Change for the Better

Meridian, Idaho

Dear Gentle Blog Reader,

I wondered when I wrote yesterday’s post about the police and the new mental health coordinator why that was so important to me, and it finally dawned on me late yesterday.

ChangeAside from the obvious fact that there’s a lack of knowledge and understanding about mental illness and how it affects us, what struck me about the hiring of a mental health coordinator is that it represents a fundamental change in how we approach situations.

In the past, we relied on experts within specific fields to answer questions. Then for a period of between five and ten years, everyone was expected to be experts on nearly everything. Now, it appears that we are moving back to segmented experts.

Bear with me as I show an example of this…

I used to work as a liaison between computer users and computer programmers. Here’s how it worked:

  1. The users would describe a problem they were having with the information system.
  2. I would determine if there was a technical solution to their problem.
  3. If there was, I would submit the specifications to the programmers who would alter the system code to solve the problem.

While researching the problem, I would interview subject matter experts (SMEs)–a individual who an level of expertise in the area involved.


This was extremely effective. Users who worked with the system daily, got input into making the system more effective and them more efficient in their jobs. The programmers who think differently than users didn’t have to decipher was the users wanted because I had done it.

But something started changed about five years ago in the business world which phased middle level positions including liaisons and SMEs.

I think the reasons included the following:

  1. The explosion of the Internet both in usage and content available,
  2. the exponential use of Google to find answers, and
  3. most importantly, the reduction of staffing to make organizations as lean as possible.

And, in my humble opinion, many organizations lost their efficiency and effectiveness.


When the Boise Police Department hired the mental health coordinator, in essence a subject matter expert, they have increased both their efficiency and their effectiveness both for their police officers and for the mentally ill.

Efficiency because each police office doesn’t need to research solutions and resources for the unique situations they come across when helping the mentally ill.

Effectiveness because they will be better able to do their job knowing that they can easily get answers.

This is a change for the better…

Police + Mental Health Coordinator

Meridian, Idaho

Three months ago the Boise Police Department created a new position: Mental Health Coordinator.

When officers respond to welfare checks resulting in a need for services, they can reach out directly to Penelope Hansen, the coordinator, knowing that she will help get people the treatment they need.

She is also training the officers so that they are better able to recognize the signs of mental illness. Officers respond to an average of 13 welfare checks per day, and many of those involve people suffering from mental illness.

BPD Chief Bones said, “I don’t know what lives this position will save, but I can guarantee that it is going to save lives.”

What a wonderful addition to the police department!

And what a wonderful resource for the community!

Hopefully this is a part of a growing trend…

If We Treated Teachers Like Pro Athletes

Meridian, Idaho

What if our society changed its ways and treated teachers like we treat pro athletes?

What if we deeply focused on teachers–how they teach, who they engage in their lessons, and recognized each and every little thing they do in and of a school day, let alone a school year?

Here’s a great parody found by my brother-in-law, Dan Cohen. Thanks, Dan!

Be sure to watch until the end to see the perfect BMW commercial with the teacher as the owner… 🙂

From Slate

By now, the lament about how our culture privileges athletics over education is an old one—but Key & Peele has breathed new life into it in their latest sketch, “TeachersCenter.” A spot-on parody of SportsCenter’s hyperbole-laden talking heads, busy CGI ticker screens, and obsessive play-by-plays, the clip cleverly reimagines athletes as the educators we entrust our children to every day.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a biting critique that says a lot about the economic and symbolic power we assign to an industry in which men are considered exceptional for throwing a ball. But the best part of “TeachersCenter” might just be the incredible ads dropped in throughout—being a teacher has never looked so sexy.

Old Broad Aid

Meridian, Idaho

When we  bought Homer,  we traded in my car.  No need to have it sitting in storage for a year.

When we  came back to Boise and decided to not travel full time,  I needed a car.

So we  bought a new one.  The  only requirements were that it was a mid-sized SUV and that it a GMC.

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We ended  up with a GMC Terrain,  and I love it.

My only  complaint is that it’s white. Not that white is a bad color for a car.

It’s just  that there are always dozens of white SUVs in the parking lot and I have a hard time finding my car.


