Saturday, June 11, 2016


I read today that Gordie Howe passed away yesterday, June 10, 2016. I recalled the one time I saw him in person...and other things. The Wallace Babe Ruth All-Stars baseball team won the right to play in the NW Regional Babe Ruth Championship in New Westminister, Canada. I was 15 and had no clue where that was. We were supposed to leave at 7 in the morning and "car pool" from Wallace to New Westminister. The players were to go with various drivers. Don Hulsizer and I were going to go with volunteer drivers Mr. and Mrs. Zook. Mr. Zook arrived, we hoped in and we were on our it turned out to Osburn to pick up Mrs. Zook. When we got there, we waited for her to finish her cup, or cups of coffee, and about two hours later we were on our way. We found the Zooks to be nice and friendly folks. As we headed out past Spokane, we learned that we were going to take the "scenic route". I had no clue what that meant. As we drove on through the day, past what by fifty percent of the accounts in the car scenic landscapes, Don and I resorted to taking pictures of each other in the back seat of the car. By the time we reached New Westminister it was late, almost dark. The team was to be housed with local residents and, by the time we arrived, the other team members had long since been wisked away to where they were going to stay and there were no more volunteers. A few phone calls were made and a volunteer family was located. They were great folks too. As it turned out, they had a very small house and only one small bed and a baby crib. Don fit nicely in the baby crib. The next day at the first game, we were all decked out in our crisp uniforms and our brand spanking new "I" ball caps which designated us as the Idaho State Champions. We were set scheduled to play the home team representative from Canada in the first game. At the beginning of opening ceremonies before our game, it was announced that Gordie Howe was present. At that time I had no clue who Gordie Howe was because, well hockey was not a sport I was very familiar with growing up in Wallace. As it turned out, many years later, I learned  the Gordie Howe was known as "Mr. Hockey" in hockey crazed Canada. I also learned about the " Gordie Howe Hat Trick" that he was known for. The usual "Hat Trick" in hocke is three goals. His was a goal, an assist, and a fight. Ha. I wish I had known that way back then, I would have been more impressed by him at New Westminister and I wouldn't have just been wondering why a hockey player was a big deal at a baseball game.  He came onto the field and all of the infielders were to take turns throwing the ball to him at home plate. I played in the outfield. As each infield position player crisply threw to him, it came Don's turn from second base. He threw a "perfect" short-hop to him that bounced and struck him in the shin. I had to admit that livened things up. The game, well it didn't go so well. We lost something like 10-0. I attributed it to "scenic drive" lag. That afternoon and the next day, we resorted to wearing our "W" caps. The reasoning for this was sound. Wyoming had one their opening game and we figured that with the "W" caps, that we could pass for the Wyoming team. At some point in time we were going to eat with Jerome Bunde, our assistant coach. Great guy. I recall him buying french fries and putting vinegar on them. I thought he was crazy, but he explained that was a Canadian custom. Since that time, I have been suspicious of Canadians. Since we lost out first game, and it was a double elimination tournament (after all it was a long drive to get there) we went into the 'losers' bracket. Basically, it is the "you are screwed" bracket. In order to get to the championship game, we would have to play basically twice as many more games, and not lose. Of the top of my head at this moment, I can't recall how many we played. I do recall that at one of the games there was a lot of excitement. It was reported in the paper the next day; a car had caught fire in the parking lot! Not much was mention about us winning. In one of the games, we played the Alaska team. Their pitcher threw a pitch that would literally drop, like off a table, just an inch or so in front of  home plate. His pitches were not all that fast, but as the ball came in, looking perfect for smacking, when we swung it dropped out of sight. Joe Foster was our manager. He was crafty. Mike Kesten, the manager, had brought literally a sack of sunflower seeds and had gotten him hooked on them. Anyway, Joe, seeing what was going on after the first few batters, told everyone that when they went up to the plate to sweep the ground smooth. That is something that baseball players do, or at least used to do. Now I think the batters have assistants who do it for them. Joe's reason for having each batter carefully smooth out the dirt was not groundskeeping. He explained that, after a couple of batters smoothed the dirt out, the front chalk line of the batter's box towards the pitcher would be obliterated. He explained, once the line was gone, everyone should move up in the batter's box and put their back foot where the front chalk line of the box used to be. Once the chalk line was no longer visible, every batter moved up, and out, of what had been the batter's box. The results were dramatic because from the new batters location we were able to hit the ball before it dropped out of sight. We won and kept winning. We were in the Championship Game. Our opponent was the "Oregon" champs from Klamath Falls. I wasn't quite sure where Klamath Falls was, but I think Oregon was included in our scenic drive. Ha. Anyway, it was a great and well played game. It was 0-0 going into the last bottom of the 7th (last regular) inning.  Oregon was up to bat. They got a base runner on and he  advanced to third on an infield out.  One out and a runner on third. It was not looking good because if the ball was hit anywhere in the outfield the runner would in all likelihood score from third, even if he had to tag up, and if there was a squeeze play where, when the pitcher throws the ball the runner on third breaks towards homeplate, and the batter bunts the ball. By the time an infielder fields the ball and throws to the catcher at home, the runner has safely crossed homeplate. Joe knew just what to do. He moved me from right field into third base to hold the runner close to the bag. He moved the third baseman up the line, about 8 feet from home plate. The first baseman moved up the line to 8 feet from home plate. Joe moved the second baseman to the middle between first and second. The left fielder played closer to center and the center fielder moved closer to right field. We had never practiced this before, but we were set and ready as best we could be. The pitch was thrown and the batter bunted. It went right back to the pitcher. The runner on third who couldn't get a good lead off because I was standing on third base for a possible pick-off, took off anyway. The pitcher fielded the bunt cleanly and threw a perfect strike to the catch who was waiting at home plate. The runner was just starting to slide into home when the ball reached the catcher. As the catcher caught the ball and simultaneously swung his catcher's mitt to tag. In the process of tagging the runner, the ball flopped out of his mitt. 1-0, Oregon won. Over the years, I was able to foregive the catcher, it was a slam bang play, but obviously I haven't forgotten. Ha. Oregon went on to the Babe Ruth World Series...and won easily.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


