Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My MIND out-thinks my BODY!!!'s just another thing that tells me I'm gettin' old...

In last night's post, I wrote about the advent of bicycle-riding weather. I wrote all about how I was gonna go and complete a nice, flat, semi-lazy 15 to 20 mile bike loop. I wrote about how easy it was. Well, normally, it IS easy. And I did HALF of it today. I went thru town, around the dike road, and out along the new west part of the Centennial Trail along the Spokane River. I turned around, came back thru the park, and made it as far as Sanders Beach, when all of a sudden the heat started nailin' me, the ol' thirst mechanism kicked in, the knees were aching, so instead of heading EAST along the Centennial Trail bordering CDA Lake, I just went home, picking up a bottle of Sport Drink along the way. I told the guy at the convenience store about how I had to shorten my ride, how I couldn't go out along the lake. His reply? "Well, that's what TOMORROW'S for." So, that's my rationalization, and I'm sticking to it!

What are they doin' up thar dept.: On my bike ride today, after leaving the Sanders Beach area, I headed up Lost Avenue; on one side of the street are houses; on the other is a woody hillside kids play on. It's that "ridge" which borders the road that goes to Jerry Jaeger's house (behind the Jewett House). Only kids don't play there any more. It's all fenced in. And as I was riding along, I looked way up on the ridge, and there were dozers leveling the ground up there. So, more of the land is getting plowed under, probably for some big glitzy new house for another member of the ruling class.

What's he doin' thar dept.: So anyway, after surviving my bike ride and almost drowning myself as I chugged my bottle of PowerAde Fruit Punch (MMMMMM!), I went back over to the park with my guitar and thrashed on it for a while. As I returned to my car, I spotted that maroon "unmarked" CDA Police car sitting in the museum parking lot; the cop inside was evidently monitoring City Park. In past years, I would've been paranoid about so much police presence, but I was kinda glad to see that the Park is being watched. The times are changing; kids' behavior after dark is changing, and my outlook concerning police presence is changing.

What's he doing on thar dept.: I'm watching "Nightline" as I'm typing this, and 64-year old Paul Simon is the subject of one of the show's segments. I don't "get" a lot of his newer music; it's multi-rhythmic, sung off-handedly, and it almost sounds like he's trying to outsmart the listener. People raved over how great the "Graceland" album is. I found a second-hand copy of it a few years ago, and while the music is good enough, it's nothing that sticks in my memory. I'll just go ahead and listen to Neil Young's crude "Living With War" CD; that one's 'direct' enough for me. I'm not really into the whole sensitive singer-songwriter thing, but Neil Young RULES!

Why are they doing what they're doing dept.: One of the scandalous stories circulating through our humble town is the banning of a local newspaper's blogsite by a lame-duck Kootenai County Commissioner. There was a lot of, well, let's say, "comment" on the blogsite about issues the commissioners weren't addressing. SUCH AS HIGH PROPERTY TAXES! And two of those commish's got voted OUT. So, at least one of the lame-duck commissioners is operating under the grand delusion that somehow the blogsite is responsible for his demise. How can a lame-duck commissioner BAN courthouse computer users from reading "Huckleberries Online" ( when HE'S on the way out? Maybe he wants to FIRE people who work under him so they can feel as bad as he does. Just because yer a hometown boy doesn't mean you can hold office and IGNORE VOTER CONCERNS. You don't believe all this? Click on the above link and see fer yerself!

What's this here thang doin' here dept.: Well, it's here because I've gotta end this post with something. I'm talking about the picture included below. It's a nice tranquil shot, taken by Leo's Studio of Spokane back in the '40's... is Heyburn State Park; this view is overlooking Chatcolet Lake, which is at the southern end of Coeur d'Alene Lake. This is the end of the lake I almost never visit, although I remember our family going there back in the '60s. "Everything looks worse in black and white", Paul Simon once wrote, but this doesn't look too bad.

The heat is scrambling my brain, and although I read the papers every day, right now nothing "sticks". Just all of the same re-heated bad news, over and over and over. So I resort to ephemeral musings such as this.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

It's beginning to look like BICYCLE weather!
So, I guess I'll be pushin' them pedals...

One really great thing Coeur d'Alene has in its favor is that it's a great town to bicycle in. There aren't a lot of big hills here in town (Unless you count the rise between 9th and 11th streets that begins around Wallace Avenue, and goes north as far as Harrison). My knees don't really do big hills well anymore, but I can head out about 3 miles east on the Centennial Trail, turn around just past Tony's Restaurant, then saunter westward thru town, go around the Dike Road, and head out the new part of the trail, turning around again just past the Riverstone Business Development area, and then back into town; total round trip is probably 15 miles (maybe more) when all is said and done. A nice, long, easy ride. A ride my knees can handle.

The old neighborhoods are really great to bicycle through; when you get off the arterials onto the side streets, you get a taste of what Coeur d'Alene was like 30 or 40 years ago, since some of the old neighborhoods look exactly the same as when I was growing up here. Once, I was riding on the trail out near the Riverstone development, and out there, the silence is quite startling; the Spokane River flows placidly and the breezes are cooling. On my way back into town, I came across a big puddle of water just north of the river, and there was a single solitary duck swimming around in that puddle, filtering the water for food, just swimming by itself slowly. And you know, I stopped and watched that duck for over half an hour. It was just very peaceful somehow.

It's amazing, how the noise increases as the trail gets closer to town; coming back in to CDA, the trail parallels Northwest Boulevard, and it sounds like you're riding next to a drag strip; tons of vehicles rushing by. Whoosh! But the trail re-enters CDA on River Avenue, and I usually go back around the Dike Road, and back into City Park, and that's always a good place to take a break. I used to ride a lot on the exercise path that runs alongside hiway 95 (It goes all the way out to Garwood), but there are so many busy intersections that a bicyclist must cross, that it's getting pretty hazardous to use that route anymore. So I don't.

Bicycling is really gratifying for me. I used to run a lot, and I really miss that, but there ain't much I can do about that. But bicycling enables me to still be able to get out onto the road and put in some miles. If I could still run, I am sure the new part of the Centennial Trail (that I described above) would be one of my favorite routes. There aren't a lot of places one can find solitude around here anymore, but that part of the trail is one such place. Until that area gets over-developed like everything else around here, that is. Enjoy it while you can!

What I can't understand, is why motorcycles have to be so doggone LOUD. Isn't there supposed to be a noise ordinance in CDA? Or is that just for loud MUSIC? Sitting in the Java place today, a petite blond lady was riding a Harley-Davidson "softail", and as she rounded the corner on 4th and Sherman, that ol' Harley engine was blasting away, and although I was inside, the noise coming through the open door actually HURT my ears. My question is, if most cars are fairly quiet, why do 2 wheel vehicles hafta BE so doggone loud? If I'm aware a loud motorcycle is coming my way, I have to cover my ears.

It's probably obvious I had nothing to post, so I typed out the above diatribe from my brain cells; another post that I ripped outta "Thin Air", I guess. And not only did I not have anything to write about today, I have no really noteworthy pictures to display either. When that happens, I get into my little bank of Coeur d'Alene area "generic" photos, such as the one below:

This here photo was taken somewhere near the Wolf Lodge exit; you can see the old, OLD highway up above the current highway that is bordered with those white concrete barriers. That old, OLD highway was the only way out of town until the "Old" highway (which is now CDA Lake Drive) was built. And that old, OLD highway was a fairly hazardous little two-lane road, and all it had to keep your car from vaulting over the side of the road were posts that stood maybe 2 or 3 feet tall. I've never driven on it, and I don't WANT to. I still have to work up the nerve to drive on the highway that scales the hills around Beauty Bay. Ack!!!

A Musical DOG AND PONY show... least I didn't have to balance a ball on my nose...arf, arf...

I actually spent some time in ANOTHER TOWN on Sunday! I haven't been out of IDAHO since last September, and I've only been out of CDA 4 or 5 times since then, mainly for medical stuff. But I actually went somewhere else this past Sunday. Spirit Lake, in fact. There was a Sunday Afternoon jam session at one of the bars there. And I NEVER go into bars anymore. Sometimes I think I'm losing my social skills; I don't mingle AT ALL anymore. I never go out unless there's an instrument I can play. In the past, I've partied, I've gotten crazy, I've drunk enough beer to keep Budweiser and Coors solvent for a good long while. But that was years ago. "No no no, I don't drink it no more...I'm tired of waking up on the floor", as Ringo once sang. (That song was written by Hoyt Axton, by the way.)

I can't help but think that ALL jam sessions are nothing more than musical "dog and pony" shows. Me, I'm always a bit more paranoid at jam sessions, because I envision all the other, more capable musicians out there, picking me apart..."he screwed up; he did this wrong, he did that wrong"...and I always walk away from jams thinking I messed up; I'm never happy with how I do at jams. Another beef I have about jam sessions is that you've gotta wait your turn, and then you get up to do 2 or 3 songs; you don't have time to get warmed up. So you play 2 or 3 best songs, but you can never play the stuff you really WANT to play; instead you play simple songs everyone knows (songs that are so simple, even extreme nervousness won't make you forget them).

