anyone try to help the process along.)

Despite what I'd heard about liberals like me being banned from the production, David and I were approved and off we went to CDA.

Like most people, we went to the airport, which was the wrong way, and turned around and entered an incredible line of traffic, whereupon we proceeded to sit and wait. Finally arriving at the parking for the airport, we exited the car to be greeted by what felt like sub-zero temperatures, howling winds, and freezing rain. I wondered if this location was chosen in order for Cheney to feel like he was at home in Wyoming.

We walked miles (only a slight exaggeration) and got in the line to enter the hanger. I was wearing two sweaters, a vest, a heavy coat and a scarf. David had been smart enough to bring an unbrella, as well, so we were somewhat protected from the weather, but for the most part we were as miserable as everyone else in the slow moving line.

Of course, I drove from Clark Fork to attend this event, had waited in line in the car for an awfully long time, was waiting in line again for an awfully long time, and have given birth to three kids. I had to pee. I REALLY had to pee.

I recognized the situation was becoming desperate when I found myself contemplating the relative merits of heading back to the parking lot WAY behind us, finding a spot between cars, and baring my bum to the freezing wind versus the warmth that might be generated if I just gave up and peed my pants. (I had neglected to wear long johns.)

Lucky for me, I spotted a guy with a badge coming in our direction down the line, so I stepped out from under the umbrella to ask, through gritted teeth, "where would I find the closest restroom, please, sir?"

"Just come with me," he replied.

Before I go any further with this story, if I have to speculate as to this man's identity, let's go with his being a member of the Secret Service. (After all, if there's any blame to be laid, let's lay it at the feet of those who were responsible, right?)

This gentleman, to my surprise, escorted me into the hanger, behind the security tables, and pointed me in the direction of a door that led to the executive office suite - then walked off and left.

I had free run, no one waiting to see if I ever came back out, and a plethora of optional exits if I so chose to use them. Bear in mind... no one, at any time, checked to see if I had a ticket to the event, asked to see my ID, or checked underneath my bulky outergarments to see if I was packing, say, a rifle or a bomb or even, God forbid, a "Cheney go home" sign (all of which would have fit).

Of course, I'm a good girl. I used the restroom, then walked back outside into the freezing rain to join my man.

I never got inside again. Long before we ever got to the front doors, they were closed and people in line were told to go home as the hanger was too full.

David and I followed the edge of the runway to make our way back to the car, parked at the farthest remove of the lot. It (the runway) was lined with big trucks - trucks like gravel trucks, dump trucks, even a grader - in what appeared to be an attempt to keep vehicles from driving out onto the runway and approaching Air Force Two. Of course, about two-thirds of the way back to our end of the parking lot, they ran out of trucks and the way was clear for anyone with a clear wish to do harm, or maybe even just to take close up pictures.

We watched Air Force Two land, (along with the fake AF2 as well) watched a convoy of about a dozen limos pull up to escort the VP and his entourage into the hanger, watched the VP descend from the plane (though I'm not sure about that part. It was too cold and I just wasn't interested enough, though David watched). We visited for a while with a young man with a camera, and I encouraged him to go out on the tarmac and get much closer to the plane than we were - after all, there was no one there until you got to two fire trucks about midway across the asphalt - but the kids wasn't as gutsy as I would have been at his age.

After a while we moved on to the car, escorting an elderly woman who had already fallen once on the ice (and thank goodness we came along, as she would have frozen to death if she had fallen again and couldn't get up - there were NO vehicles left but ours at that end of the parking lot by then). Then we pulled over to the empty place in the asphalt to watch some more. This time we stopped at the far end of the runway, and parked by a police vehicle, which, of course, we could have outrun if we really wanted to.

Security, I have to say, was a joke at this event.

And I'm still waiting for Dave Olivera or one of his "bloggers" to post the information - who paid for this boondoggle?

31 October 2006


The witch at the dumpsters told me it probably wasn't going to hurt at all, but I decided that 11 am isn't too early to drink a few prophylactic beers.

This afternoon, in order to have a small tumor removed from my cervix, I'll be going in for a short procedure, where the doctor will use an electric knife in a place that should never get within a mile of any knife, and probably shouldn't be around electricity either.

I was assured that if I took four advil before going in, that should probably take care of any pain.

It's not the pain that I'm worried about, it's the fear! I just don't handle fear well.

I'm pretty frightened at the thought of sneezing at an inappropriate moment. Or coughing. Or even moving.

And why does it bother me that this is happening on Halloween? Did I watch too much Screaming Yellow Theater when I was growing up?

I'm also a little worried about my firewood. I mean, I worked all weekend, and I still have a pile of wood that now features an eighth of an inch of frozen snow on its surface.

I think the lawnmower's still out in the yard somewhere, too.

Of course, this year I'll have an excuse for that - my procedure.

