Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reachin' Out

Today is the day. I finally get to use my car, after 10 days or so of being a pedestrian. You see, there are several things that have to come together for my way to be clear. First, The road district has to clear the road. Then the trailer park has to clear the internal road and the berm left by the road district. Then I wait for Phil Stephan with his bobcat. He sees my car, sitting lonely, covered with Idaho sunshine, parked at the 'Wheel.

He comes up and removes the berm left by the trailer park. Now I should be OK to motor on out of here. At least I will if the Road dept. hasn't bermed me in at the Wheel. There are just too many damn things that have to line up when the mother of all winters comes to town. Well, It's time. I'm walking down to the car, confident that I will either move it out, or declare myself sir crazy.

Shazam! I got out of town thanks to the help on several people and even got back OK. I'd hate to be above 300 feet with the wind blowing like it is, though. Got the groceries. spent too much. Business as usual, however there is one difference. I now have a supply of wine that, barring Armageddon, will last me through the next cold spell. New Years Eve. Will I or won't I. Chances are, now that I made it back to the nest, I won't be moving around tonite.

I do wish every one of my friends, both acquainted and through the blog as anonymous followers, the best of New Years. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those folks that don't know me and are still interested in what I have to say about Bayview, the economy and life in general. Comments are appreciated, as long as they are respectful and to the point. We that blog for the public are like newspaper reporters, insofar as we send information out but don't get any back. That is what the comment section is for. You can leave a remark as anonymous, or check the box that allows you to insert your own name or e-name. Anyone, of course, can use the e-mail address in my profile to communicate directly with me. Have a good one, and watch that economy. It's going to bite us in the ass.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

When will Recession/Depression End?

Now that the federal government is finally admitting to a recession around one and one-half years after it started, people are asking how long will they have to endure. It's a difficult question to answer because there are so many things that got us here.

Certainly not until 2011 and perhaps even longer. Many things got us here and the Federal Government sending us money will not pull us out. Not until our leaders realize that global free trade isn't free, unless your trading partners are buying from you in equal amounts.

We have been running trade deficits that are abhorrent for many years. We have shipped our heavy industry off shore, so as to not have to face high wages and the Sierra Club. We have even shipped our light industry off shore, all in the name of cheaper prices. Well, it doesn't help much to have cheaper prices, if the purchasing public are home out of work and can't buy anything, cheap or not. We used to get along without Chinese or Japanese cheap stuff just fine. We charged tariffs against the poorly paid labor of third world countries. This is how you level the playing field amongst dissimilar economies. When and if those other economies lift themselves up to our standard of living then and only then would we have reciprocal trade.

We started by giving up the gold standard, then the silver standard, believing that the US dollar was a world standard and didn't need to be backed by anything other than confidence, and that is where it begins and ends. Confidence, is deduced by those that totally believe in a currency. But currencies are backed by productivity. We no longer produce much of anything. The service industry, that of each career field supporting any other, as in a circle jerk is a false sense of security. I don't recommend that we return to the gold standard, or even the silver standard. But we must produce enough gross national product to offset our imports.

I see a possibility of an actual depression coming unless our government starts thinking of us rather than the entire globe. There are areas of this world we live in that have never transcended from tribal life that can't even form a workable government outside their own tribal sphere, let along how to produce farm stuffs food and more importantly, develop a manufacturing economy.

Our schools are taught by either people with an agenda or those without a clue as to how business, industry and labor co-exist and why. Prejudices are fed from one generation to another, reflecting not what is happening now, but the grudges from yesterday.

The United States of America once had an attitude. It was one of we can do anything we think we can do. Somewhere along the line, we have forgotten or don't care about the sacrifices that our parents and grandparents suffered to give us. We are now a nation of spoiled brats that feel the world owes us a living, without the intellect to figure out how we got it to begin with. I am totally disgusted with how this generation is turning out, and the waste of our forefathers and mothers efforts.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I'm An Addict, And My Name Is Herb

I'm an addict. Not to drugs or alcohol, but to writing. Like all addictions, it started innocently. I just started opining on my blog. Soon, I had delusions that I could make a difference. Be a communicator. While I still maintain my blog, I mostly do it because of the cutbacks at the Spokesman-review. Also I do it because so many snow birds tell me it's their link to the community during the winter.

I believe it was the spring of 2007 when I heard the clarion call of "journalism." The first issue of the Prairie Voice had hit the stands with neighborhood news.A bunch of amateurs and a few professionals were putting out a section dealing with everyone. I called the editor in charge, Tad Books. I sez, where is the news of Bayview and of Athol? He sez, I don't think we even circulate this edition to those places. I sez, yes you do, I got one in my paper this morning. Then he sez, we don't have anyone up there to write for us. Hah! fightin' words if I ever heard them.

I politely explained that perhaps I could fill that role. He sez, send me a sample column. Well, I sat there, staring out over Scenic Bay, when my fingers started walking.I told of the green kicker boat waddling across the bay, towing a behemoth behind, as MacDonald's Resort went through the seasonal dance of winterizing/un-winterizing the power boats that line the bay, or at least used to.

Armed with my three years of high school journalism, I boldly struck out to finally, after 48 years write for pay. It has been a blast. More recently though, I've been cut back to two columns per month when in the summer of 2007 I wrote an average of six and sometimes more columns/stories. In all of that time, I never had a story turned away. The more the merrier, Tad Sez.

Tad is gone now ... to where I don't know. I just know that he was a great guy to work with, always criticized with learning as the goal and made me a better writer, as well as a better person. I'm not particularly enthused as I once was, since I can write three stories and maybe, just maybe get one printed, but usually without pictures. You see, pictures they have to pay for as well as the stories themselves. Many stories that now appear in the Voices, are not even of Idaho. It is cheaper to reprint a story from Spokane valley or any other human interest story than to pay me and those like me for original stuff.

My Mom has been gone for many years. She was my inspiration in many ways. She also wrote a neighborhood column for the weekly, Renton News Record. I guess like buggy whip manufacturers, I'll fade back into the woodwork. It was a short, but great run.

I am teetering on the edge of quitting this relationship. I cannot any longer write with the enthusiasm I once did. I suppose that those who are college educated and hold degrees in journalism can do it. I can't. I still have the relationship with the river Journal, but that is just once a month. Who knows, maybe next season you'll see me at Silverwood again.

SNOW! Day 10 and Counting

Will this crap never stop? Ten days straight now with snow. The storm that we are currently in is predicted to last through the rest of today, Saturday and into most of Sunday. More is on the way for New Years Eve and further. We are seeing signs of people being housebound. We are at about three feet of snow with it falling at the rate of an inch per hour.If you know of anyone that can't get in or out of their house or driveway, please call me or e-mail me with the information. I will find someone that will help. 683-9107

Oh, and if I hear Bing Crosby singing, "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas," one more time, they are going to have to lock me up. My car is semi-permanently parked at the Captain's Wheel for the duration of this freakin mess. My house is like the hotel California. I can get in, but I can never leave.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Slippin' & Slidin' into the Christmas Holiday.

The utter stupidity of those big SUV's speeding along the highways at posted speed limits and above,during icy, snowy weather is amazing. It would even be entertaining if it weren't for the fact that in an accident caused by the aforementioned ignorance might cause death or serious injury to others that are behaving.

I would like to see the ISP ticket each and every one of these knuckleheads with reckless driving, not speeding.

Noted are the smug grins of our friends in Arizona.

On a more enjoyable note, people like Mark Streater, Dave Vig, Phil Stephan, Bob Prince and many others I don't know about have spent the majority of their last week rescuing people with snow removal, both driveways and roofs. These are the real community leaders. The ones that lead with action, not words. Three cheers for the good guys. (and gals) Thanks to Phil, I can end my weather imposed 3 day long housebound existence. Well, I could have walked, but (reference the last post regarding laziness)

As I ponder the mysteries of the period, the biting question occurs to me: Just what is a "Sugar Plum fairy?" Also, how much does one have to drink before they dance in your head? Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It Ain't That I'm Lazy ...

It's been snowing for a freakin week with no end in sight. We started with 17 inches then just kept on keepin' on. Can't tell how much snow is on the ground now. One, I can't get out the door, two, if I walk out to get the paper, I'm a human snowplow. The wind came up two nights ago and all the snow on the trees and my roof, plus half the mountain behind me now resides in my way. The only way I go outside is if I suddenly grow a few inches so I can see where I'm going.

The other day I paid a young couple to shovel me out. He sent his wife. The wind knocked my snow shovel over wherever it was and it's now buried somewhere. May it rest in piece er' peace. That night the wind came up and buried me even deeper. I don't need a shovel anyway. Maybe an ark. I'm doing a bunch of cooking for the Christmas Eve and Christmas parties. Christmas Eve is a potluck at the Wheel, followed Christmas Day at Terry's Cafe.

I have no idea how I'm going to transport these goodies, but I'm hoping that if I open the door, someone will like the smell and bail me out. It would give me great pleasure to stuff this snow up the ass of all green freak global warming advocates. May your stockings hold coal, Christmas morning.

Addendum: Praise be to the spirit of Christmas. I'm about to be released from captivity. The beleaguered management of Scenic Bay Marina has been like the little Dutch boy with the finger in the dike, trying to save boat sheds and houseboats from sinking under the weight of snow with more to come. That they have been able to plow our meager little access road in the trailer park is nothing short of miraculous. Unfortunately, when Hans plows, he obliterates our parking areas. this makes it possible to navigate the roads if only we could get to them.