There's no time for creativity at one of these "jam sessions", because if you get creative, you'll extend the song yer playin', which means you get to play less songs because all of a sudden it's someone else's turn to get up and play. So then you sit down and watch someone else play songs you have heard a quadra-zillion times by mega-millions of people down thru the years. ZZZZzzzzz... And then there's always the guy who's running the jam session, hustling things along, making sure everyone gets a chance to play. Trouble is, one guy gets up to play, and everyone else has to watch him; mind you, this is a room full of MUSICIANS who want to PLAY who literally SALIVATE at the chance to play., but when you attend a jam session, well, you might have driven over 30 miles to get there, as did I; you wait however long to play, then all of a sudden it's your turn (and you might not be ready yet), so you get up on stage, fumble around with your guitar and try not to screw up.

Before you know it, the guy who's running the jam session makes you get back down because, after all, there's 87 other people who wanna get up there and play. I love to jam with people, but my idea of a perfect jam session would be where EVERYONE can play at the same time; someone would sing a song, and everyone else would back him up; a "circle in the round"; a TRUE jam session. Jam Sessions such as the one I went to Sunday, are actually nothing more than minor-league, non-paying spotlight performances. Dog and pony shows. Although the musicians aren't chained to a post in the center of the stage and forced to walk around in circles. Not yet, anyway. I am never at my best during these kinds of jams.

When I'm playing in the park, I 'll start out by strumming various chord progressions for 15, 20, 35 minutes AT A TIME, and if I hit a chord pattern that reminds me of a song, I'll do the song. I have a "little guitar symphony" I do (which is based on Led Zeppelin's "Rain Song"), that I can play for half an hour straight. And I don't CARE if I'm alone, or if no one hears me. I'm not doing it to show off; I'm exploring, trying to expand, and I don't CARE if I don't play something the right way; I'm prone to taking a song, and speeding up a song or slowing it down; doing whatever my brain is telling me to do at the time.

This impulsive musical tendency of mine upsets people that try to jam with me; they have their preconceived notions of how music should sound; I say, the "known" version of a song is nothing more than a road's up to you to determine how fast you are going to drive, or how many stops or side trips you're going to take. I have taken the two-chord song, "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac, and have hammered away on it for 45 minutes. To me, THAT is jamming. And if there's no one else to play along, fine. I "hear" things in my brain, and I try (sometimes in vain) to play those "things". The '60's rock band, Vanilla Fudge made a career out of taking pop songs and just s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g them out. (Those guys were really coooool.)

I think if I were in a band, I would be a George Harrison type of character. As long as I could perform a few of my songs, I would be content to just stand in the corner, play my guitar, and find ways to embellish whatever song is being played by whoever else is onstage. I wish I was a better player who knew more, but I think I've gotten a tad better over the years, and I've got things to offer. Sometimes I wish I could be one of these glib solo performers with a killer personality and unique stage presence, but I have none of that. I don't care about "image" or "presentation" or "glitz" or even trying to be "noteworthy", "notable" or whatever. I just wanna play.

In moments of retrospection, I've come to think that maybe I'm secretly jealous of people who are "glib" and "cool" and "entertaining". So I end up resenting them. But I'm not "cool" and will never be. I've accepted that. There's a story about when Paul McCartney was a kid; he was so pathologically attracted to his guitar, that he even took it into the bathroom with him. George Harrison, I've read, practiced until his fingers BLED. THAT'S the kind of player I am. There have been times I played for so long, my fingers blistered out when I was playing and the pain was so bad I couldn't get to sleep. THAT'S my style. I don't care if I don't say anything for hours; I don't need personal interchange, I just wanna PLAY, dammit!

Omigosh. Tarnation! I just went on and on about this, didn't I? For those of you who've read all of this, your eyes are probably in need of some pictorial relief...and I've got just what the doctor ordered...

Here's a picture of a lake cabin on DEL CARDO BAY on Coeur d'Alene Lake. Gosh. I've lived here all my life and I don't know where this bay is. But I'll bet, back in the 40's when this picture was taken, people could actually AFFORD lake property. People who weren't millionaires, that is. Blog Update: Commenter "StDash" tells me there's a "Decardo" bay on the west side of the lake, near Mica Bay; evidently "Del Cardo" evolved into "Decardo", says he. This is what's cool about blogs; I can throw stuff "out there" and people respond to it. And I end up learning something in the process.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Police for this, police for that...
...a reflection of our changing world, I guess.

When I was in the park late last July 4th, I noticed 'different' behavior among the police in the City Park. Usually, the police who saunter through the park are fairly mild-mannered, although I know they are ever-vigilant, ever-watching, and even though I am not a fan of oppressive jackbooted authority, yes, the police are needed. It's just the way it is. And this past week, there is a more pronounced police presence in our downtown area. I've seen 'em walking up and down Sherman Avenue; I've seen the bicycle cops going to and from the City Park; they zip up and down Sherman and probably help out their pedestrian co-workers as needed. I suppose if a town has a lot of tourists lounging around on the sidewalk, oftentimes sipping cocktails from open bars, and if that town has an ever-escalating number of unsupervised youth with raging hormones running about, more police are needed. Frankly, I wouldn't want to do their jobs, especially on July 4th.

On that night, I was hanging around after the fireworks, because my car was parked downtown, and I knew it would be a while before the crowds and traffic dissipated enough for me to be able to actually drive home. Our city turns into one big traffic jam, after the 4th of July parade, and again after the fireworks. So, I was waiting in the park. Well, the police saw me and a couple of other people sitting on the sea wall, and they were really uptight. Usually, they don't care if you're sitting in the park peacefully, late at night. But the police told me they had "orders" to clear the park on that night, July 4th. Okay, well, I left peacefully, kinda shakin' my head, but I suppose there was good reason to clear the park on that particular evening. Actually, on July 4th, there is a lot of "stress" in the air; you can feel it; anytime it's a hot day and everyone from everywhere converges on a single city park, it's a zoo. A madhouse. I'm sure glad the Park isn't like that every day!

I've seen a ton of law enforcement out, for instance, when the Aryans, those pathetic so-and-so's, were marching down Sherman Avenue. It was a situation that got out of hand, when a young man stood in front of Richard Butler's car (like the man vs. tank in Tianamen Square) and the motorcade was forced to take a different route when the "crowd mentality" took over, but the Police did handle that the best they could and the event ended without serious injury. Perhaps a few mistakes were made a few years ago during the summertime "Car d'Lane" situation, where a hot-rodder was cited for "burning rubber", but the crowd mentality outside the open bars in downtown Coeur d'Alene certainly didn't help things any. No, I wouldn't have wanted to be a cop that night. So I do have to give them a sort of grudging respect. I am really trying to re-examine my own views on Police, after the confrontation I had with an out-of-control tweaking teenager in the park last week. And yeah, the cops are needed. Situations present themselves, and police presence is needed.

Currently, "someone" at the Kootenai County Courthouse has decided that the HUCKLEBERRIES website ( is off-limits. A couple of county commissioners lost their re-election bid last week, and the website, which is owned by a NEWSPAPER, has been declared "website non grata". The Huckleberries Blog had been the source of a lot of discussion regarding property taxes and a lot of other election-related issues. I don't know if their computers have been blocked, or if the people have to just "not go there", but let's hope, really, that "police presence" doesn't have to come down to this:

Photo posted despite howling protests from the website I identified above. Maybe I'D better watch for the computer cops!

Aren't I the same person, who after finishing the PREVIOUS post at 6am THIS MORNING, said that I didn't plan on doing a blog tonite? In the post below, there is another "courthouse-related" picture of dubious worth.

A Lesson in DELEGATING blame.
Or, it's my own little world, I can arrange it the way I want!

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. I'm actually blogging at 5:30 in the morning. I must be operating under some new set of delusions that I haven't yet familiarized myself with. It's the weekend, and I kinda lose focus anyway. I don't know why. But I have lost focus. In spite of the fact I have new glasses (that I'm still trying to get used to). This post is literally being done on the run, because I've got to get some sleep; I'm going to a jam session today, later today (LATER TODAY, CAN IT BE???)...It all started two weeks ago when an item I ordered came in the mail. It was a record player/CD recorder I ordered. Yep, I can burn CD's from records! (Or I can plug in a cassette deck or CD deck in the "auxiliary" jack.) Well, the unit sat in my living room for a WEEK because I was scared to touch the thing. You know, technology and all that. 3 or 4 days ago, I began studying the owners' manual. Reading it, savoring it (can you 'savor' an owners' manual?), and as soon as I began to partially understand it (which took a couple of days), I decided to try and operate the thing.

And you know what? It is so EASY! (Whack! on the forehead.) So now I am recording batches and batches of old obscure junk 45's that have been laying around on the fringes of my record collection for years. As soon as I record all of the 45's I don't care about (mostly uncharted, obscure 45's by groups and individuals who never had any success), I'm gonna give 'em away. It's a way to clean house, yet keep the music. So I've been going "hog wild" (a phrase my Dad used to use), dubbing, dubbing and dubbing some MORE! I've gotten into a bad habit of buying myriad amounts of old second-hand 45s in junk stores. Gotta stop that. For cryin' out loud, I even have a record that teaches you to train a PARAKEET to talk! "Pretty boy....pretty boy...pretty boy..." SHADDUP!!!!!!! Other records I plan to junk are "chamber music" records, anything that resembles a show tune, and old scratchy 45's with labels so worn you can hardly read them.