28 October 2006


It might not look like much, but I made some progress on my wood pile today. Need to get everything split before I have some minor surgery on Tuesday. Not sure if I'll get more done today as my hands hurt bad... I'm a weak little girl. Even more impressive, half my house is clean and I got almost all the laundry done... and the day is still young.

26 October 2006

Stolen Email

Now that I'm "staff" with the LPO School District, I get the "global" emails that go out to everyone. This one came from our new Superintendent, and I thought it was great writing so am re-posting it here. I sent him an email to let him know... but even though that email went out to something like 500 people, it's probably not kosher to do it. Still... I'm doing it. I'll take it off if he objects, but I'm betting he won't. In the meantime, enjoy.

I grew up in the city. I walked or rode my bike to school every day until I could drive to high school. It was a pretty simple plan. The only time I rode a school bus was when I went on a field trip and that did not happen very often. When it did, I really enjoyed that bus ride; big green seats, windows, and a noise level that was a kid’s idea of mayhem. In short, I loved the experience.

Many of our students ride the yellow bus to school as a day to day way of life. The friendly drivers are the first people they see who represent the school district. Each morning sleepy eyed students clamber on to warm buses for a journey that they will remember forever……I can’t tell you how many times I have heard ”Remember when Johnny did (you name it) on the bus?” U-Haul claims to be the” Adventure in Moving”. I am convinced transporting students to school is the real adventure in moving.

This week was School Bus Safety Week. Students practiced emergency exit drills, safe riding procedures, etc. It is important to be prepared However, for all of us, it is also a time to thank our drivers for the good work they do every day as they transport their precious cargo. I don’t know about you, but at aged 55, I am pretty tired of driving. Maybe if I sported around in a fancy car or a Vespa, it might be different. Yet, every morning I see drivers with smiles on their faces greeting students and making sure they safely arrive at school. I would be curious to know how many miles these folks have put in behind the wheel. Amazingly, they are still smiling.

I also like to sleep. That too may be a factor of age. How is it that these good people can get up before dawn to drive a huge machine down the road? How about driving that beast on snow or ice with young kids on board who might be singing, laughing, or doing what kids do? I know when my dad was behind the wheel of the 1959 Ford Fairlane, we had to take the oath of silence…even when there wasn’t snow. One word or giggle when he was driving a snowy road led to banishment to the basement of the house. It was serious business because we never knew what evil lurked in the basement. Only my mother could intervene at that point.

So, next time you see one of our drivers, doff your cap, salute, bow, or offer them a simple thank you for a great job. They are the first step in a successful day for many of our children. We appreciate all that they do. Enjoy your weekend.


Thinkin' 'bout Gunfights

Scrolling through the morning news I came across this opinion in the New York Times regarding the "Gunfight at the OK Corral which took place 125 years ago today.

If the link doesn't work for you, consider this one paragraph. "Then there’s gun control. The Earps didn’t debate gun control; they enforced it, alienating those who considered it their God-given right to carry guns. A decade ago, Pat Buchanan, with gun belt, made a campaign stop in front of the O.K. Corral." If he had done that 125 years ago, he might have met the same fate as the cow-boys, at least two of whom were carrying guns in blatant defiance of town ordinance."

Even though I'm a history buff, I never knew that Tombstone (along with many other Western towns) had a gun control law. I always bought into the mythology that the wild west was just that - wild, and that laws of this type didn't come around until a lot more recently.

The opinion, by the way, isn't about gun control - it simply shows that issues of today were issues even then. It also mentions federal versus local law jurisdiction and illegal immigration. Something to think about going into a frosty Thursday.

25 October 2006

Just for you Brad

Brad, the only reason I don't have a dog is 'cause the one I want is owned by someone else and she won't give him to me. This is Kujo, my favorite dog in the whole world and the "top dog" at the Keokee Publishing office in Sandpoint. He and I always play when I'm there... almost every day.

I don't think the dog and cat thing is a conservative/liberal thing. As I wrote once years ago, it's far more complex. See, dog owners prefer to use a Mac, while cat owners like to use PCs.


If I'm hearing the gossip correctly, yes, a lot of liberals will be voting for Karl Dye this election.

It's Way too Early

In fact, most of this week it has seemed way too early. This time, though, I have to get on the road to Spokane so I can take flyers from Larsons into the printer and have them inserted in the new issue of the River Journal. So I need to be on road in the next ten minutes or so. If you want a sneak peak at the paper, see it here.

24 October 2006

I did it again

The Doofus cat is stuck on the roof. He does this frequently. Once he's up there, he can't seem to figure out how to get down - he's more than earned his name. Whenever I go out on the porch, he runs to the edge of it, and cries for me to save him. If I try to crawl up on the porch railing and rescue him, though, he runs off. Doofus cat. He wants me to go find the ladder, crawl up on the roof, pick him up, cradle him in my arms, and crawl down with him again. He forgets that I'm afraid of heights. Or else he doesn't care.

