Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sandpoint, Idaho: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Well, it's really beginning to look as though we will be moving back to Idaho this summer. I have mixed feelings on the subject, but it's probably for the best. In addition, I'm considering grad school and Gonzaga down in Spokane may be an option. Who knows.

What I do know is that we just got back from visiting Sandpoint, Idaho (the town we plan on moving back to). Like anywhere, the town has it's advantages and disadvantages. For starters the scenery is great.

East of Sandpoint on Sunnyside Road

The Former Coldwater Creek store/bridge over Sand Creek

The Pack River just north of Sandpoint

Even the apartment complexes have decent views

But sometimes the views are, well, let's just say inhibited by the rapid sprawl taking place.

Sandpoint is also interesting for it's great number of espresso huts/cafes. I believe they out number bars, which seems strange since I live in Wisconsin. Of course churches out number espresso stands, so I'm not sure what that says about the area.

Then there is the tension between all of the "newbies" and the "locals". The newbies are acused of being rich elitist yuppies from California who walk over the locals driving them out of their homes, while building mansions on the sides of mountains and on the lake front. Then, the locals are accused of being rude, backwards rednecks that are greedily eager to take advantage of the newbies. It's pretty intense. Go figure.

So the cynical Sandpoint: millionaires, yuppies, ski bums, rednecks, bible thumpin' evangelicals, urban sprawl lovin' espresso drinkin' hunters with NRA stickers on their rigs. Hey maybe it's not so bad. There really are some great things happening there from local foods, great restaurants, wonderful library, and a decent art scene. Plus it's close to BC. So perhaps I shouldn't complain. After all, what's in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Meme from Hell Continues

Okay, here was a crazy meme I caught from The Fool who mutated the original from Her Royal Holiness. I decided not to do the heavily Oprahized meme from Her Royal Holiness and just use the mutated one.

It's simple, I listed 100 books that I have read and have connected with (no particular order). Some of them were meaningful with my childhood, some changed my view on things, and some were just good reads in which the plots pop in my head frequently. I'm sure when I publish this post I will immediately want some deleted and others added, but the hell with it. Here they are. Oh yeah, and if you are inclined, feel free to pick up the virus-I won't be offended if you can fight off this Meme-it's a pain.

