Saturday, December 31, 2005

A realization of sorts...
...or yet, another bunch of New Years' reflections...

I wrote, in the previous post, that I had visited a local record shop, the owner of which is a friend of mine, and that another friend happened to be there, and we all spent a couple of hours in there, talking about music, record collecting, and various other things. The "other friend" of mine has known me for a while, and he's a pretty carefree, happy-go-lucky person. In short, totally unlike me. But, something he said to me just about knocked me on the floor, and what he'd said was so clairvoyant in nature, that it stunned me, and it's something I'm still thinking about.

I tried moving to Oregon a few years back, and ended up moving back here. I didn't know anyone there, I was in unfamiliar surroundings, and I just felt totally out of place. The Oregon Coast, which was such a beautiful place to vacation the previous year, felt "foreign" and "alien" to me when I tried to live there the following year. So I came back to CDA. I hated myself for not being "strong enough" to try something new, and I still have mixed emotions about that whole experience. As awful as CDA can be, it has always been home to me.

This friend of mine told me that I must have been going through some sort of agonizing mental pain before I initially went to Oregon, and that was why, initially, the Oregon Coast looked so good to me. He also said that when I tried to live down there, I couldn't, because I knew I was away from my home, Coeur d'Alene, which, for better or for worse, seems to be where I'm destined to be. And you know, he hit the nail right on the head, and coming from him, it SHOCKED me. Will wonders never cease...

The summer before I first went to the Oregon Coast (I went in September for a couple of weeks), my sister and I had gotten involved in a big fight, and it just hurt me to no end. This was about a year after our parents had died, and some extremely hurtful things were said. It's amazing, sometimes, how certain people in your life can hurt you so severely. The fight stemmed from some flowers I'd put at their gravesite, something my sister had taken exception to. Our family was always very good at hurting each other...

A few days later, I found myself riding my bike around CDA; I even went out to Garwood on the bike path; as I turned around and headed back towards town, I found myself heading to the cemetery on Gov't Way; I thought I'd stop by my parents' graves. Well, when I got there, I saw my sister's flowers were on their grave, and I didn't dare touch them, or even walk over to the grave. I thought, "she doesn't need me; no one needs me", and I rode off towards home. And the strangest thing happened. As I rode home, I heard, I actually HEARD, ocean waves inside my head. I have no idea where "that" came from...

So, about a month later, I went to Oregon. Spent time alone on the beach. Played my guitar on a jetty that extended far into the ocean. And I still have visions of the ocean. It is oddly compelling. I still think about moving away. I'm getting older, after all, and time "waits for no one". Yet, here I am, in CDA. Where things are familiar, where I know how to survive, where people I know are. Yet sometimes I get so depressed, I just "want to go away". But, my friend in the record shop was right. He told me, CDA is where my home is, and I realized that, and that's why I couldn't leave...

And so, I face a sort of "tug of war" every day. Content in CDA for the most part. After all, it is very beautiful here (when it isn't winter, that is!), and I know my way around here. Yet, I keep thinking I want to be somewhere else, just to prove to myself that I can actually do that. I have lived in this area, seen the same old mountains and lake for the last 40-odd years. And I love it here; City Park is the most wonderful place to be when the weather's good. What a strange life...

I just hope and pray for some sort of inner peace, no matter where I choose to be. I guess I keep "searching for a reason", but am most content when I'm not searching. Yet each day passes, the sun sets, and sometimes I just kinda wonder what I'm doing, y'know? So I'm hoping this coming year ends up making some sort of cosmic sense to me. And I hope that you have a good New Year as well. Here's a nice picture for you, seeing as you've been so patient with me here...

This old picture comes from around 1909. It's a picture of cottages "somewhere" on Lake Coeur d'Alene, although I have no idea WHERE, on CDA Lake this was. There's another post down below this one, where I posted an old black and white photo taken "somewhere" along the lake. So I need all the help I can get here. If you click on the photo, it expands. Anyway, I'd like to thank ya for stopping by this weird blogsite over the last year. Happy New Year.

Well, that's it, the last post of the year. Turn out the lights, the party's over...and tomorrow starts the same damn thing again...

Friday, December 30, 2005

Another Year is WINDING DOWN...
...a voyage down the raging river of consciousness!!!

This time every year, when we bid the old year adieu and welcome in the new year, it makes us wonder, "where has the time gone?" If you really think about it, though, it's not that the time has just disappeared all of a sudden; rather, a little slice of time goes by, day after day, minute after minute, and nothing can be done to stop it. (Other than Ted Williams' relatives, who put the late baseball player's remains into a cryogenic vat; if you shoot a deer, and then freeze it, well, when you thaw it, it's still dead!) I do NOT like growing older. Back a couple of years ago, I didn't want to be 50. But, considering the alternative, I didn't have much choice. Nothing I can do about it. I've heard all this stuff about growing "older and wiser". Well, I've accomplished "half" of that; I'm older, but I don't think I'm any wiser. It's still ME inside this ever-aging body, and at the very core, I am still who I was 30, 40, 50 years ago. I've been feeling a little more despair as time goes on; the people in the "obits" are closer to my age; I don't know what MP3 or Ipod players ARE, I don't know who any of today's music stars are, and I'm getting older and slower.

I take comfort in the fact that we're in all of this together. Life, being meant to be lived, until there is no more life. It comforts me to see old friends talking to each other, such as the elderly gentlemen that meet at the Java place, almost every day. I see young parents, 30 years younger than I am, with kids of their own, and those parents will probably end up being grandparents long after I am "history". I see young kids and college students, all immersed in their own little worlds, much as I was at their age. Maybe I am still in my own little world, I don't know. I enjoy being out there; being part of life, being part of what's going on, even if being an "active participant" is a little harder to do as I age. I watch life parade in front of me, and although I've missed out on a lot of things, being "not very good" at relationships, not being "family-inclined", I enjoy watching couples who are close, or families "in action"; it's nice to know that things work out for some of us, anyway. In some ways, I feel as if I'm standing still, like an old building, while society passes by in front of me...except, I, too, am mortal, so while society passes by in front of me, I, too, am slipping through "time".

Later on today, though, I went up to the record store, which a friend of mine owns. When I got there, another record collector I know was in there, and before long, we were all talking about music, sharing jokes and B.S.-ing, and we all must have talked for almost two hours. A simple excursion to a record store becomes a social event. And all of a sudden, I didn't feel so far removed from things. Maybe some of us are "universally accepted", and maybe others "of us" have our own "small niches" which we need to seek out. I am finding that when I go out in town, and people recognize me or stop and say hi, I am thankful that there are those who respect me enough to stop for a moment and ask how I'm doing. Little things like that become important. I get depressed really easily, and sometimes it's hell. But, it seems most every time I go somewhere, there's someone I know, and just those few little moments of conversation give me a better outlook; it's almost like "mental refueling"; my spirit becomes energized, and makes me think life isn't so bad after all. Many times I've had my mood elevated because of such brief encounters.

So what is the point of all of this? It would appear that the "stream of consciousness" is really overflowing, as I drift down the "river of thought". How about a bit of personal philosophy...not "deep thought", but here it is...there have been many times, for example, when a waitress at a restaurant will smile at me, maybe even chat a little bit, and that's "made" my whole day. Or someone has spoken to me for some reason, and as a result, I've been able to "get out of myself." So, here's something to think about, and something I've long thought...maybe the five minutes you spend with someone makes all the difference between them living a happy life, at least for that day, or jumping out a window and ending it all. The human being is a funny creature sometimes...we can all walk around with things churning and burning inside of us, but when we're out in the world, we've got to "mask" all of that. After all, when someone asks, "how are you", do they REALLY want to know how you are?; maybe as a courtesy, you just say "fine"; a general "mutual acknowledgment", and then you both go on your way.

I don't know what any of the answers are. All I can do in a post like this is just "put things out there". There isn't a lot, really, that any of us can do for each other, other than regarding each other for the 'humanity' we possess. Sometimes we all just get wrapped up in our own little worlds, though; I know I do! In times like that, perhaps we just don't really "see" the world around us, and those in it. I don't quite know how to "end" a posting like this; I've probably rambled on waaay too long, but these are some of the things I think about, as I sit in the corner with my nose buried in the newspaper; these are some of the things that cross my mind while listening to jazz, or driving along the streets of our fair city. What does it all mean? What is the purpose of it all? Why are we all here? What is the reason for all of this? What is the reason for "going on"? But when I wake up in the morning, and open my eyes, I think, "I've still got life", and then I go out and try to live it. That's all I know.