Arrives a white knight. Bob Prince, president -elect of the Chamber of commerce has offered his services in support of the community. But he's not the only one. Dave Vig, Phil Stephan, many others that we have been unable to identify have stepped up. It you are house bound, call me at 683-9107 and I will find you someone that will help. Isn't this town a great place to live?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Donald Faubian

Don Faubian died Thursday doing what he does best. Helping others. Every year when snow hit, Don would be out plowing not just his own driveway, but others as well. He was in the process of clearing the road for himself and neighbors when he got his ATV stuck in a snow bank. Struggling to get it out, He finally walked up to his home, where he called a friend to help. When the friend arrived, Don was dead. Most likely he had a heart attack which is not uncommon when heavy snow hits and we over exert ourselves.

Don was always helping others. Back about three or four years ago when I needed a ton of pellets for my stove, Don's reply was hop in (his pickup) we'll go get 'em. He then proceeded to help unload and stack them. He did so many selfless things that go unnoticed except to those that were helped. Don Faubian will be missed by many.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Passing of Maggie Mae

It seems that just when I am preparing to write upbeat good things for Christmas, a whole string of bad things happen. first the boat fire, in which one passenger lost his life, then just as I was preparing to talk about all of the holiday cheer, the Saddle Up Grill in Athol burned down. Ah well, I'll certainly find something good to write about.

Huh-uh. Cleaning up after the big snow storm, out at the very tip of Cape Horn, was Don Faubian. Retired consultant to many African governments on various engineering projects, he died of an apparent heart attack trying to get his ATV unstuck. When He realized he couldn't get it out of the snowbank it was in, he walked all the way up the hill to his house, where he called a friend to help. By the time the friend arrived, Don had died.

Now comes an e-mail about Maggie Mae, the Athol Zebra some saw two years ago at the Athol Daze parade. It turns out that Lady, her companion horse had to be put down three weeks ago. Maggie Mae, the only Zebra ever to be used in mental therapy, died of colic. Her mistress and best friend believes that her death was from a broken heart.

When You're Buried, Stuff Happens

Our current weather situation has claimed at least one victim. Don Faubian,of Cape Horn in Bayview, friend to all, perished Thursday. He got his ATV stuck in the snow at the bottom of his hill. He walked back up to phone his friend for help. When his friend got there, he was gone. Snow storms bring out over exertion which, if you are out of shape can bring on heart attacks. Shoveling snow is one of the highest causes of death during stormy weather.

We are attempting to put together a list of snow plowers, but haven't managed to confirm yet. I'll act as an information central for a while. If you are trapped in your driveway, call me and I will attempt to get some help to you. This just applies to Bayview. 683-9107. Those of you that have snow removal equipment and would like to be of assistance to others, call me too. Another wintery blast is expected tonight through Sunday and possibly Monday, so be ready.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Guest Post from Gary MacDonald

Bayview Snow Report from Gary MacDonald. Picture by Herb

Dear everyone with a boat. mobile home, and/or
float house at MacDonald's Hudson Bay,

Because we may not have everyone's email in our
files, kindly read this email and then forward it to
anyone that you know in our little community. Your
boat might even be out of the water, but if you have a
dock neighbor without email you may want to make
some calls and keep them posted. People in our
entire area may have more snow that we do, so far at
least, but they aren't floating.Your getting this
information to your dock mates may mean that people
get multiple copies, but that's ok.

This is the situation: At 11:45 a.m. Thursday (now) we
have approximately 17 inches on flat ground, roofs, boats,
docks, etc. The snow is very light, but it is still weights
something and is still adding up. We have plowed our
roads and parking lots. We are working on the docks at
this point. We are keeping an eye on our floating covered
slips. At this writing they are low but ok.

Float houses: All of the float houses whether they be one or
two story are getting lower in the water as you might
expect. We do not have the manpower or the means
available to tackle any float house roofs. Most houses
have roofs that are high enough that one cannot reach
much with a snow rake, even with an extension handle.
Heat in the houses typically is not that helpful in getting
the snow to slide when the weather is this cold. Most
improved float houses have some insulation and the heat
can't really get to the roof anyway.When heat does get to
the roof, it melts a little snow and then it refreezes to the
roof making sliding impossible. I really think that we will
have to hope for the best.

Boats: All the boats are currently fine.They are all a bit
lower in the water, but I don't feel any are in any particular
danger. If you have soft tops they are at some risk
currently. If we have time we will do our best to push the
snow off the soft tops, but frankly I cannot make any
promises at this time. Jon is snowed in West of Athol and
Tyler is stuck in Spirit Lake. Kevin, Loren,and I are here
working. We have our hands full at this time.

Mobile Homes: At this point I don't believe any roof is in
danger and even with more snow I think that they'll be ok.
Most are protected from some of the snow by adjacent
trees. But, of course I don't know what the future will

Safety: If you do come out to shovel anything that you
own, please keep in mind that your property is not worth
your life. The water is very cold. If you fall in you might
not get back out. You should not work by yourself.

One thing NOT to do: If you have a boat in one of our
covered slip buildings and you visit it,you may find your
boat lines are tight because the building is low and your
boat is still floating. DO NOT LOOSEN them. Your boat
will help hold up the building and we have never had any
cleat failure with the additional load on your cleats. If you
have a boat in your float house, the same is true. Your
boat will help hold up your house. Thanks.

There is not much that any of you can do at this point.
However,if you can't stay away and end up here for
curiosity's sake you can do something. You can make
sure all of your power cords, rope, driftwood, knick-knacks,
etc. are off the docks. If you have extra rope,tie it up to
your boat. We don't like to find the mentioned items with
the snow blowers. But remember, this is absolutely NOT a
request to show up here. In fact, with the roads like they
are you're probably better off keeping off the roads as
much as possible. You be the judge.

We are not by the telephone very much. You can call my
home phone and talk to Mary (208) 683-2542, but frankly
she won't know any more than what I have written in this
email.You can be certain that we are doing whatever is
humanly possible to see that everyone's property is still
whole and floating after this storm is a memory.

Thank you for your assistance in getting this information to

Gary MacDonald


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let it Snow, Let it Snow ...

I would give a running commentary on road conditions in Bayview, except I can't get there. Currently, I have 17 " of new snow with it still falling. We are now told that after a 2 hour or so pause, we're going to get another 6 ". Just what we need.

My car is where I left it, (I think) though I can't see it anymore. Snow is coming down in Bayview reminiscent of 1991-92, when records were set. I recall we set a new four day record of continuous snowfall of 44" Thursday through Sunday. A snow plow finally appeared just now, which would be real good if, one, I could get out of my access road, and two, if I wanted badly enough to go somewhere.

If anyone wants to visit me they are going to have to shovel their way in. My snow shovel fell over yesterday and is buried somewhere. So then,the rules are these. If you are coming over, bring shovel, beer, more beer.

This week-end is reputed to bring us another storm. Global warming is beginning to be a pain in the ass. Anyone want to talk to me? I'll be right here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Brutal Weather Affects Holliday Traffic

This Christmas season for most of us residing in the Panhandle of Idaho, is going to be one without a lot of travel and visiting involved. Single digit and less, temperatures in the last week are threatening to extend on into next week. Low temps, snow, blowing snow and dangerously untrained winter drivers are all contributing to a stay at home attitude this year.

I have a trip planned for Saturday, December 20 to my Son's home in north Spokane, but am thinking very seriously of canceling it. As long as we have SUV drivers with all wheel drive thinking they are 10 feet tall and bullet-proof, it's life threatening out there. Several lives have already been lost in the last few days in traffic accidents.

A coat of ice underlies the snow that is currently coming down, as one more storm hits us. The unfortunate use by road department officials of chemicals to melt the ice made it worse. I read the other day that these chemicals don't work below about 10 degrees. they just start to melt the surface, then refreeze making it much worse. It's too bad they can't think before acting, but there it is. Procedures are written in stone.

For this Christmas I'm going to stay near home. I'm hosting a small dinner for myself and neighbors Christmas Eve, then I'll go to the community dinner Christmas day at Terry's Cafe. Oh, and I'll be thinking about all of my friends and relatives that will be celebrating elsewhere. Fred Gindreaux, a quasi Brother-In-Law, just diagnosed with terminal brain cancer will be in my thoughts and prayers as well.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's Kinda Chilly Out!

I can't remember a severe arctic outbreak like this one for many years. Back in the 1969-70's era it wasn't too uncommon for an arctic outbreak to give us a week to ten days and sometimes a little longer of highs in the single digits and lows fifteen below zero. That hasn't happened for a long time. With many southerners moving into our area within the last ten to fifteen years, some surprises are in store for many.

Bitter cold is not the same as being uncomfortable and having to wear heavier clothing. It is life threatening. Frost bite and deaths from exposure await those that don't respect these conditions, along with ruined plumbing systems for many. Some hints to those that are not old timers with this sort of cold are: Drip all of your faucets and open all under sink cabinet doors for heat circulation. A little increase in your heat bill from dripping the hot water is nothing compared to replacing all of the plumbing in the house. If you live in a mobile home with central heating, use it. Those ducts follow the same path as your water pipes. Using your wood stove will not protect them.