The latest issue of the River Journal is uploading to the printer as I type this. I know I've said it before but... I HATE ELECTIONS! Glad this issue is done, and please pick it up and read all about the candidates because it took me hours and hours to put all this together. I'll let you know what I think about this election - after it's over. I'm not a fan of endorsements... it's just me here, and if you're relying on my opinion, you haven't been reading enough about the candidates and issues on your own.

Distribution tomorrow... wish me luck.

23 October 2006

Another One Bites the Dust!

And it only took 16 hours straight for me to catch up. Now tomorrow is free for proofreading, double-checking that everything's in there, creating pdf files and uploading pages to the printer. Oh, and cleaning the truck out so that I'm able to pick all the papers up in Spokane on Wednesday.

For now, though, I'm looking forward to a hot bath, and a good book, and an early night.

No Sympathy

My Gandalf cat has absolutely no sympathy for how hard I'm having to work today, as you can see in this picture. For those of you keeping track (that's you, Jinx)I have five pages yet to go before the paper's done.

It's not my Friday

In fact, it's not even a regular Monday. It's a deadline Monday and here I sit at 4:45 am with 11 pages yet to finish on this week's issue of the paper. Unfortunately, my anti-virus program is set to scan in the wee hours of the morning, and it makes everything run r e a l l y slow... especially my memory-hog design programs. Which gives me time to catch up on the blog before I catch up on the paper.

It was a busy weekend. Clark Fork hosted the District 1A (North Star League) volleyball championships on Saturday. I was at the school at 8 am and got home again close to 7 pm. Clark Fork's young team put up a bit of a fight for it, but will not be going to state. They came in third, beaten by the league champion Wallace Miners (for the third time this season) and losing a second match to Coeur d'Alene Charter, after taking them in three games in the first match. It was a fun day as a spectator/scorekeeper and one of the Wallace girls had a t-shirt I plan to buy for my oldest daughter. It read, "you WISH you could hit like a girl."

Yesterday David and I drove down to Coeur d'Alene for the North Idaho Aids Coalition Wine Auction where I once again proved that I should never be let loose in an auction with money. (Because I'll spend it.) I didn't do too badly, however. I bought two lift tickets to Schweitzer Mountain (I don't ski, but my children do) and a beautiful, black and white print of a barn with snow taken by the one and only Ernie Hawks.

Interesting email sent out today by Marcia Phillips, a compilation of some headlines from the Bud Mueller years as County Commissioner - or, what we used to refer to as the "Bud and Larry Show." (Bud is running again this election season after winning the Republican primary.) A republican herself, Marcia is encouraging people NOT to vote for Mueller or for Lewis Rich, who's also running for a commissioner's seat.

Oops... virus scan done so it's off to work on a newspaper.

21 October 2006

It's a Volleyball Day

Well, I'm awake now. Was drinking my first cup of coffee while sitting at the computer, taking care of emails and catching up on the news when my stereo system (that would be Windows Media Player)segued from a run of John Coltrane into a performance of Georgia... a RAP performance. I trade music with my kids all the time, but that was one I hadn't realized was in my list of songs. (And it shouldn't be - there's some rap I like, but Georgia? Man, that song's a classic and should remain untouched.) Of course, in the time it took me to write this, the music has now moved on to... a spoonful of sugar. It's quite a variety I listen to. :0)

I'll be heading over to Clark Fork High School shortly to set up a 'hospitality room' for the District 1A Volleyball tournament that we're hosting today. I'm the scorekeeper for Clark Fork, so will be at the school most of the day (the first game is at 10 am, the last is scheduled to begin at 3:30 pm). Lucky for me, volleyball coach extraordinaire Cindy Derr offered to share scorekeeping duties today, so I'm going to ask her to switch off with me this morning. It will be my first chance this season to get some pictures of the girls playing. If any turn out well (it's hard to take pictures of volleyball... at least, it is for me) I'll stick 'em up here.

Continued changes are going on at the River Journal. I'll be unveiling my newest "re-design" of the front page in our issue that comes out on the 25th and you'll meet a new columnist on November 8th. We're saying good-bye to Mike Gearlds this month (he's off to greener, and hopefully more lucrative, pastures after a disagreement over editorial content) and I'll miss his take on local issues. But we have a couple of interesting replacements lined up, and I think readers are going to enjoy our newest voice. Not that I know who it is yet... I'm waiting to hear if the "number one pick" wants to take on a monthly column, but the number two pick is also very good.

There's a chance we'll have a new cartoonist as well... so don't miss your River Journals in the issues to come and let me know what you think of the changes.

Okay, I have some Rice Krispie treats that still need to be made this morning so it's off to the kitchen.

17 October 2006

Random Thoughts

Been scrolling around through various news archives as is my early morning habit, and on Molly Ivins column (click here to read it) she gives the best description of a reporter's job I've ever heard, right in her opening sentence: "I sacrificed an hour Friday evening to watch the Texas gubernatorial debate on your behalf, since I knew none of you would do it."