Here's something that signifies the passing of time. Amazing, how time passes, yet some things remain the same. (As you can tell, I'm no great philosopher.) Here is the FLAMINGO MOTEL in downtown Coeur d'Alene, as it appeared back in 1964. And it looks basically the same, 41 years later, as it looked back then. I'm still trying to figure where this photo was taken from, though. The roof of the gas station across the street on Sherman Avenue? The roof of the downtown Post Office building, which was erected in 1964? The only thing that's really changed about the Flamingo is, the SIGN...I always thought its older sign was better looking, but now, the motel has a smaller, and not as well-rendered, sign. Anyway, time does pass, doesn't it?


I didn't mean to be so blasted DEPRESSING today, but this has been a chance to clear my mind just a little bit. And, I am not as continually "morose" as this post might indicate. Still, I think about things, and I seem to be able to type coherently. If a blog can be a place to relate your thoughts, then for what it's worth, I've done that here. I probably went 'overboard' in the process...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The lost art of SHARING THE ROAD...
...OR, why you shouldn't use the freeway any more than necessary!

It almost happened again dept.: Coeur d'Alene is blessed (and perhaps cursed) by the presence of Interstate 90, which cuts through the north part of town. A lot of us who live here hop on the freeway, to get from one part of town to the other, and I do that too. I may have to change my driving tactics...

Tonight, it happened again. I entered the highway on the Lincoln Street on-ramp, and as I did, I saw another 18-wheeler barreling down the highway to my rear. Again, there was no one in the left lane. Again, the trucker did not move over for me, so I could merge. Again, I had to drive for about 50 feet down the shoulder of the road, slowly, so he could pass me so I could get into the right lane! Again, I JUST ABOUT GOT KILLED OUT THERE!!!

It's pointless for me to complain about this. Truckers aren't gonna listen to me, after all. I can rant and rave about this all I want, and express my feelings about how I feel that professional truckers think they own the damn road, and how their driving habits seem to be getting worse and worse, but I won't do that.

What I will do, however, is think twice about getting on the freeway if all I'm doing is going from "point A" to "point B" here in town. It's just not worth it for me to take the risk of entering the Interstate highway unless I absolutely have to. That's one of my New Years' which might just save my LIFE!

I'm not sure if I can swallow this dept.: On the news just now, there was one of those "stranger than fiction" news stories about a guy that got mad at his girlfriend for being on the cell-phone all the time, so he forcibly opened her mouth, and tried to shove the cell-phone down her throat! It had to be surgically removed!

Now, I must admit, I've kinda had the same thought, whenever I've seen someone who's driving in busy traffic, yakking away on a cell-phone. To JUMP IN THEIR CAR and CRAM IT DOWN THEIR THROAT! Well, even if I was so inclined, I'm not agile enough to actually do that. So another one of my New Year's resolutions will be NOT to get a cell-phone this year! I can't afford to; I've gotta watch out for all the other driving BOZOs who are yakking on theirs!

A bit less for your money than before dept.: With a lead-in like that, it's only natural that this is a blurb about gas prices. A & D Mini-mart, where I get gas, has been really trying to keep their gas prices down. Well, the bad news is, it rose two cents a gallon, but the good news is, it's still under $2.00, but just barely. Fearing the worst, I got gas there yesterday for $1.99. The Exxon station at the corner of Gov't Way and Appleway has the same price.

Another reason why I use A & D, is that their pumps are the easiest ones to use. I tend to get confused by all the different gas pumps out there; each with their own "procedural" programming that you have to perform, just to get gas. I have pulled up to some pumps I couldn't figure out at all, and the clerk has actually had to come out and show me how to do it. And, I could actually hear that clerk muttering all kinds of mean & nasty things under her breath as she tromped back inside to resume her cash-register duties.

I resolve to make resolutions dept.: See? I've already succeeded. I've made two "resolutions" up above. Well, it's time for me to make two more. First, I need to watch my diet more closely. Even though I've had severe gout attacks, I've relapsed into having the occasional gravy-covered eggs and hashbrowns that make breakfast almost a religious experience for me. And, I've gotta stop that. So, I resolve not to tempt fate as much by eating salty things. I've been 'better' this year, but I've still got a ways to go. Me around a bag of potato chips is like an alcoholic around booze. My junk food cravings get THAT bad.

Also, even though I can't do as much as I used to do, I've gotta get into the health club more, and use the exercise bikes and swimming pool, if nothing else. My weight has held steady the last coupla years, so maybe if I get moving, I can lose some weight and ease things on my joints just a bit. Maybe I'l take a walk around the dike road, since a lot of the snow around here has disappeared. I'll be easy to spot...I'll be shuffling along the road, sorta like Tim Conway on the Carol Burnette show.

Okay, here's where you gotta help me out dept.: I get photos of our area from various sources, which I post here, and it's fun, because I can provide some of my own memories, since I've been around here since the Ice Age. But, I'm not sure about this picture, so if you know where it was taken, you can let me know, and I'll post yer answer right here....>>>***<<<....right THERE...for everyone to see.
This is an old black and white photo of Coeur d'Alene lake. Whoever took it was really good at generalizing; you can see the caption, "upper end Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho". My question is, "where ON Coeur d'Alene Lake?" My semi-educated guess? I can see a town on the shores of the lake, and I think that's the little burg of Harrison, but I'm not sure. This photo was probably taken before the advent of color film, say, early 1950's or thereabouts. (Late '40's?) So, put on your thinking cap (but don't lose any sleep over it!) and let me know what you think!

So, anyway, have fun with your resolutions. You might as well make one or two, because if you don't make a resolution, well, you've "resolved" NOT to make a resolution. In short, "no choice IS a choice"!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Attack of the killer STEREO SPEAKER!!!
...or, sometimes it's really, really hard to be me...

A few days ago, I blew out one of my stereo speakers. I guess I got what I deserved though, hooking up a little car stereo speaker to a big home unit. ***POP***FIZZ***, and instead of musical notes, it sounded like a loud playback of termites chewing up your front porch. So, I went to St. Vinnie's and got an old pair of STEREO SPEAKERS. You know, the old-fashioned kind, back from the age when "bigger was better" when it came to stereo units. When I got 'em home, one of 'em wouldn't work. So I tore it apart, and inside was a whole bunch of wires which I didn't understand. So, I had a bright idea. I tore apart the WORKING speaker, and compared the wiring. Someone had wired the non-working speaker totally differently. Knowing absolutely nothing about electronics, I re-wired the speaker, matching the wiring from the working speaker. And, VOILA!!! Will wonders never cease; it WORKED!

These are fairly big speakers, standing about 2 and a half feet tall. I placed each speaker on shelves above my record collection, and proceeded to pump out the volume. I was really getting into this one record (The Starcastle album, "Citadel", that I've written about below)...and I don't know what happened; maybe the speaker was vibrating on the shelf and moving around; all of a sudden, I heard a "klunk", and turned around in my swivel chair just in time to see one of the speakers FALLING ON ME! I tried to catch it, "Klunk", it hit the floor, and the impact caused the tone-arm to skate across the record...thunk-bump-bump, and the speaker hit the floor. The front grill of the speaker came OFF, but it was still working! So I took out a hammer and nails, and nailed the grill back to its wooden foundation, and set the speaker in a safer part of the shelf. I consider myself lucky. Somehow, I miraculously averted "death by STEREO". Sometimes it is just HARD to be ME.

Someone had a really bright idea dept.: Last night, I saw a commercial that featured, of all things, a "roll-out piano keyboard". A keyboard without the console! It consists of a long "pad" in the shape of a keyboard, and at one end is attached a little amplifier, complete with rhythm machine and various programmable keyboard sounds. So, basically, you run your fingers up and down the roll-out keyboard, which has roughly the texture of a computer mouse pad. I guess there are lots of little sensors installed into the pad. And when you finish playing, you just roll it up and put it in a drawer! That just blew me away! Although, I'll never be able to take advantage of it. I took piano lessons when I was a kid, and each hand playing different notes simultaneously, overloaded my brain; I couldn't do it. I think that's why I like guitar. One hand fingers, one hand strums. If you can tap your foot and hold a fork, basically, you can play guitar. At least the way I play it...

So you're looking for job security? Don't "bank" on it dept.: I read in the paper today where a 51-year-old woman, who obviously paid her dues and worked many long years in order to become a branch manager at a Spokane office of U.S. Bank, was unceremoniously laid off, and she's suing for "age discrimination". The bank said it had the right to terminate at will, but evidently she has a case here. If a professional woman who has it together enough to be a bank branch manager isn't safe, tell me, who is? Welcome to cutthroat capitalism!

