Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Fun in the Sun

A snow-covered beach along Pack River northeast of Sandpoint, Idaho.  A tuna RIP on a sandy beach in Kauai.  

Footgear in Idaho:  snow shoes.  Footgear in Kauai:  what else? flipflops. 

A sunny January afternoon with family members on outings nearly 3,000 miles apart.  The result:  pretty much the same with fun in the sun in the midst of drop-dead beauty.  

And, the fun part:  texting of photos going back and forth across the Pacific.  

Nobody among the trio of Bill and Marianne in Idaho and daughter Annie in Kauai was trying to out WOW anyone.  

Instead, it was more of a texting celebration of sorts.  Each of us was exactly where we wanted to be doing exactly what we wanted to be doing on a lovely January day. 

As I type, Annie is most likely looking over the lights of Seattle with plans to land at SEA-TAC in about 20 minutes.  She took a midnight flight out of Kauai and texted to us that she may be tired at work today. 

It was definitely a trip she'll never forget, having been certain for a few minutes that it was the last place she would ever see on Earth.  Fortunately, the "mistake" in Paradise means she IS seeing Seattle once more and will re-enter the status quo.  

We're happy too that all turned out well on Saturday morning when the ballistic missile alert across the islands was later deemed a mistake. 

Here in Idaho, the momentary anxiety of the event will never be forgotten.

Life did come back to normal, and, happily, yesterday was gorgileous around here and definitely not to be wasted. 

Over the past few days, Bill has been show shoeing twice at the Trout Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA), off from HWY 200.  Trout Creek WMA connects with Ginter WMA, which is accessed on the Rapid Lightning Creek Road just beyond Pack River General Store. 

When Bill wondered if I wanted to go snow shoeing, I responded, "Not where we have to pack it down."  You see when I was doing all that snowshoeing in our woods a couple of weeks ago, about 75 percent involved packing down fresh snow.  That's a job.

I had a great time opening up new trails, but my 70-year-old body later complained with piercing aches and pains in muscles which apparently have been dormant for far too long. I did not want to feel like that again.

Then, I remembered:  if he's been out there at Trout Creek, the trails are already packed.  So, off we went.

Yes, the trails for snow shoeing out there are very nice, and with yesterday's afternoon warmth, when we decided to go off trail at the lovely old homestead along Pack River, we went with ease.  No hard work whatsoever, just a lot of time spent gawking and admiring the winter beauty.

We met one other snowshoer along the trail.  He had enjoyed a trek clear to the clearcut on the Ginter side of the combined WMA where the Pack River meanders through managed wildlife habitat. 

Once we arrived at the rustic old cabin, it was play time.  Bill went off to a big bolder over across the meadow and used it as a backdrop to snap a cell phone photo of some of his gear.  He later sent the photo off to Kauai to Annie, who had given him some of the gear. 

I mosied around the cabin and enjoyed taking photos of its basic construction. Some is not doing so good these days after decades of weather wear and tear.  While I took pictures, snow continued to melt in the afternoon sun and some big chunks fell to the ground from the lichen-dotted roof. 

Twas a great outing, and this morning, so far, no muscles are screaming.  So, I'm happy, and now that I'm finished with this post, I'm guessing Miss Flipflop has arrived back from Paradise to home ground in Seattle.  

This is truly a story of "All's Well That Ends Well."  We are thankful and blessed. 

Happy Tuesday.    

First time ever:  BIF on snowshoes! Marked that off my bucket list!

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Good Day for Restoring The Dream

Today seems like a good day for doing something to enhance Dr. Martin Luther King's dream and to remind us of the dreams we've all cherished in our history as immigrants turned Americans. 

When my older brother Mike, whose political views often conflict with my own, posted the following letter that he had sent to his Washington Congressional delegation on Facebook this weekend, I shared it on my wall. 

Mike told me last night that he really appreciated the support he received through positive comments and "likes."  

He added, however, that those efforts were nice, but he would really like to see people send similar messages to their Congressional delegations. 

This morning, while posting a comment on Facebook about Mike's wishes, it dawned on me, "What better day than today!"  

We are celebrating a great American voice who shared his personal dream in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Dr. Martin Luther King's words have resonated ever since. 

In the past few months we have heard other words and thoughts counterproductive to Dr. King's uplifting and hopeful message.  

To many of us, those words are also counterproductive to the principles and values in which we, as Americans, have long believed----whether Democrat, Republican, Independent, etc. 

So, what better moment than during this time in our nation's history and on this historical holiday,  to do some positive gesture reaffirming the historic principles and values of America.