The New York Times writes that "expunged" criminal records are still readily available through private "data companies" and that the offer to expunge records just doesn't mean much anymore. Here's a great quote from the story: "Thomas A. Wilder, the district clerk for Tarrant County in Fort Worth, said he had received harsh criticism for refusing, on principle, to sell criminal history records in bulk. “How the hell do I expunge anything,” Mr. Wilder asked, “if I sell tapes and disks all over the country?” "

Shouldn't it be illegal to sell information like that?

Project Censored (click here) asks an interesting question about the power of media: "If a national movement calling for the impeachment of the President is rapidly emerging and the corporate media are not covering it, is there really a national movement for the impeachment of the President?" Of course, what I really enjoyed was the "top 25 censored news stories of 2007." Do they know something we don't, or are they just as prone to numerical typos as the rest of us?

My dial-up internet connection has kept me away from two intriguing stories posted at the Mother Jones website: a radio piece on "is Google evil" and a video piece where Colin Powell discusses his termination. I did enjoy this piece, however, on more ethics violations in Congress. Do you ever get the feeling that, once elected, politicians (of whatever party) think that gives them open season to do whatever the hell they want?

Now, no one wants to take less than seriously a very serious situation, and Harpers Weekly reports just such a situation - but it happens to include one of the best quotes I've seen this week. (We writer-type people appreciate a good quote even more than a cold beer - most of the time.) No, it's not the soldier who said "that damn marijuana," (though that was good, too). Seems a couple in Virgina are trying to "give back" the 15-year old boy they adopted after discovering he's a sexual predator. The mom's comment? “They just told me he was hyperactive."

There's snow on both Bee Top and Scotchman today. Unless I want all my income to go to Avista this year, I'd best get away from the computer and build a fire in the wood stove, then build a fire in myself by splitting a little more firewood.

15 October 2006

Should Athletes be More Accountable than Other Students?

I was reading in the New York Times this morning about college and university responses to what happened at Duke University last year, when members of the Lacrosse team were accused of rape. (Here's a link to the Times story, but you may have to sign up for an account in order to read it.)

It seems a number of institutions are making tougher rules for their student athletes. According to the Times, "Scores of colleges and universities have begun enforcing codes of conduct for athletes that are more strict than those applied to the rest of the student body, officials said. More rigorous standards for athletes were among the recommendations of the panel investigating Duke’s internal response in the rape case."

I know we've been steadily developing a culture of "guilty until proven otherwise," but is this the wisest thing to do? And are we saying, "If you rape somebody, there's gonna be trouble, but if you happen to play football and get accused of rape, it's gonna be worse?"

I understand the temptation of the "Caeser's wife" approach - after all, the actions of an athlete are far more likely to be considered "newsworthy," - at least by the national media - than the actions of an average student. But I suspect that these new "rules" are just one more example of how we always seem to overreact to any new situation we face... or any situation that becomes news because, let's face it, accusations of rape are hardly uncommon on college campuses.

Of course, it's gone even farther than that. Some new rules (and some contracts) also hold the coach responsible for what their athletes do - even when not in school - and it's now clear that the coach can be fired based on student actions. "On the advice of United Educators and sometimes on the counsel of high-powered conference commissioners, colleges and universities have rewritten coaches’ contracts to specify that they can be fired for their players’ misbehavior."

When did we forget the simple truth that without authority, you can't have responsibility?

13 October 2006


I like that phrase, "Thank god it's Friday." And I get to say it today, because it really is Friday for me. The next two days are the only two days I actually get "off" in the month. Of course, I have a lot of tax stuff I need to do, so I'll still be working a little bit... but hopefully not a lot.

I go tonight to see the Heron Players perform "The Pedigree Murders." I'm a little nervous - Dick Hale is an enormously talented and funny scriptwriter, and I hear in this play, the cast uses the River Journal to find the clues to solve the mystery.

Clark Fork hosts the District 1A volleyball tournament beginning Wednesday next week. The Lady Cats will go up against the Lakeside Knights.

I read in the New York Times today that China is considering implementing labor laws that will make unions more powerful - and American corporations are opposing it. I don't know enough about the issue to determine which side I believe is correct... but given China's image of labor abuse, I don't think this position makes our businesses look very good.

I had an email from Paul Krames telling me that his letter to the editor in the Bonner County Daily Bee had all references to myself and the River Journal 'purged.' It's something they do a lot. Our English teacher at Clark Fork had her class do a story on time management, and told the students the winning essay would be printed in the Bee (per an agreement with editor Caroline Lobsinger, who assured Chandra she'd be willing to print student work). My daughter won the contest... and she wrote about me. It will be interesting to see if the Bee keeps its promise.

The political season must be well underway 'cause I just heard some nasty (and completely untrue) rumors about Rep. George Eskridge this morning. I wonder why it is that people feel so comfortable in making up stuff about the candidate they don't want to vote for?