Burlington Northern is an award-winning organization dept.: It's always nice to win an award, isn't it? That means you've achieved recognition and honor from the segment of society that you have been serving. Well, that's the case most of the time, but not THIS seems the Sierra Club recently gave Burlington Northern (BNSF) the "DEAD SWAN" award, for it's ultra-leaky refueling depot that's located right on top of the Rathdrum Aquifer, which provides drinking water to a whole lotta folks. I don't know about "swans", but any more leaks, and that depot'll be a "dead DUCK". Quack!

A Birds' Eye view before airplanes were invented dept.: Way back when, if you wanted a birds-eye view of Coeur d'Alene, well, you had to climb up a hillside if you wanted any kind of panoramic effect whatsoever. The photo below is one such "pre-aircraft" birds-eye view of CDA:
This is a "colorized" version of an old black and white photo, taken somewhere around 1910, looking northward from Tubbs Hill. At upper right, you can see Best Hill, and behind that, Canfield Mountain. At left, you can see plumes of smoke rising from lumber mills. It's getting so that you wouldn't know it anymore, but Coeur d'Alene used to be a lumber town. The question is repeatedly asked, "if no one's there to hear it, does a falling tree make a sound?" I don't know about that, but there is definitely less lumber noise around here than there used to be.

Another BOZO behind the wheel dept.: Sitting in the java place today, I was able to look up Sherman Avenue a little ways; sometimes it's just interesting sitting there, watching traffic. Somewhere around 2pm, a white sedan was westbound on Sherman, and I was flabbergasted to see that car "take a left", and head SOUTH on 4th Street (it's a one-way north!), toward Front Avenue. People can do that and get away with it; yet I get pulled over for not using turn signals! I'd get paranoid, but if I did that, it would just interfere with my driving, right?

Well, winter continues. It was a cold, gray, drizzly day. The kind of day that looks better when the sun goes down. But, wait! Things could be worse! A little piece of practical poetry...

Another winter afternoon
Gray skies and lots of rain
But I'm okay with drizzle
'Cos snow is such a PAIN!

Before I go, let me point out a couple o'new things on this blog, off to the left: Daily updated world news stories, and a daily cartoon (you have to hit the little cartoon button for that). In closing, I think I've come across with the perfect blog motto: "Will blog for attention!"

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Two DRIVE-IN THEATRES here in CDA..., a childhood memory thrown in for good measure!!!

One of the "disappearing memories" that a lot of us who've "been around" hold dear, is that of the outdoor drive-in. You and your friends, or date would park in a big field with a bunch of rows that were elevated at an angle, so your car would tilt "up" and you'd all get a good view of the screen. The sound would be heard over klunky cast-iron speakers wired to a post at the spot where you parked, and you'd fasten the speaker to your car window, and you'd be watching an outdoor movie! Later outdoor drive-ins transmitted the movie audio via radio waves so your car radio could pick it up. But here, we're gonna talk about waaay back when. And hopefully none of you ever broke or cracked a window with one of those klunky drive-in speakers!

What you're seeing here is the big sign posted outside of the Coeur d'Alene Drive-in, which was located in that vacant field that's located across from the Sunset Animal Clinic, just north of Safeway's new store, up there on Government Way, north of Neider Avenue. The part of the sign that's chopped off, is where the titles of the movies being shown were posted.

When I was a little kid, I was so fascinated with the big "star" on the drive-in's sign. Reportedly, I would always point to the sign when our family drove by, and I'd say, "see star?" Well, one day, I got a close-up look at it. Back in 1957, this is me, on top of my Dad's shoulders, still in awe of that big drive-in sign. That's one of the earliest memories I have, and I really treasure this picture. Later on, in high school, me and a few buddies would go out there and see movies; I was even fortunate enough to take a date out there once. Not being a makeout artist or anything, we behaved ourselves. As proof of that, I still remember the movie we saw..."Deliverance". I didn't think it was very good.

The OTHER drive-in movie place in CDA was the "SHOWBOAT". Yep, when the drive-in closed down, the "Showboat" moved out to the intersection of Hiway 95 and Dalton Avenue in the mid-70's. But here it is, in all its old glory; it was located north of the freeway, along the frontage road, just west of Goodies' gas station, on Appleway Avenue.

I never saw a movie at this drive-in, but I remember seeing the building quite a bit. The first place our family lived at (in 1956-7) was the old "H & D" trailer court, which, up until a couple of years ago, was still in existence, right behind (and below) 'Goodies' gas station, near the "Showboat"! My Dad was one of those who passed through CDA, "on the job" many years ago, liked CDA, and decided to settle us all here. And so far, I can't get myself to leave. Once CDA grabs ya, it GITS ya!

But changes continue to happen. Both the Showboat and the Coeur d'Alene Cinemas (located just west of that vacant field where the drive-in was), are now part of a moneygrubbing mega-huge-o-plex hyoooooge movie theatre (theater?) located over there in ye olde Riverstone development. So "really new" residents of this area won't remember the two "separate" movie theatres, let alone "drive-in" theaters that are now are but a figment of the imaginations of residents who were here back in the days of ten-cent phone calls, 27.9 gasoline, and pinball games which were 3 for a quarter. But I remember...


I was gonna wait to post this, but the temptation was too great. It started when I found the "Showboat" picture on Ebay, and then I remembered the photo I had in my collection. I had to "fix" the top photo; you can see a "blob" in the upper left corner. I had actually WRITTEN on the photo. Something I gripe about, when Ebay merchants do it. Go figure!

Who needs Steak when you can have a BURGER?
...or, sometimes low-budget cravings are the best cravings of all!!!

There are times when I've just got to have a big, sloppy CHEESEBURGER. Sometimes there is just nothing better. Plus (and I don't know if this is true), I heard once that a scientist came out and said that the combination of meat & cheese actually protected one against cancer! No, that doesn't mean you can smoke a pack of cigarettes and then eat a cheeseburger and think that you're not taking a risk. Maybe, in addition to black-lung, you'll also have high cholesterol. Sounds like "double-trouble" to me! Anyway...

This is an old photo of the PAUL BUNYAN DRIVE-IN, from waay-waay back, as you can tell by those grand old cars. I understand that the Paul Bunyan sign currently violates the current postage-stamp "sign code" that is imposed upon area businesses. A few years back, the drive-in was remodeled, and care had to be taken not to move the sign one IOTA, because that huge sign is "grandfathered" in. In short, if it's taken down, it can never go back up again. So even Paul Bunyan himself is a slave to sign regs! Not even Babe the Blue Ox herself would be strong enough to bust thru CDA's almighty sign code!

What I DIDN'T know about the Paul Bunyan drive-in, however, is that it once operated under another name, that of "Louie's In-n-Out", which was the home of the Paul Bunyan burger, the anti-dote to "Cheeseburger Cravings" of area residents. The picture above is the front of a postcard, and the printing you see at left, is the back of that postcard. From "back in the day" when "New Micro-Speaker Service" was a BIG deal!

Holidays throw everything out-of-whack dept.: It might be great to have an extra day off in the work week, as a lot of folks had recently. I used to sell newspaper advertising, though, and I always found that when there was an extra day off, all it really meant was that you had one less day to accomplish the work you'd normally do in 5 days' time. And I guess the Holidays threw things off for our quasi-local newspaper, the Spokesman-Review, which made me think of this self-created joke:

Q: What did today's "Spokesman-Review" have in common with Natural Childbirth?
A: There was no "C"-section. Ha, ha, ha.

Seriously, there was a little blurb in the newspaper, saying how Section "C" was missing, due to holiday production demands. However, I think there was a section "A", "B", and "D". What I would have done is call section "D", section "C", to preserve the alphabetical order. But, that's just me.

Big Brother takes the place of Peter the Meter Reader dept.: I guess, in Vancouver, Washington, they're getting new parking meters which are actually designed to read the license plates on your car! So, if you pay for an hour's worth of parking, but you're parked there 90 minutes, and take off without paying for that extra time, the powers that be will scan the image of your license plate that the meter "took", and send you a bill for that extra period of parking. Actually, I understand there is a "15-minute grace period", but this is just another reason to get paranoid. Cameras taking pictures of intersections, meters taking pictures of parked cars, satellites in the sky taking pictures of say nothing of the secret phone-tapping approved by the Bush Administration. Especially since, if your phone is tapped, you don't GET a 15-minute "grace period". "DISgrace" is more like it!

Sociological Constipation dept.: I had some stuff to do today at the Social Security office, and when I got there, the place was chock-full of people. "An hour and a half wait", the on-premises security officer told me. So, I decided to go have coffee at the Java place. When I got there, ANOTHER long line. It was a cold wet drizzly day, and people wanted hot coffee. Rather than stand in line, I sat down, waiting for the line to shorten so I could place my order. Well, the people kept coming...and Coming...and, finally, I got up from the table and joined the line. And guess what...while I was placing my order, some HOSER took the table I was sitting at! At that moment, I felt like going postal, but then I remembered that MURDER is ILLEGAL. So I behaved myself. "Sociological constipation?", you ask. Well, nothing was MOVING today!