First and foremost, the gesture could simply be to draft and send a letter similar to my brother's to respective Congressional delegations across the nation.  

Wouldn't it be cool to flood those Congressional in-boxes with this message TODAY.  

And, wouldn't it be even cooler if our elected officials actually responded with a collective, unified and clear message of their own that we, as Americans, respect and honor all the peoples of the Earth----not just ourselves. 

On this particular day, I believe that writing these letters could have a significant and positive impact on the national conversation.  Also, if we saw a quick and positive response, the effort could restore the credibility of our nationally elected officials in general and our respect among the nations of the world. 

If such a one-day movement were to happen by citizens passing the message everywhere throughout America, Dr. King's legacy and his dream could receive the ultimate honor. 

If letters are not your cup of tea, make a difference today by doing something positive, even something so seemingly insignificant as smiling and saying hello to strangers.

You could perform a random act of kindness or, even here in Idaho, donate to one of your important causes or sign a petition to help the measure to extend Medicaid in Idaho to appear on the ballot. 

You could even simply sit down for a few minutes and read Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech and apply some aspect of it to an idea of your own. 

It can all add up to something good, and the best part: any gesture of this kind can truly celebrate what this national holiday honoring Dr. King symbolizes----this year especially. 

So, below, you can read my brother's letter, and I'll include contact information for the Idaho Congressional delegation. 

 "Dear xxxx:

I won’t rehash President Trump’s remarks of January 11 here. We’ve all heard them, and it’s clear that many, if not most, Americans found the remarks repulsive.

Our tradition holds that in communicating with other nations, our President speaks on behalf of our country. 

It is probable that people in other nations, particularly those offended by the President’s remarks, know that the American people—indeed, other branches of our government—may hold views that differ from those of our President.

Given the egregiousness of this incident, I’m wondering if it may be time for other branches of our government, namely our Congress, to assert those differences. It may be appropriate, for example, to introduce a Congressional resolution in both houses in order to distance our Congress and our people from President’s remarks.

I'd suggest wording similar to the following:

'Be it resolved that the Congress of the United States of America affirms, respects, and upholds the dignity of people of all nations, regardless of race, creed, faith, gender, or national origin.'

Such a statement would communicate clearly that the views expressed by our President are not the views of the American people or of our institutions.

Thanks very much for your consideration."

Idaho Congressional Delegation:  

Rep. Mike Simpson 

Rep. Raul Labrador

Sen. James Risch

Sen. Mike Crapo

Please feel free to share this posting as often as you wish. 

    Sunday, January 14, 2018

    Chilling, Helpless

    Text received from our daughter Annie aka Mia Wallace on Facebook from the Hawaiian island of  Kauai yesterday morning.

                                                                           I love you.

    In Idaho, our phone rang just a few minutes after we had been texting family banter back and forth to Annie.  Bill wanted her to know that he had finally gotten the 4-wheeler to start.  

    The UTV had been left outside during the cold, cold weather, and with yesterday's temps above freezing, he was able to start it.

    "Tell Annie the 4-wheeler starts and maybe she'd rather be here," he said, as I filled a bucket of water for Lily's stall.

    A minute or two later, he started down the lane toward the house, and I was able to catch of photo of him driving and three dogs bounding around the vehicle with their usual barking and excitement. 

    So, I sent the photo and Bill's message across the sea to Kauai. 

    Twas obvious from her brief comment that she was thinking "thanks but no thanks."

    Minutes later, both of us returned to the house and soon after that, the phone rang.  I could see that it was Annie.

    It seemed strange that she would call us over our exchange of fun family banter. 

    "There's a ballistic missile warning," she said. 

    At first, those words seemed so outlandish that I thought I heard her wrong. 

    In the next exchange, I detected immediately that Annie was genuinely rattled.  

    "I sent you a text message," she said. 

    Still in disbelief but sensing her uneasiness, I asked her some dumb questions.  Don't ask me what they were.  In situations like that, the brain is going through a major disruption. 

    Annie's text had not yet shown up on my phone.  During that realization, I put the phone on "speaker" so Bill could hear. 

    Then, an instant later the text (as seen above) appeared on my cell phone. 

    To say I lost my cool would be an understatement; to say I had any wisdom to offer would be a stretch at best. 

    What I remember most about those few minutes was the "I love you," sent to Dad, Mom, Willie and Debbie and the "I don't know what to do or where to go." 