I just got the following from the Bonner County Democrats... a schedule of upcoming candidate forums.Mark your calendars and go learn firsthand what the candidates have to say:
Monday - October 16: Sandpoint Bee forum @ High School - County Candidates 6:30 p.m.Tuesday - October 17: Sandpoint Bee forum @ High School - State Candidates 6:30 p.m .Wednesday - October 18: Sandpoint Bee forum @ High School - All Candidates 6:30 p.m.Thursday - October 19: Priest River Chamber Forum @ PR Jr High - All Candidates 6 p.m.Friday - October 20: Blue Lake Grange Forum @ Blue Lake Grange - All Candidates 7 p.m.Saturday - October 21: Blanchard Grange Forum @ Blanchard Grange - All Candidates 6:30 p.m.Friday - October 27: Edgemere Grange Forum @ Edgemere Grange - All Candidates 7 p.m.

11 October 2006

Oh My

Well, another issue of the newspaper is off to the printer and should hit the streets this afternoon. Get a sneak peek if you want here.

Congratulations to Helen Newton, who won the contest to "Name that Column." Scott Johnson's new sports column now goes under the appellation: As I See It, Scott Johnson puts a Spotlight on Sports.

The "spotlight on sports" part was something Scott really liked, but As I See it was the winner in a contest that sported (pun intended) some rather odd entries. Here's what we had to choose from:
20/20 Sportstalk
Are you Ready to Fumble
Armchair Quarterback
As I Saw It
Balls Balls Balls
Critical Analysis
For Love of the Game
From the Sidelines
Game Gab
Jabbering Jocks
Jock Talk
Play by Play
Scoring with Scott
Scott's Hot Shots
Scott's Scoreboard
Scott's Sport Spotlight
Scott's Thoughts
Scott's Turf
Shoulda Coulda Woulda
Speaking of Sports
Sport Up North Idaho
Sports Cast
Sports Edge
Sports Splash
Sports Talk
Sports Yarns
Time Out with Scott
The Best Damn Sports Column Period
The Couch
The Couch Coach
The Crowd Goes Wild
The Inside Pitch
The Jock Strap
Unofficially Speaking
Wade Boggs
Wade Through Boggs

Tired this morning. We had a volleyball game in Mullan last night and, on the way home on the bus, one of the girls jammed her thumb badly and it looked like she might have broken it. So we spent a while at the emergency room at Bonner General. (The lady there was so cute - I had come in once to use the restroom and she slid open her little window to ask, "Do you have a busload of kids out there?" Yep, we did.)

Got home about midnight, then spent the next hour finishing uploading all the new stories to the River Journal website... plus the graphics that go along with the story about solutions to traffic congestion in Sandpoint. Hope people go to look at them (head to the homepage here). There's graphics showing the current road design at the railroad underpass just north of the chamber of commerce on Fifth Ave., and at the intersection of Highways 95 and 200, plus graphics showing how it could be, at little more than the price of paint. Sandpoint's Public Works committee was so impressed with the ideas they're recommending the City Council hold a special workshop to see if these changes couldn't be accomplished before the snow flies.

Okay, time to go pick up the paper and get it delivered. Happy Wednesday folks.

09 October 2006

The Frost is on the Pumpkin

Well, I don't have a pumpkin yet, but there's frost all over the firewood, so I guess that counts. It's a chilly fall morning here in Clark Fork today.

After a miserable day yesterday, I find I'm feeling much better this morning. The crud is moving out of my head and down to my chest. I don't much like the coughing part, but really appreciate that my head no longer weighs the 6,000 pounds it weighed yesterday.

Have you ever wondered just how much... well, snot a person can generate and carry around in their head? I have, and as is typical for me, once I come up with a question, I want to know the answer. So I started trolling the internet.

Well, I learned that sex can clear a stuffy nose (somehow it helps your body produce antihistamines) and that your ears secrete more ear wax when you're afraid than when you're not. Finally, in the 1800s, it was believed gin could cure stomach problems. Of course, we know now that it's whiskey that's the big cure all - according to my grandmother, there's nothing much that can't be fixed by a nice hot toddy.

The closest I came to learning about my original question, however, was one website that stated, during a cold... "enormous amounts" of phlegm can be produced. Well duh. Anyway, I have a newspaper to finish, so can't spend the time continuing to search. If anyone knows the answer, please let me know. Conversely, if I manage to find out the answer despite my deadline, I'll let you know.

06 October 2006

On a Sick Friday

Wonderful homecoming game last night at Clark Fork where we tromped the Lakeside Knights 28 to nothing. What fun, sitting in the stands with a bunch of friends, cheering 'til I was hoarse, watching my team on its way to victory.

Now I'm sick.

No, it wasn't the game probably, just the crud that's getting passed all around the county now that kids are back in school. Sore throat, achy eyes and the last thing I want is to be on deadline, but I am, so I'll sit here at the computer and work.

Of course, if this is the worst thing that happens to me this month, I've done good.

