Friday, March 30, 2012

That, my friends, is a spade.

This has been percolating for a long, long time, but I've struggled with actually recording it. So here it is, rapid-fire.

I struggle with depression, negative thoughts, OCD, etc. Have for much of my life, most of it since my early teens.

I'm a Daughter of the Most High.  My spirit doesn't like negativity.  I yearn for happiness, joy, light, truth, and kindness.

Nothing negative can come from God. Ever.

Nothing good can come from the enemy. Ever.

If a negative thought "occurs" to me, it's not coming from God. Guess where it's from? ;o)  It's a temptation, of sorts, even if we don't want to do whatever that feeling/thought/compulsion might be; an effort of the enemy to influence, or outright control, me.  My own thoughts aren't of that character.  My body communicates with me through physical sensation, not words.  It's not my thoughts that are dragging me down--it's not something inherent to my existence, or necessitating acceptance.  It's straight from the enemy of my soul, and as such, I don't own it. Talk about liberating!

If the Holy Spirit can only influence us when it has place in our hearts, what is happening when we feel the influence of one of the hosts of the enemy? Yep. One of them has place in our hearts. Literally. Just because the casting out of evil spirits has come to be considered, culturally, as a Biblical phenomenon doesn't mean that which prompted it no longer happens.

So, what do we do?

Two things: defense & offense.

Defense: Live righteously. Study the word every. single. day. Ponder on it throughout the day, and always be learning and reaching deep and listening to learn more.  Spend time in prayer and supplication (thanking and asking) . . . with a strong emphasis on the thanking. When I do this, I am always filled with the holy spirit, sometimes sooner, sometimes later. The longer I pour out gratitude, the more powerfully I can receive the holy ghost.  Prayer soothes children with nightmares, builds a firm foundation for their testimonies, opens the windows of heaven to allow the love of God to rush down upon us, and literally transform us into new, better creatures.

Offense: “The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man, and when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into the herd of swine, showing that he would prefer a swine’s body to having none. All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not.…Our organization* is such that we can resist the devil; if we were not organized so, we would not be free agents." (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 211.) *The way we were created.

So, we can think (or say, or pray) something like: "No one has permission to influence my body but me." I have used this affirmation so many, many times, and I can feel the heaviness of depression lift before I'm even done thinking the words.  Sounds strange to our modern, scientific, tangible, sensory-driven world, but it makes all the difference in how I feel.  Panic attacks, just feeling overwhelmed with life, negative thoughts (which often come phrased in the first person; the enemy knows how to couch his decoys), depression, and all such things have been helped with this.  In my church, we tend to leave all of this type of thing to the Priesthood, believing that we have no power ourselves.  We absolutely have stewardship over our own hearts, our own tabernacles, and who has place in them. (Genesis 3:15, Moses 4:21) We can also make the spirit so uncomfortable that it flees--including singing hymns, smiling, expressing love and forgiveness, joyous laughter, reading scripture, prayer, etc.

And that's all I've got time for right now.  Packing and various errands await . . .

These opinions and thoughts are just that: opinions and thoughts. I do not presume to speak for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, of which I am a member.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Guerrilla What?

A few thoughts for you, Hunter.

The "stick it out or you'll never get a job" argument is absolutely true

But that begs the question: do you want a "job"? 

I don't. 

If I ever need to provide for my family, I'll start a business (my husband currently provides while I homeschool & man the fort for our children). I'm getting a cracking-good education for it every day. lol (Maybe a deal, or something else eco-awesome.) 

You have so many options before you. Apprentice. Learn things the old fashioned way. Learn the modern way (YouTube, anyone? ;o), and do something amazing. From your opening post (clear and articulate, good spelling, grammar & punctuation), you've got a good basic education already. (But keep learning!) Anything else you've missed can be filled in with  (<3 that site.)

First and foremost: Read Seth Godin. (1st for a reason.) Blog, Domino Project, and most importantly his education manifesto: Stop Stealing Dreams. Seth has, and uses constantly, one of the best minds of our day.

Then there are books for exactly what you're wanting to do:

Amazon can lead you to lots more, complete with reviews to add to your perspective. Some reviews will stand out as reasonable and good--and you can learn to spot the whiney reviews and in-the-box-thinkers pretty quickly.