The heat yesterday must have fried my brains. It made me remember the good old days of doing monkey rolls during two a day football practices at Sather Field--in the heart, the dirt and the dust. Dan, Maurice and Starr. Strong Side--Tight End, Tackle, Guard. We perfected the drill. It was pure artistry in motion.  Loving every second. Timing and coordination at its best. Dust and dirt flying. Ahhh, to be there and do the drill one more time. Loved it.

Monday, August 3, 2015


In 1970 Wallace's basketball team was known far and wide as being made up of great football players. We were playing the Coeur d'Alene High School Vikings on their home court. The Vikings had a great basketball team composed of great basketball players. Imagine that. They did have one great football player, Loren Schmidt, who was also a good basketball player. One Viking was 6' 6" tall. Bob Blum and I were a shade over 6 foot and we were the tallest on the Miner team. Bob and Hugh Marconi (Hugh may have actually been a little taller than either Bob or I now that I think about it) were both basketball players, but their abilities were far overshadowed by the rest of the Wallace players who were great, well fair to middling any way, football players.

The game was going about the way one would expect a basketball game between football players and basketball players would go. It certainly was going in the manner that the Vikings planned. They were up about 70 to 28 at the break between the third and fourth quarters. Coach Norm  Walker was discussing the situation with us in the 'huddle'. He was 'politely' explaining to us that we would have Hell to pay if they scored 100 points. (Norm before taking over the reigns of the Wallace High School athletic program had been the highly successful coach of the Mullen High School basketball team in the 60s...quite literally one of the very best, if not the best, high school basketball team I have ever seen) Thus we implemented the 'Patented Wallace Stall'. I say 'patented' because it was a planned stall, one that Coach Walker had taught us to use when we were far ahead (a rare occurrence), but which we modified extemporaneously that night. 'We' figured that it was a sure fire, can't miss, way to keep them from reaching the century mark.

The players on the court thought things were progressing quite well until, with about 30 seconds left in the game, Coach Walker called a time-out. That seemed to us out on the floor executing the Patented Wallace Stall as being more odd than the usual type of  'strategy'.  When we got over to the huddle, Coach Walker simply said look at the scoreboard. The Vikings had 98 points. Enough said.

Back out on the court we again commenced the Patented Wallace Stall. The ball whipped around the perimeter and ended up in Hugh's capable hands. When Hugh got the ball, he made several textbook pivots and he was double-teamed, maybe even triple-teamed. He was in the proverbial 'pickle'. At that moment a strange look of calm came across his face. It caused the rest of us on the floor, who had a 'front row seat' to begin to twitch and sweat profusely. We had seen that look before on Hugh and we had no idea what he had cooked up.