Once I do that, then I'm gonna do the same thing with record albums. Them things are heavy, especially when you have thousands of them. The LP's I'm not really attached to, I'll put 'em on CD, and then donate them off. Right offhand, I'd say I'd get rid of most anything that's come out after, say, 1985 or 1990; I don't care for a lot of the big-hair-band rock or the synthesized garbage that passes for music. I'd probably get rid of albums that don't really excite me all that much; I have a ton of Gordon Lightfoot stuff, for instance, and he's good, but I don't really NEED 'em; too much of that sensitive singer-songwriter stuff and, well...ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz.....anyway, I can get rid of the vinyl I don't want to keep, but still have the music on CD. And, I'll cut down on the overall tonnage of vinyl I have. I still have about a thousand or so rock albums, that I can't bear to part with. I gave away 20 BOXES of rock albums 3 or 4 years ago; stuff I didn't really care about. Most of it, I'd bought used for 50 cents or a dollar apiece, so no big loss.

So anyway, I blame the haphazard nature of this post, and indeed the LATENESS of this post, on the fact that I've been spending all my time burning CD'S; going hog wild! (snort) Ack Ack Aaaaaaack. Oh, and I also got a 2-hour phone call I got from a friend during the burning of CD's. So I had to stop doing that to yak on the phone (well, I only get about 2 or 3 phone calls a month; no one knows I'm alive, basically), which pushed back the burning of the CD I was burning. So by the time I got on computer, about 3AM, I had Ebay stuff I had to deal with; I had a bunch of e-mails to delete, sites to visit, which finally led me to typing this blog here. Why I feel I have to do this, I don't know. But I won't write anything more until Monday. I promise. Unless I get goofy again and change my mind. So, you can see that I'm great at delegating blame. Delegating it to anything else, besides ME. After all, it can't be that I don't have my priorities straight, that I'm a total wack-job without a lick of common sense; as a matter of fact, it can't be my fault at all. The CD burner made me late in getting this post out. The phone call that pushed back my CD burning also interfered. The Dog ate my homework. I got my tie jammed in the toaster. I haven't yet re-set my clocks after the time change. I just can't tear myself away from those infomercials. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Such a case of "projection" occurred in the political arena around here recently. An astute (or not) politician of the "county commissioner" persuasion got voted out of office. "Hmph", he sniffed. "I'm a local boy, how could those mean old voters vote me out?" It wasn't HIS OWN fault, rrrright? HE had nothing to do with his own demise, rrrright? And now he's taken out his frustrations on the mean old newspaper and its associated interactive blogsite ( for reporting the many problems in this area, high property taxes among them, that have not been adequately addressed. Our county courthouse has BANNED its employees access to this newspaper's blogsite. I suppose they can still surf porn sites if they want, tho. Strange world, huh? As such, it feels like there's been a death in the family...

...goodbye, old friend. We hardly knew ye.

Friday, May 26, 2006

In Coeur d'Alene's City Park...
If it ain't one thing, it's another!

In one of my more recent posts, I raised a big stink about rebellious youth and my close encounter with one such person who threatened me. And I think I might have done a good thing, because a lot of commentary was generated, concerning the unsupervised activities of wild teenagers in that area. The bicycle cops, who I've pretty heavily berated, are definitely needed, so I suppose I've changed my tune. We live, we learn, we adjust our outlooks, and go forward. But there are others who lurk in the park after dark. Only, these people aren't vicious. They aren't committing any kind of crime. But invariably, you find 'em waiting for the next unsuspecting passerby, or someone sitting on a park bench that they can approach. These people try to convert you to their religion, always handing out religious tracts, trying to save your soul, and inviting you to the church of their choice. And, basically anyone who approaches you in a religious context will say something along the lines of, "if you don't do what God tells you to do in the Bible, you're going to hell." Only they'll sugar-coat it so as not to scare you off.

My Mom meant well, she really did. She was an on-fire Christian who made sure we all went to Church. She was a very sweet person, but come Sunday Morning, she'd turn into a master-drill-sergeant, because after all, we had to go to Church. And when I was a kid, we went to numerous churches. Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Quaker, Holy Rollers, Pentecostal, and so forth and so on. The upshot of all that? I can't even APPROACH a Church anymore without having a panic attack. I can't even go to a Christmas Eve service. I tried to once; got as fas as the church door, had a panic attack and I had to get out of there. I am bored to tears by sermons, doctrines, liturgies and all of the other religious "ee-i-ee-i-oh's" that seem to present themselves during a typical church service. I remember attending a Pentecostal service once; and all the pastor and congregation did for a solid hour and a half was wail, exhort and gesticulate with fervent energy their attempts to communicate with the holy spirit. At that service, the pastor singled me out and told me to come up front, and he proceeded to put his hands on my shoulders, shake me and tell me to CRY TO JESUS FOR MY SALVATION!!!! I was scared "sense"less. (That's not really the word I wanted to use.)

I have heard every conceivable Church sermon there is. I can tell what a pastor is going to say before he gets to the point. And, the points a Pastor makes could be made by an average person in, say, 5 minutes, but the Pastor has to take half an hour or 45 minutes (if not an hour and a half) making his point. He's gotta earn the money that goes in the collection plate, after all. I'm sorry, every time I went to church, EVERY SINGLE TIME, I felt like I was in a straight-jacket. I have not attended a church service in over 25 years. I've seen the hypocrisy that goes on in churches, I've seen grandstanding and posing by Pastors and congregations alike. I always liked the musical part of the services; I have some favorite hymns, and those old hymns still inspire me. But I'd rather have a root canal without novacaine than listen to a church sermon!

So I don't want to be witnessed to. I believe in God, but I just cannot STAND THE THOUGHT OF GOING TO CHURCH! I'd rather read a few Bible verses on my own, then go outside and contemplate while appreciating this beautiful world God made. And I do believe that God is the Creator, that the Earth's place in the solar system, in just the right place to sustain life, is no accident. But, sometimes when I'm alone, playing guitar outside, I don't want to talk to anyone, I don't want to be approached, I just want to be LEFT ALONE. But oh, no, anyone who's been a former heathen backslider who's been converted and seen the error of their ways, feels he or she has to "share the light" with me, because that's what Jesus wants them to do. Sheesh! I know they're doing what they feel they must do, but I just don't WANT to talk to a stranger about RELIGION, I'm sorry! I can't begin to relate how many times my personal space and solitude has been interrupted by some well-meaning Christian. So, anymore, when someone approaches me and starts their speel, I just say "I don't want to talk about religion". That's it. Kibosh!!

So I was in the park today, appreciating nature and enjoying the sound of my acoustic guitar as the gentle breezes blew around me. Just put a guitar in my hands and I'll be okay. It was kinda gray out there today, and I'm sure there were views around the lake such as in the picture below...

This is an old Ross Hall photo from the 1940's; sailboats on Lake Coeur d'Alene. I like these ghostly old black-and-white photos. I like the degree of implied solitude of that sailboat in the middle of the picture. Maybe that's what I should do; get a boat. Then the Bible-thumpers would have to swim out to me. (unless they manage to somehow walk on water!)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ruin, Despair and Agony on me!
Deep dark depression, excessive misery...

It was a storm that blew forcefully around our little county, leaving misery, devastation, shattered dreams and disillusionment all around. Individuals who had been secure in their existence suddenly found themselves awash in a sea of murky disillusionment. Others survived the storm, literally hanging by their fingernails. And, some newcomers surprised everyone by weathering the storm and surviving the pitfalls of imminent disaster. It could be, this was almost a "perfect storm", one of those abnormally focused, ultra-turbulent happenings that comes around once in a century. No, I'm not talking about the weather; it's been pretty good around here. I'm talking about the recent invasive political process that took place here in Kootenai County recently...

According to the latest accounts, there were no fatalities, although some of the participants suffered serious and potentially permanent political damage. Which comes as no surprise.

My glasses are making SPECTACLES of themselves!
My viewpoint's the same, but I'm seeing things a tad differently...

When I was young, I took for granted all the stuff my eyes could do. I could focus "near", and then zip my eyes over to look at something further away, and my eyes would respond every time. I like to watch TV and read at the same time, and a few years ago I noticed when I looked up from my book to see something on the screen, my eyes took longer to adjust. Just another little indicator that time is passing by and I'm aging. I used to have a pair of plastic-lens bifocals, and I never did get used to them. So I went back to single-vision lenses. And for the last coupla years, I've been removing and putting on my glasses, depending on what I was doing. Lately, I've been reading with my left eye only. My right eye doesn't focus up close, so it was taking a "siesta". (oops, I used a Spanish word I gonna be deported?)

Then, last summer, I began noticing something that EXTREMELY annoyed me. With my glasses on, I would look down at my guitar's neck, to make sure my fingers were in the right place, and the strings and frets were BLURRING. I was hitting more wrong notes than usual. So, I'd take my glasses off, and one eye would focus on the strings but the other wouldn't, and sometimes I'd see two guitar necks going off in different directions. I have no idea how someone who has no sight can play music; either on keyboards or guitar, because the musicians' hands are all over the place in search of the right notes. So I embarked upon another chapter in my seemingly never-ending medical saga, as I realized the time had come for me to get new glasses. And yes, I've had to go back to bifocals, and I went ahead and got all the bells and whistles: Ultra-Violet Light coating, photogray capabilities, and no-line lenses.