How about another little joke here, which kinda sums up my day...
Wife: "Honey, did you ask the boss for a raise today?"
Husband: "Yes, I did, and the boss was like a lamb."
Wife: "Really? What did he say?"
Husband: "BAAAAA!"

Monday, December 26, 2005

"Another Broadcasting Contract..."
...'Monday Night Football' pulls the old Network Switcheroo!

When you watch football on TV, you see 'em in the bringing their homemade signs to the stadium; inevitably, on Monday Night Football, some fan's sign will have the initials "A.B.C." forming a football-related message of some sort. Well, tonite, it is the last ABC Network broadcast of Monday Night Football. Don't worry, it'll back on ESPN next in a broadcasting/football sort of way, you could say it's a "lateral" move, heh heh...

It was on ABC's Monday Night Football where John Lennon's murder was first announced in 1980; the news came over the wire, and Howard Cosell (of all people) broke the news to the nation. In another story I read, Ronald Reagan and John Lennon visited the broadcast booth on the same night, and Reagan, with his arm around Lennon, was explaining the mechanics of American Football. Two people on totally opposite ends of the spectrum coming together over football.

I myself, have been entertained by football games for years, and I've especially enjoyed the Monday Night broadcasts. Usually not wanting to watch football all day long on a nice Sunday, Monday Night halftimes re-capped all of the previous weekend's action. From Frank Gifford, Dandy Don, Howard Cosell, up through Dennis Miller (?!?), Al Michaels and John Madden, it's been fun. So tonite, Monday Night Football on ABC will be a thing of the past. As Don Meredith used to sing at the end of every game..."Turn out the lights; the party's over..." I guess, now, ABC will have more time to show the same old prime time junk that all the other networks show on Monday nights, as well as the rest of the week. Oh well.

Blogger's Update: The year was 1970. In the first ABC Monday Night Football game, the New York Jets lost 31-21 (to who, I don't know). In tonite's finale, again, the New York Jets lost 31-21, to the New England Patriots. A quite fitting conclusion.

I'm the Backwards Traveler dept.: (Would you believe, "Backwards Traveler" is actually the title of a song on Paul McCartney & Wings' 1978 album, "London Town" now you know!)

Anyway, here's a picture of Coeur d'Alene's City Beach, and although it's undated, I could venture a semi-educated guess. At upper left of the photo is a picture of an old Cruise Boat. Playland Pier is nowhere to be seen; I'm estimating this photo was taken in the late-1930's to mid-1940's, somewhere in there. In the center of the photo where the water looks weird, well, I had to use the "paintbrush" feature in my computer to block out some words which were typed across the picture. I got this photo from Ebay, and the seller didn't want "unauthorized copies" made of it. I've got four words for that Ebay seller: "Paranoia will destroy ya!"


Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies dept.: (or, should that be 'malady'?) Anyway, in a previous post, I featured a '70s recording by an unknown American band, "Starcastle". Their first two albums featured long, progressive, synthesizer-sweetened songs. If you're familiar at all with the group "Yes", well, "Starcastle" made pretty-much the same kind of music.

By the time Starcastle was getting ready to record its third album, their record company was pressuring them to record shorter songs that radio stations would play. And, to their credit, on their 3rd album, "Citadel", Starcastle managed to put together an album which "compressed" their longer song tendencies into shorter tunes, yet, in my opinion, the group sacrificed NONE of its integrity.

Here's Starcastle's third album, "Citadel". Isn't that one of the most fantastic album covers you've ever seen? The music inside is absolutely great. If you remember the group "Asia", who recorded in the '80s, this Starcastle Album is remarkably similar to "Asia". Only, this record came out in 1977. On this album, their songs are still packed with interesting musical twists and turns and tempo changes, and dynamics ranging from extremely soft to very loud. In addition, I believe they really did try to please the record company; on this album is a short song called "Could This Be Love", which is a really catchy and melodic three-minute tune.

In short, I see this album as a really great "compromise" album. The last song on the record is almost 7 minutes long, so the group had "room to move" on this album, yet they simplified things too, so that both "serious album listeners" and "top-40" radio listeners would both like it. Trouble is, the group still never got radio play. Sad. Their next album, "Reel to Real", wasn't nearly as good, and Starcastle lost their record contract. If you can ever find this "Citadel" album, it's worth whatever you pay for it. If you liked the first album by "Boston", this album is a "sweetened" version of that. Nice stuff.


This week's when all of the "amateurs" come out dept.: Ah, yeah, it's the last week of the year. You can bet the "blue meanies" (my colloquialism for the police) will be out there in force, especially as this week draws to a close. New Years' Eve will be on a Saturday Night this year. PRIME TIME!!! I have met plenty of people who had a tough time recovering from their FIRST "D.U.I.", what with license suspension, probation, lawyers, court, and all of the other bells and whistles that go with the penalty. I would advise you to TAKE A CAB or find a designated driver, if you plan on consuming even an "eye-dropper-full" of alcohol this week.


I had a nice Christmas, and I hope all of you enjoyed your holiday. The new year approaches; oftentimes, I'll look at the approaching year's calendar, and wonder, "What's gonna happen THIS time around?" We're all in this together, so take care of yourselves, okay?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Coeur d'Alene Christmas...
Or, time to give credit where credit's due...

In previous postings, the subject of the "Coeur d'Alene Rezzort" has come up periodically, and I've referred to it in generally disparaging terms. Face it, I'm not rich, I'm no "high roller"; I'm just a Coeur d'Alene native who's lived around here a long time. So yeah, I've had a general feeling of disdain towards that whole operation...perhaps some of that disdain comes from knowing I'll never be a member of the "upper crust"; I don't know. Hence, I've had harsh comments. No, I'm not turning into an old softie, but it is time to give credit where credit's due.

Earlier this week, as I was walking back to my car after having some "Java", as I approached Front Avenue, I looked over at the CDA Rezzort; it was dark, and I could see the lights on its boardwalk. I spied "neon reindeer" galloping through the sky, part of the Christmas ("Holiday") display that is set up every year. And I thought, "yeah, that's nice, isn't it?" Maybe, much as the fireworks are part of "July 4th", the boardwalk lights are indicative of the Christmas season.

I haven't seen this years' lights from the "Park" side of the Boardwalk, but generally, one can see this Nativity Scene as it radiates across the water. A totally different way of looking at Christmas, and I suppose "there's hope" that Christmas hasn't been totally commercialized when people still display scenes such as this. Silent night, Holy night, indeed. It's early Christmas Morning as I write this, and I just want to wish everyone the best Merry Christmas possible.

I remember the fascination of Christmas as I grew up here in Coeur d'Alene. It was a truly magic time. I remember sitting in our living room in the evening. We generally kept the lights low in the living room, since the "rule" around the house was that we didn't use that room too much, which was okay, because we had a really great family room too. But in that dark living room, sometimes I would sit on the leather sofa and look at our lighted Christmas tree, with Christmas music playing softly on my Mom's stereo. Maybe I'm easily entertained, but moments like that were totally enchanting to me. I still remember that, and it gets me thru the loneliness of Christmas Eve, which isn't a very easy night for me to get through since my parents passed away.

I remember the first Christmas Eve after that had happened; I was sitting in my own living room, and I was playing some of the records my Mom used to have. That was such an intense emotional experience for me; it was like "the night that would never end", but I made it thru somehow. For some reason, Christmas Eve just always kinda hits me hard anymore. I called a friend tonight, and we spoke on the phone for 3 hours, and I never call anyone! Yet, I didn't want to hang up the phone and face Christmas Eve, but I finally got "all talked out" and here I am, turning my soul inside out, while "sugar plums" dance in the heads of kids everywhere.

I remember one Christmas, when I was about 10 or 11, and as I lay in bed, I really did think I heard reindeer's hoofs on our rooftop, and right after that, I drifted off to sleep. So, I guess I'm giving "credit where credit's due" in another way, too. Our family might have been semi-dysfunctional, but Mom and Dad did, every year, try to give my sister and me the best Christmas possible. Memories, memories, memories. Please enjoy your Christmas holiday, and be sure to really treasure your holiday if it's a good one. You'll need those memories later on.

Feliz Navidad...Feliz Navidad...Prospero Ano y Felicidad...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

An "Imagined" Christmas Wish...
This is my holiday wish for all of you...