With 5 seconds left Hugh pivoted one last time, this time towards the Viking basket at the other end of the floor. None of us dared to breath. Somewhere a baby cried and a woman screamed. The Viking fans were going WILD; they wanted 100 points. Then as if in slow motion, Hugh leaned over and...rolled the basketball ever so tantalizing towards the Viking basket. None of the Wallace players moved, the twitches were by now violent shakes and puddles of sweat were accumulating around each of our feet, but all of the Viking players sprinted towards the basketball as it was rolling towards their basket.

The quickest of the Vikings reached the basketball with just two ticks left on the clock. I know because one of my eyes was firmly locked on the player and the basketball and my other eye was firmly locked on the game clock.  As he grabbed the ball the clock ticked again. He straightened, it seemed extraordinarily fast, to launch a shot from about the free throw line. Just as he prepared to shoot...the buzzer sounded! Game over!

The Wallace team collectively started to breath again and, ever quick thinking, without any sort of signal or gesture, we all simultaneously seized the moment and we proceeded to give each other 'high-fives'. We then marched, casually, off the floor...victorious. Each team member, heads held high and flashing huge smiles, basked in the cries of anguish and nashing of teeeth coming from the Viking fans and team! The scoreboard indicated that the Vikings had won the game but everyone, especially the Wallace players, knew who had really won. Hugh had turned potential agony of the wrath of Coach Walker into a celebration!

Monday, March 9, 2015

This is the preface to the real story!

March 8, 2015 in Opinion

Smart Bombs: Business-friendly, worker-mean

 The Spokesman-Review
Would you sell a hand for a hundred grand if it were vital to your career?
Under workers’ compensation, which covers damage to your body and future lost wages, losing the use of a hand is valued at $37,400 in Alabama and $738,967 in Nevada. In Washington, it’s worth $106,440, and in Idaho, $102,317. The average for all states is $144,930, according to an investigative report by ProPublica and National Public Radio.
How about a leg? On average, one of those goes for $153,221, but just $118,226 in Washington, and a measly $75,790 in Idaho. How about an eye? Would you sell one for $42,576 (Washington) or $66,316 (Idaho)?
Lobbyists and interest groups visit legislatures every year to hold forth on reforms needed to make workers’ comp business-friendly. But, according to the ProPublica/NPR investigation, the real victims are workers and the American taxpayers.
“They call them reforms,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., adding, “That’s a real insult to workers.”
Like wages, pensions and health care benefits, workers’ comp has fallen victim to the labor market’s race to the bottom. The issue for businesses isn’t that the situation has improved for them over the past quarter century. It’s that they can cut a better deal elsewhere if states won’t give in to their demands.
“That was always the No. 1 issue,” said state Sen. Brian Bingman, Republican president pro tem of the Oklahoma Senate. “Your workers’ comp rates are way too high.”
Since 2003, 33 states have reduced benefits or made them harder to qualify for. Some states have cut off benefits before workers recover.
As a result, workers’ comp insurance rates for employers are at a 25-year low. In 1988, the national average was $3.42 per $100 of workers’ wages. Last year it was $1.85. In Washington, the burden has dropped from $3.81 to $2. In Idaho, from $3.42 to $1.85.
Employers disregard the big picture and hone in on the differences among states, and legislators go along. But this merely shifts costs from the private sector to the public sector. A leaky workers-comp basin causes more injured Americans to spill over to the Social Security disability system and government health care programs. Then conservatives in Congress complain of increased federal spending.
ProPublica/NPR also found fraud in workers’ comp, mostly on the employer side, such as misclassifying workers and undercounting payroll for lower insurance rates. Plus, insurers and employers have teamed up to take away more medical decisions from injured workers and doctors. Under a 2011 Montana reform, insurers can choose workers’ doctors and change them at any time. In 2013, Georgia ended lifetime benefits, cutting them off after eight years for most cases. So workers with artificial hips and joints have to pay the full cost of replacements.
The reach of workers’ comp is further diminished when you consider another development: the hiring of “self-employed” workers, who aren’t eligible for benefits. This has become commonplace in construction, a high-injury career. Many workers aren’t aware of the label’s significance until they’re seriously hurt. Then they face financial ruin.
Comparatively speaking, Washington has a humane workers’ comp system. But in the name of business-friendly, some states have become worker-mean. We should not, in good conscience, challenge them to a race to the bottom.
death spiral. Workers’ comp erosion is like the tax break issue. Relocating businesses play one state against another. One wins, one loses. Research shows there’s no net gain for the U.S. economy, but it does lower government revenue. In turn, the safety net for struggling Americans is shredded.
Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

