Giving the benefit of the doubt

By Don Aslett

Perhaps we have heard the counsel given with good intent to “avoid the very appearance of evil.” Could there be some confusion as to who might own the appearance of evil? Is it the doer of the suspected evil or the viewer of the appearance of evil? Might the onlooker/accuser create the appearance and not the accused? Is there something to the old adage “they that know no evil suspect none?” Let us present a few scenarios for enlightenment.

Scene: It is 1:30 am. We pass by the local bar and see our minister dragging out of the door.

Backstory: Nope, he’s not a customer, as it would appear. He does cleaning part-time to support his parish and family. This happens to be his last job of the night, ending his 16-hour day.

Scene: At the airport, you spot a couple where a petite wife is laboring to carry two large bags. Her big, worthless, husky husband is carrying only his boarding pass. You point out the couple to your own traveling partner.

Backstory: The husband just had serious back surgery and was told not to carry anything heavier than 2 pounds. He’s treating his wife to a week in Hawaii for seeing him through the surgery.

Scene: Three of us saw the mayor and a stunning young woman arrive at a hotel mid-day. They parked their cars and walked into the hotel, happily talking along the way. Four hours later, the two returned to their cars. Hmmm.

Backstory: The next day we read in the paper that a conference was being hosted at this upscale hotel where committees from various areas met to decide details of the new special needs youth center being built. The attractive woman was actually an anchor for the CNN news staff.

Scene: There is that juvenile gang of kids again. Ripping off posters from the City Park Building. We could easily tell that one kid was in charge and the other 10 followed along in the rampage.

Backstory: After we called the police, we learned that it was a Boy Scout Eagle project to clean up the entire city of out-of-date signage and other garbage.

Scene: An animal lover, or so you thought, is holding down his screaming little dog, who is yelping something terrible. You run over and start yelling at him to let the dog go.

Backstory: The owner is pulling out the last few painful porcupine quills from the dog’s poor little nose.

Sure, some behavior might be remiss, but consequences usually belong to the perpetrator not to us. Volumes can be recorded about gossip mongering and the judgment of onlookers. It is not our place to pass judgment.

When we proceed to interpret another’s actions from unproven appearances, we are clearly the accuser and also the owner of the appearance of evil. This violation puts us, not the suspect, right up there in the Big Ten — bearing false witness.

The media does enough seizing and exploiting of the appearance of evil without our individual help. I like the other old adage: “Never explain because your true friends don’t need it, and your enemies won’t believe you anyway.”

Give innocence the benefit of the doubt. Just like the little boy who was in the kitchen with his mother. She was desperately beating on a bottle of catsup when the doorbell rang and she asked her son to answer the door.

“Where is your mother?” the person asked. The boy’s truthful answer was, “Oh, she is in the kitchen hitting the bottle.” Remember, appearance may be an illusion.

Don Aslett of McCammon is the founder of The Museum of Clean, 711 S. 2nd Ave. in Pocatello, and still enjoys giving tours to all visitors. Check out the museum’s website at www.museumofclean.com.

764 comments - What do you think?  Posted by ifennell - November 8, 2015 at 2:42 AM