For the enjoyment of our friends in Wellton and other Southern Arizona spas, the following is our weather forecast for Athol, Idaho. It may be slightly colder or warmer in some other close by areas.Today has an expected high of 13 with a low tonight of minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Temps through the 19th will range from 14 daytime and 5 to 6 at night. Temps will rise into the 20's starting Saturday, December 20, but with a price. With the rising temperatures comes snow which is predicted to fall each day through the 28th of December, that being the latest date on the long range forecast provided by Accuweather.

It's hunker down time here while we attempt to get used to weather more common in the Dakotas that Idaho. The predicted 12 to 15 inches of snow did not occur, as the cold ridge of high pressure beat the moist air from the pacific, forcing the storm to change tracks. Had they arrived at the same time, which was predicted, it would have went off like a "weather bomb," the term the weather guessers used.

Yes, global warming has kicked off with a bang. Hard to tell how cold it will get next year, what with global warming getting even worse. Hopefully, most of our neighbors here in the Bayview-Athol-Careywood area are safe and tucked in. Most around here are old veterans at this type of weather. For those that are not, it would be wise to consult a friend that is.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Messages In The Dark

If you ain't tellin', RPB, then I ain't listenin'. Howsomever, you have tickled my curiosity. Just remember, good communications are what make the world go 'round. ...

White Christmas, and then some ...

It would appear that my smug notion that give the need for wearing a heavier coat here in North Idaho during the winter was all of the difference between here and Arizona was in error.This week-end is going to usher in the holiday season by bringing us 10 to 15 inches of snow, beginning Friday, today and continuing through Sunday. This, sez the weather bureau, will be followed by high winds, drifting snow and oh, did I forget? below zero temperatures. Not just wind chill, but actual temps as low in some areas as minus 15-17 degrees by Wednesday.

As I take a longing look back at Wellton, Arizona and Los Cajones, Mexico, and the accompanying 80 plus degree weather, I feel badly that my friends down there may have to don a sweater during the chill of an evening. Here, we are going to hunker down, get those last minute essentials. Beer, Wine and possibly some food.

Then we will gather around the scanner and play North Idaho's favorite winter sport....Actually, second favorite winter sport, both of course played indoors. This number two sport is listening during a blizzard, while rescues are taking place on Rathdrum Prairie during the occasional whiteout and roads drifted shut. The sound of a dispatcher saying... "when you get through with that slide off, we have 73 more waiting. Call when you are clear."

Merry Christmas to all. I'll post another as soon as I can find the street out front again.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

An Historic Epiphany

Sometimes, people just do things right. What is amazing, in the case of the beleaguered Bayview Chamber of Commerce, it was unexpected. Suffering through at least six years of dysfunctional management, somehow this group found it's feet again. A nominating committee headed by Skip Wilcox, realized that the community had been torn apart by various events and cliques were sadly mishandled. We are not going to belabor these points. What is done, is done.

What we would like to do, however, is congratulate the new officers and board members that were carefully chosen by this committee with the apparent goal of finding people that wanted to serve,not rule. That hadn't fouled their collective nest by joining into damaging clique activities. This little village has produced an amazing amount of vitriol in the last two years.

Much of that has been the rapid change in the community structure. Money moved in, citizens moved out. We are a village in transition without a goal, just resentment. The first to move in was Bob Holland, of Waterford Park Homes, LLC. A developer with no boundaries, he gobbled up three tired businesses, all marinas that wanted out. In some cases he bought them at way below market value, but then he was making the market, wasn't he?

The community, long settled into a sleepy fun resort for the lower and middle income groups, had been discovered. Eight miles off the main road, you can't reach Bayview without intending to go there. Many of our neighbors from Spokane that were our summer people, were our friends as well. Suddenly, everything changed. Mobile homes were kicked out of Vista Bay, a spot that summer people had used for decades. Then the Bayview Mobile Home Park, centered in the downtown area was evicted for future sale.

When the real estate bust started, all of these grandiose plans were at full speed ahead. They are now at full stop. Lots aren't selling, spec building loans are laughed at. The problem facing Bayview,though, isn't really any of these previous events, except indirectly. You see, with the motel shutting down, the trailer park vacated, Vista Bay mobile homes gone, we are bordering on becoming a ghost town. Our restaurants may not be here to greet you this spring, because of the lack of customers during the winter.

The new administration of the Bayview Chamber is facing a daunting task. Not only are they facing a huge recession bordering on depression, but there aren't many permanent residents left. When the real estate market picks up again, which I predict not to happen for about three or more years, will there be any businesses left here.

Some of the problem lies with the Chamber itself. Faced with the loss of the way of life they had always known, residents rose up in protest to this violating of their lifestyle. Unfortunately the lifestyle that most had enjoyed for decades was over. It is time for the Chamber of commerce to recognize that commerce includes the developers, the marinas and all the other businesses that have been considered intruders. They are here, they have most of our waterfront and we need to engage them in dialog, not anger.

When they give money to the community for the enjoyment of all, we need to stop vilifying them for doing so. The Chamber of commerce is no longer the Chamber of Business. Hopefully this will change with the new group taking over. Otherwise, it's just another bunch of blowhards listening to each other. We can not any longer entertain a bunch of destroyers. To quote a famous street person, Rodney King, "Can't we just get along?"

Giving When It Hurts

Gift Tree - Bayview Mercantile

Every year around this time the drumbeat for donations is heard. This year is terribly different. It is different because of the increase in unemployment and a recessive economy. While many give when times are good, it is much harder when times are bad.

I remember a Christmas back many years ago where things were tough. We decided that all Christmas gifts would be used items. It turned out to be one of the most rewarding Christmases I've experienced. Everyone tried to use their imagination, instead of just swooshing down an aisle at Walmart.

For many, this will be the first time that hunger has become an issue in their entire lives. Perhaps for most. Please, give to your local food bank. I bet that there are thousands out there that leave this chore to others and have never helped out. You are the ones I'm talking to. If you have never faced meal time without anything to eat, nor a prospect that there will be anything, it's hard to imagine, but the pressure on food banks is going to be immense this year and I expect each and every one of you that can, to help out.

Here in Bayview, we have the ABC food bank, located at the Athol Community Center, which stands for Athol, Bayview and Careywood. Many of you will recall when druggies burglarized this food bank, carting off all of the gift cards and many gifts that were sitting out waiting to be distributed. What happened after that was a miracle, was people and companies lined up patiently to give and then give more.

Today we have a different challenge. One that involves hunger, instead of treachery. We need those that stepped up before, to do so again. Gift wise, the Bayview Mercantile has a small Christmas tree that is decorated with gift wishes. You are invited to take one of these wishes home with you, and return it with the gift meant for this child. We ask that you do so. Athol City Hall is accepting gifts as well as food donations for the food bank which is located in the community Center. Please help. Please don't let there be children waking up Christmas morning, crying from hunger and cold.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dignified Behavior At All Times

While I do attempt to act my age, I seldom reach that goal. I am one of those that after reviewing the options, find no value in acting grown up. The above picture will prove that point. I'm not sure if I was doing an off Broadway rendition of La Cucuracha, or what, but I had a good time. But I still wonder about a culture that worships cockroaches.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Goat Trail

U.S. Highway 95 starts in the south at I-8 just east of Yuma, Arizona. It meanders roughly north with some notable zigs and zags to finally conclude at the Canadian border. I drove that highway for most of it's length during my recent road trip.

This time around I took U.S. 93 south from Twin Falls, Idaho into Nevada and south through Ely to Las Vegas, thence joining up with Hwy 95 again into Yuma. For the most part, the goat trail is a well kept up highway that is a favorite of truckers and those that enjoy great scenery. That applies to Nevada and Arizona, not Idaho.

My destination was Wellton, just 30 miles east of Yuma, Arizona where I spent five nights with the Campbells, late of Bayview, and visited with several other snowbirds from here as well. When I left Wellton it was to detour west to Manteca, California where two of my children and a horde of grandchildren reside. Oh, and I have been informed that my great-grandchild count is passing 7 to soon be 9, as two of my grand-daughters are expecting.

When I left Manteca I drove north on I-5 to Sacramento and up over Donner pass, elevation 7227 feet. Starting in Sacramento which is about 200 feet above sea level, that is quite a climb. I was on I-80 which starts in San Francisco and goes to Salt Lake city and beyond, clear to New York City. I got off at Winnemucca, Nevada and headed north on ... you guessed it, "The Goat Trail."

On the map, it appears that 95 intersects I-84 flawlessly. No way. This is where the goat trail starts to live up to it's name. Actually that started back when for some reason the U.S. Government decided to use part of eastern Oregon called the Jordan Valley between Nevada and Idaho. The road twisted and turned much like up here, except worse when finally you break out of the mountains into the Treasure Valley. Ha, were almost home, right? Huh-uh. The Caldwell, Nampa, Payette corridor sends you through every little burgh that comes along, and they all seem to think it would broaden your experience by touring their downtowns while passing by.

Finally, the last little town in the valley is past and I start up into the hills. Fog. Lots of fog. For those of you that think fog is found only in valleys, wrong. the higher I got the more fog I encountered. Finally, as I started down the long grade that would terminate in Lewiston, the fog disappeared, only to return in it's usual location at Lewiston. Not to worry. Everyone knows that about two-thirds of the way up the Lewiston Grade you leave the fog behind. Not this time. I drove through dense fog all the way back to Bayview, where I am now recovering from dead butt syndrome. There's more. Much more, but I'll leave that for a forthcoming column.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Heading Home

Tonight will be my last night visiting. Tomorrow morning, I head for home. Living in other's households is awkward at best regardless of the degree of hospitality and I look forward to returning to my familiar surroundings. Still, sleeping in one's own bed is always the best.