--JOHN LENNON (With a little help from Yoko)


Friday, December 23, 2005

This post is not TIMELESS by any means!
As a matter of fact, this is quite a "Timely" post...

As a matter of fact, this post concerns that elusive commodity known as time. We buy time, make time, mark time, waste time, save time, budget time, lose time, gain time, take time, pass the time and allocate time. Sometimes we don't have enough time. Other times, we have time on our hands. We have "sometime", "meantime", sometimes we're "out of time"; if we're lucky, we're "in time". And other times, we need to take "time out". So, if you're reading this post, I hope that it's "time well spent"...

The times, they are a-changin' dept.: (Thank you, Bob Dylan!) Lately, just lately, the Bush Administration has come under a lot of harsh criticism for alleged domestic spying (it's gonna be interesting to see how that pans out), and for our country's continued occupation of Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with the 9-11 incident in New York City. Bush has been saying that we are there to "win the war against terror". But, it was announced today that there would be TROOP WITHDRAWALS...IF things got better over there, IF Iraq's domestic problems lessened, IF all the agitation over there miraculously ceases somehow. In other words, more political doublespeak, designed to satiate the masses while the war drags on and our troops die needlessly over there. So I guess we'll get out of there when the "time" is right. But, you CAN'T win a war "against terror", for terror is everywhere. The best we can do is get Iraq in half-decent shape and get the heck outta there. Don't waste any more TIME!

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future dept.: (Lyric courtesy of the Steve Miller Band). While having coffee today, I saw a lady from my 1972 Coeur d'Alene High School Class. I was waaay too shy to talk to anyone back then, especially women. So, why is it so much easier, NOW, to talk to someone that you never spoke to back then? That never ceases to amaze me. I hadn't seen her in over 20 years, and had never talked to her. But we chatted a bit and went our separate ways. I guess "Time" is the great equalizer, isn't it? In some cases, it has a way of breaking down barriers. It's about time, huh?.

Time Has Come Today dept.: (Song title courtesy of the Chambers Bros' 1968 hit single) At the grocery store, I saw my old American Government Teacher from Coeur d'Alene High School; he was also a basketball coach way back then. He's always walking on the Centennial Trail, and he still does that. Hmmm...he's getting younger and I'm getting older. He looks like he's in great shape, while my arthritis is a little more debilitating all the time. Anyway, it was nice to see him. He and his family are really doing well. Time has been good to him, obviously.

Time...keeps flowing like a the sea, to the sea...dept.: (Song title courtesy of the Alan Parsons Project, and it's one of the most gorgeous songs I've ever heard) I don't know if this is big news or not, but the year 2006 is going to take ONE SECOND LONGER to get here. That's due to a slowdown in the earth's rotation, probably caused by the gravitational effects of the Moon, which "tugs" on the earth as both celestial bodies orbit the sun. This one-second "gap" happens every few years. So you have an extra second on your hands. Use your time wisely!

Good times, bad times, you know I've had my share dept.: (That's the title of an old Led Zeppelin Song.) This concerns a baseball player who's had some bad times, but for him, things are actually lookin' good...for Matt Lawton, who's gonna get $400,000 for a 1-year deal with the Seattle Mariners. There's a catch, though. Steroids were detected in his system last year, and he has yet to pay the price. So his first big move when the baseball season begins, will be to sit out the first 10 games of the season. Whoopee! Let the good times roll!

Happenings ten years time ago dept.: (That is the rather convoluted title of a song by the Yardbirds; one of only three songs where guitarists JEFF BECK & JIMMY PAGE played on the same song, by the way. Jeff Beck left the group shortly after that song came out in the late '60s. Jimmy Page later formed LED ZEPPELIN.) But actually, that song came out in the late 60's, so it's not really "ten years", it's more like almost "40 years time ago" But anyway, while having coffee today, over the loudspeaker came Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run". I'm not a Springsteen fan; I think he can barely sing, but that song is one of the most thrilling pieces of music ever recorded. And that one was recorded "30 years time ago" in 1975!

Baby, baby, baby, you're out of time dept.: (An old Rolling Stones song there). Well, Wal-Mart has done it again. Not only does that entity immerse itself in shady practices, which outsource jobs to other countries and put American suppliers out of business, they also have reportedly denied a bunch of California workers LUNCH BREAKS! As a result, Wal-Mart ran "out of time" in its quest to not have to pay out a cool $172 million dollars in fines. So, that'll cut into Wal-Mart's goal of making gadzillions of dollars every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it couldn't happen to a nicer firm, ha ha! It is entirely possible, that every time you buy something at Wal-Mart, you do your part to damage the American Economy. Hey, I'm guilty of buying stuff there, too! Although, I've only gone into the Post Falls Wal-Mart 3 "times" since it opened a few years ago.

Oh, it's cryin' time again, yer gonna leave me dept.: Hey, I have no shame. I'll even use the title of a Buck Owens song here. That's the song Boston Red Sox fans are singing, because one of their star players, Johnny Damon, is now a New York Yankee. He's always been bearded and wore his hair long, and I'd thought, "Hmmm, I'll bet (Yankees owner George) Steinbrenner isn't gonna like that look very much". I was watching a sports report tonite, where Damon was paraded in front of the media wearing the famous "pinstripes", and yep, he got a haircut, and is beardless! Can you say "sellout", boys and girls? I knew yuh could! I guess the Yankees felt that the "time" was right to acquire Damon's services.

This could be The Last Time dept.: (yeah, another Rolling Stones song; they're gettin' so old, any upcoming concert tour could be their "last", heh heh) Anyway, the time has come for me to finish this post. So, I shall take you back to a different time. A time in an innocent age. So, we'll travel thru time, as I take you back to another time...this is one of those old "painted postcards", which was probably made back in the days before color film. Truly prehistoric "times", huh? Artists would take a black-and-white photograph and make a "color" version of whatever was in the photo. In this case, we're being treated to a really gorgeous sunset on Lake Coeur d'Alene. It looks like the two fishermen in the boat are having a spot of "quiet time". But the sun is getting ready to set, ending "good times" for another day.

Well, that's it. This post is over. I've got no more to post. Except, I did come to a realization...when you don't have enough of it, when you need it, when there isn't enough of it..."Time" is a 4-letter word! But I've gotta go now; you see, it's "Quitting Time"!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I'm proud to announce that...
...further proof that I've got my head in the clouds, I suppose...

Twelve thousand feet up? Okay, from where you're at here in the CDA Area, look straight up, and imagine someone being almost 10,000 feet above you! Someone in Denver is about 3,000 feet above you. And you are about 2,000 feet above someone in Portland, Oregon. The "highest" I've been (without being in a plane) is when I went to Crater Lake, Oregon once upon a time...the road that goes around the rim of the lake is over 7,000 feet high.

I was doing some calculations once, and I estimated that the BOTTOM of Crater Lake is almost 3,000 feet higher than the surface of Coeur d'Alene Lake. Those are some of the things my brain tortures itself with sometimes. If you look at the top of Canfield Mountain, that's about the same level that many people in Southern Idaho live on. Well, it's a warped perspective, but it IS a 'different' perspective!

But, let's dispense with "thousands" of feet, okay? Let's talk about "300 feet". That is quite a difference in elevation, especially if you fall that distance. (ouch!) But, according to maps I've seen, Coeur d'Alene is at about 2100 feet up, while Spokane is about 1800 feet up. I don't feel like I'm going that far downhill when I drive to Spokane! But if you're the victim of a "traffic sting" over there, you do feel like you're in the PITS!

Of course, on Spokane's other side, that's quite a steep climb up Sunset Hill, and at the top of that, you're just about at Coeur d'Alene's elevation again. When I went to the ocean this fall, I thought, "Cool...I'm at ZERO feet above sea level". And at that point, I was still 282 feet higher than the bottom of Death Valley, California. A lot of New Orleans is slightly below sea level. Not sure I'd wanna take a chance rebuilding there again.

Fine Dining Ages Ago dept.: Quite a while back, I posted an old '50's view of Fowlers' Cafe, which was located at the southwest corner of 4th and Lakeside here in our one-of-a-kind City by the Lake. (That's not "City on the Take"...yet). Anyway, I've included that photo again, because, well, hey, I thought it was the thing to do...anyway, one of my 3 faithful readers told me that the place burned down, back in the early 70's. I never had a chance to eat there, but I do remember seeing it!

On a recent posting, I'd found a photo of the inside of Templins' Restaurant and posted that. Well, here, is the inside of Fowlers' Cafe! And, it sure looks like a comfortable place to have a cuppa coffee and chew the fat with your cronies, or just sit down and have a meal. This looks like the kind of place I would go to; I like the atmosphere of the little independent restaurants in the area. Yeah, I admit I do go to Denny's once in a while, but for the most part, I like the little hole-in-the-wall-type cafes; they all seem to have a "homy" atmosphere; great places to B.S. or to sit by yourself and read the noozepaper. They usually have the best food, too.