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Signs, signs everywhere

By Russell Sanders

“Signs, signs everywhere signs, blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind, do this don’t do that, can’t you read the signs?”
You may recognize that as lyrics to a 1970 protest song, but there is an important message in those words.
Did you know there are six “No Dogs Allowed In The Park” signs posted along the east side of Ross Park facing South Second Avenue? Most people don’t notice until the park regulation is pointed out to them. There have been so many dogs loose in the park it seems funny to even have the signs up if no one pays any attention to the restriction.
There is another group of signs that are posted along that stretch of road running through the park that pertain to the speed limit. Seems this year there were more than a few motorists who didn’t read them and had an opportunity to meet with Pocatello’s finest. I’m sure our traffic patrol officers were quick to remind those offenders of the correct mile per hour limit while in Ross Park. However, depending on the season, the limits do change; slower in the summer for park visitor safety and to allow the park  and zoo maintenance vehicles to safely navigate the grounds.
But there was yet another sign in the park this summer: the Cheyenne Crossing project, which has been underway for most of the year. The construction site went through stages where it wasn’t safe for traffic to pass, and warning of the travel status of the road was a big electric sign informing drivers that the avenue was closed during the hours of 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. It was interesting to see how many drivers paid no attention to the warning on that big flashing message board. Those motorists who were on their cellphones were the biggest offenders.
Public policy messages seem to be some of the most overlooked signs in the city as a plumbing crew recently found out while inspecting Pocatello’s downtown fountain. What they found was that someone not only ignored the posting but also threw good sense right out the window as well. The signs there reads, “ No Wading, No Swimming, No Skateboarding” and so on. As a witness to the incident, I would suggest they add “No Defecating” to the list because that’s what someone decided to do. The park’s plumbers do their best to keep that fountain pool clean, but it is up to the public to be mindful of their actions as well.
Willfulness seems to be a growing sign in the young of our community as well. The traffic signs with representations of a pedestrian, 2-foot-tall, warning drivers to stop, allowing foot traffic passage, seem meaningless. A couple of years back after mowing one side of a west side park I pushed a hand mower to the curb to cross the street. A car slowed to a stop to allow my crossing but the car behind revved his engine, swerved out into the other lane and zoomed through the intersection. The driver of the first car motioned to me and drove off as well. Not more than 10 minutes later, the first car reappeared and out jumped detective Marshall of the Pocatello Police Department who explained that he was able to catch and ticket the offending driver for ignoring a few things, one of them being the sign, the other, me, and the possibility that they could lose access to his livelihood through the loss of a license because of an unthinking act. Who says there is never a cop around when you need them?
There seems to be so many signs. For instance, our mayor’s going to the government to inform Congress of the mess our postal service has become — a sign that our Constitution is being usurped. In regard to our black, brown and tan community seeing the Confederate flag being displayed with pride, well, that could be an indication of a resurgence in the Klan membership in our city. As a concerned body, Pocatello’s black population has always kept a weather eye on any signs of white supremacy in this predominately Mormon community. The history of the Klan in the Gate City is an interesting one.
For those of you who travel the streets of Old Town Pocatello between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., you might recognize this next sign that greeted you every morning this summer. Behind the headlights of a green 4-wheeler, I presented you all with the peace sign and a flashing amber caution light, moving along North and South Arthur Avenue, East and West Center Street and North and South Main Street watering the Old Town hanging plants. I would like you all to know that was the only way to get your attention when riding headfirst into oncoming traffic. BTW thanks for your smiles and other gestures.

Russell Sanders is a Pocatello resident who worked in radio for 20 years.

447 comments - What do you think?  Posted by ifennell - November 1, 2015 at 2:36 AM

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A picture is worth a thousand calories

By Mike Murphy

Recently I got together with some relatives and we pulled out the old family photo albums. My sister-in-law pointed to a picture taken of her husband before they were married in which he’s wearing Speedos and sunbathing on a beach. She jokingly exclaimed, “That’s not the butt I know!” I thought, man, that sure sums up a feeling I’ve experienced lately.

This whole experience of looking at old pictures nowadays strikes me as somewhat masochistic. Sure, it was fun to look at the albums when we were younger—but now?! It seems half the time I don’t even recognize the people in the photos, including myself. I frequently exclaim things like, “Is that what’s his name? To think that he only needed one chair to sit down back then.” Or worse, “That’s me? I used to have hair?” The whole process is rather depressing.

Based on the old photos, it seems that when I was younger I was always doing something exciting, from floating down a raging Colorado river on a $2 air mattress, to hauling in what I thought was a world-record bass somewhere in the Ozarks, that turned out to be your average 20-pound carp.

Contrast that to more recent pictures in which I’m involved in boring activities like trying to stay awake during a lecture on bloating, belching, and intestinal gas.

And why is it that I look happy in the old pictures, but grumpy in recent photos? It’s as if now I always appear like I’m in some sort of pain, like someone just stepped on my bad toe, the one with the toenail that resembles a donkey hoof that hasn’t been trimmed for five years, even though I do trim it regularly using our electric carving knife. The ugly toenail that I’ve tried all sorts of remedies for, like antibiotics, tea tree oil, sacrificing a live chicken, etc.

Also, as I peruse the photo albums, one thing that really stands out or, rather, sticks out, is how my gluteus minimus evolved into gluteus humungous over the years. It’s like one’s butt is the ultimate timeline we can use to trace our life in photos.

That’s why these days when selecting a motel I try to avoid the kind with a bathroom full of mirrors. After all, is it really necessary to view one’s naked body from every possible angle while flossing?

Really, it’s gotten so bad that, while Fox Sports broadcaster Erin Andrews is suing a hotel chain for $75 million for causing her emotional distress because a stalker filmed her nude through a hotel peep-hole and posted the video online, I’m pretty sure that if that same Peeping Tom had mistakenly checked into the wrong room and filmed me instead of Erin, he would be suing me for emotional distress!