Judging from the recent news out of Bayview, with the boat fire and ensuing death of an Athol man, and the rare appearance of a mountain goat tangling with it's own image in a sliding glass door up[ on Howard Street, it is obvious that the sleepy late fall/early winter Bayview that I left, woke up with a bang.

It seems like most every year we have deaths by drowning in the lake and this year is no exception. Some of you remember up close and personal, the effects of gas fumes igniting from a foreign source, this time, a propane portable heater. I don't have the information on whether this happened But they probably just gassed up, since that is generally when fuel fires start when blowers aren't used liberally.

The goat was probably an outcast Buck that wandered down from Bernard Peak and saw his reflection as another buck. This being the rutting season, he undoubtedly left the battlefield still horny. (Pun intended)

The hospitality of my hosts, Jim & Jean Campbell, and the visits coordinated with Larry & Liz Justus were great. Also, the folks at the Wellton VFW, which made me welcome on our visits, as well. Others we ran into were Jerry Mutton and his friend A.J. Hare and Dale and Vicki Parowitz, former owners of Gibbs Tavern and subsequent Bayview residents. They purchased a home in the Foothills area near Yuma. I missed several others some by just a few days. Dave and Annie Morrow got there about three days after I left. Dick & Annie Gasper and former Bayview residents Lou & Peggy Wilson also were yet to arrive.

This is undoubtedly influenced by my wish to get back home, so since I'm in Manteca, near Sacramento, I'll take I-80 through Reno to Winnemucca thence straight up 95 to home, weather permitting. If I get up at a decent hour in the morning, I should make Bayview by Monday Night football time. If anyone needs to reach me, I'm on a cell phone 208-623-8589. See you all soon.


I got up Sunday morning too early. I laid back down but sleep wouldn't come. Suddenly, an epiphany occurred. What if I just got up, packed my stuff and lit out?
I did so. Cranking away from the curb at 5:45 am in dense fog, I found my way to California 120, a shortcut to I-5. I buzzed up to Sacramento, where I shwooshed into I-80 headed for Reno, Nevada. I reached Reno at around 9:00 am at which rime I called my son, the host to point out that I had left suddenly. He pointed out to me that he, in fact had noticed, also. I got to the Treasure Valley around dusk, but it was way too early to check into a motel, so I trekked on down the road. I ended up just driving straight on through and arived at 12:30 am, eighteen hours later, Monday am. The new River Journal is out, so I'm headed to Athol for a copy.

Heading north and east, I caught Winnemucca about lunch time. I scarfed down a value meal at KFC and headed north for parts not explored for many years. More of my adventures when I get more sleep.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Interesting Times

I met a real friendly dog in my travels from Wellton, Arizona to Manteca, California. Normally that isn't news, except this dog worked for the government. Shortly after turning north on Highway 95 from I-8, I encountered a customs stop. These stations are placed strategically several miles within our country. Their purpose is to interdict illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

I was duly stopped while a dog handler snooped my car. Suddenly the dog became excited and came up to my window and jumped up. Thinking he was just being friendly, I started visiting with him. At that point the officer directed me to pull over into an inspection place. Just before complying, the dog handler, who appeared to be the senior officer, asked me if I had any prescription drugs on board. I replied that yes, I had several. Asked if I was carrying hydrocodone, I told him I wasn't, but I did have some codeine. He then released me to continue my trip. I believe that if I were a younger person, possibly of Mexican descent, I'd still be there with my car in pieces.

The amazing thing about this dog is that his sense of smell was so keen that he could detect capsules at several feet while still in the bottle. I'd hate to be a smuggler with these folks guarding the portals. They are really good at what they do.

Following this adventure, I spent the next eleven hours travelling to Manteca, California, where my son lives. One problem I noted about the long stretches of I-5 was that four lanes of traffic were insufficient due to a huge volume of truck traffic. I would come up on a convoy of five or so semis, just when the rear trucker would decide to pass the others. Sometimes this happened on an upgrade, causing this action to happen in slow motion while this one truck would overtake the other four or five trucks before moving over. With car traffic averaging 75 to 80 MPH, needless to say this bunched up traffic terribly. This example was repeated every few miles or so. Perhaps these truckers watched too many movies like,"convoy" and were playing games. At any rate, it lengthened the trip considerably.

Well, vacationing is fun, but I'm looking forward to getting home right after thanksgiving. Hopefully, the weather will behave, and I can take I-80 from Sacramento to Reno thence Winnemucka and right up 95 through the Salmon River country. If not, I'll swing west through the Blue Mtns to Tri-cities and up to Ritzville.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Country is Too Dang Big

Well, here I am in beautiful downtown Manteca, California, home of Dave Oliveria of Huckleberries on line fame. After contacting Dave's brother, Edward, I learned of DFO's birthday which is today. I quickly blew the whistle on him in his mega-blog.

I departed Wellton, Arizona, after a whirlwind tour of the area, the VFW, in which it appears there is a different party every night. We went to Lost Cojones, Mexico, er ... Los Algodones, Mexico, which in Spanish is "Cotton." I didn't see much cotton, but jewelry was everywhere, plus Nick-knacks of every kind. I bought a plaster of paris hand painted turtle with baby turtles crawling on it's back for Debra, the wonderful lady that lives next door. Debra is picking up my S/R's in the morning as well as feeding my cat.

Some things you can buy cheaply in Lost Cojones are: Booze. A one liter bottle of Kahlua like coffee liqour is $6 as well as a bottle of one hundred 300 Mil. Amoxicillin for the same price. One can get just about any prescription drug down here without one. A bought a very nice full size sombrero with red velvet and a lot of gold braid for $22. Leather goods are dirt cheap as well as silver jewelry. Those in the know take refrigerator magnets with them so they can tell Steel from the real thing.

Burger night at the VFW, which happens on Mondays, is unreal. Last Monday I attended with Liz & Larry Justus along with Jim & Jean Campbell. Jim can't stay away from a kitchen and yes, you guessed it, it was he that was flipping the burgers. 278 of them. In the depth of Winter, they have served as many as 425 in one night. November is still lightly attended, because many don't migrate south until after the holidays.

I made Manteca in one hop, taking around 12 hours for the trip. I left at 8:30 am Mtn. time and arrived at 7:30 Pacific time in Manteca. I'll be here through Thanksgiving, then back north where I will spend the rest of the winter contemplating those expats sipping a cool one on the patio in 85% weather, which it was while I was there.

I filed a story that should have published in the S/R Thursday, (today) from Wellton and my other story in the River Journal that will come out 12/1 before I left. See you all around the first give or take a day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm Tired!

Since visiting with you last,I hit the road. My last road trip was prior to my establishing a blog, back some four years ago. Since then I have posted on this blog 537 times. During my original coast to coast road trip, I e-mailed DFO at Huckleberries on line, the spokesman-Review, who then published my adventures on what then was, I believe, Hot Potatoes.

This week I took off for southern Arizona in my car, not the motor home. My destination ... Wellton, Arizona, winter home to many Bayview area snowbirds including Jim & Jean Campbell, my hosts,and former owners of the Capain's Wheel in Bayview,and Liz & Larry Justus of the Lakeland RV Park.1512 miles and a sore butt later, I arrived in Wellton, Arizona, about 30 miles east of Yuma.

Today, we visited Lost Cojones, Mexico, where I spent money I couldn't afford on many items I didn't need. I have just been informed that the correct spelling of the town in Mexico is Los Algodones. During the visit in this colorful place, we found many advisors that were aparently placed strategically, so that we could be guided to the can't miss sales of almost everything. These wonderful people were very effective at their jobs and I left empty pocketed.

Driving back from the California side toward Yuma, we spotted a Wal-Mart which of course we stopped at. As we exited the store, waiting for the rest of our party, lo and behold, Dale and Vickie Parowitz, former owners of the Gibbs Tavern on Northwest Blvd in Coeur d'alene appeared. Then Jerry Mutton and A.J. Hare, all either residing in Bayview or recently departed. All totalled, nine meeting in southern Arizona at the same time and the same place. It is indeed a small world.

I'll be heading out to Central California, where I will meet up with most of my children and some of my grandchildren. What I really need to do is go home where I can rest up. More later.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Whether to, Or not?

I haven't ever written about my personal life. One, I consider that rather private, and two, almost always when you attain my age, you tend to drag emotional baggage with you. Today, I'm going to do just that. I am, other than when I attend the local watering hole, or visit other establishments, a Hermit. I am capable of holing up at home and speeding through several novels. Reading has always been my escape/entertainment.

Niggling at the edges of what passes for my mind though, is the realization that I am missing a part of life that is shared by the vast majority of my peers. That would be companionship by a member of the opposite sex. I haven't even dated for the last ten or so years, choosing the coward's way out, that of evasion and non-involvement. After a few years, I became comfortable in that role.

Still, when I get ready to go on a trip as I am going to do in the morning, I wonder what it would be like to share it with another person, sleep with another person and share the discoveries that occur on such trips. Catching a big fish is great, but it's even better when a significant other oohs and awes over the great feat just experienced.