You might be able to transition gradually. See if your HS has a “work experience” program where you can go part time school and part time work. Parents might dislike that less. ;o) You’re butting up against generations of tradition here--it’s not going to be easy to bring them around if they don’t like the idea of what you’re doing.  You’ll need to re-educate them, and help them to see that what you’re choosing is going to make a good life for you, not ruin it. Find blog posts about people who are making their way on their own (organic local farmers, handmade goods, writers that sell through the Kindle store, etc).  
I’m sure there’s a book out there about them, too.  I know of two attorneys that have abandoned law to make a living in ultra-running (one in running, the other in reporting it).  Everywhere you look (especially when you leave the mainstream and start looking in all of the wonder that is the wide, wide world), you'll find people who are making lives for themselves outside of corporate America--and it's a joyful, fulfilling, sweaty-faced, worn-out-at-the-end-of-the-day-for-something-worthwhile kind of thing.

One of my favorite things right now is NextWorldTV. Bibi searches out all kinds of really cool stuff on YouTube and sends out a video a day. When I want to be inspired, energized, to feel like the world is going to be a better place in a generation, I go watch a few of those. ;o) Towns that are entirely energy independent, fascinating stories of grassroots innovation and collaboration, and just generally fun and hopeful ecological things.

Oh, and here's another good book about choice and the modern market: We Are All WeirdEducate yourself, first, about what you want to do. Educate your parents second. And then work together. This will be SO much better for everyone if you can all come to an understanding. Showing them Ken Robinson's talk might not help much (at least at first ;o), but showing them success stories of people who have taken the path you want might. Maybe taking a summer to get serious about your own education (a la Leadership Education) could really help them see you're serious. In this generation of helicopter/drill sergeant/whatever parenting, sometimes there are all kinds of pitfalls to negotiate before children and parents can really work together. (I'm a parent, and trying to NOT be any of those.) The problem is, parents are hard-wired to see obedience as a sign of love. The trick is to make them feel super-duper-loved-and-appreciated-and-important even though you might be bucking everything they've ever dreamed for you.

Worst-case, knock yourself out the rest of this year in your classes. (So there's no chance of holding out bad grades as evidence that you need to stay in school.) Then, dive into the summer head-first, spending time every day learning about life outside of high school, and things that you've always wanted to learn. Show your detractors what you can do on your own, and use your time for all it's worth.

One last piece of advice: stay humble. Remember that while intelligent and motivated, you still have a tremendous amount of life to experience. Be the first to admit that; but remember that losing a year isn't going to hurt anything at all. Most college students now don't "finish" until they're in their 30's . . . (my age!) Many of them don't even move out until then. (Yikes.) So you could pitch it as "If I lose a year or two on this experiment, what's it going to hurt? I'd rather experiment now, instead of when I'm 28 and wanting to get on with my life."

Trust in good ethics, integrity, kindness, and community. There will always be nay-sayers and critics--and you should be skeptical of them. Hear what they say, but be uber-cautious about giving them any weight of authority. Make a life for yourself that will make the world a better place--and always admit openly that you don’t know everything. But you do know, now, that this feels strongly like the right choice for you.

Speaking through about twenty years’ experience between you and I (and I can't believe I can say that--I don't FEEL that much older) . . . I wish I had had even the faintest idea that skipping HS was possible. But the stigma in my small, rural town, was all anyone could see--including me. There wasn't a bigger picture to find then, and there. I would have had a MUCH better life, had I been able to learn on my own, self-directed and focused. I looked forward to college eagerly for that very reason, and ate it up hungrily when I got there. Then again, twenty years ago the internet just wasn't what it is now. I mostly surfed for sound bytes to customize my email program, and chatted with friends back in the dark days of social media, when BBS's and AOL were the names of the game. ;o) Now we have,, innumerable blogs and youtube videos, ad infinitum.

You've got the world, and the WWW, before you. Now, go learn! (Whether you do so partly in a school or not.) 

Best luck!

(This post is a response to Hunter's conversation at, sparked by Sir Ken Robinson's magnificent talk. Fwiw, I was astounded at the number of stuck-in-the-box thinkers that responded to his earnest question . . . especially as specializes in progressive, innovative, truly life-changing speakers and topics.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Hooray!" or "Help!?!"

So, this morning our landlord, who has been the best one ever, honestly, came and (gently as he could) gave us notice that the owner wants to list the house June 1st.  Now, some might think a freak-out session is in order . . . but I'm excited.