And, dang, if it isn’t just my luck that this recent selfie obsession and snapping pictures of everyone to plaster all over social media had to become so popular at about the same time that my complexion resembles a banana that’s ready for the produce clearance rack. Here I am with liver spots on top of wrinkles and blotches, and now all of the new personal tech items, from phones to watches, include a camera.

I recall using the Polaroid Instamatic Camera in the old days. It was so big and bulky and cranked out such lousy pictures that you’d swear there was a kindergartener squatting inside, hastily drawing them with a crayon. But today’s ubiquitous cameras unfortunately take perfectly clear high-definition photos, exposing all of my nose and ear hairs that have popped up since I trimmed them fifteen minutes earlier.

Adding to my photo woes, I’ve got this protruding gut that looks like someone duct-taped a Tom Brady slightly deflated football to my belly. It’s as if I suddenly woke up one day—oh, I’d say, around the morning of May 20th, 2009—and there it was, staring back at me from under the covers. I thought for a moment that I was mistaken and was actually lying on my stomach looking at my butt—but nope. So now between my butt and gut, my silhouette sort of resembles a tall dollar sign.

I have to admit that I have not yet been a victim of what the media refers to as “body shaming.” An example of this is when someone publicly ridicules a female celebrity for not being as thin as Taylor Swift, who, even when fully clothed, resembles a tripod wearing a hat. One writer implied that today men too are victims of body shaming, and their feelings are hurt when someone points out that their six-pack abs more closely resemble a keg.

Along with body shaming, society today also rightfully frowns upon bullying, teasing, mocking, name-calling, etc. Or what my high school buddies and I referred to back when we hung out together as “having a conversation.”

Mike Murphy of Pocatello is an award-winning columnist with accolades including an Associated Press first-place award in column writing and a first place award in a national writing contest sponsored by Nissan Corp. His articles are syndicated by Senior Wire.

681 comments - What do you think?  Posted by ifennell - October 27, 2015 at 3:50 AM

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Bad explanations of the Oregon killings

By Leonard Hitchcock

The recent killings at a community college in Oregon have, understandably, produced attempts to explain why that tragedy happened. In the absence of any real evidence regarding the motives of the shooter, these explanations are, inevitably, highly speculative. Often they are not merely wrong, but harmful.
A theory has circulated that what caused the killer’s homicidal act was that he suffered from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. This is a dangerously mistaken account, for there is no evidence at all that autism, in any form, produces an inclination to violent behavior. Sufferers from autism are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it. Spreading this theory is likely to have the effect of making life more difficult for those afflicted with autism by planting suspicion and fear in the public’s mind.
Another theory, published as a column in this newspaper (Oct. 4), used the Oregon incident as an opportunity to castigate liberals. The columnist seized upon unverified reports of the shooter questioning his victims as to whether or not they were Christians before killing them, and leaped to the conclusion that the victims were killed because they were Christians. He then claimed that liberals showed no sympathy for the victims, or at least less sympathy than they have shown for murdered non-Christians. In other words, he took the opportunity to drag out his long-standing conviction that liberals hate Christianity and are out to destroy it.
Another theory, also published by an ISJ columnist, but in the Faith section of the newspaper (Oct. 10), deserves to be taken seriously. The author, a local minister, has thought carefully about the matter and is apparently a person of some intellectual integrity.
He, too, takes note of the report of the killer questioning his victims, but his hypothesis regarding the incident is much broader and, not surprisingly, it focuses on a theme often encountered in religious circles: a decline in religious belief. According to this columnist’s analysis, “Hatred of God, and of people, lies at the root of the problem.” It’s hard to quarrel with the assertion that hatred of people is involved, but the minister seems to believe that it is hatred of God, which he also calls “closing God out of our lives,” that produces hatred of people, and leads to criminal acts. That, I think, is an untenable viewpoint.
He proposes something resembling a hydraulic theory of morality, according to which, if the level of God’s presence in our moral interior drops, the resulting vacuum will fill with evil and immorality. And he claims that “the trend to remove God and his values from our society, both in our private and public lives, has been increasing,” with the result that, “the statistics reporting crime and violence show that both are trending worse and worse in our nation.”
He’s certainly right about the first trend, at least in our private lives. The most recent Pew survey on the subject reveals a decreasing proportion of Christians in the U.S. and an increasing proportion of atheists, agnostics and “unaffiliated” citizens. God’s presence in public life seems also to have decreased, though that is largely because of more careful enforcement of the U.S. Constitution, which many regard as a God-inspired document. But he’s wrong about the second trend, for the national crime statistics do not show increases; instead, there has been a steady decline since the early 1990s. In other words, there is apparently no correlation between a decline in Christian belief or practice and criminal behavior.
The minister seems to believe in a tidy moral world in which: 1) if you are “filled with God” you will not commit criminal acts and 2) if you aren’t, you are, to some degree, immoral and evil and inclined to do wrong. The first claim, I suspect, is not actually about the facts, but is an article of faith. Would the minister really entertain the possibility of a counter-example, i.e. an actual person — let’s say the man who shot an abortion doctor in 2009 — who, when committing that violent crime, was arguably “filled with God”? I doubt it. I suspect that, for the minister, those two things are, in principle, incompatible, and he would simply deny that the person was really filled with God. How would anyone prove him wrong?
The second claim, I would argue, is factually false. Why, if someone “closes God out of her life,” or never lets him enter in the first place, must evil fill up the space? Is it inconceivable that someone might actually accept, and abide by, “God’s values,” i.e. a proper sense of how it is appropriate to treat other beings, e.g. the Golden Rule, yet not believe in God? I think there are a great many such people, and that I, as a matter of fact, am one of them.
The minister warns us that there are no “simplistic” solutions to the problem of violent crime, then proposes a stunningly simplistic analysis of why it occurs: God alone makes people moral so nonbelief in God makes them evil. Can anyone but a minister take that view seriously?
It is disconcerting to have someone tell you that if you aren’t filled with God you are evil, immoral and prone to criminal acts. There are no statistics to back up that claim. And the widespread acceptance of that view is why we nonbelievers are as discriminated against as several other minorities. That’s the harmful side-effect of the minister’s unconvincing and self-serving, though undoubtedly sincere, viewpoint. One might have hoped that the ambassador of a God who taught forbearance and understanding would display a little less bigotry toward the unconverted. But then again, what minister worries about offending atheists?