    At one point, anger set in. Why do we live in a world where two crazy, arrogant, inhumane bullies are allowed to stoke such an atmosphere of fear?

    That observation, however, would do no good at this moment when our daughter, thousands of miles away, was living the very thought of living her last few minutes on earth. 

    Annie was not alone.  There were others in the streets at the hotel who had received the same text message, who were also living in fear, desperation and total confusion. 

    Gathering my thoughts through the tears, I asked Annie if she had gone to the hotel desk and asked.  Yes, she had.  They did not know what to do. 

    Then, Annie asked me to turn on the news to see if we could learn anything.  I did so.  There was nothing. 

    We agreed that I would keep watching and get back to her as soon as I heard anything. I turned channels, and, of course, the topic on each channel dealt with none other than the latest idiotic and insensitive behavior of our President. 

    By this time, I said to Bill that maybe this was a hacker and maybe this was not really true. 

    Then I googled "ballistic missile Hawaii," and when sites opened up, the first item stated, "I have called Civil Defense, and this is a mistake." 

    With a sense of relief, I called Annie, who was just hearing the same news.

    The aftermath of this incident for us personally was total relief coupled with the stark realization that we had just spent a brief period faced with the worst possible news we could have ever imagined in our lifetimes. 

    And, yes, tears.  Realization of that worst possible outcome  will do that to anyone, I believe. 

    In my mind, the person who made the mistake needs a reprimand and whoever is responsible for the alarm system which allows such a mistake to happen so easily needs to revamp the system immediately so that such a mistake cannot happen.

    Considering how long all those people on the island lived in real fear, it seems urgent that the efficiency of systems designed to alert the public that the warning was in error need some serious review. 

    The system definitely needs immediate improvement. 

    Also, information regarding basic emergency strategies should be provided upon arrival or easily accessed in places like Hawaii where thousands of tourists are coming and going every day. 

    All that said, I believe that the people who, on a daily basis who irresponsibily create an atmosphere of fear through their bombastic, immature and thoughtless rhetoric should take personal responsibility for level of desperation and emotional distress this caused not only among residents and visitors to the Hawaiian Islands but also with every loved one around the world who helplessly lived the horror from afar. 

    This morning, I am featuring a Facebook reflection from Annie and responses to her thoughts.     

    This morning as I was packing my things up for a day of hiking, snorkeling and exploring the beautiful island of Kauai I was interrupted by a warning message on my phone I never thought I’d get in my life. “Extreme alert: BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

    I remember hearing about nuclear arms races and the Cold War as a kid...it didn’t feel like something that would ever affect me even though I knew there was tension. Perhaps I was too young to be scared. But lately I’ve been scared. There are madmen in power of powerful countries that would rather boast about their “buttons” than try for a little diplomacy.

    Today I was faced with the realization that I may only have about 15-30 minutes to live. I didn’t know what to do. I yelled down to other people scrambling in the parking lot of the motel I’m staying in to ask if they knew where we should take shelter. They didn’t know and they had the same worried look I did. One man tried to call 911 only to get a busy signal. An entire state didn’t seem to know what to do.

    I called my mom because I didn’t know what else to do. The mainland US had heard nothing at that point. “Mom, there’s a ballistic missile threat on Hawaii right now and I don’t know what to do.” She could hear the shakiness in my voice. She asked if I had asked others at the hotel about what to do. As I told her, everyone else had blank faces when I talked to them and didn’t know what to do or where there was any kind of bomb shelter on the island.

    After talking to my mom, I wondered if I should just stay in the concrete motel or drive to the nearest beach to be at a place that made me happy if this was my last few minutes on Earth. Those that know me, would know that ‘Adventure Girl Annie’
    would want to be on the beach.