1) Secret History-Donna Tartt
2) American Psycho- Brett Easton Ellis
3) Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky
4) You Shall Know Our Velocity- Dave Eggers
5) What is The What- Dave Eggers
6) The Edible Woman- Margaret Atwood
7) The Handmaids Tale- Margaret Atwood
8) Wobegon Boy- Garrison Keillor
9) American Gods- Neil Gaiman
10) Catcher in The Rye- JD Salinger
11) On the Road- Jack Keroac
12) Naked Lunch- William S Burroughs
13) A Clockwork Orange- Anthony Burgess
14) The Fountainhead- Ayn Rand
15) Monkey Wrench Gang- Edward Abbey
16) A Man For All Seasons- Robert Bolt
17) One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest- Ken Kesey
18) Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit- Jeanette Winterson
19) Tom Sawyer- Mark Twain
20) The Mission of Art- Alex Grey
21) Sand County Almanac- Aldo Leopold
22) Treasury for Children- James Herriot
23) Norse Gods and Giants- The D'Aulaires
24) Coraline- Neil Gaiman
25) The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath
26) Peace Like A River- Leif Enger
27) Walden- Thoreau
28) Amphigorey- Edward Gorey
29) By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept- Paulo Coelho
30) The Alchemist- Paulo Coelho
31) Selected Poems 1956-1968- Leonard Cohen
32) 1984- George Orwell
33) Siddhartha- Herman Hesse
34) Steppenwolf- Herman Hesse
35) Slaughterhouse-Five- Kurt Vonnegut
36) Ishmael- Daniel Quinn
37) The Stranger- Albert Camus
38) Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde
39) The Harry Potter series- You Know Who
40) Call of the Wild- Jack London
41) Omnivores Dilemma- Michael Pollan
42) Ecology of Commerce- Paul Hawken
43) Earth in Mind- David Orr
44) A Wrinkle in Time- Madeline L'Engle
45) Bridge to Terabithia- Katherine Paterson
46) The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry 1957-1982
47) Desert Solitaire- Edward Abbey
48) Ecotopia- Ernest Callenbach
49) The Power of Now- Eckhart Tolle
50) The Unbearable Lightness of Being- Milan Kundera
51) Animal Farm- George Orwell
52) Wisconsin Death Trip- Michael Lesy
53) The Collected Shorter Poems of Kenneth Rexroth
54) Children of the Forest- Elsa Beskow
55) The Flowers Festival- Elsa Beskow
56) Dr Abravanels Body Type and Lifetime Nutrition Plan- Elliot Abravanel
57) Way of the Peaceful Warrior- Dan Millman
58) Choke- Chuck Palahniuk
59) Anne of Green Gables- LM Montgomery
60) The Hobbitt- JRR Tolkien
61) My Side of the Mountain- Jean Craighead George
62) Fastfood Nation- Eric Schlosser
63) Phantom Tollbooth- Norton Juster
64) When Corporations Rule the World- David Corten
65) Mandala- Judith Cornell
66) The Roominghouse Madrigals- Charles Bukowski
67) Naked- David Sedaris
68) Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim- David Sedaris
69) Mamma Do You Love Me?- Barbara Joose
70) Lord of the Flies- William Golding
71) The Good Earth- Pearl S Buck
72) Those little Noam Chomsky books
73) Virgin Suicides- Jeffrey Eugenides
74) House of Sand and Fog- Andre Dubus
75) Invisible Monsters- Chuck Palahniuk
76) Tuck Everlasting- Natalie Babbitt
77) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- Roald Dahl
78) Charlotte's Web- EB White
79) Earth Wisdom- Gennie Kindred
80) The Foxfire Books
81) Foxfire- Carol Ann Erhardt
82) Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry- Mildred D Taylor
83) The Color Purple- Alice Walker
84) Delta of Venus- Anais Nin
85) Amerika- Franz Kafka
86) Collected Poems- Sylvia Plath
87) Into The Wild- Jon Krakauer
88) A People's History of the United States- Howard Zinn
89) Sign of the Beaver- Elizabeth George Speare
90) Man and Nature- George Perkins Marsh
91) Our Stolen Future- Theo Colborn
92) Faust- Goethe
93) East of Eden- John Steinbeck
94) Of Mice and men- John Steinbeck
95) Downsize This- Michael Moore
96) The Last Temptation of Christ- Nikos Kazantzakis
97) Blindness- Jose Saramago
98) The Society of Others- William Nicholson
99) The Dream Hunters- Neil Gaiman/Yoshitaka Amano
100) When Things Fall Apart- Pema Chodron

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Can't Believe It's Been Over Two Weeks

Wow, where has the time gone. Travelling can really eat away a couple of weeks. Blogging seems so foreign to me. I feel so out of touch. Ahhhh.

Okay. All better. I hope everyone has been well. I am anxious to do some catching up on other sites.

Our trip went really well. It was nice seeing the mountains, friends, and feeling the travelling sensation again. We got back home a couple days ago after a continuous 30 hour trip (with me driving the whole time). I must say that being awake almost 40 hours straight starts to affect ones reasoning.

I also made a few other observations while travelling:

1) I have a new found appreciation for Starbucks. I usually try not to be a customer of the coffee giant, preferring to support small independent coffee shops, but I gotta give them credit for good hours. When pulling an all-nighter it's nice to be able to get an americano at 11:00 at night.

2) Montana is freakin' huge. Actually I already knew this, but my memory is always refreshed.

3) Eastern Montana is desolate. Once again, nothing new, but when I'm able to stop on the interstate, get out and pee, gaze at the stars, and get something to drink out of the cooler, all while not seeing another vehicle, really says something.

4) Too many semis. Don't believe that our economy is too reliant on oil and shipping? Just drive on the interstate at 1:00 am.

5) Oldies stations are awesome. Why did I pack only indie, lo-fi, folk, jazz, and live Dead cd's? When it's just before dawn a 20 minute version of Dark Star doesn't work. The BBC on public radio wasn't cutting it. I switched the radio and welcomed doo-wop and the British Invasion.

6) A Mini French Press is a must (see pic below). When there are no coffee shops and only bad gas station coffee available a mini french press can prevent heartburn. I picked up some good coffee at the Bozeman Co-op and was good until the coffee shops of Fargo the next morning.

Just a few of the epiphanies I concluded during moments of sleep deprivation-the rest have slipped my mind.