I found a cheap and effective solution… 

It’s about a yard  of knitted ribbon that I found at Walmart.  I made a pompom out of it and tied it to my antenna.


Because it’s a knit, it stays on even when driving down the highway.

It’s the best aid for this old, forgetful broad who never remembers where she parked her car. 🙂


Exponential Returns

Meridian, Idaho

Ever wonder how your random acts of kindness continue to ripple through other’s lives?

I think all of our acts of kindness ripple exponentially through time. Here’s a great story showing exactly that!


A Waitress’s Kind Act Moved These Tired Firefighters To Tears

July 25, 2015

After a long night on the job, New Jersey firefighters Paul Hullings and Tim Young stopped at a diner looking for a hot meal. What they got was much more.

It was in the middle of the night, so Young and Hillings started talking to their waitress, Liz Woodward. After learning that they spent his night putting out a massive warehouse fire in North Brunswick – she decided to pick up the $15 tab.

“I started tearing up and it made me feel good – us firefighters are wanted, people care about us,” he told the local news outlet.


But that’s not where this story ends. Her simple but generous act inspired the firefighters to pay it forward.

After they learned that Woodward is trying to raise money for her quadriplegic father, who is in need of a wheelchair-accessible van, both Young and Hullings decided to help out.


Hullings said they will do whatever they can to help, including holding a fundraiser.

(Read more about the fund rasier…)

Belly Laughter

Meridian, Idaho

Carol and I had a laughing session last night while visiting.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard her laugh that loud and/or that long. And I was right there laughing loud and long with her.

It was about three times as long as this… Enjoy! 🙂


Meridian, Idaho

Carol has come up for a visit.

We’ve had a blast…

Today, I thought I’d write a bit about us as twins…

We have, obviously, been twins our entire lives. (Hee hee!)

Identical Mirror Twins

twins-2Carol and I are what’s known as mirror twins. We are identical twins, twins that form from a single fertilized egg, where the split occurs more than a week after conception. Had the split happened much later, we would have been conjoined twins.

Mirror twins often have physical characteristics that display on opposite sides as if they were looking in a mirror. For example, I have a mole on my left ear that matches one on Carol’s right ear.

Twin Telepathy

I love being a twin, and Carol does, too. We have a built in best friend for life. Carol and I have often experienced a twin telepathy although it doesn’t happen as often now as it did when we were teenagers.

When we double-dated, we’d often finish each other’s sentences, thoroughly annoying our dates who couldn’t keep up and didn’t understand why we were laughing uncontrollably.

Double Trouble

CandKatLVSG-web-300x300One of the strangest things about our childhood was that when one of us broke a bone, the other broke the same bone on the opposite side within two days.

When we were 10, I fell out of a tree and broke my right arm. Mom rushed me to the emergency room for a cast and sling. Two days later, Carol fell out of swing at school and Mom rushed her to the emergency room for a cast on her left arm.

This happened three times: twice for broken arms and once for broken fingers.

Who is that?

twins-3Carol and I have two other sisters.

Carol’s been scanning all the childhood photos of all four of us on to Flicker. I’ve been going through the photos, tagging and labeling with names and locations.

Even I have to admit that it’s weird because until Carol and I are about six, it’s virtually impossible to tell which twin is which.

Sometimes I’ll guess and put who I think is who. But usually I simply tag our combined photos with “The Twins” and photos with just one of us with “One of The Twins”.

While that might not sound that strange, imagine what it would be like if all of your childhood photos were simply labeled with Child #3 or Daughter #1.

Actually for Carol and I it’s not that weird. Even though we’re in our late 50′s, we’re still called The Twins by our family.

All that being said, I still like to guess who’s who in photos.

I’m pretty sure Carol’s the one on the left of this picture picking her nose. Hee hee…

Hot Sh*t

Meridian,  Idaho

So there was a wildfire two days ago in the foothills just north of Boise.


And when the fire was first reported on the news, the official wording was a bit odd:

Carrie Bilbao, BLM spokeswoman says there was evidence and “other personal items left at the scene,” proving the fire was man-made.

headline-1The fact that there was a fire is not unique,  but yesterday’s headline stating the cause of the fire was very unique!