Leonard Hitchcock of Pocatello is a professor emeritus at Idaho State University.

960 comments - What do you think?  Posted by ifennell - October 18, 2015 at 1:14 AM

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Can you smoke a spud?

By Mike Murphy

Wouldn’t you know it, soon after the state of Oregon legalizes the recreational use of marijuana the Oregon Ducks football team loses three games. I’m not implying that there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship; however, there is talk that the university is considering tying the two momentous events together by changing the football mascot to the Oregon Daffy Ducks. To which I say, far out, dude!
Oregon recently joined Alaska, Washington and Colorado as states that have legalized the recreational use of pot. I figure that another thing the four states have in common is lots of natural beauty full of mountains and trees to roam around in, so those states’ residents can now experience a Rocky Mountain High in more ways than one.
When one spends some time in Oregon, it becomes clear that the switch to legalized recreational pot is not such a radical step. After all, Oregon already seems to have a craft-beer brewery in nearly every town and leads the nation in number of breweries per capita. Plus the state has well over 500 wineries. Throw hundreds of pot dispensaries into the mix, and it’s no wonder the speed limit on state highways is 55 and much of the interstate is 65. With all that beer, wine and pot floating around, the state won’t even allow drivers to pump their own gas when filling up!
Cannabis is one of the oldest domesticated crops. There is evidence that some ancient Greeks were totally into smoking hashish for medicinal reasons, and, no doubt, to help them understand just what the heck Aristotle meant when he said stuff like, “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.”
Later, 16th century farmers in England were required by law to grow hemp. And it’s certainly feasible that the Pilgrims brought along some cannabis seeds when they sailed for America, which most likely answers the question as to why the Pilgrims somehow managed to collide with the only rock in Plymouth harbor. On the bright side, the cannabis stash that accompanied them on the voyage probably explains all that pumpkin pie and whipped cream consumed at the first Thanksgiving.
During World War II, as part of the “Hemp for Victory” campaign, the U.S. government granted draft deferments to farmers who would stay home and plant hemp to be used for various military materials. Nearly 375,000 acres of hemp were harvested. Around this same time, there was an inexplicable spike in tractor crashes throughout rural America.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about the push by states to legalize pot for general use. There’s something about smoking a weed that strikes me as just basically weird. Sure, when I was a teenager some friends and I rolled up banana peels, cooked them, and smoked them, based on Donovan’s song “Mellow Yellow.” Nothing happened, but we had some really good banana splits later that day.
At the same time, no sense in passing up an economic opportunity, so with even more states considering cannabis legalization, I’m considering picking up some shares of Mars candy and Keebler cookie stock.
One has to admit there do appear to be some pretty impressive benefits to the legalization movement. After legalization, nearly every type of crime declined during the first four months of 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Although, I think we’d all have to admit that comes as no big surprise. Think about it: When was the last time you read in the newspaper about a guy high on pot starting a fight, or, for that matter, even an argument, other than wanting to know who ate the last slice of pepperoni pizza?
If there was going to be any uptick in crime after pot goes public, it would probably be limited to the robbery of Girl Scouts selling cookies, especially those yummy caramel and toasted coconut-covered ones.
It’s a safe bet that traffic accidents will decline as pot displaces alcohol consumption. Whereas drunk drivers are often guilty of being reckless and speeding, drivers under the influence of weed are notorious super-slow drivers and sometimes even have to be reminded to start the car.
Then there are the financial benefits for local governments. For example, during one four-month stretch, Colorado collected $16 million in taxes from the pot industry. And in Oregon, the first five days marijuana was legal, pot dispensaries had over $11 million in sales. With a 17 percent sales tax rate, that’s money the states would never collect from some drug dealer on a street corner.
Here in Idaho, of course, we have potatoes. You can bake them, boil them, fry them, roast them and mash them. You can even use them to make potato vodka. But you can’t smoke them to get a buzz. If you could, it might just give a whole new meaning to the term “hash” browns.

