Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I would like to express my deep thanks for the very warm welcome the Hood River County community extended to me at the Hood River Library Foundation's Dessert First fundraiser on May 14.
It was inspiring to meet so many people who are so passionate about reopening their libraries. I look forward to meeting even more of you starting on June 1 when I officially start as Director of the library district.
I am excited to have an opportunity to live and work in such a dedicated community. Thanks to the efforts and contributions of many people, we are yet closer to being able to open the libraries early. With such drive, I know that Hood River's libraries will once again be open for business come July.
Buzzy Nielsen, soon to be of
I have been reading a lot of letters regarding the meters and the parking problem downtown. Huh, I never seem to have a problem parking my bicycle!
Chief or Mayor
I have known city police chief Bruce Ludwig for several years. I have never felt anything but admiration for his work ethic and management of the Hood River police department.
As city administrator Bob Francis is quoted as saying Bruce Ludwig is community oriented and Mr. Ludwig is indeed, both on the job and off.
If Mayor Arthur Babitz has different management goals and philosophies than Chief Ludwig, and wants the city manager to fire him, maybe we do need a change. Maybe what Hood River needs is a new mayor not a new police chief.
FACS needs support
I enjoyed the front-page coverage of the Food and Conservation Project at Hood River Middle School (May 9)
I'd heard about Michael Becker's remarkable interdisciplinary permaculture program through the grapevine and was excited to get more insight on just how it works. How wonderful that this home-grown project is getting national attention as a "premiere example of innovation, creativity and cutting-edge vision." And how lucky our community is to have a gifted teacher like Michael Becker champion such a project as its primary visionary, hands-on leader - and as its principle fund-raiser, securing hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding.
The excitement his students experience as they discover real-life applications of math, science, history and literary skills and concepts to solve real-life problems is evident and contagious. It's an inspirational story about what a dedicated teacher can do. But wait! What's this addendum? Michael Becker's position in this innovative program is being eliminated?! He's being returned to a "regular" sixth grade classroom? And this decision is being sold to us as the only possible solution given the current financial crisis?
What's wrong with this picture? Besides the fact that it is a heartbreaking and all-too-common example of a brilliant idea being cut down to size because it does not fit in the existing box?
Well, consider this: What if it is the box itself that is outmoded? According to Ken Robinson, an internationally acclaimed leader in the development of education, we are currently experiencing a global re-evaluation of educational systems. Why? Because we are beginning to recognize that current models can no longer prepare children for the world they will inherit as adults. The world is changing too fast. The one thing we can predict about the future is that we can barely guess at the challenges it will present our children and their children. One thing I'd be willing to gamble on: Training students to pass standardized tests is not likely to engender the skills they'll need to truly be of service to their world. Fostering and embodying curiosity and passion, teaching kids to engage with the world around them, to think critically and creatively, and find ways to apply these thoughts to the world - this skill set will never become obsolete. If you ask me, we can't afford NOT to embrace teachers like Michael Becker and concepts like the Food and Conservation Project.
Shoving Michael Becker back into our preconceived cubbyhole of a sixth grade teacher is a crying shame. I know these are hard times for school districts, and painful cuts of all kinds are being made. But where we choose to invest our money when times are tough is the true barometer of what we value. I hope this project can survive. It deserves our support. And Michael Becker deserves our thanks. I am glad to know teachers like him still exist in the public school system. I wish him the best.
Library open? Sweet
What a great Saturday night Dessert Party at the Hood River Public Library (May 13)! A fund raiser to make a July opening possible.
Terrific organization, great auction, wonderful band ... and the desserts! Well, forget "calories" and just concentrate on "delicious".
But the best part? Being back in the library! Running my hand along a row of book spines. Sitting in the comfortable furniture.
And seeing this grand combination of the Carnegie original combined with the sensitive addition filled with enthusiastic people of all ages. Just as it should be.
It feels almost like summer, even looks like it on some days, and many of us have the itch to get out on the water after a long winter. I decided to go for it on Tuesday, even though I knew that the water is a little on the cold side.
There were a few other windsurfers going out, the wind looked really good and there were plenty of kiteboarders on the water. I rigged up and out I went. I should mention that I am not a great windsurfer. Addicted to it yes, good at it, not so much. As soon as I got into the water I realized it was way colder than I expected. I sailed a month earlier than this last year and then it was quite pleasant. Not so this year. I went across the river and back, then even though I was already cold, I decided to go again. I went all the way across and sailed into the huge swell over by the White Salmon River bridge, which was more than I am qualified to be sailing in, especially for the first time out in the season.
I crashed on the turn and with the waves breaking over me plus the really strong current, it was overwhelming. I waterstarted but couldn't get planing in the fluky wind and was back in the water, over and over. It is amazing how quickly the cold water sucked the strength right out of me trying to wrestle my sail and gear against the current. I was in serious danger in just a few minutes and was being swept downstream rapidly. I knew I had to get to shore soon as I was quickly getting too cold to function, but I needed to rest for a second and figure out what to do.
Luckily, a kiteboarder came over and asked if I was okay. I really hated to admit it, but I needed help. It was dangerous for him but we finally got hooked up so he could tow me, and he did, for probably 50 minutes or so. I thought that if he could tow me out of the biggest waves, I could then sail back across the river.
By the time we got out of those waves, near the center of the river, I was too weak from the cold to sail. I water started, but my legs were rubber. I couldn't feel them at all so it was back to towing. The current is incredibly strong right now with the high water and we ended up near the lower end of Wells Island, and actually barely made it there.