On a totally unrelated subject dept.: What am I going to do with all of my Elton John records? For years, he was one of my favorite musicians. His singing and playing are still unique, and I loved his old albums like "Tumbleweed Connection", "Honky Chateau", and especially his two-record-opus, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". I must have 25 of his albums in my collection. I thought he and his lyricist, Bernie Taupin, were so cool. But lately, he and his "domestic partner" have had their faces splashed all over the news; yep, they got married! Ack! It seems England has legalized sanctioned "couplings" with members of the same sex. I just am not that liberal, sorry. Elton and his male "wife" (or is it the other way around), smiling, holding hands, posing for the cameras...ack ack ack ackthptffff....

Look, I don't want to make anyone of an "alternate lifestyle persuasion" feel bad, but this image of Elton I have now just makes me go, "Bleccch"! And I don't think I like Elton as much as I used to. And I know that's not a good attitude either. So I'm confused here. I had no idea the "Tiny Dancer" he held in his hand was MALE! My illusions are shattered. Now, every time I play "Crocodile Rock", am I supposed to feel guilty because I still LIKE the song? Does that mean I approve of his lifestyle? I think the world as we know it is coming to an end, basically. Maybe it is ME who is the "Madman Across The Water". Wot a deal...


Other little insignificant tidbits dept.: The temperature has risen as of late! Yaay! Remember I posted that the cold-water pipe in my shower had frozen? Well, it thawed. I can now take showers! Which probably makes the board of health and everyone else very happy! (don't you wish everyone ELSE had used "Dial" today?)

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum dept.: The City of Coeur d'Alene ain't pickin' up old Christmas Trees anymore. I wonder if the City will be getting kickbacks from the manufacturers of artificial Christmas Trees (that you don't throw away). So, another longtime tradition bites the dust. Next predicted budget-cutting move: The Street Dept. will stop picking up leaves. Are we supposed to feel fortunate that we still have sewer and water service?

Fill 'er up now, you never know when the next disaster will happen dept.: Gas is still holding steady at $1.97 for unledded up at ye old A & D Mini-mart. It's amazing to think that gas has actually fallen a dollar per gallon in the space of 3 months. Too bad the same thing doesn't seem to apply to heating bills! While there today, I looked across at the old burned-out shell that used to be the 7-11 "strip mall". It's just absolutely gruesome looking.

Prime time becomes prime-CRIME dept.: How about this for a really STUPID TV show: Sponsors buy air-time on it, and (allegedly), people actually watch this monstrosity. It's called, "Dancing with the Stars". Huh? What? Why would I want to see some egocentric Hollywood manufactured-human-being attempt not to step on their dance partner's toes? I'd rather go to a barnyard and watch pigs slosh thru the mud. More entertaining.

Meanwhile, football widows everywhere will have lingerie parties dept.: Coming up, Saturday Afternoon, and it should be grrrreat!!! The Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts will proceed to rip each other apart in Seattle, on Saturday Afternoon; I think the start time is 1:35pm. On Monday Night Football this week, John Madden said something about no one noticing how good Seattle is; he blamed that on Seattle being "way up in the corner" of the nation. Hey, we're not all spud farmers and goat ranchers up here, y'know!


Well, this post started out at an elevation of 12,090 feet. I think we're just about at sea level now. In short, I can't sink much further; this is about as "low" as it gets. Death Valley, anyone?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Sometimes this blog TORTURES ME to no end!

This blogsite is part of "" dept.: This is the SECOND TIME I've tried to do this blog entry. As I was typing this stuff the first time around, under my blog screen, all of a sudden there appeared a little yellow triangle with an "!" inside, and the message, "connection has been lost; publishing may fail, re-connect now!" So, I spent about half an hour trying to reconnect. ACK, SHEESH, &%$*!*&!!!. I guess you get what you pay for, though; after all, this blog site is free. So, this blogsite must be run by a bunch of know-nothing BOZOS. After all, it's free. You get what you pay for. But, now, I've gotta hurriedly type everything before I get zapped off again!

This is my own individual "FESTIVUS" dept.: (A holiday for the rest-of-us, right?) I really don't celebrate Christmas like a lot of people do. Oh, I believe in all of the concepts of Christianity, but I don't do the Church thing; I don't do the "presents" thing, and I'm not especially sociable to begin with. But, TODAY is my holiday! It's the winter solstice! All the days are gonna be gettin' longer from here on in! (Although the next 2 and a half months are usually the coldest winter months!) I don't look forward to "single holidays"; rather, I like to try and enjoy every day if I can. So, inside, I'm celebrating! Yaaaay! For, better days are comin'. It's nice to have something positive to post once in a while!

Now this is my kind of holiday service dept.: I read today, that a church in Spokane holds a "Blue Christmas" service every year. No, it's not a service featuring music by Elvis imitators, thank you, thank you very much. It's a service, where people basically go into the sanctuary and meditate upon how their life is going, their frustrations, their worries and problems, their loneliness and their losses. Now, that sounds like something I'd go to. Sometimes, when I can just sit in solitude for a while, without a whole lotta bells & whistles going on around me, I actually find meself relaxing and perhaps coping with things a little better. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, but this is a difficult time of year for me and lotsa other people out there.

Uh-oh, he's been reading the newspaper again dept.: Well, today, I felt a little more "centered", and as such, I seemed to absorb more of what I was reading in the noozpaper. It's gotta be the cheapest form of entertainment on earth. Every day, a fresh batch of news, comics and information. I'm always looking forward to seeing "what's going on". Spokesman-Review, yer doin' a good job. Some things I noticed today (with comments, of course)...

Put me in, coach, I'm ready to Great to learn that former Gonzaga basketballer Ronny Turiaf is getting ready to play again after open-heart surgery. He's quite a brave guy. I think his chances of success are good. Look at what former Seattle Mariner John Olerud accomplished after surgery for a brain aneurysm. Go get 'em, Ronny!

Is our current administration loaded with a bunch of CROOKS? dept.: A political cartoon caught my eye; down below, President Bush is saying, "So this is power! No limit to what I can do!" And up above, Richard Nixon is pointing to Bush, and saying, "I do believe he's got it!" (Not sure if Nixon's 'up above' or not, ha ha) This, of course, was in reference to Bush authorizing domestic spying on unsuspecting citizens in the wake of "9-11". I'm no political animal, but it looks like this administration keeps shooting itself in the foot.

A few examples...Bush got really popular after 9-11, but then "sunk" because of the Iraq war, which is just a big MISTAKE. The haphazard response to the hurricane Katrina situation didn't do him any favors either. Then, "Bush" began recovering a bit when the economy began improving. And now, Bush is sinking again; I have heard the term "impeachment" tossed around, because of this "spying" situation. And the Vice President is in total agreement with Bush on this issue. It is gonna be INTERESTING to see how this thing plays out!

I'll bet he's glad to be out of Seattle dept.: The Seattle Mariners are in the process of letting pitcher Ryan Franklin go elsewhere. For years, Franklin has been one of Seattle's best pitchers. However, the M's never gave him adequate run support, and Franklin grew frustrated. And, many a time, when Franklin left a game with his team in the lead, the Mariners bumbling, stumbling bullpen would give the game away. All of which made for dismal won-loss records for him. Yet, in post-game interviews, Franklin never blamed his team for not backing him up, but you could hear it in his voice, that he was achingly frustrated with the way things were going.

I wish Franklin success, and I'll be greatly surprised if he doesn't get signed with another team who is looking for a pitcher of Franklin's caliber. Yet the Mariners are keeping Gil Meche, in spite of the fact that Meche, even though he has talent, has been painfully inconsistent. You never knew what kind of pitcher Meche would be from game to game. But yet, Franklin was very consistent. So the M's dump him and keep Meche. And people wonder why Bill Bavasi and his cronies retain their positions of power in the Mariners' organization? I'm an M's fan, but I hope, that if Franklin ever ends up pitching against the M's, that the M's are SHUT OUT!

Mercenary Baseball dept.: Sometimes I think that all baseball players are basically "ringers", "hired guns" brought on board to keep teams afloat. There is no real team unity anymore; everyone moves everywhere and ends up playing for a gadzillion baseball teams during their career. The baseball player as an interchangeable cog in a wheel. So it goes for former Boston Red Sox outfielder JOHNNY DAMON, who, if he passes a physical, will become a member of the YANKEES??? Damon, who helped put away the Yankees, and helped the Red Sox win their first World Series since the Ice age? A Yankee? Gosh. Next thing you know, the Pope is going to become a Protestant!