I am seeing things in a whole new light. Literally. When I walked out of the eyeglass place, all of a sudden I felt SHORTER; it seemed like I was "closer" to the ground somehow. A slight disadvantage of bifocals is that while you can see at virtually any distance, instead of your eyes automatically focusing like they used to, you've got to tilt your head down, up, up a little ways, down a little ways and so forth, so you can properly utilize each part of the lenses that you've paid so dearly for. In short, by adjusting the position of your head (and conceivably wearing out your neck in the process), you can accomplish what your eyes used to do by themselves...focus on any distance you choose. So, if I wear out my neck vertebrae re-positioning my skull so I can see properly, will I then have to have steroid shots in my neck, like I'm having to have in my lower back? I do know one thing for sure. The warranty on my body ran out LONG ago.

The dust has settled, at least for a while dept.: The elections are over. In one of today's newspaper editorials, the reason given for the losing efforts by two of our Kootenai County Commissioners in their quest to retain office was, "voters tired of unchecked growth, detached office-holders and business as usual". One of those commissioners has forbidden his employees to access the blogsite at that newspaper, the Spokesman-Review, and has in general remained incommunicado. Sort of a "tantric tantrum". What does this all mean? No one is immune from the possibility of getting voted out if the job ain't gettin' done. It doesn't MATTER whether or not you're a good ol' local boy. And there's no truth to the rumour that guard towers will be built outside the Kootenai County Courthouse to keep Spokesman-Review reporters outta there. As far as I know, anyway.

I bet this will happen around here a lot more dept.: Turns out Wiggett's Antiques, located in the old Wards Building at 4th and Lakeside, is moving south to that old theater building that's being renovated. They have to go somewhere, because the new owner of the old Wards building wants to use the building for different purposes. (Translation: He wants to generate more MONEY than the Wiggett's Antique Business is generating.) So Wiggett's is moving. The Penny Candy store, which was on the same block as Wiggett's, had to move out of its old building, and they may or may not re-open downtown. Something about "unaffordable rent". I thought when the CDA Rezzort was built, that businesses around here would thrive. Well, that's probably true if you're in business as a property owner or real-estate developer. Yep, soon, CDA will have 57 coffee shops in the downtown area, with every third storefront being a sidewalk cafe or bar. Gotta have enough places fer all them downtown-condo dwellers to hang out when they emerge from their lofty heights, after all.

Is this guy here legally dept.: I read today where Mexican President Vicente Fox was over in Yakima, Washington (not far from here), communicating with the many Mexican workers who harvest crops from the fields over there. What's he doing, trying to find out how much Mexican workers will be sending back across the border so he can plan out his country's budget? Could be, things have gotten so bad in his country, that he needed to "get out" for a while. So he came here. (a standard politician's trick) Some may observe, I among them, that maybe, just maybe, Fox should be back in his own country, trying to figure out how to make things better for Mexican citizens so they won't have to sneak across the border because they can't afford food or housing there. Meanwhile, President Bush has said that everyone who lives in America should speak English. I think there are resolutions under consideration which would make English the official language of the U.S. I thought we were already an English-speaking nation, so go figure. That would be like mandating a law that "all cars must have engines". Duh. Meantime, the more we focus on the U.S./Mexico border situation, the more our attentions are diverted away from the Iraq/Iran/Taliban/Al Qaeda/Afghanistan/Wacko Religious fanatics who hate us/etc.etc.etc. situation. Which is probably what this administration is counting on. Actually, as long as someone's not the Unabomber or a terrorist or a creepy career criminal, I don't care what language they speak. Comprende? Conversely, some of our best criminals speak English.

I don't think these guys are speaking English dept.: Lately, I have been wondering about car names. No, not the manufacturer's names, but the names of the "makes" of automobiles. And I'm wondering, what the heck do they mean? What is an "Acura"? What is a "Maxima"? Or a "Corolla"? Are any of these words in the dictionary? Can anyone with linguistical proficiency tell me what a "Tercel" is? Can any practical pontificator out there ponderously proffer the definition of a "Passat"? Now, there are "makes' names" that actually do have a sort of meaning. A "Stanza", being a verse in a poem or song, but how does it relate to the car? Does it have a musical engine? A "Civic" would probably be someone who knows what's going on, but I don't know how that word would be applied to an inanimate object such as a little underpowered excuse for an auto. I used to drive a Dodge "Omni"; but that little car is not all-encompassing in any way. (I'm thinking "omnibus" or "omnipresent", or "omnipotent" here.) I think the car manufacturers say, "well, it sounds good, it'll set us apart, so slap that name on there!"

The things that pass for entertainment dept.: You've gotta give Madonna credit; not for talent, not for any kind of personality, not for anything resembling originality or even the smallest smattering of artistic integrity. No, her biggest claim to fame is that she's got a lotta NERVE. She has to have something; she's not old enough yet to be a Diva, but risks being a has-been if she doesn't toss in a few surprises along the way. Her newest stage act is being CRUCIFIED. No, I don't mean the critics are giving her bad reviews (which they are), but that she is literally hanging from a CROSS. Gosh. I'll guarantee you right now, that St. Peter at the "Pearly Gates" is gonna jot this down in his ledger and will have it ready when Madonna comes a-callin'. What's she gonna do next, go to Rome and do a lap dance for the Pope?

You can be up the creek but still in the lake dept.: Coeur d'Alene Lake has one of the most unique wonders of the world, and I believe it's the only place where such a spectacle exists. (No, I'm not writing about my glasses again.) We have the only river in the world, I believe, that actually flows out into a lake, with its riverbanks being bordered by the lake the river flows into. And, I found a pretty spectacular shot of it here...

Here is where the "Shadowy" St. Joe River enters Coeur d'Alene Lake. You can see the banks of the river as they wind their way into the lake. A nice little visual for you all, after having read all the torturous statements I posted above. That's why I usually put the picture at the end. If I put it at the beginning of a post, people will think, "oh boy, the picture's right here, now I don't have to read what he wrote to get to the photo!"

Up above, I mentioned a business that was forced to relocate due to the whims of the building's owner. That reminds me of a joke I came across a few years ago: You know why the Pet Store had to close? Because it lost its LEASH! (don't everyone groan at once, now)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Could it be that I'm...
...of course not. Don't be silly. The elections are over. For now, anyway.

I'm not a real political person, not really. I've never been to a campaign rally; and no matter what side o' the fence a politician may be on, after a while, I find that what they're saying is just about as boring (if not more) than yer average church sermon, and believe me, I've heard just about every sermon there is to hear. But, I do think political races bear at least one thing out; that no what the problems are that must be addressed, it's always all about the MONEY when you break things down to the lowest common denominator. Especially where taxes are concerned. And from what I've read, our just-concluded primary elections were directly affected by the high amount of property taxes which have been levied on Kootenai County residents in recent years. And, politicians around the area have felt the number-crunch which has resulted from increased taxes, like the guy below...

This example of shameless picture captioning originated from a foto posted at

Mr. Johnson (above) was a Kootenai County Commissioner. He's a likeable guy, very affable; he's a former high school classmate of mine. And he wasn't the only person holding political office who felt the effect of increasing property taxes upon the average taxpayer around here. But I couldn't resist this photo; the captions pretty much wrote themselves. Life, as well as politics, is a learning process; folks muddle thru it and do their best; sometimes the results are satisfactory, sometimes they're not. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of ol' Gus. In fact, I wish him well.

I guess we need 'em after all dept.: In the past, I have ceaselessly and ruthlessly maligned the presence of Coeur d'Alene's bicycle cops, saying there's too much law enforcement, that overbearing police presence is oppressive, yadda yadda yadda. But after my experience with a rabid foaming-at-the-mouth tweaking teenager last week, I'm rethinking my position on all of this. Again, life is a learning process, and even someone with my crainal density can learn things. Anyhow, the bicycle cops were in the park today (I believe this is the first day they were out), and I told them about what I experienced last week, and the chief bike cop said they'd be a presence in the City Park, and sadly, I guess they are needed, aren't they? If this was a perfect world and people could police themselves, I guess the bicycle cops wouldn't have a job. Ah, the world is full of necessary evils, ain't it? So what, am I next going to say we need the presence of the "parking Nazi in his little tin cart"? If it comes to THAT, I'm gonna get my head RE-examined.

Well, that's it. Short and sweet. I'm done with this post. "Always leave 'em wanting more", right? Of course, I'm not sure if anyone who reads this blog wants more. Quite a chance I'm taking here! Before I exit, I saw a bumpersticker which echoes how I've felt for ages: "I support the troops but not the Prezzident". Nice to know there's some rational souls out there!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Well, all I know is...
SOMEONE is gouging SOMEONE somewhere!

How comforting it was to read in the newspaper today that the oil companies have been cleared of GOUGING charges in a report issued today by the Federal Trade commission. Aren't you relieved to know that? Now the fatcats in charge of the oil companies can sleep nights. In my view, the taxpayers have paid for a fruitless investigation into an industry that faces no sanctions for sucking all the money it can out of motorist's pockets. Further on in the article, I read that "in the week after the hurricane, retail gasoline prices leapt 46 cents to a record nationwide average of $3.07 per gallon." Let's see...hurricane, increasing gas prices, followed by news of record-breaking-profits...PROFITS!!! by the oil companies. Along with that, we have Prezzident Bush not wanting to divert fuel reserves for domestic use, saying that the reserve was being used to fight the nebulous war on TERROR.