04 October 2006

Happy Birthday plus one day

Just to let Dave Olivera know... I'm not afraid of my age. I turned 44 yesterday - I'm just a spring chicken!

Okay, the girls didn't beat Wallace (said to be the best team in our conference) but man, did they give them a game. I haven't seen rallies that long in quite a while. I was really proud of our Lady Cats.

Long day today, though. I tried to post this morning, but the website was either down, or I just wasn't awake enough to make it function. The second is a distinct possibility. I got to bed about 1:30 THIS morning, and had to get up early to teach a class at the school. And the day has gone on... and on. Think I'll make it an early night tonight.

03 October 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

Okay, everybody, sing it!

I'm thrilled to have made it to another birthday and look forward to a fun day of celebration with my friends and loved ones. And to a rousing game of volleyball, as the Clark Fork Lady Cats travel to Wallace and (hopefully) beat them in honor of my birthday. :0)

02 October 2006

So just how modern are we?

Here's a thought... would you vote for someone who does not utilize email? Not necessarily a fair question in this forum, as it's obvious that anyone here is probably fairly comfortable with computers. But I'm askin' anyway.

BTW- To answer my own question, I might, but they would have to be a pretty exceptional candidate.

01 October 2006

Sunny Sundays

Not much to post today as I spent most of it lazing around in bed, reading, or online doing genealogy research. And now it's time to head outside and split some firewood, so I can get it all stacked up under cover for the winter. Hope all are having a wonderfully relaxing Sunday, too.

30 September 2006

On driving, teenagers, winter and Huckleberries

The Spokesman-Review has consistently received kudos for their incorporation of the internet and their willingness to include the public in the news process, including a $1,000 Knight-Batten "Award of Distinction." (see story here) for "transparency in the newsroom." According to the judges, "they're doing what others don't have the guts to do."

I bring that up because my favorite part of the Spokesman online is Dave Olivera's Huckleberries - You can read it here. And he kindly gave a link to the post at our blog here on teen driving.

His readers suggested banning cell phones, radios, et al while the young 'uns are driving, taking 'em out in the winter to a big empty parking lot to practice skidding on ice and, probably one of the best pieces of advice for someone like me -"Don't be such a worrywart." (Click here to read the comments in full.)

As I say to others when I'm offered that advice (and yes, I'm offered it quite often) "But I do it so well!" It's hard to have a talent and not use it. :0)

I have taken all my children, at one time or another, down to the high school on an empty winter weekend to practice sliding around. (Probably illegally, so don't tell anyone, okay? I actually didn't realize that a parent can't teach their child to drive until after they finish driver's ed. And let me say right now, I think that's a dumb rule. I'm not letting my child behind the wheel of a car with anyone - not even a driver's ed teacher - until I know they understand the basics. Lucky for me, I don't have a child without at least a permit now, and yes, as soon as I learned I was breaking the law, I quit driving with my children.)

Back to winter driving. While I think it's great to teach children how to slide in big, empty parking lots, be aware... THIS IS NOT A FUN PROCESS. "Go," I would tell them and then, when they had reached an appropriate speed, "Quick, turn the wheel!" It's kind of like riding the tilt-a-whirl, but worse, and it's been many years now since I discovered that my body no longer likes to ride the tilt-a-whirl.

You can do this with your child until your stomach rebels, but at some point, don't forget that the point is to teach them how to steer out of the skid. It's best to try this with several different vehicles, as each one responds somewhat differently.

I have some more good "teach the kids how to drive stories" that I'll share later (let me remind myself right here to tell you about fording Lightning Creek) but this is long enough for now. Any stories of your own?

29 September 2006

Traffic Accidents

On Wednesday, our community of Clark Fork was rocked by the news of yet another traffic accident involving some of our kids - that makes three accidents, with seven of our children, in a 12 day period. From what we've heard, the first accident involved bad decisions - driving 80 miles an hour on US 95 because the kids were late getting home (two of those students are still in coma); the second was a student hit head on by someone passing, on a curve, in a no passing zone; and the third may have been as simple as turning in the sun, and failing to see the motorcycle coming down the road. The guy on the motorcycle died in that one, and now one of our students will live with that knowledge for the rest of his life, while a family somewhere is grieving at a loss that can never be repaired.

My Amy is supposed to get her driver's license in mid-October, just a few weeks from now. I confess, I'm wanting to ban her from getting it. This is my youngest child, and I worry enough with two other children driving on the roads - now I'll have a third who will undoubtedly keep me up nights with fear. Although she's a pretty good driver, she won't be on the road alone - and not all people make good decisions when behind the wheel of a lethal weapon.

So what's the answer? In the 15 years I've been driving between Sandpoint and Clark Fork, I've watched an amazing amount of idiot drivers - mostly those who pass when it's unsafe to do so, but also those who, in the winter, think four-wheel-drive makes them immune to the effects of ice on the roadway. Is there a way to make the highway safer, or is this just a reality we all have to live with?