Can you take me back, where are people, brother can you take me back? dept.: You Beatles scholars will know that line was sung by Paul McCartney at the end of John Lennon's "Cry Baby Cry" on the White album. It was an unfinished lyric line Paul had laying around, and he tacked it onto the end of John's song.

Anyway, now that you've endured all of this posting so far (if your eyes are glazed over, that's okay; I don't blame ya), I have a little visual treat for ya. Let us go back to a more pure, simpler time where there were no commissioners, no city councils, and no property taxes! (Yup, that definitely means I'm going back to the turn of the century...)

This photo postcard is from around 1910 or thereabouts; a truly idyllic setting, along the "St. Joe river, Near Coeur d'Alene", although I'd betcha this view is actually a bit closer to the beautiful little town of St. Maries. I really like that lush river country down there.

Anyway, back before property taxes, indoor plumbing, indoor heating, or neighborhood covenants, this is how our Native American friends lived. It's a view we don't see around here every day. Long, long ago, for sure. And, those "Indians" were pretty shrewd, too, as the French Settlers found out. "Coeur d'Alene" means "Heart of an Awl"; in other words, the local "Indians" wouldn't settle for any kind of shady deal that the White Man might have tried to get them to go for. The word "Idaho" also springs forth from an Indian word, "ee-dah-how", which, I guess, means something akin to "Gem of the Mountains". (At least, that's what I remember from Idaho History, which every 4th grade kid is required to study.)

In closing, I hope that, in this politically-correct age we live in, that my usage of the term "Indian" didn't offend anyone; that was definitely not my intent. You're more than welcome to leave a comment below, one way or the other. Meantime, I'm hangin' on to the fact that it's one less day 'till Winter's over! YAAAY!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Today is bargain-basement-discount-day at "Thin Air"...
FOUR for the price of ONE!!! of all, you don't have to stand outside in the cold for hours to get this deal!

I get a lot of the old photos I post here over Ebay; all I do is "subscribe" to their referral service, and I get stuff every day. What I have below, are pictures of four postcards. I actually only wanted to use one of those, but when I cropped it away from the rest of them, it got big and all of the pixels got super-expanded; it didn't look good at all. So, this is a sort of "all-or-nothing deal"'ve gotta take 'em all. Good thing about this, though; if you click on the pictures, they'll expand. "Inflation" has never been this good.

So, we'll go clockwise from left to right, okay? At UPPER LEFT is a postcard "rendering" of an old photo a few posts below this one, where people are boarding/disembarking from/onto a Lake CDA Steamer/Railway car to go to wherever it was they were going.

At UPPER RIGHT is the "one" postcard I really did want to include here; it's the old mill that sat on the land which now comprises the CDA Rezzort Golf Course. The big difference between then and now? Blue-collar folks were on the land when it was the "mill"; no Blue-Collar folks on today's ultra-unaffordable golf course, 4-sure! This view gives you a really good idea of what that area looked like way back when.

At LOWER LEFT is a rear-view of one of the old Steamers which traversed CDA Lake; it could be, that the people in the "disembarking" photo shown here, were "disembarking" from a boat such as this one. That's a big lake out there, ain't it?

At LOWER RIGHT, is what I believe is nowadays called "Arrow Point", only back then, it had another name (the "N" word), which you can see at the top of that postcard. (Again, click on it; it expands.) These 4 "renderings" are from photos taken early in the 20th century, long before the days of frequent-flier miles or overpriced "gooey" sundaes at the Rezzort. Hope U enjoyed 'em!

Not all that much to post today; I'm still wrestling with "topical burnout"; so much stuff to keep up on in the news department. Although, I did see a bumper sticker today, that said, "Wear Your Seat Belt; it makes it that much harder for the Aliens to suck you out of your car." Now, I'd call that a GOOD reason!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Time to post yet again. Will I choke? Or will I "git 'er done"?

In approaching this post, I couldn't think of anything to write about. I read the paper, but I just didn't have any desire to jot down stuff that I would later write about here. Some days are just like that. Of course, it could be that I post a heck of a lot, coming out with newspaper-column-volume posts just about every day, and I really take pleasure in posting stuff; I'm thankful when people stop by and comment.

I think, maybe, that a blog is a sort of microcosm for human existence in general. Because we're human, we're imperfect. A metronome can keep exact time with no variation in rhythm, but you put a guy behind a drum set, and he'll sometimes "lose" or "gain" a little bit of speed. And it has also long been a theory of mine that our "best" one day might not be as good as our "best" on another day. And, the winter season might be draining my brain, too. For whatever reason, I feel somewhat fatigued, and yes, I know that it's largely a mental thing. It's just that time of year when everything is a little more difficult...I explore that theme in more detail below...

Old Man Winter's picking on me again dept.: I don't know if I've got the chronic winter blues, or what, but today, I actually "manifested" a prior posts, I have written that I generally view "all things winter" with disdain. I've seen people write that they LOVE winter. "Go out and frolic in the snow, and you, too, will love winter", they tell me. I know I covered this subject a bit in the previous posting, but I've had this on my mind for quite a while. For it seems that my views on winter seem to be changing, as I get slower and less able to fend for myself. I found myself walking down Sherman Avenue in downtown Coeur d'Alene this afternoon, and in the 2-block stretch I walked, I was trying my best not to slip on the ice; I don't wanna re-hurt my back. In spite of the fact that "I dressed in layers" in preparation for the cold, I was still shivering. And I actually verbalized (though not loudly), "Damn, I hate winter"!

It's not that I am some thin-blooded recent immigrant to these parts from elsewhere. I've lived a lot of winters up here, and in the past, there are times I actually have enjoyed winter. I've gone sledding, I even tried ice skating one winter. (It ain't as easy as them Ice Capades skaters make it look, I found out.) I've built snowmen; I've pushed my share of cars out of ditches, I've been in snowball fights; heck, I used to do 15-mile training runs in the snow. I think my view of winter has been altered over time, by the fact that I can't do a heck of a lot anymore. In the last few years, my back has worsened, my knees are in some kind of pain all of the time, and the arthritis is worse than it used to be. I'm not complaining; there are people who can't walk, and I am thankful for my (relative degree of) health. the same time, I see why retired folks head south for the winter. They're more fragile, less flexible, and let's face it, it takes a certain amount of sheer physical energy to put up with the adverse conditions of the winter season.

I remember my tough old Dad looking out the living room window one cold winter afternoon, when the snow wouldn't stop falling. He was born in Michigan's upper peninsula, where they know a thing or two about winter. And there he was, saying, "these old, cold winters sure are tough", and that was one of the first times that I had actually heard Dad express something "mortal"; I thought he could do anything and put up with anything because he was so tough. And here he was, expressing fatigue, fragility and just overall weariness. And, as I age, and I continue to endure winters up here, I think I understand where he was 'coming from' at that time, for I feel the same way.

If I fall on the ice, I run the risk of extremely severe back pain, what with bone spurs on my lower back vertrebrae that cause piercing pain whenever I bend wrong. Arthritic wrists and knees make it extremely hard for me to get up off the ground. I feel fragile. Sometimes helpless. And that's scary, because I am used to doing things, physically, all year long. I guess that's why, when I hear from all the "newbie winter converts" around here who tell me to go frolic in the makes me want to tell THEM where to frolic...(someplace 'below' that's warmer, ha ha). So, please indulge me if I bitch about winter. If you can enjoy winters, more power to ya.

Sometimes, "writing from within" is important, too. I'm frustrated about a lot of things. I believe that winter just accentuates those frustrations. I'm just trying to get thru this life the best I can. C'mon, Spring! I'm waitin' for ya!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Just another insignificant, inconsequential

Yep, here I am, once again, coping with winter. I've made my views on winter pretty-well-known, and I get comments from those who say, "well, if you don't like winter, get out of here!" First, WHO ARE YOU to tell me what to do; Secondly, I'LL LIVE WHERE I DAMN WELL WANNA LIVE, thank you, and Third, this place (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho) is absolutely gorgeous the other 75% of the year. I accept winter as something I must endure, sort-of like a gout attack or a bad cold. It's just part of life. Taking the bad along with the good. Harrumph.

Gosh, I hope this doesn't happen AGAIN dept.: Last year, I had to pay a plumber brain surgeon's wages to come out and fix my pipes, which had busted during last winter's below-zero epidemic; well, he (allegedly) fixed things to make them better than what they were. Right now, I can't take a shower because my cold water doesn't work. Yet the cold water runs in the bathroom and kitchen sinks. By the way, have I said lately that I DESPISE Winter?