On the down side, and there is a huge down side, most of the good ones at my age are happily married, leaving me to pick through the rejects, bitter divorcees and other malcontents with the accompanying emotional baggage. So, the question begs. Do I step up to the plate, take a few swings, or creep back into my comfortable womb of solitude. As I get older, the realization that it's almost over and a little late prompts me to ask myself these questions. The fact that Bayview is a graveyard for single guys is another factor.

I will head out tomorrow, headed for Arizona, thence to central California to visit my grown children and their children and in a couple of cases, their children.Still, I wonder what it would be like to share all of these things. ...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Time Out

It's about this time of year that we look around and realize that many of our friends aren't around any more. These people disappear in the fall and miraculously reappear in the late spring. They come back with tans and an attitude. I decided since I haven't taken a vacation in four years and some of my grandchildren that were in elementary school are now in High School and soon will be out on their own, that it was time to visit both.

I will depart Wednesday for southern Arizona, where I will visit with our expats down there. After a few days, days that I will be spending primarily with Jim & Jean Campbell, former owners of the Captain's Wheel in Bayview, I'll trek on to Central California, where I will stay in Manteca, through Thanksgiving.

During my trip, I will attempt to borrow a computer from time to time and will pass on any interesting experiences. I will also attempt to write my twice-monthly column in the spokesman-Review from there. Hopefully, Management will have got their act together and we will know whether neighborhood news is still going to be part of the mix. If not, well, there are other venues and I will seek out some of them. Although I've got a late start, becoming a part-time journalist at age 69, I am enjoying the experience not to mention the extra retirement income that it produces.

I should be back by December 1st. I hope you all enjoy your thanksgiving dinners.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

An Historic Moment

There are certainly many emotions out there about tonite's election results.Some think this is the coming of the new order, and others sink down in gloom & doom. Actually, neither side should be complacent, for even though change is in the works, nobody really knows where it will go. Many of us saw devastation in the results of the presidential election. Others saw glory.

I looked upon the face of what appeared to be a young black girl during the victory celebration in Chicago. Her countenance was of sheer wonder. As her eyes glistened, I saw something I had never seen before. It was a look of hope, a look of absolute confidence. Until that moment in time, I never realized that it may be that a black person has never in our history had the opportunity to have that look.

I an proud to live in a country that can overturn a government peacefully, as we are about to do.Regardless of what others around the globe think of us, we represent hope. The hope that no matter how bad things are, they can get better if we get involved. In Equitorial Africa, people don't get involved, they simply follow their leaders. For that matter, so do those that live in the north of the African continent.

The future of this country, and for that matter, the world, rests in the next few years. Energy, food production, heavy industry, and many other areas of production will probably haunt us for many years. If we escape the deceleration of our economy and avoid a depression, it will still take many years for this country to recover from our foolish mistakes. Having been in the lending business, I can attest to the fact that only government interference caused the reckless lending practices in real estate. We now have to pick up the pieces. Whether we can will rely on the new president, Barack Obama. If he fails, this country is in for horrendous times. If he succeeds, he will be a hero.


Two or more years is just too much to put the American Public through. I am so sick of the campaign I could puke. Friends don't speak to each other, those with differing views aren't even cordial any more and many avoid contact with anyone that is the slightest, politically inclined. Name calling is even with adults at an all time high, which is generally when frustration overcomes intellect. Added to that is the tendency of both left and right to move even further, if one thinks that's possible, to their respective left/right positions.

Today it will be over. When the dust settles we will have a new president, a new Senator and possibly other new faces as well. Some are so disgusted with the present government, that instead of voting straight ticket, they are just voting for whomever is in opposition to the incumbent. Perhaps, after the crowing slows down, things will calm down.

One thing is for sure. Who ever loses the presidential election may, after all, be the winner. When one looks at all of the problems we are entangled with around the world, and domestically, it is scary. Economically, we are treading where we have never gone before in an attempt to stave off severe deflation. The new president, as well as the congress is going to have to stop pontificating and do something even if it requires them to cooperate with each other. One serious misstep and we my start having bread lines again after all these years of prosperity. I have in past posts gone into what I think brought us here, and they don't need to be repeated again ... at least yet.

Get out there and vote, even if your choice is the lesser evil, it's better than dropping out. If you don't vote, you have no moral right to bitch about the outcome. Well, I'm out of here to do just that.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Change (Real Change)

We have had several very progressive events happen under our last two Democrat presidents. First Carter, who gave away the Panama Canal to Panama, then allowed a bunch of outlaw Shiites capture our diplomats and incarcerate them right up to the inauguration of President Reagan, whom they knew had the balls to take them out if they didn't release our people.

Shifting to President Clinton, most remember him for the affairs he had. What was much worse, were the bribes writ large that he took from the Chinese which resulted in two major events. One, was when he closed down the Long Beach Naval Station and leased it to a Chinese corporation that was solely owned by the Chinese Army/Navy. The second was when he stood still and allowed Panama to sub-lease the operation of the Panama Canal to yet another corporation owned by the Chinese Army/Navy. For those of you that are going to the knee jerk and say, "but it's their country," go back to your history books. We created Panama out of a part of what was Columbia. We built the canal and operated it for the benefit of all nations, at tremendous expense in both money and lives.

One can only wonder what damage another Democrat will do to our country, if elected. The electorate itself, you and I are to blame really, by not paying attention to the important issues. That Clinton was impeached for lying under oath was peanuts compared to the campaign contributions that poured into his coffers with a quid pro quo being control of the canal and a base on our own soil.Selling out our country is commonly called Treason.

As far as local political office is concerned, we do need balance between the two parties,a balance that we do not presently enjoy. When I lived over on the coast, in Washington State, I witnessed a solidly Democrat county government in both Pierce and King Counties. That corruption occurred is of record. The same happens anywhere that one party, whether the Democrats or Republicans hold absolute power, or as Lord Acton, echoed by Ronald Reagan said, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Such would be the case with an extreme liberal in the White House and control of both houses of congress. Turning a 180 degree course the other way is no way to run our country. If anyone is curious as to some of my votes this time around, here are the following:

President, McCain
Senator, Risch
Congress, Minnick
Kootenai Cty Commissioners, Curry and Tondee
Timberlake Fire District, Debbie Schissler

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Time Flies

Anyone who has lived for 70 or more years can remember much that the current crop takes for granted. When I was born in 1938, we were still flying bi-planes, Ford Tri-motors and the like. At ten years old, I was experiencing "Give 'en hell, Harry Truman." Harry was a guy I really admired, mostly for his forthrightness. He had a temper too, as has been described of John McCain.Sometimes getting "mad as hell," isn't a bad thing, as long as in the process you don't lose control.

Since I started flying in 1959, most planes haven't any propellers anymore and jets are being replaced with rockets. My first several aircraft were tail draggers.The cell phones most people have nowadays were a Buck Rogers thing. Sci-fi. When growing up, we didn't sit in front of the black and white TV except for special programs. We never missed the Milton Beryl hour. There were no electronic toys, new math, wi-fi. We entertained our selves outside for the most part, or at card games, such as pinochle. Unlike the current crop of people, I read books as my principle entertainment. I have so many books in my house that I don't remember how most of them came out, and as a result can enjoy re-reading many of them.

I thought I'd seen everything there was to see, until Barack Obama. Now without playing the race card, and isn't it disappointing to have to disclaim so that you can even discuss race? I never thought I'd ever see a black man run for president, especially with a Muslim name. Times have indeed changed, and in a hurry. More young people that haven't the anchor of maturity are flocking to this man's banner, as if he were the new messiah. The most severe change in politics happened with the advent of television. Now suddenly, instead of following voting records, or staring the candidate in the face, like news programing, politics has become a form of show business.Here we have a charismatic young man in his first term as a senator. An empty vessel with nothing but platitudes and generalities to offer. Whether he would make a good president is like throwing dice.

In this world we find our selves in, we have perhaps more challenges than even the forties with WW11 in progress. Back then, heavy industry bailed us out of the depression as well as World War 11. We no longer have heavy industry. Our economy in in the tank and for many reasons. Free trade that isn't free, and isn't trade, unless countries like China also buy in large quantity from us. We have one war and another occupation that we are fighting, with uneasy situations in many parts of the globe. We may have been safer when our only enemy was the Soviet Union.

While I won't vote straight ticket, I can't see Obama as president. Not because he's black or young or even because he has a Muslim name. No, I will not vote for him because notwithstanding the fact that McCain isn't charismatic and isn't a great speaker, he has dedicated his life to this country from birth. First in the Navy, then after reaching the grade of Captain, retiring and entering politics. He doesn't bow down to the Bush doctrine, whatever that is, nor does he fight with the left just because he is a Republican. He is a unifier and a man that can stand with members of both parties to find common ground solutions to horribly complex problems. He has the benefit of living a long life, gathering experience and knowledge from many places and people. We KNOW who John McCain is. I can't say the same about Obama. He is an unknown with questionable friends and from the Daley controlled Chicago area, where politicians are taught to campaign in graveyards. Hiring Kids to run the country should only be in a classroom mock election, not the real thing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I recently posted a picture of a cat perched on top of a fish tank there not for the fish, but simply for a drink. Some of the other animals on the place were also interesting, as well as the story that will go with them in the December issue of the River Journal.