27 September 2006

A Beautiful Wednesday Morning

The sun is peeking over Antelope now, and the coffee tastes especially good, given how early I got up, and how late I got home last night.

The new issue of the River Journal made it to the printer yesterday, and will be out in racks all over the place just as soon as I drive to Spokane today and get it. You can get a peek at it now, however, right here online.

This issue features our first sports column by Scott Johnson... I didn't think he was gonna make it, but he snuck it in under the wire. It needs a name, though, and to encourage your submissions, we're offering a $50 gift certificate to Dock of the Bay if you come up with the name we choose.

The forum last night, which the River Journal co-sponsored, was a resounding success if I do say so myself. There were some wonderful ideas for improving traffic now, which you'll read about in our next River Journal... that would be the October 11 issue.

Autumn is a busy time. We have our first Booster Club meeting tonight at Clark Fork High School, Homecoming is next week, I'll be out with students on Friday selling advertising for their yearbook and newspaper, we're celebrating my friend Jacque's 60th birthday on Saturday night, my own birthday is next Tuesday, we're already starting to look at the 2007 season for the Festival at Sandpoint, the winter issue of Sandpoint Magazine is getting really close to printing (and yes, Billie Jean, I'll get my story done REALLY soon)... and on it goes. Guess you'll be hearing about most all of this stuff here at some point.

Now it's time to get ready to hit the road. Don't forget to send those suggestions for a title for the sports column. You can email me at trish(at)riverjournal.com. Use the 'at' symbol of course... I'm just trying to avoid those spambots here.

25 September 2006

The second question asked at the Town Hall Meeting on education was "What strategies and resources must be brought to the fore at the middle school level, high school level and is there some strategy that might apply on the elementary level as well to increase success?"

In 20 years involvement with local education, the one consistent thing I've heard from teachers across grade levels is that students are not prepared when they reach their classroom. The same charge is made by colleges and universities: English information that was once contained in "bonehead" or "remedial" classes has now become English 101 as higher ed institutions have given up on getting new students who have the skills once expected to have been obtained in high school.

So where's our top-down construction of curriculum? Why aren't universities designing what students should be learning as seniors, high school teachers designing what students should be learning in middle school, etc etc etc. Although "curriculum committees" are generally lauded as "broad-based" and having participation from "important stakeholders" it's obvious that somewhere, the ball is getting dropped. That is, if the regular classroom teachers are correct in what they say about their incoming students.

Higher Education Part Two

The second question asked at the Town Hall Meeting on education was "What strategies and resources must be brought to the fore at the middle school level, high school level and is there some strategy that might apply on the elementary level as well to increase success?"

In 20 years involvement with local education, the one consistent thing I've heard from teachers across grade levels is that students are not prepared when they reach their classroom. The same charge is made by colleges and universities: English information that was once contained in "bonehead" or "remedial" classes has now become English 101 as higher ed institutions have given up on getting new students who have the skills once expected to have been obtained in high school.

So where's our top-down construction of curriculum? Why aren't universities designing what students should be learning as seniors, high school teachers designing what students should be learning in middle school, etc etc etc. Although "curriculum committees" are generally lauded as "broad-based" and having participation from "important stakeholders" it's obvious that somewhere, the ball is getting dropped. That is, if the regular classroom teachers are correct in what they say about their incoming students.

21 September 2006

What do we want from higher education?

It's 10:15 pm and I've been on the go since WAY too early this morning but before I head off to bed, I figured I'd better post something here, per Chris B's orders to "post something every day."

I had the pleasure tonight of attending a "Town Hall Meeting" on education, hosted by the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, with the intent of beginning a dialogue (and coming up with actual plans to implement) on what our community expects from education. I won't get into all of it here - if I did, I wouldn't have anything to write about in an article - but Dwight Johnson, Executive Director of the Idaho Board of Education, made a provocative point - the skills and knowledge that students need in order to be prepared for college, are now the skills and knowledge they also need for options after high school other than going on to traditional higher education.

The question was then asked... how do we get more of our students to graduate high school, and go on to further their education?

I could give you my opinion, but what this group wants is YOUR opinion. Go ahead and feel free to give it to them here... I will forward to them whatever you have to say. And I'll let you know as soon as they get their own blog up and running where you can go to share your thoughts with them directly.

20 September 2006

20 September 2006

This morning I get to meet with a group of students at Clark Fork Jr/Sr High School that I will be working with to produce a school yearbook. It's a first for me and, really, a first for them, too as we try to discuss quality publishing. Somehow I'll be taking these kids in hand to teach them how to sell and design advertising, take photos, design page layouts, scan photos, write copy, create collages, track finances....hmm, I hope I'm not biting off more than I can chew.