"Huh?" you say?

Yep.  I'm excited.  I had set a mental goal of being in the Carriage House by my birthday (not long after June 1st), so this just gives us a hard deadline, and makes sure that we get this baby done-zo.

So, where are we at with the Carriage House?  Here's the run-down:

All the rough-in is done, and drywall is all ready, waiting for paint.

(Sorry, no photos of the textured drywall yet.)

We have flooring, waiting patiently at Home Depot for the roads to melt so we can GET to the CH to deliver it.  We bought some "special buy" solid hickory hardwood, prefinished.  It's in random lengths, but so amazingly pretty.  We even have a friend who has volunteered to lend us his flooring nailer.  I can hardly wait!  (Vern and I hope to get the flooring laid in a full day or two of tight teamwork.  We'll see.)

We have doors, patiently waiting behind the love seat in my living room.  Lovely two-panel, walnut veneer composite doors.  One prehung for the bedroom, and one slab for the bath's pocket door.

I have the kitchen all planned out at Ikea.  (I reserve the right to tweak and modify . . . I've been thinking over a couple changes--like finding a way to add an oven somehow.  Hmmmm.)

The paint colors are swatched on some canvas panels, and have been waiting patiently for the roads to open up.  Once I see the color in situ, we'll be ready to roll, I think.  It's a light blue, very much like the blue in the rendering above.

I'm currently working on an eight-week plan, trying to figure out how to make some progress on this every day--even if I can't get out there.  Arranging plowing and an outhouse rental are Monday's tasks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Coal: selling human life.

Lest you think I'm kidding, let me lay it out a bit more clearly. (And for those for whom this is repetition, remember repetition is a good thing. ;o)

One train every twelve minutes through my little town.  At an optimistic five minutes per train, that leaves only seven minutes of open roadway between trains at each on-grade crossing.  

People will die because ambulances can't get there.  

Houses will burn, and people will die in them, because firemen can't respond.  

Five minutes is an eternity to someone having a heart attack or stroke . . . and it only takes seven minutes for a manufactured home to go up completely, and not much longer for larger, less combustible structures.  People who might have had a chance at life will lose that chance, should the emergency vehicle coming to their aid have to instead sit and watch a train go by.

Add to that the exponential increase in crossing accidents when there are more than 30 trains per day.

And the crazy, stupid-high rates of cancer and asthma and heart attack and stroke and other illnesses that skyrocket when diesel particulates from exhaust increase.

And the inevitability of a coal train derailing into Sandpoint's drinking water source: Lake Pend Orielle.

Or a derailment in town.  

Or in the countryside, where local farmers try to make a living.  One derailment nearby can destroy an organic farmer's livelihood, and his property value, for long enough to put him back at square zero.

And, to add insult to injury, most of the coal will go to China, where they'll burn it, and the pollution will then go up into the jet stream and fall right back on us here in the Northwest . . . from Bellingham to Sandpoint and beyond.  Yeah.  That's justice for you.

I'm sorry . . . no matter what the coal proponents might say, killing is killing is killing.  It doesn't matter how many jobs this might bring to Bellingham (a town I love dearly!), or how much this might help some economy, somewhere.

It. Will. Kill.




No "economic benefit" tips the scales on that one.  None.

Coal, go home.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Yes, he did.

Dear Kirsten,

We've never been introduced (unless you count my comment on your blog), so I hope you'll pardon the liberty.  I wanted to share a few thoughts with you, from one multi-faceted mom to another.  (In this case, from a writer-postmodern market economist-business owner-mom to a photographer-lawyer-mom. ;o)  Your words in cranberry.

As I hung up, I realized that he probably didn’t really need my advice or suggestions . . .

Actually, he absolutely did.  This weird thing happens when you own a business (which you might have experienced with photography): it's hard to see things from your customer's point of view . . . and it's all-too-easy to see things from your own.  Throw into that the rapidly evolving/exploding/shifting force of the internet on our totally new marketplace, and things get really muddy.  Hearing a clear point of view, from a concerned or frustrated customer, really helps to reset your perspective.

. . . and I’m sure he has heard most of my concerns before. After all, these concerns are all over the internet, Twitter, Facebook, Flikr, etc.

Actually, you might be surprised.  If he's working his young & brilliant hiney off, who says he has time to troll for Pinterest love online? ;o)

And I know that he isn’t likely to call me back for any help.