It was a heroic effort on the part of the hero in this story who dragged me all the way to where I could stand up again. Another kiteboarder then took off to send a jetski down to pick me up.
If it wasn't for Adam Lapierre saving me, my wife would have killed me for dying out there on her birthday. Thank you Adam. I hope you weren't skipping work that day.
For years I have heard that there is some sort of rift between kiters and windsurfers. Not with me there isn't, and there never has been. I'm thinking now that this whole thing is just a myth. I've sailed with many kiteboarders in the same water and I think we are all just out there having fun and enjoying the water and wind, doing the two craziest sports ever. I can't wait for summer to really get here so I can go out again. Be careful. It's really cold right now and it can quickly suck the strength and energy out of you.
Signed, The Lucky Old Windsurfer
(I had never met Adam Lapierre before he came to my rescue.)
Regarding the letter "Teach you kids safety" (Gary Lindemyer, May 14), thank you for the questions and comments regarding educators teaching safety standards by crossing the street in an unmarked area.
We share the concerns about student safety and the simple answer is yes; on a regular basis, our local public schools teach Stranger Danger, Walk and Bike to School Safety, water safety, personal safety, and playground safety.
As point of clarification substantiated by local law enforcement, it is legal to cross on the parallel, between corners, at any "real" intersection, regardless of the marking. If there are sidewalks leading to each corner, the pedestrian has the right of way when crossing the street. Indeed, many intersections in our community do not have marked crosswalks.
Thank you also for pointing out the intersection at 13th and May is dangerous. In my opinion, the intersection at 12th and May is equally hazardous. Both of these areas have "right turn permitted without stopping" signs. Both have cars entering from irregular or unusual directions.
Now, with the north side of May Street closed due to construction, crossing and re-crossing May Street is even more challenging. The City of Hood River, Hood River County School District and Hood River Memorial Providence Hospital have worked collaboratively to make these two dangerous intersections as safe as possible, but honestly it has been frustrating to see the lack of viable solutions.
One issue which continually comes up is the fact that 13th Street is a State Highway and ODOT rules apply to this route. I recall the day when there was no crosswalk or blinking light on 13th at Rosauers' and remember with sadness the tragedy it took to have those safety measures placed. There are several local groups, including Safe Routes to School and the Healthy Active Hood River County Coalition, working to increase healthy transportation routes throughout our community.
I highly encourage everyone to become involved and advocate for bike and walking lanes throughout Hood River County. And yes, public schools will continue to teach safety rules to all of our children.
Susan K Henness, Principal
May Street School
Right thing is hard
Why can't we seem to do the right thing?
As I read the history of American foreign policy during the past century, this question keeps coming back time and time again. We know what is right. We have a Constitution, a Bill of Rights, and treaties which obligate us to do the right thing. We have lofty religious traditions, humanitarian ideals and plenty of good citizens to inspire us. So why do we so often end up doing the wrong thing as a nation?
Take the issue of genocide. You'd think we could get this one right. In her book, Problem from Hell, Harvard historian Samantha Powers examines our shameful record during the six most egregious episodes of genocide this past century-the Armenian massacre, the Holocaust, the "killing fields" of the Khmer Rouge, Iraq's gassing of her Kurds, Bosnia, and Rwanda.
The long and short of it is, we did absolutely nothing of substance to prevent or stop these tragic occurrences. Yet it was an American lawyer who lost 49 family members in the Holocaust that devoted his whole life to writing and promoting the international genocide treaty, a treaty that was ratified by 97 nations - except one. Guess which one?
Why? Because in every instance, Congress found "reasons" not to - economic reasons, geopolitical reasons, military reasons, commercial reasons, diplomatic reasons, reasons of "national interest," even fears that we might be accused of genocide (i.e. our treatment of Native Americans and African slaves, etc.).
Despite heroic efforts of a few congressmen (Sen. William Proxmire gave 3211 speeches in the Senate over 19 years trying to shame us into ratifying the Genocide Treaty), we haven't been able to step up to the plate. There's always a "reason." Such hypocritical action has cost us dearly, not only in the world community, but here at home among our own people.
Yes, we finally signed the Genocide Treaty 40 years later - but with the proviso that the U.S. would be exempt from its provisions!
Why can't we seem to do the right thing?
David C. Duncombe
Your media wants to sell ads. I make this statement as a chemist. I make this statement in reference to bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA, the plastic that has been much maligned in your media. When a study was picked up by your media that there might be a problem with BPA, there was a fire storm of action or inaction. BPA was unsellable.
Retailers had to remove all products containing BPA simply because they would not sell. Producers of BPA products were forced to find inferior alternatives for this plastic. In our anti-synthetic culture it seems anything manmade is toxic, countering that, cyanide, Tetrodotoxin (puffer fish poison) and opium are all "natural" "organic" substances, few of you would ingest these substances.
My issue is with the media, they "sell" you on a sensational news story, which has very little factual value, but in the telling consumer of news and plastic containers change their behavior, in doing so they ruin an industry, and create a large amount of waste. The waste is created when all of these people throw away their BPA plastic containers, which will take thousands of years to break down, and purchase a different plastic container.
An interesting note on these replacement plastics, they have not be subjected to the same tests that BPA was. So, did you just change your "bad" plastic for a "worse" plastic? I bet we find out in 5-10 years. My advice, consider your source before making a decision.
My source is Critical Reviews in Toxicology, specifically the April 2011 article, the peer reviewed journal, which has its abstract end with this sentence, "Overall, the Committee concluded that the current TDI for BPA is adequately justified and that the available evidence indicates that BPA exposure represents no noteworthy risk to the health of the human population, including newborns and babies."