Pictured above are Maggie Mae, the Zebra and Bear,the Pomeranian,sharing a meal.

Other interesting animals in the area are three camels a couple of miles away, some Yaks, dwarf goats and some Llamas. Oh, and the occasional horse as well.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just Unbelievable Stuff

Lately, I have been writing about what if stuff regarding our economy. While that may be of some value, there are other subjects beyond the economy and the Gawdawful length of the election cycle.

One such subject was in the course of chasing down a story, I ran across a family that has a Zebra, several horses and other assorted pets. O.K. that isn't much different that the camel lady, or the folks raising Llamas, Yaks and other notable non-residents.

Two rather understated pets actually got most of my attention. One a dog, the other, a cat. While these may be ho hum everyday pets to some, these were not. For instance, the Cocker Spaniel named Azalea. Azalea never strayed off on her own.She knew her yard and stuck to it. Then something weird happened. The neighbor lady next door had a stroke. Suddenly, Azelea started spending nights at the neighbor's home and even days, when her husband had to work. Sleeping on the victim's pillow every night, Azelea has not abandoned her patient. Still coming home for dinner and a visit,her charge still safe under her watch.

Then there is Daisy May. Daisy May is a Siamese Cat. for those that are familiar with cats, they know that Siamese are not quite cats and not quite human, but somewhere in between. Such is the case with this one. When she wants a drink, she climbs up onto the large fish tank in the dining room. Most at this point would shudder in horror. The cat is going to eat the exotic fish! Not so with this one. She passes up a perfectly clean water bowl to drink out of the fish tank, as pictured. Go figure. Incidentally, the story of the Zebra and other strange phenomenon will appear in the December 1st issue of River Journal Magazine.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Economic Meltdown

A reader recently criticized me for shouting "gloom & doom" from the rooftops. Perhaps he or she is right, perhaps not. I look at the situation this way. My readership varies but hangs around 60 to 70 visits per day. I am not going to, with that small audience create chaos by being negative. What I might do however, is convince someone out there that the head in the sand trick don't make it better. It just hides reality from you. My thirty years in Mortgage and consumer fiance gives me some background. The seventy years that I have lived gives me history and perspective.

This is unlike those, not all, certainly, but those that are young, say 40 and younger that haven't actually experienced bad times in their lifetime. This tends to sway people into thinking that because it didn't happen in my lifetime, then it won't. Well, Mt. St. Helens hadn't erupted in our lifetime either, but it still did. I grew up hearing my parents talk about the "Great Depression." It started only 99 years ago and lasted about ten years, with World War 11 and the rearming of our military and naval forces creating a resurgence in the manufacturing field.

There are several reasons why I think that if we do enter a depression, it will be much worse.First, we have exported most of our heavy industry. Big steel is no longer. Our auto industry is teetering on the brink. Confidence in our financial markets is at a historic low. Our dollar is not backed by anything anymore. When we switched from the gold and silver standard to a GNP based value system faith was the only thing left to back the buck. The worst part though, is that in 1929 through 1938, a large majority of our population either lived on farms, or had acreage that could and did support most of them. The pictures of hobo camps and bums asking for handouts were an overstatement since many if not most farms were paid off and were owned free & clear. Most of the unemployed were those that were previously employed in industry which had shut down. When my parents lost their horse in 1937, it was a tragedy, not just the loss of an old friend. That horse was a Percheron that pulled a plow and other farm implements that allowed them to survive the depression. They had to sell the farm when that happened. Now people use tractors. Unfortunately, tractors do not feed themselves, but require fuel.

Today, much has changed. People don't have the survival skills that Americans did 100 years ago. Most don't have land that they can raise livestock or a garden. Those that do haven't the skills necessary to preserve the harvest, nor enough food in storage to last long enough to create their own supply. I have lived on a subsistence farm. During WW11, we, along with most of our neighbors, had acreage, a family cow, hogs, chickens etc. We also raised our own food for the most part. Why? Because WW11 rationing was in effect, money was scarce and most importantly,my folks having lived through the great depression, knew how.

In writing these articles, I realize that it can be construed as alarmist. When a fire has started, it is sometimes useful for someone to sound the alarm. The "experts" that say everything is going to be alright have an ax to grind. They make their money in the market, or at least have peripheral relations to that bunch. It is in their best interests to try to gloss over the massive problems that we face and put a friendly happy face on things. That doesn't necessarily make it so though. I have been there, done that and have the t-shirt. I was there, in the mortgage business when everything went south in 1980. That lasted four years. I went out of business in my own mortgage company when the crash of 1987 occurred. If we continue to sink, people need to, even as a mental exercise, think about survival IF things end up in the toilet. If we recover without too much further pain, fine. I would be delighted to be found wrong. But if I'm not, perhaps I will be of some help if only to get a few people thinking about the abyss ahead.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


ap file photo, stolen from Huckleberries online

"We have nothing to fear, except fear itself." Spoken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, about the great depression.

I've talked about my take on the economy. There is more to come. Many were cheered when the market jumped back up two days ago. That was bargain hunters buying back in at lower prices. Yesterday, as predicted, we went into free fall again on Wall Street. I believe it will get a whole lot worse before it gets better. There are simply too many things broke for a simple fix.

To study history, one must go back to 1929 to picture where we might go next. The "Great Depression," started in 1929 but didn't reach bottom until 1932. These collapses do not happen over night, with one mighty drop. It is incremental, but inevitable. Our national debt is primarily held by Japan and Great Britain, along with China. If these countries cut us loose, it would be disastrous.

Lets just review a few problems that we are facing. Individually, most are solvable in the long term. collectively, the put us into a great hole, without a ladder. Oil prices led the parade, as Gasoline topped $4.00 and diesel was even higher. Farmers operating large equipment were suddenly paying more than their crops were worth to plant, fertilize and harvest. Truckers and railroads paid more to haul them to market. Suddenly, a country where most of us had disposable income, was no more. Boat & RV manufacturers are shutting down. Hotels and motels without travelers are suffering. Without spelling this out, I think most of you can figure out the rest. It's like lining up dominoes then pushing one over. The rest will follow.

The banking debacle, for me, is the hardest to figure out. I was in that industry for 30 years. In that time, (I retired in 1997) lending standards were, of a necessity strict. If you had bad credit, you would have to rehabilitate yourself for at least three years, and longer if a bankruptcy was in your past. How the industry could justify, especially after 1980-83, the reckless abandonment of sound lending practices, is beyond me.

I haven't been able to confirm when, where and who, but as I understand it, many liberal senators and representatives insisted, a few years ago that everyone should have the opportunity to own their own home. They passed legislation to that effect and the gates were open. You see, there is no way to make more homes available without lowering lending standards. The term now used, is sub-prime, which is a misnomer with spin. The actual name should be substandard. The increase in demand created an overheated market where demand outran the supply. That caused prices on land and homes to soar, even when mills were shutting down due to low lumber prices.

Interest rates were held too low, too long. That created another reaction, that being a wide open boom market. When demand was used up, due both to most people already having bought, and prices skyrocketing out of reach, it was all over. Builders were, as they did in 1980, still subdividing, still slapping spec homes up in cookie cutter tracts resembling California in the past, full speed ahead. "Happy days are here to stay." They weren't and didn't. If Paul Volker were fed chairman again, he would have long ago raised interest rates as he did back in late 1979.

Next I will speculate on what may happen in the near term and compare it to what happened in 1929 and examine the differences between then and now.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Taryn Strikes Again

Unappreciated by the spokesman-Review, Taryn Hecker has found a new niche. She is the grand prize winner at the American Legion Post 149, Athol's annual chili cook-off. Celebrating along with her is her daughter, Goo. Other winners were, hottest chili: Chuck Richmond, second best chili was won by last year's winner, Debbie "Dump Truck" VanScyoc. Although some of the chili was extreme, the Timberlake fire Department wasn't called out. The bartender managed to quell the flames with timely drinks.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Chaos Reigns

By now many, if not most of you have figured out that our economy is in crisis. I would gloat, because I have been predicting this for over a year. I won't, because being right this time isn't pleasant.At this point, we are teetering on the edge of a depression, not recession. While I'm not a trained economist (retired Mortgage Banker)I still think that Paul Volker did the right thing when he viewed stagflation back in 1980. He immediately raised interest rates to the highest seen ever. The economy ground to a halt, but only for three years.

Back then we still were a country with manufacturing as our financial base. You don't build anything, no jobs are created. Now we have free trade. This is a philosophy that I frankly don't understand. It appears to be a road map to one world, or worldwide socialism, yet right leaning Republicans bought into it. Some gobbledygook about turning our industrial might into off shore labor because it's cheaper. The mantra of a service economy that uses the "what goes around comes around" premise, I didn't think was going to fly.

Why? Because the only way our economy can compete with child labor and adults making less that $5 per day, is to become equal with them. This requires them to rise up to our standards, or for us to Fall to theirs. At this point you may have a hint of where I'm going with this. We aren't just in an equal race with the rest of the world, we are in free fall.

The congress blames Bush for the deregulation of the finance industry, but conveniently ignores the liberal mantra of we want everyone regardless of means to be able to own a house. One of the strongest voices there, was Senator Dodd. He is as adamant now about the fault resting with the current administration as he was back when he forced through new regulations requiring the mortgage industry to make it possible for those that couldn't afford to buy a house to be enabled. Rep. Barney Frank was right there with him at the time. Could it be that these and others are talking out of both sides of their mouths? Were going to turn the governance of this nation over to them?