Maybe he is . . . you never know . . . the fact that you talked over so many things, and helped him in ways that his own team possibly couldn't holds real value for him.  Otherwise, the call could have ended with some polite cliches after about fifteen minutes.

I'm guessing these I-know's are more of the self-effacing, defensive types.  We American moms don't usually spout off about ourselves in ways that leave us open for crushing shut-downs.  So, long thought short: never underestimate your value as a customer.  Customers are the reason businesses exist.  Without them, businesses die.  They offer useful products and services, often improving the quality of our lives, but when the rubber meets the road, it's all about what the customer thinks, and what's valuable to her.  (It's clear that Ben reads his Seth Godin, like a good entrepreneur should.  Go, Ben!  Save Pinterest, 'cause I love it, but I'm gone if the terms don't change. :o)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Welcome to 1840

Tonight I attended an open forum in my little town of Sandpoint.  (Yes, I know.  I just told you all where I live.  I planned it that way.)

Before I go on, I just have to say one thing: it's kind of odd, this feeling of knowing that I'm older than some of the people who sat on the panel tonight. ;o)  And now, back to my regularly-scheduled post.

The forum addressed the machinations of various monied players to route between 5,000 and 8,580 additional open-top coal cars and 200-330 diesel engines along the rail routs that all funnel into Sandpoint.  Occupying the only natural break in the Rocky Mountains for hundreds of miles, we're the only viable option for moving coal from the Powder River Basin to proposed export facilities along the Pacific Northwest coast (in Oregon, Washington, and even British Columbia).  These players plan to sell this coal (coal so low quality and dirty it isn't marketable in the US) to countries in Asia and India . . . mostly to China, currently the world's largest coal consumer.  They are willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on monolithic export facilities, untold millions on mining and transport over thousands and thousands of miles, moving millions on tons of coal to another continent.

People who hear about this, understandably, feel a few small points may prove problematic.

1. With the numbers provided so far, an additional 50-66 coal trains would funnel through Sandpoint.  Our town would have a train going through it every 12 minutes.  That means, with an ambitious 5-minute wait at a crossing, there would be only another seven minutes before the next train comes and ties up the road.  Emergency response units would have a 58% chance of getting through to the person in need.  In the case of house fires or heart attacks, that's stacking the odds against those in trouble, guaranteeing that many of the cardiac arrest calls will end in death, and fire fighters will lose precious minutes while lives and property are at stake.  One man in attendance shared his experiences in fire fighting and EMT service, and in those situations, waiting for a train will end up with unnecessary loss of life and/or property.

2.  The railroad's own figures say that each coal car loses about one pound of coal per mile.  That's 100-130 pounds of coal per train, per mile.  Multiply that by the low estimate of the number of additional trains coming through, and that's 6,500 pounds of coal per mile every twenty-four hours.  Three and a quarter TONS of coal dust.  Philadelphia in 1840 ain't got nuthin' on us, baby.

3. Diesel particulates (DM) happen to be horrifyingly dangerous.  Dangerous enough that 130 doctors in Washington stepped forward when news of this first scheme came out to speak out against it.  In Dr. James's words: "I've never known that many doctors to speak up about anything, let alone agree on it."  Since then, not a single one of them has dropped out . . . and thirty more have joined them.  Asthma, heart attacks, cardio pulmonary disease, stroke, learning disabilities and delays, growth retardation in children, the list goes on and on.  (I'll post it when I get the slides from tonight's presentation.)  These particulates can be as small as 2.5nm . . . and have a spongelike structure that allows them to absorb lots of other highly toxic, heavier compounds and carry them through the air and deep into the lungs, all the way down into the alveoli of those unfortunate enough to breathe that air.  Suddenly I see a method behind the odd fact that Violet has developed asthma over the time we've lived here by the tracks.

4.  Coal dust happens to be nearly as horrifyingly toxic.  This low-grade, dirty coal especially.  Coal carries with it a list of twenty-four heavy metals (including antimony, arsenic, lead and mercury), along with carcinogens and radioactive compounds.  Would you like glowing salad greens today, or the surprising new variety of lettuce with blue spots?