Mike Murphy of Pocatello is an award-winning columnist with accolades including an Associated Press first-place award in column writing and a first place award in a national writing contest sponsored by Nissan Corp. His articles are syndicated by Senior Wire.

551 comments - What do you think?  Posted by ifennell - at 1:13 AM

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Canada by train

By Brenda Stanley
For the Journal

Traveling by train is one of the least common ways to travel, but I’ve found a train that is not only a way to get around, but is the best part of the trip. I have taken two train trips recently and feel there is no better way to really experience new places.
I went on board the Rocky Mountaineer train that travels through Canada. The first trip was in July and started in Vancouver and went north to Kamloops and onto Banff. During the trip we took a side venture to the stunning Lake Louise and hiked to lake Moraine and Beehive Mountain, which was the longest and highest hike I’ve ever taken.
The second trip I took on the Rocky Mountaineer started in Jasper with stops in Quesnel and Whistler. This trip was taken in September and featured the Canadian Rockies in their beautiful fall colors.
Both trips were with my 87-year-old father-in-law, who was born and raised in Canada and was the perfect tour guide for the journey. The trip to Lake Louise was particularly special because it was where he met his wife over 60 years ago.
The sites and views from the train are some that are exclusive to the train. There are no roads to many of these areas and from the natural and spectacular beauty; it is obvious these views are pristine.
The latter trip was considered “off season,” and according to the motor coach driver who took us from the airport to the train, the only people they see around this time of year are the “newly wed or nearly dead”. I laughed until I realized I was far from newly wed. Anyway, being one of the youngest on the train isn’t a bad thing. Traveling with people who have lived a long and full life is incredibly interesting and refreshing. At 86, Patricia Jones from Toronto was on this trip by herself. She said she enjoys her adventures on her own because it gives her the opportunity to meet new people, and she says when she brings younger relatives along, they try to take care of her and she “hates that.” She is a lively former dress designer who loves ballroom dancing and she is just one of the many remarkable people on this journey.
Our train car sat about 40 people. Approximately 10 were from Canada and another 10 were from the United States, and the rest were a diverse mixture from all over the world including South Africa, England, Australia and India.
The staff on our coach consisted of four women who not live in the region, but are experts on everything from geography, history, geology and wildlife. They give fun stories and facts about the areas as we travel through. They also make sure you always have a drink and snacks at hand. This is not just a mode of transportation; it is the vacation and they make sure you feel pampered.
Before each meal, the staff comes through with hot towels, and the meals are served in the dining car with linen table clothes and impeccable service. The menus are not filled with dozens of selections, but the five or six different options are all delicious and satisfying. Most of the food has some sort of tie to the area and even the wine and beer are locally produced. During the meals you are able to meet and socialize with others on the train, which was a highlight. Most were retired and had traveled extensively.