So we pay more for fuel here, while we're gobbling up fuel overseas and getting our soldiers killed in the process. According to the FTC, there has been no "widespread effort by the oil industry to manipulate the marketplace." But the record-breaking PROFITS the fuel companies are making ARE widespread. The period of time which was analyzed by the FTC was between August and September 2005, right after Katrina smacked its way into the Big Easy. Perhaps a brief fuel-price "spike" might have been understandable, but we're nine months out from Katrina and gas prices are STILL high. Why? After 9/11, fuel prices went down, but they certainly didn't STAY down for 9 months! Someone is gouging someone, SOMEWHERE. I suppose I could chant the mantra, "Bush...oil...Bush...oil...Bush...oil..." but that doesn't apply. Or DOES it?

Three Coins in the Fountain dept.: Maybe that's all that's left in the mostly ugly new water fountains which stand guard on various street corners here in our humble towne. It seems that kids are reaching into the fountains and swiping "coin"! And probably using skateboards as get-away vehicles. The coins in the fountains are being donated to charity, the monies that the kids don't steal, anyway. This could be a mixed blessing, though, because maybe the kids who steal coins aren't terrorizing people in the City Park! The world is such that I cannot wish for a crime-free society. I have formally lowered my expectations; I'll take small crime over threats to my person any day. Better yet, where are the COPS when you need them? Hint: now that the PD office is in the northern part of town, they're stationed closer to Davis DONUTS!

I'll Come Running Back To You dept.: (That's the title of a really great Sam Cooke song)...there was an article today about a local lady who is preparing to run her 200th MARATHON! She doesn't run 'em fast, but she runs 'em. I understand she finishes in close to 6 hours; it takes quite a few folks even longer to do 'em, and age does take its toll. I ran 11 Marathons; my fastest was 4 hours 12 minutes; my longest was 4 hours, 55 minutes, and that was one MISERABLE run...the run that would not end! Once, I ran 2 marathons inside of a month's time. I don't recommend it. But I survived. An accompanying article stated that chocolate milk can be a good way to nutrify yourself after the depletion a marathon causes. I don't think I'd drink milk DURING a marathon, but once, I had a GALLON of milk AFTER a marathon...and afterwards, I noticed less leg-cramping and soreness. I do know this: without Chocolate Milk, the world would be a truly evil place. Whoever invented chocolate milk indeed had divine inspiration.

It's kinda like pulling weeds dept.: It looks like the proposed condo building, Fernan Towers, ain't-a-gonna be built. I guess the developer has spent about 70 grand trying to get this project together, but the city of CDA won't provide sewer hookups. Let's see...the city of CDA not helping an outside developer...yet it seems one "local businessman" with a LOT of influence here in CDA gets tall buildings built at the drop of a hat. No connection THERE, I'm sure. (Yeah, and the Pope reads Penthouse, too.) So while a condo bites the dust (for the time being, anyway), a proposal for a 107-home development at the foot of Canfield Mountain (or actually ON the mountain?) has been proffered forth. Yep. Another 100 homes (read: 400 more residents), and our infrastructure can't handle the traffic it has NOW. When you pull out one dandelion, another one pops up. And as the Rolling Stones sang: "Dandelions don't tell no lies...Dandelions will make you wise". I guess we need to make all the new suburbanites who move up here feel at home. So we create new suburbs for them to live in. That must be it!

Yep, they've turned the corner, all right dept.: The Baltimore Orioles have scored 9 runs in the top of the 9th inning in tonites Orioles-Mariners' game. The new superstar Mariner Catcher DROPPED a throw coming from third base, allowing a run to score. Then, a grand-slam homer by the O's. And then, a HIT BATTER. Yep, the M's have really turned a corner. They've found yet ANOTHER way to lose. Seattle's bullpen has fallen apart tonite. I bet Ichiro can't wait 'till his contract expires. He was on WINNING teams in Japan, after all. Pinstripes on Ichiro someday? I wouldn't be surprised. Prior to this, baseball fans were excited about the M's winning 4 games in a row. They beat teams who were similarly struggling. I like baseball. And I don't take the M's too seriously anymore. That's how I survive. Maybe I watch baseball in place of soap-operas? Could be.

Maybe, just maybe, it's worth it after all dept.: As I've bored you with before, yeah, I've been doing the "medical thing" the last few months. A lot of my money just flying away. I guess that's the way the system works. Except...I had the attitude that doctors were ALL money-grubbing so-and-so's. Well, they might be that, but I have also run into some VERY caring health-people as I've been getting treated for arthritis, a bad back, and at a recent eye exam I also had in Ironwood. I have seen first-hand, people excited about what they're doing, and feeling really great that they're helping someone get their health back. My rheumatologist is excited that there's a case-study coming up for my kind of gout; the lady who gave me an eye exam was really impressed that my eyes are in such great condition, and the people over at Northwest Specialty Hospital in Post Falls, where I get my steroid shots in the back, are all caring and very warm folks. So I've had my attitude adjusted a bit towards the Medical Profession. Yeah, I still think they're all overpaid, but maybe, just maybe, they EARN it.

Is It Safe To Come Out Yet?: Oh, the political debates have been a-ragin'. The fur has been flyin'. The "tinfoilers" and the "wingnuts" have been battling away. Numerous "reminders to vote" messages have mysteriously appeared on my answering machine. Mysterious, because, I have an UNLISTED phone number. Placards and campaign signs everywhere. Politics, schmolitics. I'm tired of it all. I have enough experience and life-longevity to know that what's gonna happen is pretty much gonna happen no matter WHO is elected, and all we can do is hang on and endure things the way they are. After tonight, the primary elections in our area will be over, and the rest of us can poke our heads out as we emerge, finally able to breathe easy again. Here's my take on all of this...

I am probably a traitor to the American way. ALL politics just make my eyes glaze over. I used to try to care, but I just don't wanna debate or get into issues. Political campaigns are sorta like seagulls flocking around 2 or 3 loaves of bread left on the ground. A feeding frenzy, with all participants elbowing, nudging and squawking. I can understand waterfowl being that way, but PEOPLE? Oh well...

Mariners update: They somehow could not overcome a 10-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth. So they didn't try to. Three up, three down, the M's lose. I suppose losing 90 games in a season is a sort of goal...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Nothing like a COOL BREEZE...
...quite a change from last week's relative inferno!

I must be really strange. When the weather is turbulent, I think it's cool. Mother Nature in action. I felt like I was going to pass out in last week's heat, but the last couple of days have been totally, breezy, and just "aaaaah". I guess the high-pressure-masses are colliding with the low-pressure-masses (see, it takes no genius to predict the weather!), and, BOOM! WHOOSH! The rain pours down, and it was raining cats and dogs (funny, I didn't see animal control out there anywhere), and by this afternoon, all that had morphed into a pretty fair day.

If you walk down by the lake, you'll see a thin yellow strip of pollen, where the waves hit the shore. You were BREATHING it last week. I'm wildly allergic to that stuff. So if that pollen washes down the Spokane River, into the Columbia River, and eventually ends up out at sea, well, good riddance. The "smell" of the lake air right after a rain is truly the pause that refreshes. Now that I'm feeling better, I'm walking a bit on a semi-regular basis. I had the park basically ALL TO MYSELF. "And the name of the place is...I LIKE IT LIKE THAT"!

Since I'm out of historical photos at the moment, I went into Google and got this one; a lightning strike over Coeur d'Alene Lake. I'm not sure if anything like this has happened over the last couple of days, but sometimes the weather can get pretty forceful around the lake. I believe this photo looks south from somewhere on the Dike Road.

I NEVER get on a bandwagon dept.: I read a column in Saturday's CDA Press, in which old out-of-it-guy Bob Paulos was urging everyone to do his part and go get a BIG MAC on Monday, to show appreciation for our new "Kroc" Community Center, which is associated with McDonald's 'first family'. I thought the article was just plain SILLY. Rah-rah-rah, yadda-yadda-yadda. I can't help it that I am skeptical of everything. Kinda makes me wonder if there'll be 'golden arches' above the Community Center when it's built.

Bang, Bang, Maxwell's Silver Hammer came down upon his head dept.: You remember that fairly dumb tune from the Beatles' "Abbey Road" album, rrrright? Well, a certain individual is in trouble for various things, including smacking someone on the head with a HAMMER, it was reported in today's paper. And ain't it weird, how things work out? I am not kidding here; what caught my eye was that the last name of the hammer-wielding individual is "SWING". I guess you could say the cops "NAILED" him??? I can just hear Al Borland now: "I don't think so, Tim."

They didn't fuss over me like that dept.: When I broke my ankle in two places in 1972, time didn't stand still; a nation didn't speculate over my fate, my every move didn't command attention, and nobody really cared all that much. Of course, I wasn't a horse, either. During the recent Preakness horse race, "Barbaro" busted one of his ankles in two places. And, I had to resume going to school a few days after my break happened. Barbaro gets to do nothing; if he recovers, he'll be put in the pasture with many eligible fillies. It's a horse's life, I guess.

Goodbye classmate dept.: The CDA de-Press puts its OBITS on either page 2 or 3, not like the Spokesman-Review, which tucks the notices in the back. Anyway, while waiting to swipe a copy of the "Review" from another coffee drinker, I looked thru a "de-Press", and I got depressed. Bam, right there as I flipped open the paper; Ron Perry, a CHS classmate of mine, died Saturday. He'd had heart problems; I guess he'd had numerous operations. He owned the used book store near 4th and Harrison for a while. He was a real "force" in high school, a dynamic, fun-loving character. He looked in good health at our 30th reunion, back in 2002. Just another episode which shows us all how fragile life is. Rest easy, buddy.

