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All Hat

"He's just a smooth-talkin', long-tall slow-walkin'

Drugstore-made-up dude

So honey don't you fall for that fake Texas drawl

He ain't right for you

What you need's a man that ain't just a hat stand

When you get him home

All hat and no cattle ain't gonna get it done."

All Hat and No Cattle, Trace Adkins, singer

Avatar_IngridGabriel I can't say I didn't see it coming. I had a hammer, and I hammered out a warning about three years ago while I was still living within two-stepping distance of the capitol dome in Austin. But, alas, to no avail. Quoting me: 

"While it is not my objective to raise alarm, I fervently believe that some of you just didn't get the memo back in 2000. Many voters seemed to be laboring under the misguided impression that the governorship of Texas must produce leaders with savvy and keen executive skills. We are incubating another one for a presidential run with all the usual players and groomers even now, and while you are free to vote for whomever tickles your electoral fancy in 2012 or 2016, be advised that the spoils of any gubernatorial race in Texas do not necessarily go to the sharpest cheese on the cracker.

Somewhere along the way (and it's probably detailed in the Texas Constitution, but I don't have enough interest to look it up) the powers of the governor were severely restricted, resulting in a rather weak office compared to other states. At Governors' Summer Camp, all the other governors make fun of Texas.

The real power behind the throne lies with the Lieutenant Governor. This person is, more often than not, wicked smart, hugely influential, a very effective political animal and is voted in year after year, even though people have a hard time remembering who he is unless he's been in office long enough to get a museum in his name. He (or she, although there hasn't been a "she" so far) is not the running mate of the governor and can keep his job no matter what yahoo is living in the mansion. If you ever read the late Molly Ivins, you already know what I'm saying.

Thus, current and former governors of Texas have seldom been required to possess more than a little affable, folksy charm to get the job. Although, every now and again, a prototypical candidate is so repellent that even Texans are offended and they elect a smart and effective leader by default. Governor Ann Richards, for example, narrowly slipped into the governorship after her opponent shared his happy youthful memories of his trips to "Boys' Town" across the Mexican border, and actually described himself as being "serviced."

Sadly, the rogue brainiac lasts only as long (about half a term) as it takes Texas to get annoyed all over again with a governor who knows big words and the office reverts to the aforementioned standard. Texas' current governor is carrying on that grand tradition.

Among his more admirable qualities is that he is follically blessed. So dense and attractive is the Governor's coif that he is known throughout the land as Governor Good Hair (thanks to Molly), or just plain Good Hair, if you don't stand on formality. Good Hair is equally gifted with the same sort of rhetorical command that you may have observed in another well-known governor from Texas."

Fast forward three years and, by now, you already may know that Rick Perry, wearing a slightly bigger tooled belt and having moved up from a saucer-size to a salad-plate-size belt buckle, with nary a follicle out of place and his folksiness turned up to 13, has managed an impressive showing in the Iowa Straw Poll. While Representative Michelle Bachmann still managed to lead the pack, I suspect that the voters hadn't yet heard that a new sheriff was in town. A plain-speakin', straight-shootin', America lovin', deficit spendin' hatin' man so close to his family that he is proud to tell you his own father-in-law performed his vasectomy.

Lordy. Most families express their enjoyment of each other's company by having a game night, or going camping together. There's close and then there's...what's that other adjective?...oh...that's right...disturbing. Even in Texas, your family doesn't normally participate in dad's vasectomy beyond picking him up at the urology clinic when it's over and giving him a Shiner Bock and a bag of frozen okra once they settle him down in his recliner

While a statement like that is kind of thrilling for the wicked-minded and I wish that Molly and Ann were still around to hoot and make lewd jokes about Rick and body parts that rhyme with "Rick", it does increase my earlier suspicion that we have a "hat" and no one is looking for any cattle. I wrote the previous article because of a confession that Perry made regarding his understanding of genetics, or lack thereof, which for a man who claims to be a rancher, made me wonder if he had ever even bred cattle. Or, where he thought Texas longhorns come from (answer: feral Mexican cattle crossbred with eastern cattle brought by the early settlers). To wit, the Governor stated that while he believes in genetics, he does not believe in evolutionary theory. And I added, "I always love it when politicians make these sorts of affirmative pronouncements – as if their belief or their disbelief in natural phenomenon gives it its legitimacy."