Had a meeting yesterday with Chris Bessler, the big cheese at Keokee Publishing, and John Reuter, the guy who's taking over publishing the Sandpoint Reader. We, along with the Daily Bee and KSPT radio, are sponsoring a forum in downtown Sandpoint next week to talk about "Conquering Gridlock." The focus is on what can be done to deal with traffic downtown, especially as it's been "three years since the (ITD) announced that construction on the Sand Creek Bypass will begin in the fall," as Chris put it in our press release. Hope to see lots of people show up - 6 pm at Sandpoint's Community Hall on Tuesday, September 26.

19 September 2006

Ethics in Media

Chris Bessler, owner of Keokee Publishing in Sandpoint and my guru on anything to do with the publishing world, tells me I actually have to post something in this blog EVERY DAY! I hadn't realized that, but when Chris suggests, I perform. (kind of)

Yesterday, I appeared with Priest River Times Publisher Terrie Ivey on Bill Litsinger's radio show (the Voice - 1400 KSPT, noon on Mondays). We were talking about ethics in journalism, though I'm not sure we ever got around to talking about it with any substance at all. An hour radio show isn't nearly as long as it sounds. Too bad... because I have some pretty strong opinions regarding journalistic ethics, and they don't always match those of the regular media. Maybe it's because I never went to J-school.

Talking in the parking lot after the show, the question was "is it okay to publish negative information on the front page about someone who's a 'pubic figure?'" My answer was tied up in my definition of news - being something the public has need of to know. So it depends on the public figure. If it's someone you're gonna vote for, or someone who works with your kids, or someone you may have given your money to... then yes, it's news. But if the information is on the front page and there's NO benefit to public knowledge, then we in the press need to butt out.

The people may have a right to know, but that information is available in the police blotter if they really want it. Newspapers make clear decisions about who gets pilloried on the front page - not EVERY person charged with a crime makes it there - and I suggest that many of those decisions are driven by the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentalitiy of the regular media. That's not a rule we follow at the River Journal.

14 September 2006

The River Journal 13 September 2006

The new issue is out. Read the stories at www.riverjournal.com, then post your comments below!

Assessments Ongoing by Trish Gannon - Bonner County residents still have some avenues left to pursue changes in their property valuation.
Study of Forestry Returns by Marylyn Cork - Priest River Lamanna High School students will start raising knapweed bugs next year.
Ulm Peak is Smokin' Up the Skies by Trish Gannon - fire blazing on the Idaho/Montana border.
Sunday Drive by Trish Gannon - Pack up the family and friends and head out to a high school athletic event.
From the Mouth of the River by Boots Reynolds - There's Aunts in the sugar bowl!
The Eighth Deadly Sin by Scott Clawson - When God looked for procrastination, he found man.
The Hawk's Nest by Ernie Hawks - Reflections on the role of water.
The Scenic Route with Sandy Compton - The Sanders County Fair
Sky King by Mike Gearlds - Library DVD brings a 'blast from the past.'
Faith Walk by Gary Payton - the season of terrorist attacks reminds us that Jesus gave us a demanding charge.
Prevention is Always Preferable to Destruction by Kate Wilson - Conservation Districts are the landowners local resource.
Research by Hobe Jenkins, PhD - a barrel full of data from Lake Pend Oreille
From the Files of the TRJ Surrealist Research Bureau by Jody Forest - Seeds of Great Cthulhu
Urban Legends by Trish Gannon- How stupid do you have to be to boycott a stamp?
Computer Help by Melody Martz- customizing Word for the things you do repeatedly.
A Seat in the House by ID Rep. George Eskridge- What, exactly, did the Legislature do about property tax relief?
Montana Viewpoint by MT Sen. Jim Elliott- As Montana's population increases, so does the need to direct the change.

09 September 2006

Welcome to the River Journal's Blog!

And so it begins.

I've been searching for a way to make the River Journal more interactive, and Marianne Love's addiction to blogs gave us just the answer. Now you can comment on the current edition of the paper, and get a response right back. Or as right back as my not always online workday can make it.

I'm cheating here - it's only Saturday afternoon, and no one will know about this 'til the next issue comes out on Wednesday, but I'll be delivering papers all day Wednesday and won't have time to write anything then. And I thought I should go ahead and start you all out.

Mike Gearld's cartoon in this issue takes on Bonner County Commissioner Karl Dye's write-in campaign for re-election this fall to the seat in District 3. Dye, a Republican, lost in the primaries to Lewis Rich. With no Democratic opponent for the seat, Rich was guaranteed the position without a write-in candidate.

That result created a schism in the local Republican party, it seems, as hundreds of registered Republicans signed a petition encouraging Dye to run as a write-in candidate. Seems they didn't want to vote for their party's official candidate.

With voters in the primaries casting a "throw the bums out" ballot, current commissioner Marcia Phillips was also defeated, by former Bonner County Commissioner Bud Mueller. He also seems to be less than acceptable to some of the Republican populace, who have vowed to cross party lines and vote for the Democratic candidate this fall.

Any comments on what's going on in the Republican party locally?