Message to all local political candidates: I will NEVER vote for any candidate who leaves me an annoying phone message. I paid EXTRA for my phone line so I could have some privacy! Do you understand that? That makes me almost as mad as when one of those annoying "strip" ads are attached to the Spokesman-Review Sunday COMICS page. I guess I could tell all advertisers that if you advertise that way, I will NEVER read your ads!

You know, I was beginning to worry about myself, but I'll be okay. This post had been way too mellow, but towards the end, I built up a healthy head of steam. Yeah, I'm all right. I think.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A good way to get "Steamed Up".
Lately, I've been getting 'steamed' about stuff, haven't I?

"It is what it is" find out what the 'limitations' are, either by having someone else tell you, or experiencing those limitations yourself. As did I the other night, being accosted by a hopped-up teenager in the park after dark, getting threatened, and me left there wondering what the hell happened. I received feedback on this from a few people, and one of the commenters said it only takes one bad apple to wreck your whole night. Yep, how true that is. The park is still a cool place to go. But after dark? Like Al Borland always said, "I don't think so, Tim". I left towards sunset this evening when a couple noisy gangs of kids showed up. And I'm fine. It is what it is, after all.

Anyway, I'm trying to channel my emotions in a positive manner. The most any of us can do is make our own little corner of the world a better, more harmonious place. I think one must take it for granted that there is going to be hostility in this world. There are always going to be people who don't like you, no matter how cool of a person you try to be. And, we are so negatively conditioned, that we remember the "one bad apple" we meet, rather than the many positive people we encounter out there. The last couple of days in the park, I have met some people who are involved in an alcohol-treatment at the "Port of Hope", a facility here in Cd'A. Evidently a group of those folks are transported to the park every now and then. as part of their treatment, I guess.

I've seen some of the "Port of Hopers" in the park while I'm playing guitar, and they're very nice folks. We all talk about 'ups' and 'downs' of depression; though I'm not alcoholic, I get depressed. I probably would've been an alcoholic, except that my body wouldn't let me drink without limitations. So I consider myself lucky in that regard, because I've been told I have an addictive personality. Yep, I must confess, I have been more of a food-aholic than anything else. I've eaten not because of need, but because of want for self-gratification. My life is screwed up, so I eat. I used to go out on the weekends, down a few pitchers of beer, do the "karaoke" thing, and what I think I was doing was using alcohol to 'release myself' after bottling up tension all week. In fact, I know that's what I was doing. And I haven't lived that way for YEARS now. Maybe now, I'm leading the kind of life that I was meant to lead. Low-key, alcohol-free, and as confrontationally-free as possible. Now I gotta work on that 'food thing'.

In the park yesterday, I talked to a guy who was taking his little grand-daughter out for some fresh air. He was involved in finances in Southern California, and we must have talked for over an hour about the war, the economy, what's happening in this area, and just 'stuff' in general. People just seem to come up and talk to me. Maybe I don't need to be so anti-social; I don't know. So, looking back, the "one bad apples" aren't nearly as numerous as the good folks that inhabit the planet. When negative things happen to me, such as the encounter I had in the park a few nights ago, it always takes me a while to put things in perspective. I wish I was one of those kind of people who can just 'laugh things off' but I've never been that way. And I do have to be careful with my emotions. I can't afford to walk around upset. Or, to 'not' do the things I like to do, or go where I like to go because I'm afraid. Charting the best possible course...that's tricky sometimes. I love the City Park. And it's a nice place in the daytime, mostly. It is what it is.

So, getting back to 'channeling the emotions'. I've been negatively steamed lately, but I am trying to turn things around. I have found a positive way to get 'steamed up' and here it is:

This isn't a very big picture; I'm hoping it enlarges when you click on it, but I'm not guaranteeing anything here...this is the Steamer "Idaho", pulling up to dockside in Coeur d'Alene, long about 1910, back when the park was a safer place (Now, STOP THAT!) (I am easily swayed 'off topic'.). I've seen some "painted postcards" of steamships from way back then, but I have never seen this photo. So that's kinda cool. And this picture is for all of you who waded through the limitless paragraphs of self-analyzation above. I hope I never turn into one of these people who think they're so important that everyone will hang onto every word they write. But it might be too late for that in my case. Oh is what it is?

Every now and then, I have to "defrag" my computer to get it to operate properly. With this post, I have hopefully "defragged" my brain, or what's left of it. It's either that, or I shut down and "reboot" myself.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

"Before Computers", that is...

I have thought about all of the times I've sat in front of this here computer monitor, waiting for something to happen. Something, anything. When I get ready to go online, I hit the "on" button on my 'tower'. Then I wait. Then one picture comes up on my screen. It pops off the screen and I wait some more until another picture comes up. Then I wait again. Then my desktop icons appear. But, I must wait until my firewall protection loads up before I can sign on. Finally, everything's where it's 'sposed to be. I click "PeoplePC", and a sign-in box appears. I click that. Then I wait. The sign-in box displays the "loading of the provider" as I hear squiggly little "handshake" noises coming from the tower. So I assume everything's cool. Generally by that time, it is, and I can go online and do whatever it is I'm doing.

Of course, as it is in life, the brain begins to lose its capacity to deal with things after a while, and so does the computer. It refuses to move, to go anywhere, to do something, anything. So, then I have to re-boot. Sign-off, and then sign-on again. Repeat procedure above all over again. Continue to wait. You get the idea...So, here we all are, a myriad number of computer users everywhere, sitting zombie-like in front of their machines, involved in the process of waiting for something, anything, to happen. I've wondered about this, and now I think I know why we're all subject to this cyber-torture from time to time. It's part of the scheme of things, invented by the powers that be. They WANT to keep us glued to our computers, FOREVER.

Someone forwarded this to me and I just had to share. Of course, I've been advised to give up "dial-up", but that's the main reason I have a PHONE, so I can have computer access. So anyway, now you know why you have to endure silent moments once you sign on. I feel your pain.

...'First time I heard it, I was with some friends
It's a simple little song you can sing along with an old-time melody
So won't you play that crazy little song again for me?
--I never thot I'd quote this 1974 song by Tom T. Hall, but there it is!

Have you ever been somewhere doing something, and all of a sudden, a song popped into your mind? And try as you might, your mental 'needle' got stuck, and the song played over and over and over, driving you nuts! When that happens to me, the only way I can cure it is to actually hear the complete song, either on the radio, CD player or phonograph. That way, I can seem to exorcise the musical demons; that is, until another song hits me. I remember when our family went to the Washington coast for a summer vacation on the beach in 1974. At the time, I was a huge fan of the Moody Blues, and still am, by the way. And, having never been to the ocean before, it was something totally new to me. And, a Moody Blues ALBUM track (not a well-known single) invaded my brain...the song went, "...and the tide rushes in, and washes my castles away"...I kept hearing that song over and over and OVER!

Later on, when I was working for the Forest Service fire crew, we were "between fires", and our crew was up in the woods, making a hiking trail along some stream. We had to hike in over a mile to get there; all us wet-behind-the-ears kids, carrying shovels, axes, 40-lb.water bags, radios and such, in the 90-degree heat. We were dressed in long-sleeve chambray shirts, jeans and steel-toed shoes. Just absolutely frickin' MISERABLE. And of course, when the day was done, we had to gather up our stuff and hike back to the van for the 30 mile ride back to headquarters. I love the outdoors, but I am no hard-core camper. As we were trudging along clumsily, I thought of a current Wayne Newton song, and I sang a refrain; "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast", and we all had a laugh from that. Even though working for the Forest Service was miserable. Always was, always will be. I hate that kind of work. Digging holes. Picking up rocks. That's about as miserable as it can get.

So recently, I saw a photo at "Huckleberries Online", that anarchic blog-assembly site where all of us regional bloggers chew each other out over whatever we're steamed about. (Fun to be negative, huh?) It is operated in conjunction with a newspaper, the blogmeister of which probably wonders every day how he got himself "in so deep". Anyway, this photo I saw, reminded me INSTANTLY of a song...the old schottische (it's an old type of music), with the lyrics, "Put yer little foot, put yer little foot, put yer little foot RIGHT UP..." is the place where you, too, can steal great photos to your hearts content.

...this musical thing in my crazy head. It's a curse, ah tell yuh, a curse.

This post could be about most anything.
...scary thought, huh???

Taking my life in my hands dept.: After my really strange experience in City Park Thursday, I went down there again today, and I encountered some friendly people; I needed to do that; sorta "reclaiming my territory". But I got out of there earlier than I did the other night. I've taken to walking "laps" around the park now that I am feeling a bit better. All in all, I just want to live. I don't want any trouble. I think that's what we all want, for the most part. Let's hope so, anyway.

Taking THEIR lives in their hands dept.: While at the park, I saw a group of boys who obviously had waaay too much energy. One of them took a running jump on the Sea Wall, did flips in mid-air, and landed foot-first on the beach. Oh, the humanity! But even though I was cringing, seeing that kid obviously trying to kill himself, he's still alive (allegedly) as I write this. Also, in the not-too-distant-past, I have seen kids riding their bicycles ON the sea-wall, and when they come to the "gaps" in the wall where the stairs are, they vault over them on their bikes. Someone's gonna get killed someday; either someone sitting in a bench near the sea wall, or one of those young bike-daredevils. Can you say "kibosh this situation, CDA Police Dept."? I knew yuh could...