However you may stand on creation v. evolution, genetics is solidly on the side of evolutionary theory because it is the foundation of genetic drift. You can't stuff genetics into the creation side of the debate because genetics is all about change over time and across species, while creation is a single, one-time, whole and absolute event. I threw in a life-science refresher in the earlier column, because it fit into a completely different topic, but it's edited below:

"In normal reality, human-kind requires a male and a female (or, at least, their gametes) to produce offspring. Each parent has 23 paired chromosomes, which are a package of genes composed of DNA (the chemical that carries the genetic instructions for making the organism) in the nucleus of their cells; 22 pairs are essentially identical, but the 23rd pair is different. In females, the 23rd pair (those that encode the ovum and sperm, also known as the "germ" cells) has two like chromosomes called "XX", but in males, the pair has dissimilar chromosomes, "XY".

Mitosis (the replication and division of cells) and meiosis (the replication and division of reproductive cells) are observable events. You can watch this process under a microscope. A common procedure like in vitro fertilization proves over and over that meiosis is how we get more of us.

Because each fertilization is a brand new combo, species change over time due to random fluctuations of the appearance of different genes in a population. These fluctuations may become fixed, whether or not they have any real adaptive purpose. For example, the Governor's extraordinary bounty of hair (an anomaly among male legislators of a certain age with domes often as smooth as the granite capitol under which they labor), may become more frequent among future Texas politicians if he continues to reproduce successfully.* To phrase it more precisely – genetic drift from no hair among a population of legislators to follicular surplus.

You are different from your parents; your children are different from you, and so on, backward and forward throughout the timeline of any species. Genetic drift is one of the pillars of evolutionary theory, and while many factors impact the direction of the drift, it starts with the obvious fact that two individuals (absent cloning) produce kids who are not replicas of them, and might even express characteristics not seen in either parent. This reshuffling of the genetic deck allows for a few surprises in the next generation." And, often, enormous changes over many generations.

Recent inquiries into his religious beliefs indicate that Perry continues to find genetics and genetic drift unsupportable. No word yet on if he is for/against gravity or if he's pro/con on the sun being recognized as the center of our solar system.

So, here we are and I predict that Perry is likely to remain a strong candidate because he's super-cute and so gosh-darn down-home friendly (and he's not ashamed to come clean about his vasectomy). And my advice is still the same – you must vote your conscience. However, just a couple of observations and then I'll give it a rest.

I know a thing or two about Texas men and have been on more dates to the Alamo than I can remember. I admire their courtesy and outrageous enthusiasm for life, their great humor and mastery of a dance floor. You never have to ask yourself how you will deal with the rattler that's moved into the shed – your Texas man will take care of it for you, little lady. Then, he'll skin it out and offer to have a belt made out of for you if it's big enough, or a wallet if it's small. Hell, a real Texas boy will even grill it up on his electric wok just so as not to waste it (and I'm not making that up). I love the way Texas men look and dress and stride and flirt with every woman as if she were a rodeo queen.

But as much as I admire them, you should know that there are two kinds of Texans: 1) All hat and no cattle and 2) Big Hat and Many Cattle.

The Governor has a fine hat. But before you fall in love, walk around the barn and make certain his pasture has anything grazing in it.

*Written before the public announcement re: Perry's vasectomy.


Creeeeeeek...Boo! - What was that?

Avatar_SJILibraryI know this might not be a question you get asked much, but do you know of any local ghost stories? On Friday, October 28th at 6:30 pm, the San Juan Island Library will host a "Live & Learn" program called "Trick or Treat? Ghost Stories of San Juan Island" for an evening of spooky stories, just in time for Halloween. Perhaps you have one you would like to share with us that evening?

Even if you don't
believe in ghosts, or haven't had any "encounters", has someone told you a story about a local ghost, or haunted house? I understand that ghost stories aren't for everyone, but it is my sincere hope that this program will be a way for members of the community to come together in the spirit of fun for an evening of stories by the fireplace, and perhaps shed some light on our local history and the lives of San Juan Islanders from many years ago.

In preparation for this program, the Library is partnering with The Town of Friday Harbor Historic Preservation Program and The San Juan Island Visitor's Bureau to gather up as much background information as we can on local lore & ghost stories.

As Sandy Strehlou, Friday's Harbor's Town Historian, recently explained, it is our hope that the "event will be an entertaining way to combine local history, historic buildings and sites, and Halloween in a fun and intriguing way." Being the expert Historian that she is, Sandy is hoping to have enough time to find some old photographs of people or places that correlate to the ghosts, buildings, or "haunted" places in question.

I have had so much fun working with Sandy and Robin Jacobson on this project, and it has been a great way to learn more about our island's fascinating history. Believe it or not, there are some good ghost stories out there. And, I know there are more - so please share them with us!