The trips are all done during daylight, which means the nights are spent off the train in nice hotels. It also gives you a chance to walk around the different cities where you stop. The best sights however, are on the train. The dome windows give you a panoramic view, and even though I brought a book along, I never wanted to take my eyes off of the scenery.
Being from Idaho and living near the Rocky and the Sawtooth mountain ranges, I wasn’t expecting to be as awestruck as I was at the massive rock cliffs and cloud touching peaks of the Canadian Rockies. Maybe it was because we were so close to the landscape as we wove our way through the canyons bordered by the Columbia Mountains on one side and the Rocky Mountains on the other. We crossed several rivers, including one stretch on the Deep Creek Bridge, which is one of the highest spans in North America, and into the rain forests where the Fraser River flows into the clear turquoise beauty of Moose Lake. And that was certainly not the only river and only lake on this journey. There were so many hidden gems along the way including streams, waterfalls, crevices and springs.
We were so close to the river at one point, we were able to witness hundreds of Salmon spawning. It was incredible to see clearly all those bright red fish during that moment in their life cycle.
The wildlife seemed to be cued as we rolled along. A baby black bear was playing in the shallow part of a lake while its mother watched from the shore. A wolf appeared and ran along the train for us to see its beautiful gray and white coat. And we saw over a dozen big horn sheep perched in the rocks and watching us as we passed by. There were also a number of birds, including bald eagles, osprey, egrets and great blue herons. The large glass dome over our seats gave us a view of the sky as well.
At the back of the train was an open-air vestibule that gives you a completely different experience with the rushing breeze and scenery without any barriers.
Most of the routes the Rocky Mountaineer travels have stops or pass through towns that were created during the gold rush. The train shares the route with a number of freight trains that carry lumber, coal and a number of agricultural products. It is a necessary thing, but it can cause some hold ups, as the trains need to pass each other. I gave the train staff the opportunity to emphasize the impact and importance the railroad has had on the entire region.
It was a man named Peter Armstrong along with a group of travel experts and former railroad executives that started the Rocky Mountaineer luxury train line 25 years ago. There was one train and one route. During the inaugural trip, Mr. Armstrong’s family worked the train and took care of the guests. Now the company is the largest luxury train company in the world and has 24 departures and numerous routes.
This is such a relaxing and interesting way to travel. And although I’ve done it twice, I would definitely do it again. For more information, visit www.rockymountaineer.com.

Brenda Stanley is a former television news anchor in eastern Idaho. She is the author of three novels and three cookbooks. She holds degrees in journalism and communications and recently received her MBA. She is the mother of five children including two sets of twins. She is now a grandmother to five. Brenda and her husband Dave, a veterinarian, live in Blackfoot. Brenda can be reached at www.brendastanleybooks.net.

8,992 comments - What do you think?  Posted by ifennell - at 1:11 AM

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Partners in philanthropy: Idaho Community Foundation, nonprofits and you

By Bob Hoover

In Soda Springs, where the public library is the cornerstone of the community, they used a $1,000 grant from the Idaho Community Foundation to establish a Lego Club for 8- to 13-year-olds. The club focuses on the engineering lessons that can be learned using the stackable bricks, like contests to see which team can build the tallest tower.
“Lots of engineering brains were collaborating furiously for that hour and lots of laughing filled the library,” librarian Cindy Erickson said. “It is the perfect library program.”
In Malad, the Samaria Community Foundation received an $8,500 ICF grant to refurbish the playground equipment in Samaria Park and install a safe, protective playground surface. The park is now even more fun for local kids and their families, and is a great stop for travelers on I-15 who want to stretch their legs and let their kids play.
And in Pocatello, Bright Tomorrows Child Advocacy Center received a $2,000 ICF grant to spread the word about the work they do help child victims of sexual abuse and their families heal from the trauma and move forward with their lives.
Every year ICF gives hundreds of grants of all sizes to nonprofits throughout southeast Idaho and the rest of the state.
Our mission is to enrich the quality of life throughout Idaho and we do that by connecting donors with worthy causes, supporting the work of a variety of nonprofits and offering scholarships to students seeking higher education.
Already this year, ICF has given more than $236,000 to nonprofits and scholarship students in Bannock County alone.
In addition to our grant making and scholarships, the Idaho Community Foundation helps individuals, families, nonprofits and others create tax deductible funds that are tailored to suit almost any charitable intent.
We offer endowed funds that allow our donors to forever support the nonprofits they care about, and non-endowed funds for donors interested in shorter-term giving. We help nonprofits establish endowments that give them a permanent, reliable, stable source of funding.
Two years ago, we realized we also needed some extra funding so that we could grow ICF and connect even more donors and nonprofits. We turned to the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust for help and received a grant that allowed us to make Catherine Smith of Idaho Falls a full-time member of the ICF staff.
The Murdock Charitable Trust is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and it provides support to nonprofits like the Idaho Community Foundation to help us succeed in our communities.
Catherine’s territory starts in Lemhi County and runs all the way to Bear Lake County. Those are diverse communities with different interests and needs, but Catherine is a fourth-generation eastern Idahoan, so she understands the region and has done great work in support of our mission.
Several years ago, ICF helped Gordon and Pamela Lassahn, of Idaho Falls, create an endowment fund to forever support the nonprofits they cared most about. When Gordon passed away last year, Catherine helped Pamela and their son, ISU graduate student Price Worrell, establish an ICF fund using some of the inheritance they received to honor Gordon and support people in the community who need a hand.
“Whatever the stigma, be it mental illness or addiction or any kind of hardship, all of us are just human beings who need a little help,” Worrell said.
We are grateful to our donors, members, nonprofits and to the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, for supporting us and helping us grow.
We acknowledge and appreciate that you trust us with your goals and dreams for the future of Idaho. We share those goals and dreams and look forward to watching them become reality. Thank you for enriching the quality of life throughout Idaho.