Not "pumped" about this at all dept.: Today was gas day. I'll tell ya, it gives me gas! Up at A&D Mini-Mart (where they have gas pumps simple enough for a functional idiot like me to operate), gas is up to $2.79 a gallon for regular, let alone what it is for the "good stuff". I'm thinking our dependence on foreign oil is responsible for 95% of this country's problems. We haven't built new oil wells in this land for ages. Maybe we should? And get out of Iraq and all those other countries that hate us? Just a thot. Wow...did I just "rant"?

New acquisitions over Ebay dept: A couple more records arrived in the mail, that I've wanted in my collection for a long time: "Sling Shot" by Jackie Beavers; the song is like Jr. Walker's "Shotgun", only better if you can believe that. The other is Sandy Shaw's original version of "Always Something There To Remind Me". I've heard others do that song, but the arrangement on Ms. Shaw's record is just GREAT. I think so, anyway.

This oughta make you feel really old dept.: Hey, man, did you know, daddy-o, that DUANE HICKMAN ("Dobie Gillis") is 71 years old this week? I can be "Dobie the 2nd". When I get to 71, I'll probably still be incapable of sustaining a relationship. I wonder if Dobie ever got his act together? And of course, Bob Denver (many know him as "Gilligan") was "Maynard G. Krebs" on the show. This memory happily provided by THIN AIR. (A paraphrase of a KVNI promo announcement.)

B.S. I Love You dept.: The gloves are starting to come off as the "amicable parting" of Paul McCartney and his prosthetically-inclined Yoko-styled 2nd wife, Heather continues to get dragged thru the mud. I heard on the news today that she had ridiculed Paul's songwriting, and was sick and tired of people noticing him and not her. Not only that, she had dragged Paul all over the world, protesting the proliferation of "land mines". Noble Cause, but I think Paul just wished he were home playing the piano instead. I think, after Paul's soul-mate first wife, Linda died, Paul shoulda just stuck with Martha, his sheepdog. They don't require huge alimony settlements. I am glad that Paul and Heather are parting company. I never did think she was good for him. Paul, even though he can be a "snit", is a true artist who deserves respect.

Entering the 3rd Dimension dept.: I bought the big "1000th issue" of Rolling Stone Magazine. It's got a really fantastic three-dimensional cover. After 300 or so pages of advertisements in the front of the magazine, can be found many of Rolling Stone's most memorable covers. The most memorable one for me is the photo of John Lennon and Yoko, taken roughly 7 or 8 hours before he was gunned down. After all of this time, I am still angry that Lennon had to die. Awful!

What have I been doing all this time dept.: There is a movement afoot to make "English" the national language of the United States. Huh? What? I guess I'd better learn it now, so I won't be deported anytime soon. I was watching "Imus" today; the story was reported, followed by an audio clip of Prezzident Bush, and "Imus" said something about the possibility of the President being deported! (the implication being, Bush needs to learn English) We can't afford to lose our Prezzident, though. He's a "decider", you see. And we need him to lead the way in our fuel crisis; he says "corn" is the answer to all our problems. Plus if Bush gets impeached, this country wouldn't survive a "Prezzident CHENEY"! And, with Bush in charge, there will be no shortage of "corn" in the White House.

Back when there was no fuel shortage dept.: It may have been a waste of valuable fuel, but we didn't know it was valuable at the time. And I'm sure the hydroplanes gobbled up gas faster than yer typical three-million-ton Prezzidential limousine (or the average stretch-limo here in CDA). (I'm ranting again, huh?) Back before fuel shortages, there were hydroplane boats that raced on Lake CDA. Such as this hydroplane from nearby Spokane, Washington...

I actually remember SEEING this hydroplane button out there somewhere. I wrote in an earlier post that I'm looking for hydro buttons, of which the above button is a sterling example. Well, "tin", or "aluminum", actually.

That's it; I'm done; possibly, done for the weekend. It's 1AM and it's still hot in here. So I'm not creative enough to do a "Tinfoil Wingnut" or whatever I've been doing. This will have to do. Don't worry; you'll survive. After all, I did. 30 minutes ago, I had no idea what I was gonna type here. I'm a "nut" and I "winged" it. Does that make me a "wingnut"?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Coeur d'Alene as an Urban Jungle?
Sometimes it just ain't the place it used to be...

When I drive on Sherman Avenue in the evening hours this time of year, I can't help but notice how much the downtown area has changed. Motorcycles line the streets. People are sitting outside at sidewalk tables, getting "loaded" on whatever they've ordered from the bar. Tonite, downtown was crawling with people. The motorists are rude and aggressive. I can hear loud, thumping music pouring out of the bars...even with my car windows closed. I witnessed a scene like this before; in PORTLAND, OREGON, over 10 years ago. Absolute anarchy on Cda's Sherman Avenue tonight, and it's only THURSDAY. It's as if, at night-time on a spring/summer's eve, the town I've always lived in becomes harsh, jet-setting, noisy, in-yer-face, and I just don't react well to situations like that and I never have.

I felt good this afternoon and went to the park late in the day to play guitar. Sitting at the seawall, I had my glasses off; I can't focus on my strings when I'm wearing them. There were kids all over the park, walking up and down the sidewalk. An odd-looking kid on a skateboard zoomed past, and my out-of-focus eyes saw him, and he was wearing a BIKINI TOP. I guess someone he knew was paying him, "on a dare" to wear it, I found out later. Anyway, I kinda thought, "huh? What?" and I went back to my guitar playing. He later came over, sat on a bench to hear me play guitar and I asked him, "why are you wearing that?" After we had talked about this for a bit, he got in my face all of a sudden, very angry, saying I was judging him. We had disagreements, and then he left. So I went back to my guitar playing. A half-hour later he came back, said one of his friends heard me say something about him, and that I had "disrespected" him. You know, the same kind of trash-talk you hear in the NBA. All I had said to someone else after he left was, "did he expect me NOT to comment on the fact he was wearing women's clothing?" Anyway, this kid got in my face, wanted me to fight, and actually threatened to KILL me. This, in Coeur d'Alene's city park. I am NOT exaggerating here. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I can't defend myself, being old, arthritic with a fairly pathetic lower back.

I know it's not safe to loiter around Pioneer Square in Portland, Oregon, after dark. I have heard that my birthplace, Hawthorne, California, is basically "jungleland" and has been taken over by gangs and is generally little short of a war zone at night. So, is Coeur d'Alene's downtown and City Park getting that way at night? After the above episode ran its course, I continued to play guitar. All of a sudden, cop cars came zooming THRU THE CITY PARK...they were looking for a girl who was walking thru the park; they spotted her; the cops got out of their cars, chased her down and put her in one of the cop cars and took off. It was like watching an episode of "Cops", where the P.D. is patrolling the ghetto. Later, I found out that she had been attacked by another girl. Her boyfriend had hauled off and hit this other girl, knocking her out; this happened near our world class CDA Rezzort, according to kids who had left there and came into the park and stopped, near where I was playing guitar.

The kid who got in my face earlier was "hopped up" on something, I believe. He was talking a mile a minute and I had the impression he was "tweaking", but I wasn't sure. Another couple of young people had been drinking wine coolers, they told me, and they were younger than drinking age. And, it seems like there is a lot more abusive and rude behavior in society than there used to be, especially from this up-and-coming bunch of tattooed, punky looking kids. I should feel safe in the city where I grew up, but I suppose I am in the same "fix" as other older citizens, locking my doors and staying in at night, for security of my life, limbs and happiness. Are kids not being raised right these days? Are there too many drugs? Is the whole hip-hop-tattoo-trash-talking-MTV mentality finally reaching North Idaho? Tonight in Coeur d'Alene's city park, I didn't feel like I was at home, AT ALL. No one seems to respect anyone anymore. Especially kids who run around in gangs, posturing and being obnoxious. All of a sudden I feel mortal, I feel afraid. Pat yourselves on the back, "SOCIETY", for turning out a generation of inconsiderate kids, the generation that will one day inherit the world!

Later on, though, a couple of young kids came thru the park; one 17 and the other 20, who were very nice, mild-mannered, articulate and soft-spoken. Those 2 kids also witnessed the cop car coming thru City Park. The younger kid was wondering why this kind of stuff had to happen. And his friend wondered the same thing. So maybe there is hope, for there are kids out there who are good kids. I guess it seems the bad kids are getting badder all the time. I do feel that the night-time wide-open atmosphere of downtown CDA, with motorcycles, streets full of young people with raging hormones, prevalence of alcohol, and cars and motorcycles zooming all over the place is basically a festering breeding ground for all kinds of trouble, which manifested itself tonight. I guess the City Park, for me, is off-limits at dusk. I don't know what else to do. When I was a kid growing up here, we'd go cruise Sherman at night, listen to the tape deck, see our friends, go to Pappy's Pizza for a deep-dish Pepperoni, and then go home. That was it. It's sure a lot different these days.