You can contact me at the Library, or e-mail abourne@sjlib.org . I will pass on your stories to Robin and Sandy, who will do their best to help us learn more about the history, people and places related to your story, which should make our program on October 28th all the more haunting!


The Last Hurrah of Summer

Avatar_DavidBentleyI could see the confusion on the four-year-old child’s face as he asked again, “But what IS Labor Day?” He’d been to see his new classroom and meet his new teachers. He had his new school clothes and backpack. He’d been bored for several weeks, and now his parents were trying to explain why he had to wait until after Labor Day to go to school. It just didn’t make sense.


Buttons, Books and Best SRP


Before we say our final farewell to summer, I'd like to congratulate and thank all of the library's 2011 Summer Reading Program (SRP) participants, teen assistants, and volunteers. Because of them, the library was able to host seven professional performances in addition to a regional author visit by Clare Hodgson Meeker and our kick-off musical guest, Dana Lyons.

Friday Harbor Elementary School once again generously allowed us to host weekly performances on their premises and the Friends of the Library provided the financial support to make the Summer Reading Program possible. Our two teen assistants did an outstanding job, working with the children and staff to implement and plan programs, including our final teen event and party.

Other volunteers, too many to list in this column, gave their support and creative ideas. Some gave it through pure muscle power (moving tables and equipment) or by gently guiding children through the process (registration, prizes, and finding materials.) And Kathy Babbitt, I’m now certain you are indeed San Juan Island’s Fairy Godmother. As always, you are magical. You waved your wand and spread goodness and cheer to all the island’s children. Thank you!

In total, 375 children and teens participated this year, making it the library’s biggest SRP to date. We especially saw an increase in the number of pre-school and kindergarten participants. Last year 113 children registered in this category as compared to 168 this year. That is wonderful news in my book. It’s great to see this age group participating in a program that highlights books, library services, and sharing stories, all three of which can be used to help youngsters build critical early learning skills and support family literacy.

Over a period of seven weeks, children read on their own or with assistance a recorded 96,280 minutes. We also counted the number of chapter books children read on their own by selecting a button for every book. Indigo Buck started the project off with the first button. By the end of the summer there were 637 buttons in our glass jar. Wow, that’s a lot of chapter books. Congratulations readers! The buttons will be sewn on our Native American button blanket and displayed in the library.

Here are a few photos that hopefully capture the spirited fun we had during the summer. I know I personally had a great time seeing and interacting with all of you. Best of everything for the new school year!

The library will now resume its regular schedule of children and teen programs. First up is our book club for grades 5th-8th on Saturday, Oct. 1 and Kathy Babbitt’s popular After School Read Aloud will begin Monday, Oct. 3. Registration for both programs is required, as space is limited. Please call 378-2798 or stop by the library to register your child. Sign-up begins Friday, Sept. 2 at 10 AM.

Happy Reading!



Memories of Childhood

Avatar_DavidBentleyRemember when we were children and everyone tried to best everyone else? "Is that your new bike? It's okay, but mine's a Schwinn. Three gears? Mine's a ten speed. I'd race you up the hill, but you don't have a chance against my bike. What else did you get for Christmas? A record player? Where'd your parents get that, at the pawn shop? I have a dual deck cassette player. It plays and records and even has auto reverse." Can you still hear voices like that in your head?

We were proud of our new acquisitions and feeling great to have had such good fortune. Then the neighborhood braggart began the spiel, telling us how inferior our possessions were. Soon we were depressed and hated the new acquisition and wondered why our parents had even bothered buying it in the first place.

I'm sure psychologists could give us all sorts of explanations about why this happened. However the reality of the matter was that the kid with the Schwinn bike had no idea how long my parents had sacrificed to save enough money to buy the Western Flyer, or that my new record player actually did come from the pawn shop. He didn't care about any of that or about my feelings. He just wanted to toot his own horn.

Fortunately, we all grow up. Unfortunately, some of us never mature. If I weren't living thousands of miles from where I grew up, I'd swear that I'd recently overheard some of my childhood friends talking as adults. "An earthquake in New York that registered 5.8 on the Richter scale? Oh, that's nothing! Here on the west coast we get AFTERSHOCKS bigger than that. Category one hurricane headed up the east coast? My family survived Katrina and had to rebuild their house. You're here for a colonoscopy? My uncle had six inches of his intestines removed after a recurrence of stage four colon cancer. Got laid off? My brother lost his job two years ago and hasn't found anything yet."

It seems that some things just never change, even if they ought to.