Bob Hoover is the President and CEO of the Idaho Community Foundation. He is retiring at the end of this year or in early 2016 after more than six years of leading ICF. During his tenure, ICF’s assets have grown from $55.1 million in 2008 to $123.5 million at the end of 2014. In 2014, ICF distributed $6.2 million in grants and scholarships throughout Idaho.

1,057 comments - What do you think?  Posted by ifennell - October 11, 2015 at 2:09 AM

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Stop sharing

By Kalynn Brazeal

That moment when you find yourself knee-deep in a story — you have been there. You are admitting that things are rough right now and you notice that the person you are telling — well they seem to be very eager to know more. Nodding along and biting their lip in sympathy, but there is a gleam in their eye.
Whether you are visiting while in line at the post office or catching up with another parent in the stands at a ballgame, sometimes you venture into areas that go beyond acquaintance. This is the danger zone.
There will be people in your life that enjoy your problems.
It’s sad but true. While we can control the people we admit to our inner circle, there will always be people around us we didn’t chose. Let me throw you some examples not based on anyone in my family (I swear mom), but on things I have been told. The vaguely related family member that shows up every dinner because there is food. A friend of a close family member who is always included. How about some personalities? The single parent who is always too busy for their own good? The martyr who likes to highlight their suffering? Oh the list is long in length.
Not everyone wants the best for you. How hard is that concept to grasp? It took me years to realize that just because someone was around me didn’t mean they were vested in my well-being. How many times over the past years do I wish I could muzzle myself. Looking back, I could shake myself for times that I vented or expressed my frustration or anger with someone who was happy to listen to my problems. Oh younger me, how I wish you would have leaned on the Holy Spirit instead. He is fully vested in your well-being whereas so many people are not.
Worse than letting your loose lips give someone a chance to enjoy your suffering, you are also giving them a chance to plant seeds of doubt. Think of the people who are more than willing to give you advice. How often is it bold and wild? How often does it give your spirit pause? Do they give you advice to which is outside of your comfort zone? That could be someone enjoying their chance to sew some discord in your life.
Life is hard. Parenting is a challenge and it didn’t come with many instructions. Marriage is a journey that will change you. The worst thing you can do is to overshare about your parenting troubles or your marriage. There will be times when you need counsel, and going to a trusted elder is a great idea. This isn’t what I’m talking about.
I’m warning you about those times when you are flippantly harping or criticizing someone closest to you. Mad at your teenager? Frustrated with your spouse? “Lazy.” “Liar.” “Spoiled.” “Idiot.” Those moments will come and go in your life, but now that information is out there, it can usually be counted on to come back to light.
People love to find weak spots in any foundation and exploit that. Why? It’s human nature. Why should we guard the relationships closest to us? Because those are the people who mean the most to us. Those people are entrusted to our care. How we handle them at their worst or weakest speaks volumes about our character.
The next time you see that gleam in someone’s eye, that little spark that says they may be enjoying the drama that is currently surrounding you, stand a little taller. Look them straight in the eye and tell them that you need to go. Then if you really want to work on your character, go and tell the person you were oversharing about and ask them to forgive you. Ouch. It is really hard looking someone you respect and love in the face and admitting to carelessly sharing something causally. I had to do that one day. Hard, humbling or uncomfortable is a mild description, but frankly I’m glad they heard it from my mouth. And I learned to be very cautious with my sharing.

A former resident of Lava Hot Springs, Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion.  Now relocated to Oklahoma, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at kmbrazeal@icloud.com.