The only way that can happen is through lowering standards for loan approval.That happened. Now we are in a train wreck, economy wise. Other causes of the housing market collapsing are the continuous low interest rates that stayed too low, too long. This used up the demand, while the supply, feeling the end wasn't near, kept on keeping on. As in all boom markets, when the downturn happens, as it always does, spec builders are in the middle of expansion, not retraction. Thus is created an oversupply of homes with no buyers in sight. If we are to lynch, (figuratively speaking) the so called mortgage Moguls, The we need to also take out the senators that forced these liberal know nothing, pay nothing legislation. It would seem that talking out of both sides of one's mouth is endemic in Wahington, D.C.

So, we have several, not just one or two causes of our current dilemma. I will extrapolate further in my next post.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Tragic End ... Almost

This afternoon we learned of massive layoffs, again, at the Spokesman-Review.
starting with the Editor -In-Chief, Steve Smith, and affecting some 60 plus editors, copywriters and reporters. We don't know yet which are gone, and I suspect some will be surprises. Int the seventeen months that I have enjoyed the relationship with the Spokesman-Review.

Obviously the paper will carry on, but under what format, or size is yet to be determined. Those of us that stagger under mounds of papers that somehow don't make it to the recyclers will have a problem solved. For those that get their news from the Internet, you lose. Only national and international news appears on the Internet, unless you are obsessed with what Hollywood star is diddling whom, but then that is what the National Enquirer is for.

This phenomenon of younger readers passing on newspapers is not only a disappointment, but a tragedy. An entire generation simply doesn't either like to read, or doesn't know how, or both. Most young people do not read. It's not even a part of their entertainment regime. Video games and other electronic delights have taken over from mainstream journalism.

When I was a child, (a long while back) we didn't have television until I was around 12 years old. It was black and white. There were not cable or satellite signals to be had. But that didn't matter, because we didn't squat in front of the tube as most kids do now. We played outdoors, which in the Seattle area required a great deal of weather tolerance. We climbed trees, slid off tar paper roofs with waxed paper as out sleds, and somehow didn't break any bones. We made tree houses, tunnels, planter gardens, watching with wonder as nature poked the shoots up through the earth.

One has to wonder in this electronic age, whether these kids that grew up sitting in front of cartoons will turn out to be productive adults, or whether they will become drones, incapable of original thought or actions. Perhaps a fast paced video game could help train fighter pilots, but there isn't currently a huge demand for that.

I wonder and I worry that the Spokesman-Review along with other major market newspapers will become dinosaurs, destined for the scrap heap. The other worry, is what is going to take it's place. You can't wrap fish in a television newscast, although there are probably many that would like to do that with my columns.

We may be watching the end of an era, along with the boost of a failing financial world. It would appear that some folks, maybe most will have to find a toughness that they never learned, in order to survive.

I am having problems with blogger .com re: comments. I will post them manually, as I get them until I get it fixed. The other side of the coin is I will also comment on the comments.

"I think your assumption that young people are not reading the news is faulty! We catch the local news and oh so much more on the web, DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

This comment shows what I meant, and ignores that I was referring to print, not the internet, which if I have to once again repeat myself, doesn't show local or regional news. Why people choose to take things out of context is beyond me. Oh well, onward and upward. Oh, and the overuse of exclamation points suggest a little immaturity. I don't write this blog for children ... That should have been noted.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


It is a sad but real situation when you find and report an act that is or appears to be improper. That I reported on the somewhat irregular dealings between the Bayview Chamber of Commerce and the Bayview Community Center Foundation as wrong, and tried to in detail and through several interviews of persons that were present,I have been counter attacked.

Somehow, in the embarrassment of doing wrong, several members of the board and their supporters, have sent letters to the editor, vilifying my objectivity and my motives. One such letter will soon appear in the paper. In the quest for objective reporting, the Spokesman-Review prints letters to the editor. That,in and of itself speaks to the idea of fairness.

I have spoken on this blog, and again in print through my columns in the Spokesman-Review, about the miss-handling of the July Fireworks raffle. This is fact, not supposition. A further development, as previously chronicled in this blog, suggested an improper allocation of fireworks funds to another related organization, the Bayview Community Center Foundation. It appears, for the first time in public, that those funds have been returned to the Chamber. That was only learned from one of the angry letter to the editor.

I had hoped that the issue was settled, although there were thoughts of an investigation. Those thoughts were laid to rest when the Foundation board returned these funds to the Chamber. Unfortunately, some of the parties to this action chose to retaliate. That is alright, because that then gives those who disagree with the letter to the editor, which I understand will be published shortly, to voice their opinions, both pro and con.

At this point, I choose, having retired from the field of battle, to rest with the knowledge that I helped avert not one, but two misadventures,To cease, pending future developments, to address this issue. Reporters are not allowed the privilege of reply to those that express their opinions. That, however, does not apply to those that disagree with the letter of intimidation sent to the paper. For me, lacking cause for further action, I have no personal animosity with those that have vilified me through either the remarks on this blog, letters to the editors, or private e-mails, which I received en mass from some of the players that represent the board of directors of the Chamber of commerce.

Those that volunteer for public positions are always subject to review and criticism by the people that elect them, whether as governmental politicians, or community groups. It is time for openness discussion and truth in all dealings, else wise this organization will sink into oblivion, a thing I would truly hate to see. Perhaps it is time for all of us to look into our hearts to discover truth. Not ego trips, not slanted truths but an all working together kind of thing.

It isn't important that we all march in lock step, it's only important that we respect each other and openly communicate. If a board meeting of one or another organization is being held, and the public is invited, is is important that these organizations publish both the times, dates, and agendas of these meetings, so that all interested parties can attend. Setting up votes outside of the formal meetings is wrong, if indeed that happens. If some of you reject cooperation between other community organizations, I will oppose you. Cliques are even though not formal are an abysmal thing. It has been brought forth that nobody wants to serve, thence here we are, doing the best we can. I challenge that premise. I know of several stalwart community members that happen to belong to other organizations that would love to participate, if only the in crowd would make way.

The old saw,"we can hang together, or hang separately" is as true today as it was back when those words were spoken, during the debate to declare independence, in 1776. Backbiting, while not a real problem in large cities, becomes a horrendous problem in small towns and villages. When one moves into a small rural area from the city, they need to modify their standards to a different set of circumstances.Those that can't seldom stay very long.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Community Stuff

Don't forget to attend the Gary Eller concert and Jam Sunday, September 28 at 2:00 pm. If you are a musician that can play folk or bluegrass, come on down for the show and the jam following. Eller has traveled far and wide to capture songs about Idaho, specifically old ones from the 1920's and older.

I've met Gary, played a tune or two with him. He's the real deal. A retired Nuclear Scientist, he holds a PHD in chemistry,a banjo and a guitar. Gary has been playing bluegrass and Folk for a long time as a hobby/avocation. The Bayview Community council in conjunction with the Bayview Historical society is hosting the event at the Community center.

The Buttonhook is closing for the season on the 28th. With the real estate market bottoming out, and an escrow hold on closings at Vista Bay, cash flow has substantially been reduced. As a result of the action of the Developmental Analysis Committee, (they allegedly paid $75.00 to the county resulting in a stop on closings) ten local employees have been laid off and the Buttonhook has been closed prematurely. What is it they say? Unintended consequences? Perhaps it is time to reexamine the role of this committee. Is it to monitor developments? Or is it's goal to stop or severely delay any development. A parallel would perhaps be the folks that live in trees in Northern California, trying to stop any logging.

So, then, where does the line get drawn. If this is about extremism, it is doubtful that the community at large will support it. For the most part, as I have observed, and I include myself in this example, the shock of our lifestyle being turned upside down has caused an outbreak of negative response to ALL development, or at least most of it. It would appear to me that some of the currently planned developments will go forth, or at least when the real estate market recovers.

Reality, however, suggests that former employees of Waterford Park, (I'm one)might have a personal ax to grind.I have overcome that anger, but some haven't. Others are perhaps governed by the eviction of the trailer park. I to, mourned the loss of those inexpensive home sites. People that lived there were out friends and we miss them. Still,isn't it time to get realistic and start planning for the future Bayview, rather than the old one that unfortunately is gone. Maybe we need to examine whether our egos have taken over from out common sense.

I have lived here for thirteen years. The day I moved here, and it was before I retired from the mortgage lending business,I looked around and said repeatedly, this place is going to boom, and soon. Well it didn't and my forecast was premature. But the inevitable arrived in the investors that invaded. I guess my point here is that this is the reality, not what we wish, which is to go back to where we were. Newcomers have moved in and some immediately attempted to redesign the community. Such is the style of many that move out of a community that doesn't like them to one that they can have a fresh start in. Others move in, can't adjust and move on.

Many things have changed besides the developments. The huge blue back fishery is gone, probably forever. Trophy trout fishing is going to follow.The sudden influx of small mouth bass suggests a new future fishery, but the hundreds of small watercraft that plied the Kokanee fishery are gone and will not come back. This town could have died from that change. Perhaps only the development of a high end tourism market will save Bayview's economy. Perhaps it is time to start thinking instead of reacting to development. Our future is not entirely in our control. Try going back to your home town. Is it the same? Hell no it's not, and this place won't be either. For a time, we will have peace, because speculative building loans Will and have come to a halt. This condition, in my opinion will last for perhaps four or five years, maybe longer, depending on how far our economy falls.