  • Do you ever hear the sound of your own horn being tooted? 
  • Can you remember how that felt when others did it to you? 
  • Is it possible to just listen compassionately or supportively, instead? 
  • What will help you do that today?



Changes and additions

Avatar_SJILibraryYou spoke, we listened. Many of our library's patrons have requested that we extend the checkout time for our large dvd sets. We're in the process of changing the check out period for dvd sets (think television series) to two weeks instead of one week. We hope that this extra week will give folks who need it enough time without making other patrons wait too long. All other dvds will continue to check out for one week.

Patrons have also wanted to know which dvds are new to the collection. In other collections, new items get a new sticker. Now dvds will also get a bright yellow new sticker.

Of course, you can also visit our website and check the lists of new items. Any of the items from these lists or anywhere else in our catalog can be put on hold from your account and we'll either pull the item the next morning if it's on the shelf or contact you when it is available.

With that bit of housekeeping out of the way, we have some exceptional dvds that have recently been added.

In case you missed Stage Left's summer Shakespeare production or you'd like to see another company's interpretation of the play, we've got the Royal Shakespeare Theatre's production of The winter's tale. We also have Kenneth Branaugh's humourous film A midwinter's tale about a band of misfit actors trying to find an audience for their Hamlet.

If you like learning about famous figures, try these films. Vision from the life of Hildegard von Bingen explores the life of a 12th century Benedictine nun known for her visions, musical compositions, and fierce independence. The Italian film Il Divo takes a look at the career of Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti and his connections with the mafia and involvement in corruption. Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To kill a mockingbirdexamines this great American novel and its influences on our culture as well as unraveling some of mysteries surrounding Harper Lee. There is also the new PBS documentary Abraham and Mary Lincoln: a house divided. Finally, in Lust for life, Kirk Douglas brought Vincent Van Gogh's life to the big screen in 1956.

For a look at regular people and their no less important lives these films will have something for everyone. Steal a pencil for me tells the story of two young people in a Holland Nazi camp whose love sees them through the war and to their new lives in America. In the documentary From silence to sound a young deaf man undergoes cochlear implant surgery so that he can hear for the first time.

In the film Win Win Paul Giamatti plays an ordinary man faced with difficult situations and bad decisions and learns how making a difference in a young wrestler's life can also make a difference in his own life. And in the Korean film Poetry, an elderly woman comes to terms with her recent diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and the news of a family member's violent crime when she enrolls in a poetry class.

As for dvd series I mentioned with two week check outs, the following are on order or have recently arrived: Garrow's Law: series 2, Pie in the sky: series 5, Dalziel & Pascoe: season 4, Midsomer Murders: set 18, and Inspector Lewis: season 4 to name a few of our most popular. It's time for some popcorn!

Heidi K. Lewis
Interlibrary Loan Coordinator 

San Juan Island Library



Nutritional Support for Joint Health

Avatar_MarkWEarnhartNatural therapy is often sought for conditions such as osteoarthritis. One side effect of aspirin, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) that is often not mentioned is their actual inhibition of cartilage repair and acceleration of cartilage destruction, even though they do provide temporary relief.

Some supplements have scientific validation for efficacy when it comes to how they can boost the health effects seen with chiropractic.

Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate have both been used with varying results but a very extensive review of the literature in January 2009 found that when combined together, they worked well to reduce pain and improve joint health.

Healthy cartilage needs three things: water for lubrication and nourishment, proteoglycans to attract and hold the water, and collagen to keep proteoglycans in place. Both condroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate are glycoproteins which are major building blocks of proteoglycans. Glucosamine stimulates proteoglycan synthesis while chondroitin sulfate acts as a kind of liquid magnet to attract fluid that lubricates and nourishes collagen.

The latest research suggests that the normal dose of glucosamine sulfate of 1500 mg a day is probably too much and a more effective dose is 300 mg per day. It was also noted that N-acetylglucosamine and green lipped mussels helped the body utilize the glucosamine sulfate more effectivly.

Fish oil is another major nutrient to consider, and in addition to the fact that a met-analysis of well designed studies showed fish oil to rival the anti-inflammatory actions of NSAIDS on joint pain without side effects, there is evidence that it “improves lipid composition in bone marrow and joints”, and the “ability to change the amount and character of bones and joint lipids may have major importance for strengthening bones, reducing the severity of osteonecrosis (the destruction of bone cells), and enhancing joint lubrication”. The recommended dosage of fish oil is from 2-10 grams a day, depending on whether the protocol calls for maintenance or aggressive supplementation.

So for those of you who suffer from chronic joint pain due to osteoarthritis, a regimen of chiropractic care and appropriate nutritional supplementation offers relief.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 378-5660 or go to our website at sanjuanholistichealthcare.com.