I don't know about you, but I am kinda afraid of the new culture out there these days. While we may not have a lot of "punks" in Coeur d'Alene who look like the kids in the above picture, I just get the feeling this new generation is "in your face", and I'm scared of that. I really am. So whenever I do meet a good kid working at his job, or in the park when I'm playing guitar, I really appreciate them. It has to be a lot harder trying to grow up these days. Age or experience doesn't matter to me; I appreciate good people of ANY age. And they were sure in short supply tonight. My Mom used to sing an old hymn titled, "I don't feel at home in this world anymore", and I really did feel that way tonight. In my hometown. Sad. I do know that City Park, as much as I've always genuinely loved it, seems to carry with it more hostility these days. Double sad.

Hopefully the light of the coming day will put all of this in perspective. Right now, I feel pretty bad about all of this.

The "LOST WINGNUTS" files...
I thot I'd lost this forever!
I accidentally deleted this image last nite after working on it for hours!

The fine art of image manipulation can be quite taxing. You make a "cutout" of the image you want to move. Then you move the image to a new location. The original image is still where it was, so you have to "rub it out" with your "freehand-painting" option, etc. etc., yadda yadda yadda. Then adding text and "thought balloons" can be a fairly complicated process, too. Long about midnight last night, I was working on the image you'll see below. Getting tired (and losing my patience), I accidentally deleted (or so I thot) the image I was working on. But, when I signed on today, there it was in my files. So I took it and simplified my approach a bit...

The only thing I'd add at this point would be the "referee wingnut" saying, "Now, behave, boys", but right now, I'm feeling too lazy. But, there it is!

A "short and sweet" 'WAYBACK' posting...

A new version of an old view...
Fourth and Sherman from a slightly different angle...

I posted a photo earlier, which is much like the photo you'll see below. Only, that photo was taken from a slightly different angle. Here, whoever took this photo did so at the risk of life and limb, because it was obviously taken in the middle of South 4th Street...

Again, you can see Wilson's pharmacy/corner store (!) off to the right. If you look to the left, you'll see the "Hart Drugs" sign which was on the outside of the building which is now Java on Sherman. This photo was taken in 1943. I don't care about taking a rocket ship to the Moon, but wouldn't it be cool to "time travel" just a little bit? I'd try to bring one of those old vehicles back with me.

Wilson's and Hart Drug were two of the older businesses here in town; both were in their respective locations from way-way-back-there up until the 1980s. After that, a LOT of the downtown business district changed. But, businesses like Wilson's and Hart Drug actually gave CDA residents a REASON to come downtown. Other than sampling the world's best peanut butter cookies at Java on Sherman, I hardly ever spend money downtown.

Oh yeah, another observation...back then, "Hart Drug" and "Wilson's Pharmacy" were considered to be big buildings. As soon as the hi-rises in the downtown get completed, those old buildings will be dwarfed. CDA...forever paying the price of progress, I suppose.

Well, the Seattle Mariners got swept as the Oakland A's took out the brooms and cleaned house. 'Twas an afternoon game, which shows the M's are consistent. They can lose, night OR day!

Just when I thot I'd heard them all...

On the interactive blogsite many of us regional bloggers visit (, there's a lot of commentary going on about political races, donations to campaigns, who's outspending who, who's in danger of getting too much financing, yadda yadda yadda. Political sentiments and attacks abound. Well, it's a free country, after all, and debate is one thing that makes our nation fascinating. Too much debate, though, and I just tune out. I am not "really" political. I figure what's gonna happen, is pretty much gonna happen, no matter who's elected. Yeah, I'm a professed ignoramus.

Anyway, one label that I ran into for the first time (on that blogsite) was the term "wingnut", which I took to mean someone who was always griping and/or exaggerating about whatever political issue was being, well, debated. So I've dealt with that term; I thot it was kinda cool, anyway. When I see "wingnut" used as a label, I kinda think "wacko". Well, now, another label has presented itself, and again, I can only try to analyze how it has been used in context. The term is "tinfoil"; I take it to mean, those who generate "cheap shots" at candidates or issues. "Tinfoil" being 'cheap', after all. But again, I'm ignorant. I could be completely wrong about this. So, I "Googled" tinfoil, and found something I could relate to...

...if THIS is the 'tinfoil' they're talkin' about, count me in!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

So, how HOT was it today???
Well, I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both WALKING.

I know I shouldn't gripe. After all, didn't I spend all last winter griping about how cold it was? Well, all of a sudden, we've jumped out of the ICEBOX and into the FYRE! You know it's hot when you're sitting in the shade, by the LAKE, and you're breaking a sweat DOING NOTHING. And, I don't know if it's psychological, physical, or physiological, but I have really felt bone tired, just barely able to drag myself around when the temps are like this.

Long about 8 this evening, the lake breezes began to cool me off, and I began feeling more "mentally" awake, although my body still feels like a basket case. As I was driving downtown today, one of the digital thermometers I saw registered 94 degrees. Plus, we had some fairly heavy humidity, too. Ack. I'll bet the stores all sold out of roll-on deodorant today. It's 10:45pm now. I've got the fan blasting away, sucking air from outside, to make my living room TOLERABLE. I think I've also said that around here, spring and fall are my favorite seasons. The sunshine doesn't ROAST you during those seasons.

Cut-price medical services dept.: Actually, this ain't as good as it sounds. I went up to the arthritis clinic where those professional vampires drew my blood, and it only cost me 12 bucks! And I thought I was getting a deal. Then the secretary told me, "oh by the way you'll get a separate lab bill". Too good to be true, again! But I wasn't surprised, either.

The Mariners have been scoring runs dept.: Well, yeah, they have, but usually when relatively inexperienced young relievers come in late in the game to mop things up. The M's can score runs off those guys! They scored 6 last night, and 2 tonite! Of course, on those nites respectively, Oakland scored 12 and 7. My prediction? The M's will lose 90+ games this year.

She won't need him, she won't feed him when he's 64 dept.: In the latest glitzy show-biz disaster (I'm beginning to sound like 'Entertainment Tonite' here), Paul McCartney is separating from his non-oriental version of Yoko. Yep, he and Heather are on the skids. Reportedly, she doesn't like it when people notice him and not her. He's not writing many 'Silly Love Songs' these days. (Mr. Rogers imitation: "Can you say PRE-NUP? I knew ya could.") By the way, Paul turns 64 on June 18th...that's a month from today. So, for his birthday, he's giving himself the gift of...FREEDOM. (Ironically, he had a hit with a song called "Freedom" in 2002.)

Is she over the hill already? Remember when the latest country-music sensation was LEE ANN RIMES? At a very tender young age, she sounded like the next best thing to Patsy Cline...she sang that song, "Blue--oo--oo--oo-oo-o-o-o-o......." and she really sounded great. Well, professionally, she's washed up. She's appearing at a CASINO in Seattle. The downslide beginneth. What will we see next, George Strait playing in Worley? I think he's already played there, though. Okay, how about Randy Travis playing in Athol?

A cool way to get back at somebody dept.: While I was hiding out in the air-conditioned coffee shop today, drinking LEMONADE, not coffee, I opened up a copy of the Spokesman-review I'd just bought. Out fell one of those free-postage "subscription" cards. And I thot, "wow, you could just put anyone's name on this card and send it in." Hmmm...anyone out there got Duane Hagadone's address? I'm sure he'd love to see the S-R on his doorstep. (Oh, by the way, you didn't read that here!)

An old building being brought back to life dept.: All of the monstrous construction in downtown CDA is hard to miss! The block where the Social Security Office was, is now a DEEP PIT. Looks like they're diggin' to China. On the north side of Sherman, another pit is in the process of being dug. These, of course, will be the basements (parking areas, etc?) of two new condo buildings going up downtown. And, the condo "by the golf course" continues to shoot upward, blocking lake views for all to not see. (Yes, I meant to type it that way.) All of this rampant development is depressing and somehow threatening to my psyche. (I've got problems, don't I?)

But, in the midst of all this, relatively unnoticed, the small building that used to house "Journeys", on South 4th, across the alley from Java on Sherman, is being repainted, inside, at least; whoever's doing that is painting the interior a cheerful shade of yellow. If you look at the top of that building's facade, there's a little "dome"; I'm wondering if it was an old theater long ago. Moving across the street, I remember that many years ago, where the Bank of America is now (also on South 4th), there once was a little old strip mall; in fact, in 1968, there was a record shop in there for a while. KVNI used to have a little rock and roll show back then, and way back when, they broadcast from that shop during the store's grand opening.

Getting something off my chest here: I listen to KVNI's 'doo-wop oldies' and I don't have a problem with 'em; in fact, I've learned a lot about older rock and roll by listening to the "Mighty 1080". But, in their program promos, they'll say, "you don't have to listen to THIS (then a bit of "White Rabbit" or "Foxy Lady" plays), to get to THIS"...after which another one of their doo-woppin' oldies comes on the air. I feel personally offended every time I hear these program promos because I GREW UP on the music KVNI runs DOWN every CHANCE it GETS! And what does this mean?...another KVNI promo says, "some stations just play OLD RECORDS. We play the music YOU LOVE." Well, if my estimation is right, that doo-woppin' music was pressed originally on even OLDER records!

Finally, I know you've all been waiting for this...or not dept.:

I don't know. Sophmoric humor like this makes me think I'm losing my touch. But then again, I've always had the talent of not having to tell a DIRTY joke in order to disgust people!

I'm hot. I'm tired. It's getting late. A cold bottle of sports drink awaits. Maybe instead of drinking it, I'll just pour it over my head. Blaaaahhhhhhh.................................