If You Don't Want to Speak to People--You Don't Have to Speak to Them--

If You Don't Want to Speak to People--You Don't Have to Speak to Them--But don't Complain about having to speak to people when speaking with people is part of your contract of employment. 

Right or wrong, the NFL is an amazing financially successful business. Its financial largeness provides the means whereby various franchises are able to pay enormous sums of money to its players to entertain the public by playing football. Marshawn Lynch's contract is a reported annual salary of 7.5 million dollars. Richard Sherman's contract is a reported annual salary of 14 million dollars. Doug Baldwin's contract is a reported annual salary of 4.33 million dollars. Lynch was fined $50,000 for not speaking with the press as required by the NFL rules. This fine was held in abeyance (not collected) in anticipation of his future cooperation. However, Lynch did not cooperate, he refused to follow the NFL's rules again and, under the NFL's rules, e.g. his contract, he was fined another $50,000. Because he did not cooperate the first time, under the NFL rules and his contract, the NFL also collected the $50,000 fine it had not yet enforced. Sherman and Baldwin held a press conference yesterday ridiculing the NFL's rules and requirements for NFL players--the same rules and requirements that directly led to their being able to be paid such enormous sums to play football. My suggestion to Lynch, Sherman and Baldwin--If you don't want to follow the NFL's rules and regulations regarding speaking to the press--stop playing football--stop accepting millions of dollars to play football. That will solve your problem because when you take this simple action you will not be required to speak with anyone and--that will be real easy because--nobody will want to ask you any questions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lofty Goal?

The interview with the new Cda Chief of Police in the Cda Press on Sunday reported that his goal was to make the Cda police force the best in north Idaho. Holy that is going to be a real test of commitment!

Okay...Watch out Spirit Lake et. al.  You will no longer be #1 in north Idaho!

One other tidbit reported was that the C-O-P believed that the city and citizens were ready to move on from Arfee.

Well good luck with your goal and your prognostication.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Brief Explanation of How The Patriot Act Protects Each and Every One of Us!

So I received a message that my credit card company wanted to speak with me. It was investigating “suspicious activity” on my credit card and I needed to call them back. I did. I grew suspicious when the person answering the call was barely able to speak any English. She wanted specific information but, since it has been a long day, I told her I wanted to speak to her supervisor. I was transferred to someone who had even less ability to speak English. I asked this person where she was located and I was informed that she was in Costa Rica. Hmm, I said to myself, someone is calling about “suspicious activity” on my credit card and I get someone who can at best barely speak English? I told the person I wanted to speak to someone in the United States. I was put on hold and after a while the person came back on and said she was going to transfer me to “Alena”. I asked where is “Alena” located. I was told “Eurasa”. When “Alena” got on the phone, always interested in geography, I asked her; "Where is “Eurasa” located? She told me that “Alena” had said “United States”. I laughed... and said….”No.” She said that she was in Richmond Virginia. Then “Alena” asked me for the same information and I repeated the history I have set forth above, and told her “No”. I asked her to explain why it was that they called me, they left the last for digits of my account number, they asked me to call them back, and now, that I have called them back just like they asked, they tell me that I have to give them information to identify who I am. She said that under the “Patriot Act” they had to follow this procedure. I really laughed with this new tidbit of information. I was so impressed that the Patriot Act was concerned about my credit card account, that I told her to give me the precise citation to where in the Patriot Act they are required to demand and I am required to give someone from Costa Rica specific information for me to get information about my account. She responded by saying, well we did call you, and you called us back, sooo if you will give us a working telephone number to call you back on, we can do it that way. I gave her my office number and she did call back and, you guessed it, there was nothing she identified that would fall under the category of “suspicious activity”. I guess, perhaps, that the moral of this story is that it is not a good idea to call me on a Monday afternoon from Costa Rica?