A Teacher Joke

Avatar_DavidBentleyA former Marine Corps Sergeant took a new job as a school teacher. Just before the school year started, however, he injured his back and was required to wear a plaster cast around the upper part of his body. Fortunately, the cast fit under his shirt and wasn't noticeable. Things went well until the first day of class, when he found himself assigned to the toughest students in the school.

Knowing that his reputation as a Marine preceded him, the new teacher walked confidently into the rowdy classroom, opened the windows wide, and sat down at his desk. Just then, a strong breeze made his tie flap. He picked up a stapler and promptly stapled the tie to his chest. A dead silence spread over the entire class. Everyone in the room knew there would be no trouble with discipline for the rest of the year.

We’ve all had teachers like that. I remember a math teacher with eyes in the back of his head. He could be working algebra problems on the chalkboard and recognize the sound of someone in the back row shooting a spit wad, calling them by name without turning around. Then there was an English teacher from New York. She barely stood five feet tall, but could break up a fight with her Brooklyn accent and steely-eyed stare of death. No one messed with her, not even the football team.

As an adult, however, I realize that these folks were like the Marine in the joke. Their reputations preceded them. They possessed bravado and maintained the one-upmanship that prevented anyone from calling their bluff. Teachers and professional gamblers do this, and some corporate CEOs and politicians also come to mind.

As long as it works, they’re successful. Sooner or later, however, the plaster cast gets removed, and a necktie can no longer be stapled to their chests. That’s when integrity and respect overcome trickery and deceit. The latter may work for a while, but it’s only a matter of time.

  • When is it a good idea to bluff others?
  • Should this be standard practice in all situations?
  • How do you maintain integrity and earn respect?
  • Is it time for your upper body cast to come off?



Thank yous and pledges of careful stewardship

Avatar_SJILibraryThank you, Islanders, for your vote of confidence in the San Juan Island Library. Thank you from the Library Director, from the staff, from the dedicated corps of volunteers, from the Board of Trustees, and from the bottom of my heart.

That Islanders were willing, in these difficult and scary times, to approve the Library's request to renew its revenue source is a tribute both to the excellence of this Library and the Island's recognition of what is truly important in its intellectual, cultural, and community life. We know that, and appreciate that faith almost more than words can say.

In recognition of this support, the Library renews its pledge of careful stewardship of these funds. In the Board's special meeting this morning, we affirmed that pledge, and the Director and staff will immediately begin working on the 2012 budget.

As a junior taxing district, the Library is allowed to carry funds over from year to year in reserves, and a substantial amount of the revenue increase we receive in 2012 will be held in reserve.

The Library will not be increasing its expenditures by anywhere close to this additional revenue in 2012 or thereafter.

The Board and Director expressed the sense that one of our obligations to the community was to make sure our budget was as tight as possible. To that end, we pledge to try to make this money last an additional year beyond our original estimate. We urge members of the community to watch us by attending our meetings, particularly those in which we work through our budget.

I close this column again with heartfelt appreciation to the Island community. Thank you.

Glenna Hall
San Juan Island Library Board



Public libraries fill private needs

Avatar_SJILibraryThe public library is a place folk often turn to in times of need. Individual needs are different, but data shows that more people use public libraries in times of economic recession.

Perhaps people are looking for inexpensive family entertainment and enrichment. Most libraries offer stimulating programs for youth and people of all ages, and of course there are books and videos.

Maybe people need access to a computer to look for a job or complete an online application. Once again, most public libraries provide Internet and public computer access for patrons.

It could be that people are looking for ways to make ends meet, and they need books and other library materials to help them through these times. Whatever the need, whatever the reason, Americans are using public libraries.

However, it's not just a national thing. It's very local. More people are attending San Juan Island Library programs, using SJIL public computers, checking out Library materials, and connecting to our website than ever before.

The flurry in the Library yesterday was nonstop. Students from Oregon spent most of the day in the Library conducting research. Families and teens stopped by to log in reading hours to complete the 2011 Summer Reading program. Several community groups used our meeting room throughout the day. People waited in line to access our public computers, even though the Library has nine PCs and six laptops available for use.

It was a Monday; so many people brought back videos and books from the weekend. Of course, some of these items had outstanding holds, so patrons were contacted and then came by to pick up the requested material. Add typical reference questions, computer assistance, interlibrary loan, shelving all the returned materials, and checking items in and out... and it was just another day at the San Juan Island Library.

Marjorie Harrison
Library Director

San Juan Island Library