5.  These deep-pocketed coal purveyors won't be paying for maintenance or improvements to the rail lines they use.  (Don't ask me why . . . they didn't go into that part.)  It will largely rest on the taxpayers of the regions these trains go through.  Add to that the fact that this rail traffic brings absolutely no benefit to the communities it ravishes, and that paints a rather bleak picture.  (And even if it did bring something, new jobs, or tax revenue . . . how on earth could it be right, ethical, permissible, or admissible to sell a community's health and safety for that???)

6.  A study done by a federal alphabet soup agency (a three letter acronym having to do with transportation) showed that railroad crossings with more than 30 trains a day had a crazy-high number of accidents as opposed to crossings with fewer trains.  We're looking at 100-116 trains every 24 hours, crossing public and private roads in more than 100 places . . . ummmm . . . does anyone else see a problem with that?  Yeah.  Me too.

7.  Spokane (which would endure all of the same coal traffic Sandpoint might) already has the highest cancer rate in the state of Washington, which has the highest cancer rate in the nation.  Spokane's cancer rate is just under the CDC threshold for intervention . . . and while having the CDC involved would help give the community outcry considerable clout (telling these coal kings where they can put their product), a lot more people have to get cancer first . . . and I'm just not excited about that.  Remember, the real carcinogen here is diesel exhaust particulate, not coal dust.  So even covering the coal cars wouldn't help with this one.

8.  Property values around the tracks would plummet.  With the values here still reeling from the burst real estate bubble, that's a serious touchpoint around here.  And as I can tell you, personally, there are very few properties anywhere in the county that aren't within five miles of the tracks.  (That's the approximate radius for pollution.)

9. One of Sandpoint's mainstays is tourism.  Summer brings snowbirds back to roost on the lake, in town, and in the hills, hikers and just plain tourists who want to see one of the longest train trestle bridges in the US, or any of the other incredible sights here.  Winter brings skiiers and snowsports folks, as well as many others.  Touring isn't quite as fun when you spend half of your time on the road waiting for trains, or when the snow's gray.  (Remember, 130 pounds of coal dust per mile, per train.)

10.  Derailments will happen.  They happen here.  Thankfully we haven't had any hazmat derailments in more than a decade . . . but with such a monumental jump in traffic, all of it hazmat loads, coal trains will derail.  I have a good friend whose home looks out over the Pack River Delta, on the other side of the Sunnyside Peninsula from Sandpoint.  The trains would travel directly over the delta for a few miles there.  The tracks come from east of Clark Fork and Hope, travel along the Clark Fork River, across the delta, hug Lake Pend Orielle across the northern curve of shoreline, and then dip down into Sandpoint before crossing the lake and heading out to Spokane.  (The map says it better.)  Trains spend a whoooole lot of time skittering along near the drinking water supply for Sandpoint.  A coal spill into Lake Pend Orielle would be an unmitigated catastrophe.  Wildlife destroyed, municipal water poisoned, lake sport pulverized (fishing, boating, kayaking, swimming, all of it).  Hey honey, wanna go fishing and see what we can pull up?  Don't touch anything, though . . . we're already at triple the lead levels we should be, and those touches of arsenic really seem to bother me.  And a spill would be in addition to the possible 3.25 tons of coal dust settling into the lake each day.

Dang.  We wouldn't even need a spill.

11. Local farmers.  Sandpoint is beginning to really have a thriving local farming community that actually {gasp!} feeds some of our residents.  Liberally adding heavy-metals, carcinogens and radioactive compounds to the arable land usually tends to reduce an organic farmer's hopes for success, ya know?

There are more points . . . but I'll have to wait until I have the slides to share.  My tired brain is all tapped out for tonight.  Thanks so much for hanging in there with me this far.  I'll leave you with one simply, straightforward, even easy thing you can do.  Power Past Coal is a coalition organized to coordinate the outcry against this agressive, coercive, violent possibility.  Go to the Power Past Coal site, and sign their petition.  If you're local, click on the little Idaho under the big word "act" on the right side of the page, then choose your county after it automagically appears at the bottom of the box.  Enter your info, and you're done.  Even I, the privacy-paranoid and slightly reclusive mama signed it.

So, please.  If you live anywhere along the proposed route or export facility sites in Montana, Idaho, Oregon or Washington, go sign the petition.  Take those two minutes to help all our communities along the line secure some level of quality of life for their children.  Let us not allow money to push our precious towns and farms back into the filth and pollution common in 19th Century industrial towns.

And thank you for caring about all of this.