Turns out that a dirt bicyclist stopped for a bit to relieve himself. He lit his used toilet paper on fire.

Embers from his fire caught the dry grass on fire, and the rest is history.

He turned himself in to the Bureau of Land Management saying that he may have caused the fire. Officials haven’t released his name (I’ll bet he’s thrilled about that!), and it hasn’t been decided if he will be charged.

But I’m wondering if it was really the toilet paper that caused the fire. Survivalists often use poop to create fire. Maybe this guy had the right combination of roughage and fats in his diet to create the perfect ‘fire starter’. 🙂

From KTVB:

Bureau of Land Management officials say a cyclist who couldn’t hold it is responsible for starting a fire that scorched more than 73 acres in the Boise foothills.

According to BLM spokeswoman Carrie Bilbao, a man was cycling in the foothills when he stopped to defecate in a ravine. Afterwards, the man tried to get rid of the waste by lighting his toilet paper on fire. The man apparently tried to bury the burning waste to extinguish it, but an ember spread to nearby dry grass.

“I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go,” Bilbao said.

The Hull Fire was reported at about 1:30 p.m. by several people off 8th Street in the Hulls Gulch area. Emergency responders called in ground and air resources to quell the flames, which spread to 73 acres. The fire was contained by 8 p.m.

“We’ve had this before, actually – it doesn’t happen very often – but when people have to go, um, they will often burn their toilet paper just as kind of an environmental concern, to not litter, basically, but in these fuel types, it’s not a good idea,” Bilbao said.

Bilbao said the man came forward and told the BLM he might be responsible for the blaze. The man’s story matched “evidence” found at the scene, according to investigators.

Police have not yet decided whether to charge the man with a crime or hold him financially responsible for fire-fighting costs. The man’s name has not been released.

Took a Little Tumble…

Meridian, Idaho

Four years ago today, I took a little tumble off of my bicycle and my health has not been the same since. (More about that in an upcoming post…)

I was on the last half mile of a wonderful 25 mile ride along the Boise Greenbelt. I was staying at Melissa’s house while she was in Seattle visiting Richie. Rich was in Fallon visiting his dad.

I had just lost 40 pounds to reach my goal weight and was feeling (and looking) marvelous. Just marvelous!


I’m still not quite sure how the fall happened. I think I caught the edge of the pavement which caused my front tire to turn sideways as I went over the handlebars. I was riding alone, so I’m not sure if I blacked out. I do remember thinking “Oh, this is going to be bad…” as I was falling head first into the pavement. I had a bicycle helmet on, but those do nothing to protect chins. 🙁


When I got up, I saw that my knees had some impressive strawberries. I had apparently kept my hands on the handlebars because my knuckles were pretty bruised up and bloody as well. I raised one hand to my chin and saw blood as I pulled it away.

I needed to get back to my car, so I road my bike the last 1/2 mile and loaded the bike. As I got into the car, I  looked in the rear view mirror and knew immediately that I had to get to the hospital because my chin was very swollen and I wasn’t sure if I had broken a wrist.

xrayThe hospital was only a couple of miles away. After waiting just a short bit to see the ER doctor, he came in, took one look at my chin, and said, “I’m pretty sure you’ve broken your jaw. We’ll need an x-ray to confirm it.”

The second time I saw myself was when they pulled the x-ray machine down in front of my face and lined up the cross hairs. I looked at my reflection in the glass and said, “Holy Shit!” when I saw how swollen my face was only it came out, “Holy Thit!” through my swollen lips.   🙂


Turns out my jaw wasn’t broken, just very bruised. Here’s what the underside of my jaw looked like when I got home later that day… Impressive! I felt like Billy Bob Thornton’s Sling Blade character.


I was concerned about my hands and wrists and thought they might be broken. But the doctor had me squeeze his hands and said I was ‘very strong’. I said, “Well, maybe, but I’m clumsy and after two falls in three weeks maybe I should start acting my age.” He said, “What you’re doing is just fine. You are acting your age.” That made me feel lots better.