I can't stand being around me dept.: (Or, "Shower Tales, part II") So I haven't been able to take a shower the last couple of days. Ack, yecch, ick. Whoever said the human body is one of the dirtiest things on earth was RIGHT! So, I had to go down to the Health Club to take a shower. When I got there, they said I wasn't a member. I said, "what? I paid you $70.00 last fall so you could bill my Debit Card". (I owed 2-months worth at the time) Well, the clerk told me, "oh, we're having trouble accepting debit cards, even though we can accept CHARGE Cards." So why didn't I get a phone call from the Health club so I could have corrected this situation last month? I tell ya, ineptitude runs RAMPANT in our society!

Anyway, I've thot about this, and it seems to me that debit cards are based on the cash you CURRENTLY HAVE in your bank account, not the amount you EXPECT TO HAVE at a future date. So, you'd think Debit cards would have priority! Anyway, now I have to go to the bank, get my account and routing number, and then go back to the health club with that information so they can begin charging me "X" amount every month like I THOUGHT THEY WERE DOING ALL ALONG. Why does EVERY LITTLE INSIGNIFICANT THING in life have to be a BATTLE? We're supposed to be getting smarter, not dumber, but instead, we are all mindless slaves to the shortcomings of technology.

Shot down in Flames dept.: One of Coeur d'Alene's semi-landmarks, the 7-11 store, up on 4th and Appleway is no more,, and virtually the rest of the little one-story mall it was located in went up in flames over the weekend. A friend of mine used to have a little record store in that mall. Also, whenever I was in the northern section of town, I'd stop in at 7-11 for this and that and whatever else. Just kinda goes to show that everything that us human "beans" build, is destined to crumble sooner or later. No matter if it's a convenience store or an inconvenient Rezzort!

This is one heck of a strong drink dept.: There was a story in the local paper about a young man, who, by hook or by crook, convinced a homeless alcoholic guy to drink a batch of industrial strength cleaner. Some people said that the man who prompted the homeless guy to drink the "Drano on the Rocks" or whatever you'd call it, was an evil person. Evil indeed. However, I commented on Huckleberries Online (, that the guy who drank the stuff was "no Mensa member, either". And I got flak for that. I was told that an addiction can prompt one to do strange things, even coming close to killing one's self. Hmmm. I apologize here and now for the "Mensa" remark, but I tell ya, when an addiction overcomes any semblance of common sense or self-protective thought, it just astounds me. Makes me say "gosh". Can you say these two little words: "Death Wish"?

It actually did exist once upon a time dept.: You'd never know it now, because the area I'm talking about contains a big clock tower with annoying out-of-tune bells that "gong" each and every hour. (Built by "ding-dongs", obviously). What used to be there, was Templin's Restaurant and Motor Hotel, but that place is long gone. Still, the memories remain. And, pictured just below, is another view of the Templins' Dining Room.

Templins' was located on the corner of 1st and Sherman, approximately where that grassy area, just north of the Boardwalk Bar, is located. I didn't go into Templins' all that much, but as a kid, I rode my bike and drove my car past it, on the way to North Idaho College, or for an afternoon's swim at City Beach. Templin's did manage to make it into the '80s before all kinds of nasty corporate takeovers took place. Moves that Donald Trump would've been proud of! The Art Of The Deal, indeed.

This might just be a good game after all dept.: Once again, I didn't watch 'em, and the Seattle Seahawks ended up winning another game, although it wasn't an easy win. Meantime, the previously undefeated Indianapolis Colts lost their first game of the season. That, in turn, sets the stage for next Saturday's Seahawks/Colts game, which will be played in Seattle, and those Seattle fans can be loud, which makes things uncomfortable for opponents. I honestly can't predict who'll win it. Like a politician will do in any given situation, I'll just "sit on the fence" until I know what the outcome is!

Again, I surprised myself here. I didn't have "idea one" when I began this post. And, I'm hoping for all the best. That would include "warmer" temperatures so my pipes will unthaw, so that my SHOWER WORKS!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"REELING" through the years...
Or, adventures in collecting the most obscure music I can find...

Well, the weekend is here, and I don't plan on posting an awful lot over the next couple of days, but I've got a little something for y'all here. Also, the weekend is a time to be "not so serious", right? So, this post may be inconsequential, but it is also (slightly) informative. Here is a 1975 album by the group "LOVE", who had been recording since the late 60's. The title? "REEL TO REAL", a whimsical exercise in wordplay; kinda cool...from the "Reel" of tape, to each "Real" listener out there. That's one interpretation, anyway. "Love", led by guitarist/songwriter Arthur Lee, never really had any big hits, although their 1967 album, "Forever Changes" is considered to be a classic. I ordered this album over Ebay, and even though this disk is 30 years old, it was still in the shrink-wrap, brand-new, and unplayed. Which I thought was really, really cool. I'll settle for anything that is playable, as long as the scratches aren't so big that the tone-arm does swan dives as it negotiates the grooves.

But ya know, that title..."Reel To Real", somehow seemed oddly familiar. Where had I seen that title before? And then I remembered that I had a couple of other records with similar, I did the "Google Image Search" thing, and found pictures of those other two discs. They're not exactly widely-known pieces of music, either. Just goes to show you can find virtually anything on the 'net...


So here it is..."REAL TO REEL" the 1979 album in which the group "STARCASTLE" reverses the philosophy of the "Love" album (see above)..."Starcastle" obviously felt they were taking their "real" experiences and putting them down on "reels" of tape. I don't know if that was actually the case, but it sounds intelligent. (I hope) Starcastle was basically an art-rock band that recorded 8-and 10-minute long, progressive rock songs, and when they began their career, they were in the same league as early Genesis, they sounded a bit like Yes, but as time went on, their record company forced them to record shorter songs (all the better to get radio air-play with), and the group fell apart due to all kinds of pressures. Starcastle's lead singer had actually been REO Speedwagon's original lead singer; his name is Terry Luttrell and he vocalizes on REO's very FIRST album, from long, long ago.

So far, we have one "Reel to Real", and one "Real to Reel" album, in what is appearing to be a best-2-out-of-3 album title faceoff. (Why does everything have to be a competition? I don't know!) There's one album to go. Which title will WIN???? (This is almost as exciting as watching poker on TV!) (ZZZZzzzzzzz......)


And here it is...the 1980 album by "CLIMAX BLUES BAND"...and the title is..."REAL TO REEL", which means that either "CBB" was in cahoots with "Starcastle", or these two albums had the same album title, out of dumb luck.

The Climax Blues Band was formed in England in 1968, and they have a website, and they're STILL playing gigs, even though there have been quite a few changes of members over the years. Founding member Colin Cooper, the guy with the low voice on the hit, "Couldn't Get It Right", is still with the band, and the group forges on. Actually, I'll always remember this band, because I saw them perform in 1975 at the University of Idaho, and their longtime guitarist, Peter Haycock, sounded easily as great as Eric Clapton or Carlos Santana. In the record business, though, I guess not everyone can be a big star. For every big group out there, there were bunches of good groups that didn't really get noticed. Such as the three bands featured in this posting...Love, Starcastle, and the Climax Blues Band.


Whenever I go to a record shop (RECORD, as in "VINYL"), oftentimes I'll comb the record bins looking for bands I've never heard of. I'll check out the instrumentation (often listed on the back cover), and more often than not, I'll buy an album based upon how I "feel" about the album when I've seen it. Case in point: I bought the first "Boston" album back in 1976, before they'd had a hit...their album just "looked good"; I bought it, and it only turned out to be one of the biggest albums in history. No, I'm not taking credit for that, but I did buy the album, and when I first played it, I thought it sounded really good. And so did a whole lotta people. But, I had "Boston" before anyone knew who they were! So I think that's kinda cool.

So you want some more obscure bands to check out? In no particular order, here are some of them....Camel, Barclay James Harvest, Man, Family, Renaissance, Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, Triumvirat, Captain Beyond, Potliquor, Sad Cafe, Savage Grace, Spirit, Flash, Randy Pie, Crack The Sky, Armageddon, Widowmaker, Moonquake, Groundhogs...all of these bands released records during what I think is the "golden age of progressive music", from about 1968 to 1977 or thereabouts. Some of this music can be found on CD's, sometimes "original album releases" have been deleted, but you can find "anthology"-type compilations of the group's material. Used vinyl shops, 2nd-hand stores, Ebay or are great places to find this obscure music as well. Happy listening!


In conclusion, my Dad once accused me of having a "turntable in my head"...hey, I resemble that. I tend to "tune out" on a lot of stuff, but as far as record collecting, you could say I'm "all ears".