Oh yeah, and a few pictures from the car ride...........

Stopping for buffalo burgers and huckleberry lemonade in Paradise, Montana

Some sheep just outside Plains, Montana

The "Psychedelic elephant" and the open road near the Great Divide, Montana

Lake? North Dakota?

The mini french press....oh how I love thee.

Got Billboards? Fargo does.

Next up, Photos from Sandpoint, Idaho. Stay tuned....

Sunday, March 11, 2007


We're taking a bit of a break and heading out to muddy north Idaho. I would have preferred Moab, but we really need to visit some friends and family. I'll try to do a post or two and check in on my fellow blogging peers. I sure hope I'm back in time for maple syruping.

Have a lovely pre-spring week everyone.

BTW does anyone want any cheap souvenirs from Wall Drug? One can never have too many shot glasses.

This picture was takenĀ inĀ the summer of '04 on the road to Porcupine Lake outside Clark Fork, Idaho.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Why I Hesitate Calling Myself an Environmentalist

We all can associate ourselves to many groups; our job, religion, political affiliation, family role, country, race, sex, etc. However, often times due to stereotypes and the negative connotations some groups receive, we may hesitate to call ourselves by that title. "Environmentalist" is one I have had trouble with recently.

The environmentalist movement that took off in the 1960's can be linked to amazing accomplishments in many areas, especially air and water. But as the environmentalist movement edged into the 80's and 90's it became more polarized among the general public. Phelan had a great post on her blog Homesteading Neophyte about an individual reacting to Al Gore winning an Oscar. Why are people so disgusted with people trying to work for the Earth? I believe that it has a lot to do with blame, negativity, and fear.

Using fear to help ones cause is a slippery slope. We see fear used in the war on drugs, the war on terror, justifying our current war, sects of Christianity that overlook the positive aspects of love and forgiveness for damnation and hellfire, and even in our schools. I have many peers that blast our current administration for creating a fear-based society only to turn around and use fear for environmental issues. Sure we may feel that our beliefs are fact-based and justified, but so do other groups.

I guess I am just getting burned-out on the negative. Of course I want a better world for KIA to grow up in. Of course I will keep pursuing and working for environmental efforts that I feel are important. But I want to stop putting blame on individuals, even if I feel they are causing great harm (I may have trouble with large corporations). We are all part of the problem, but we must also all be part of the solution. I would like to allow for more communication and cooperation instead of building greater barriers.

Thank you for listening to my thoughts for the evening. Be well.

Painting by James Marsh. Title: The Environmentalist

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Our Friend The Vaccine?

I know this is a subject many feel passionate about on both sides. Strong advocates of childhood vaccines seem to think anyone choosing not to immunize his or her child is practically committing child abuse, while strong opponents of shots feel it is child abuse to subject a child to the risks that the immunizations may or may not create.

Personally, I seem to fall in the middle. While I see the benefits that vaccines have caused in the past, nearly eliminating some diseases, I see little reason to vaccinate a child growing up in an industrialised nation. Shots for chicken pox and hepatitis B seem ridiculous. I am not a big fan of western medicine, I believe it to be over-used on the border of abuse. At birth, we chose to decline both the vitamin K shot and the antibiotic eye drops. Both seemed unnecessary given the health of Moh and the fact she did not have, or ever have, gonorrhea. Why are they so routine?

On the other hand, I don't feel that the paranoia that the opponents of vaccines are valid either. I have heard vaccines blamed for illnesses such as autism and asthma. I'm sorry, but it seems to me that that the parents making these claims are looking for an excuse to why his or her child has the illness.

So, as it stands now we are choosing to be vaccine free. However, if we decide to take an overseas trip when KIA is a bit older, we may choose, or forced, to get her vaccinated. I feel okay with our decision.

I know there are a lot of parents out there in bloggerland, if you choose to share I would be interested to hear your views on vaccines. Thank you.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ecopsychology and the Ecological Unconsciousness

I'm certain most everyone has used nature as a form of healing. A quiet walk in the park to clear ones head. A camping trip to relieve the stress of work. A day at the beach to unite the family. However, how many people actually believe that being disconnected from our natural world may negatively impact our well-being?

As I briefly noted in my Odham Tree Card Post, I feel that many children today are losing their bond with nature. For that matter so are many adults. Not only does this create a population of ecologically illiterate citizens, but according to the ecospychology movement, it affects us psychologically .