Whether or not most of you realize it, we are headed pell mell into what could pass for a repeat of the great depression of 1929-1939. That was ten years of starvation, unemployment, foreclosures and a screeching halt to manufacturing. The Bayview economy has suffered from the wipe out of the trailer park, as well as the departure of the fishing fleet. The few surviving businesses are vital to our local economy and need to succeed for out little village to endure. I encourage all of you to drop in to the local restaurants, the mercantile and oh yah, I blew it on my recent column in the S/R when I neglected to mention Ralph's Internet Cafe. Ralph is still in business, going strong and will stay open all winter, along with Terry's and the captain's wheel. Along with informing tourists and newcomers, Ralph has morphed into the town greeter. Everyone seems to end up there for tacos or brownies, maybe a burger or an ice cream cone.

Just a moment to remember the depression, most of this country was rural back then. People could feed themselves from their own garden, farm animals and such. Now most live in a city, or at least a crowded suburb. Can you feed yourself from your property? I think not. This could get very interesting, and perhaps diminish the petty things that we worry about today.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More Chamber Stuff

Some remarks recently have suggested that I have been attacking Jim MacDonald. Not true. Jim MacDonald's integrity is beyond question. The combination of health issues that have weakened Jim, has given other activists within the chamber the latitude to create chaos. I really hate to personalize these things, but people do bad things and when they do, a light needs to be shined upon them so that the rest of the community will become aware of what is taking place.

Loyalty to one's fellow officers is commendable, but those that receive that loyalty are obligated to refrain from abusing that trust. A string of events starting last Summer and continuing have been troublesome: Criticism of those that solicit funds for the fireworks fund if in fact those funds come from a source that is disliked by the complaining officer; Jumping to conclusions as a newer member of the community as to raffle rules, without appropriate research, hiring an expensive attorney to interpret a rule that one phone call to Boise would have cured; miss-allocating funds entrusted to the chamber by the public; all of these things are egregious mistakes in judgment. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not appropriate behavior.

When people run for office, whether a political office or a community organization, they take on a responsibility that requires thoughtful actions, not impulsive acts. That mistakes or worse are criticized is part of what you accept when running for that office. Perhaps the worst of these sins would be the betrayal of Jim MacDonald, an honest caring community leader whose helpers have let him down.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jumping Through The Looking Glass

Activities of the Bayview Chamber of Commerce grow curiouser and curiouser. On the heels of the fiscal disaster over the July Fireworks Raffle, (legal fees still not publicly disclosed) the September meeting got even more bizarre. The developer group planning to establish a golf course community on the back side of Bernard Peak was invited to speak to neighbors concerns. It turns out that those that own land on Twete Road or Good Hope Road, feel the age old complaint, "we bought rural land and you want to change that!"

About 50 or 60 people showed up, primarily to address the development. County Commission President, Rick Curry and a sheriff deputy were present as well. During the meeting, the power went out and stayed out for the rest of the event. Between lanterns and the deputy's spot light shining through the window, the meeting went on. After about 30 minutes of discussion regarding the development, Chamber president, Jim MacDonald, claiming illness and that he still had a meeting to run, gave the folks 5 more minutes to conclude the discussion. Five minutes went by, and he gaveled the debate closed, and suggested they could continue out in the parking lot.

What happened next was surreal. With the deputy and Curry looking on, about 12 people in all were left in the room. Skip Wilcox made a motion that $960 of the proceeds from the fireworks raffle be donated to the community Center foundation. Treasurer, Kathy Ellis supported the motion, allegedly claiming she had a telephone meeting with Lynette Cravens of the State Lottery Commission. She went on to say, (paraphrased) that the chamber had to give that money away, at least 90% of the proceeds, or face a $10,000 fine. Over the objections of Ralph Jones and George Grandy, the motion was passed.

It is necessary to point out that Skip Wilcox, Kathy Ellis and Tom Ellis are Community Center Foundation Board members. They did not recuse themselves. This apparent conflict of interest bring up several points, some possibly illegal acts. First, representing the raffle as benefiting the fireworks fund which is held separate from the general fund, then giving the money away to another organization that the proponents are officers of, smacks at the very least, a conflict of interest, and possibly raffle fraud. Secondly, When, the next morning, Ralph Jones called Lynette Cravens at the lottery commission, she denied ever having such a conversation with anyone in the chamber about anything and promised to clarify that in a letter to the chamber. If this is true, that would constitute a deliberate fraudulent act. According to Jones, the chamber secretary, Claire Cosgrove admitted to receiving the letter from the state, but as of this date has refused to divulge the content or show the letter to him.

What motivated these officers to do these things is a mystery. We intend to find out what if anything was illegal, and pursue that course. This doesn't bode well for the future of the organization.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Those That Don't Learn From History"

"Are Bound to repeat it." I don't remember whose famous quote that was, it is more widely ignored than any I know of.

"Following a ten year bull market, loose interest rates and borrowing standards, the stock market plunged amidst bank and investment house failures." 2008? Not even. That was 1929. If it sounds familiar, it is.

This condition is close to being a current event, rather than history. The things that brought Wall Street down back then was primarily a highly speculative market, in which investors borrowed to the hilt to purchase stock that was going Up ... Up... Up. When the market slipped and the banks called in margin accounts, those without means, defaulted on those loans by the thousands, causing over a period of three years, a cumulative failure of the entire economy.

Everyone has heard the term "1929 crash," but the real depth of the depression was 1932. It didn't all happen at once, and if it indeed happens again, it will also be a slow crumbling of our financial infrastructure. We didn't start recovering from the '29 crash until the industrialization leading up to World War 11.To date, in 2008, eleven banks have already failed. Washington Mutual, the country's largest savings & Loan, is teetering on the brink and will probably either fail in the next week or be bought out. All but two of the leading investment houses are either bankrupt or bought out by banks that may find themselves in the same boat.According to Taipan Publishing Group, there are currently 117 banks on the FDIC watch list. Already, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is strained from insuring deposits from those eleven banks with many more to come.

Many people are not aware that many savings plans, money market accounts, CD's 401k's and all stock and mutual fund accounts are uninsured. Most investors have never faced a total melt-down of this country's economy. I attribute some of this to the lack of productivity we have experienced since free trade was established as our policy. Your uninsured deposits have already been loaned out to people borrowing too much on too little collateral that are in foreclosure. When/If your bank shuts it's doors, your money is gone.

Many, if not most banks are shutting the loan spigot off, attempting to get heavy in cash, which is going to cause the auto industry to crash, as the over building of real estate already has crushed that industry. If oil comes back down to around $65 or $70 per barrel, that will help. The closing of our national forests to logging, even selectively, and the curtailing of mining and heavy industry can be laid at the feet of extreme environmentalists that don't believe or don't care, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

People, we are feeling that reaction now. Prior to 1929 we had a very strong industrial base that when reactivated, produced the war materials that supported England in 1939. We do not have that base anymore. It's all offshore. If we were to try to ramp up our military in a war situation, without our allies that are producing much of our steel, aircraft parts and on & on, we can't even defend ourselves. We have sold our collective souls to save a buck and it's going to bite us on the ass.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The reccesion Word Has Been Spoken

I'm not going to quote from either campaign, but as long as the R word has been used, I will comment on that.

An amalgamation of several factors have come together to create what is definitely a recession.I have myself laughed about the two quarters thing. Thirty years in the finance and primarily mortgage financing have taught me that the feet on the street know a recession long before those in the ivory tower. By the time two quarters go by, (6 months) all these talking heads can say, is what has already happened.

I predicted about a year ago, a serious recession that might even dip into a depression. (check your grandparents for that definition)

Several factors are in play. One, the price of oil. Two, the drop in the dollar, three, long term interest rates stayed too low, too long. When that happens, the demand is used up, while production keeps on.

This creates an over abundance of supply, without the accompanying demand. spec building is in full gear, without any buyers in sight.The huge construction industry has been on a roll for over ten years. Many young workers have never experienced anything but growth.

Right now, we have a combination of high inflation, created by low taxes and high expenditures in the middle east. Also at fault, are artificially low interest rates, which encourage people to borrow. Back to the oil prices, the entire food chain has been affected, causing food prices to skyrocket. The tractors in the fields are costing three times as much to operate as three years ago. These costs are passed up the line for produce, meat, which is raised by hay, (prices way up) grain, (the same) all due to the skyrocketing costs of operating machinery.

The greed of the financial institutions, I can't explain. The reason, is they all learned the lesson of over extension back in the early eighties. Could it be that the losers back then are retired and no corporate memory exists? Forever good times only exist in "The Wizard of Oz," and other fairy tales. Everything that goes up, will indeed come down.

Look at Washington Mutual. Prior to 1980, they were a true mutual, which means the depositors are the owners. In, I believe, 1983, Washington Mutual became insolvent, but wait! They didn't have any stockholders. The executives of this large bank merely re-invented themselves, and became a stock corporation. Makes you wonder how they are going to escape this, the second time they went broke.Merrill-Lynch, Lehman and Bear-Stearns have all failed. We are closer to an entire meltdown than at any time since 1929.