    We shouldn’t live in a world where one has to worry about nuclear weapons. And we shouldn’t live in a country that has a president joking about the size of his nuclear button. These are real lives at stake...and today, for 25+ minutes, I thought it was mine.
    Show more reactions
    Petra Grewe I really hope that none of us have to worry about such a message. I mean I hope we will never get it. But it is sad that we actually have to deal with it because there are people who use it lightly to demonstrate their own power. I hope that this case will never really happen and I hope that none of us have to experience those minutes that you had to experience yesterday ....
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    Barbara Tibbs Well put Annie. These are scary times. No one should have to have such decisions to make.
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    Ursula Grass I read about this wrong message in the news yesterday and had to think of you. I can imagine which awful feelings were caused and I'm happy that you and all people at Hawai are safe
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    Kat Wheeling I've been thinking all day about you and other friends, co-workers, and loved ones in Hawaii. I'm in tears right now reading about your experience. I am so sad this happened to you, and I can't imagine what you were feeling. Thank you for sharing this introspection with us. Keep looking up.
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    Mia Wallace It’s all I’ve thought about all day, so I thought writing it out would help me process it better.
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    Kat Wheeling I read your post, showed it to my husband, and we were in shock. It must have been about 2-3 minutes after you originally posted. I immediately googled the threat and nothing. I can't tell you what a relief it was to see the post from Pan Georghiou. Great update re Tulsi Gabbard 's Twitter feed. My BBC update sounded about ten minutes after you posted. Surreal.
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    Mia Wallace Yeah, when I called my mom there was nothing anywhere on tv about it. I only heard about 25 minutes after getting the message from someone in the motel parking lot that their son heard from his college that it was a false alarm. Finally CNN had a story about it being a mistake.
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    Judy Rudnick Not sure if you have caught any of the local news, which is reporting this was the mistake of one person. This sadly does not surprise me. Hawaii is an interesting mixture of anarchy and bureaucracy. And since the sirens did not go off, (and I am us...See MoreManage
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    Mia Wallace Yeah....I kept thinking there should be sirens. I saw what looked like a military helicopter fly over so that to me was a sign that it was real. And just the panicked look on people’s faces...what do you do?
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    Judy Rudnick Not to be a complete nihilist, but the truth is there is not much you can do in 15 minutes. Unless you can get to a concrete structure there's not much protection to be had. If you are not with the ones you love the most getting in touch with them makes sense.
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    Mia Wallace Thats what I did. The motel walls I figured were my best bet anywhere nearby.
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    Angela Klemp My friend living in Hawaii wrote a post for Washington Post about how she climbed into an empty bathtub with her dog and daughter and cried. How terrifying. We saw the news after we got off the plane in Tokyo and after it was resolved. I'm so glad you're okay and I'm so angry some irresponsibility caused such fear for so many people.
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    Judy Rudnick I often tell people Hawaii is really not in the first world, and stuff like this morning's false alarm are why.
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    Mia Wallace My friend Angela’s friend wrote this. She was more prepared than I was. I felt good because my backpack was stocked with food and water for my upcoming hike, so I was ready to go if I did have to go somewhere else to take shelter for a while. The funny...See MoreManage
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    Lutz Lehmann Beautifully written, considering the awful topic. It is personal stories like that, what our so called "world leaders" should get to read a thousand times every morning, so that they'd have somewhat of a moral guideline.

    But I'm afraid that, in the lo...See More

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    Mia Wallace Yeah, I am worried where the future will take us.
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    Diane Moskal Can we please have some diplomacy with North Korea now?
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    Martin Riesch well written Annie! ... my first thoughts were yesterday: oh no, now it's reality. Fortunately, it was a mistake that scared so many people. ... what went through my mind: I thought about how it was 30 years ago - in the cold war. I was not even 10 yea...See More
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    Lutz Lehmann Having been born and raised in East Berlin, these are my thoughts exactly...
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    Polly Morran What powerful thoughts and am glad you are ok your poor mum must have been so worried keep safe and if you need to immigrate come stay with us xxx
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    Torsten Hübner I'm a cold war kid, too. And I've made my decision very long time ago. I probably would drive to a beach, too. But in lack of a shore, I would grab the ones I love and drive as close to an arrmy base or other priority target as I could. If this day ever comes, I want it to be over for me in a second and I don't want to see that "day after"...or the days of hell following.
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    Erik Carib Some people do make a real mess of the world that belongs not only to all humans but also to all other living creatures. Lets make sure we aren't the ones who create that mess. The least thing we can do. 💚
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    Mark Ritter Wow Mia, you and my other friends in Hawaii were on my mind a lot yesterday.
    I recorded all of the national news last night mainly to see recorded scenes of the panic this caused. 38 minuets of terror that shouldn’t have happened. I can’t begin to imagine the psychological toll.

    I’m a radiation safety officer among my many other duties. I know enough that I wouldn’t have panicked but I would probably have been even more scared. The concrete structure you were in was the best place to be. Underground would be even better. You are pretty much protected by alpha and beta particles indoors. At least at first.

    Depending on the yield of an explosion and it’s proximity to your location, a limited nuclear exchange is very survivable. Distance and topography as well as weather might leave you completely unaffected and that’s about it for optimism.

    I don’t want to live through a nuclear war. The nuclear saber rattling needs to stop.