According to Theodore Roszak, the historian and philosopher that coined the term "ecopsycology", all humans have a bond with the earth. He refers to this bond as an "ecological unconscious". The assumption that we are bonded to the planet is similar to the bond we share with our family. Psychotherapists often try to include family during a healing process, but Roszak believes nature should also be used for healing.

Do we exchange the sofa for wildlife refuge? Do environmentalists take over the psychotherapists duties? Hardly. But for many the notion of a greater bond and understanding of nature could be beneficial. My own experiences have taught me the power Mother Nature holds. During a very tough time in my life I considered pursuing counseling and drugs. Instead I went for daily walks, kept a journal for thoughts and wildlife sketches, and was lucky enough to take an extensive camping trip. The time alone did wonders for me. I became more observant, grounded, and I felt my connection to the planet strengthen. Would such an approach be universal? Of course not, but it is definitely one aspect to our complex spiritual being.
Taken at Bridges NTL. Monument, Utah April 05

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Guess What I was Doing Four Years Ago?

Well, give or take a few days.

Shortly after the war on Iraq broke out four years ago it seemed as though anti-war demonstrations were taking place on a weekly basis. Many were simply standing in front of the post office with signs, others were candlelight vigils, and some got a bit more creative, like the Naked peace protests.

Up here on the South Shore of Lake Superior, we weren't quite brave enough to bare it all. Instead, fully clothed, we formed a Peace Dove on frozen Lake Superior. With temps at -4F (-20C) laying naked on the ice may have resulted in frost bite on some unusual areas of the body.

Choosing a very secluded area for the photo opt was still not enough to deter two counter protesters on snowmobilers. We all remained as calm as possible as the plane flew over us to take the photo, while the two snowmobilers zoomed around us waving flags and we choked on their gas fumes. Afterwards the two snowmobilers raced off, never disclosing their identities. Cowards. A couple people yelled at them to join us for chili, but I guess they weren't interested.

Four years later I wonder if we would have been met by such counter protesters. With fewer and fewer people in favour of the lingering war, it seems as though there are less anti-war demonstrations and pro-war rallies (AKA support the troops). I myself am guilty. Just before and shortly after the war broke out, I participated in many rallies, wrote numerous letters to lawmakers, wore anti-war buttons and shirts, and followed the news closely. Now, it's almost as though I am trying to tune the whole fiasco out. The US soldier death toll is over 3000 and the number of Iraqis killed is near 100,000, but that's about all I know. I guess I feel a sense of hopelessness. To me, it seems that my early efforts of protesting the war were a complete waste of time. Why did I go to Washington DC to protest? What good did it do?

Still, I am not going to allow myself to give up. I'm going to use this memory of the peace dove to refresh my passion of opposing this mistake-of-a-war we are participating in. Once again I will start writing letters to lawmakers to bring the troops home. The shift is on our side. Let's end this mess.

Okay One More Snow Post

I had to do one more posting of photos from the snowfall we just received. I do have some interesting things I would like to post about in the future. So, I leave you another slide show. Including my death defying jump (if I were a 90 year old perhaps).

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Friday, March 02, 2007

It's Still Snowing

Now Where Did I Leave My Woodpile?

I So Want To Jump Off Of The Roof Onto Those Drifts

Any Takers For Shoveling Out My Driveway

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

You Gotta Love a Good Blizzard

Good News! The weather service reduced the total snowfall prediction under 2 feet. However, those damn 50mph wind gusts are a bit of a problem. Needless to say, I know I'm not going anwhere anytime soon.

So I thought, "why not get happy." Afterall, winter storms bring out plenty of excitement. So I've concocted a small list of ingredients for happiness during the snowy months-Burdock style.

1) Happiness is woodstove full of glowing coals when I return from a long period of snow shoveling.

2) Happiness is sitting down to the New York Times with a poppy seed bagel w/cream cheese and a good strong americano.

3) Happiness is witnessing the genuine smile of my daughter when she is pleased to hear my voice.

4) Happiness is watching the birds out of my window braving the snow for a bite to eat.

5) Happiness is stretching out on the sofa with a good book while the rest of the house is sound asleep.

6) Happiness is discovering another jar of homemade dill pickles hidden behind the tomato sauce.

7) Happiness is a state of mind.

8) Happiness is temporary.