1,607 comments - What do you think?  Posted by ifennell - October 4, 2015 at 2:06 AM

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No refuge

By Randy Stapilus

Last week’s column on Muslim refugees coming to Idaho drew enough response that a follow seems warranted.
One respondent opined (in an attachment), “the bottom line is that the (College of Southern Idaho) refugee program must be terminated to prevent potential Islamic jihad terrorism and immigration jihad with increasing numbers of muslims.”
Another more measured reader: “You’ll notice most of the fear is fear of people from countries that are Islamic states. If Europe and America are going to bring in hundreds of thousands of people – many young men – from countries like Syria that are being overrun by ISIS (a Muslim terrorist group), don’t you think there’s a chance some of those ISIS fighters could enter our country along with the thousands of Syrians who don’t pose a threat? As we saw on 9-11, it only takes a few to cause a lot of chaos.”
Okay. A few thoughts then for your consideration.
First, because it’s so oft-forgotten and not irrelevant: The United States is militarily impregnable. Our military is nearly as powerful as the rest of the world’s put together. Ain’t nobody from any other country, or from the United Nations, imposing their will on us. America is going to continue to be run by Americans. If anyone suggests otherwise to you, they’re conning you.
The best way America can avoid attracting the attention of the violence-prone of the Middle East would be to lighten our footprint there.
Coming in with a group of refugees would be the dumbest way for a terrorist to enter. Every real refugee in the group would have extremely strong incentive to turn in a would-be bomber to the authorities.
Obviously, there are Muslim extremists. But obsessing on them gives them far more power and credibility than they warrant and undermines our own national self-confidence. They aren’t that numerous — and before you point out the more than billion adherents to Islam around the globe, bear in mind that those adherents consist of many segments, people who have many ways of interpreting Islam and the Quran, just as the vast number of Christians do. Mostly, they have found ways to peacefully coexist with each other and the rest of the world; if that were not the case, the world would be one vast war-pit. (Which, the lunacies of cable TV news notwithstanding, it is not.) If you still doubt the many variations within Islam, look at the various segments of Christianity (say, Unitarians, Church of Christ and the LDS Church, and dare I add the old Aryan Nations church from northern Idaho) and try saying with a straight face that they’re all the same, that they all see their theology alike and that they interpret and focus on the Bible identically.
With one obvious exception, there have been few actual instances of Muslin-based terrorism in the United States. On those few occasions, the perpetrators have been either U.S. citizens or in the country on visas. They’ve had no trouble getting in through conventional means. Not only that, the borders of the United States are vast and, as we know from long experience, porous. If someone really wants to enter the United States bad enough, he or she can find a place and a way to do it.
I write this while monitoring a terrorism-related incident that has become personal and close to home. My sister, a professor at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, was teaching class Thursday afternoon in a building next to where a crazed gunman was opening fire on students and a teacher, killing nine people and nine others. The shooter has described himself as “conservative”, a supporter of the Irish Republican Army and “not religious but spiritual”. That incident was the 294th person killed in a mass shooting in the United States in the 274 days to that point this year. As in almost all of those other incidents, the perp in this case was not Muslim.
Would I be okay with Syrian refugees living in a house on my block? Yep.

Randy Stapilus is a former Idaho newspaper reporter and editor, the author of “The Idaho Political Field Guide,” the editor of the Idaho Weekly Briefing, and a blogger at www.ridenbaugh.com. He can be reached at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

607 comments - What do you think?  Posted by ifennell - at 2:03 AM

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Am I selfish?

By Don Aslett

Recently, a friend showed me a little pedometer they had mounted on their shoe that counted steps to measure mileage walked. They felt it was important to track when they had reached their magical 10,000 steps for a healthier day.
How great would it be to have a similar device that measured an even more important daily count of how often we show kindness to another, or moments when we are less than generous.
Maybe our little device could keep track of all the times we say words or exhibit actions that lead to our own satisfaction and luxury, like
It could also keep track of kind words and actions that connote unselfishness, like
At the end of each day we would look at our devices and perhaps be shocked to find out how generous, kind, patient, benevolent — or the opposite — we have been.
As we grow up, we trust that our me-centered lives will evolve to be
others-centered. Most children come to us selfish, but some of them never evolve into giving adults. Learning that the whole world does not evolve around our own schedule, music, clothes, money, pleasure, animals and belongings is a sign of maturity. Living in the selfish circle of life is a sorry situation.
Being aware of other people and their needs is true maturity. The purest of all virtues is unselfishness and concern for others. The older we get, the greater our prosperity and the more we should seek to share what we have and serve others.
Until a kindness meter comes along or until our conscience is renewed and sensitive to another’s needs, I suggest we make friends with an unselfish person and follow their lead. See who they look after most. To what extent do they provide and share their personal resources? Most of us would be awe-inspired by those few people who actually live this highest of Christian values — to care for others more than they care for themselves.

Don Aslett, of McCammon, is the founder of The Museum of Clean, 711 S. 2nd Ave., Pocatello, and still enjoys giving tours to all visitors. Check out the museum’s website at www.museumofclean.com.

532 comments - What do you think?  Posted by ifennell - at 2:02 AM

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