I still ride my bicycle, and I’ve taken a few falls since then. But, thankfully, none of them were as bad as this one…

National Junk Food Day

Meridian, Idaho

cd9829a9988b3fa782ea50ec0ad2fe75.image.120x90Shoot, I didn’t know it was National Junk Food Day yesterday until after I went to bed.

If I had known, I could have eaten way more crap throughout the day and not felt guilty because I would have been celebrating an important day. 🙂

Anyway…  Here are parts of the  funny,  and yet informative, article by Amy Roberts and Julie In I read on about new junk foods…

9 bizarre snacks to try for National Junk Food Day

At CNN, we love sampling new snacks. Chips, cookies, candy, pretzels … you name it, we’re not picky.

So when snack-food makers come out with bizarre new hybrids — toasted coconut & sea salt Triscuits, anyone? — we’re not afraid to try them.

When we learned that Tuesday is National Junk Food Day, we at the CNN Library jumped at the chance to put our taste buds on the line. In honor of the holiday, we librarians bravely conducted taste tests of some of the most bizarre flavor pairings to hit the snack market this year.

After all, librarians love gathering information. And this wasn’t just snacking, this was Research.

Here’s our personal take on nine new strange snacks. Maybe they can help you find a fun treat to mark this momentous occasion.

Heinz Sriracha Ketchup

Amy Roberts: Why would you want Sriracha-flavored ketchup when you most likely already have ketchup and Sriracha sauce at home and can mix them yourself? Because you are lazy. That’s OK. We are, too.

This ketchup blend has less Sriracha than you might think but just the right amount of kick. I wasn’t sure until I tried some on a breakfast sandwich from the CNN Center food court, and then I was hooked. I’m totally going to start buying this.

Julie In: Sriracha — good. Ketchup — good. Sriracha ketchup — undecided.

I like the kick of Sriracha at the end and the balancing sweetness of the ketchup, but the hint of garlic seems out of place. I like garlic on its own, but here, it seemed like a third wheel interfering in the marriage of Sriracha and ketchup. (Disclaimer: I did not try it on a breakfast sandwich.)

Amp Energy Zero Blueberry White Grape Drink


Julie: My primary thought after one sip was: This is awesome! I love this feeling. I love the rush. I feel powerful. I can feel the alleged antioxidants from the blueberry and white grape flavoring coursing through my veins. I’ve tried a lot of energy drinks in my time, and this flavor combination is my favorite.

Amy: “It’s sugar-free!” was my primary thought as I felt my heart beating out of my chest after one sip. As a bonus, the blueberry and white grape combination was unexpectedly good. We also tried the original as a control, which tasted like “hot Mountain Dew,” aka my new band name.

General Mills ‘Star Wars’ Cereal


Amy: As a fan of “Star Wars” and sugary cereals, I think this is the best thing to happen to me in my whole life. It’s like Froot Loops and Lucky Charms got married and had babies — fruity babies in the shape of spaceships and light sabers. If you share my passions, this is for you. Darth Vader and Yoda are on the limited-edition boxes now, and two more characters will appear on new box designs in October.

Julie: “Star Wars” and cereal seems like an unlikely pairing, but after the first spoonful, I made the connection. The fruity cereal and marshmallows transported me to “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” — before I discovered the dangers of high-fructose corn syrup and it was still acceptable to act out fight sequences from “Star Wars.” (I still act out the scenes, but it’s not as cute when you’re an adult.) The double dose of nostalgia was so delicious, I had to have seconds.

Trader Joe’s Baconesque Popcorn


Amy: OK, this is the best thing that’s happened to me in my whole life. (This list was done in chronological order.) “Baconesque” refers to bacon flavor, not real bacon, which is good for vegetarians. (The package isn’t specifically marked as vegetarian, however, but it is kosher.)

The smoky flavoring combined with the white cheddar is enough to make me say, “Yes, I’m having this popcorn as my dinner. You got a problem with that?” There will not be enough to share.

Julie: I only got a small taste because Amy slapped my hand away when I went back for more. We both liked the white cheddar and the smokiness of the bacon. I’m a card-carrying carnivore and didn’t even miss the real bacon.

Read about all nine bizarre snacks…