Some of the reads enjoyed here over the last year, and recommended to you, from Ridenbaugh Press. Let us know what you think – and what else we should be reading . . .

book

Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer by Shannon Brownlee (Bloomsbury, 2007). The counter-intuitive title pretty much says it. Yes, the lack of health insurance is an enormous problem; the lack of affordable health care generally is even bigger. But a key part of the problem has to do with some of the reasons that hideously expensive system is so expensive, and it includes a lot of treatment that shouldn’t be. This is a subject this space will return to in the months ahead, and health care reform is highly likely to be a major theme of the months ahead; and this investigative book is excellent reading meantime about what should be an important part of all that. A whole lot of what is done in the name of our health isn’t making us healthier, and we nationally need to come to grips with that. Soon.

book

The Appeal by John Grisham (Delta, 2008). It’s one of his legal potboilers (which tend to be not quite as well written as his off-track books), but few books this year hit harder politically. Few overt polemics made the case so well; this is a classic case of using fictional characters to lay out a story that has the full ring of truth, the kind of function that has a long (even honored) history. It may be a thriller, but it’s also one of the best political books of the year, and you need look nowhere further than the recent history of the contests for the Washington Supreme Court to see why. Grisham here is angry – he lets no one off the hook, most especially voters who too often don’t know enough about what they’re doing.

book

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (Vintage, 1995). Yes, this novel has been around for years, and yes, it’s already gotten lots of kudos. But we just got around to it this year, and glad for it. The story is well told, the characters thoughtfully deepened and rounded, but what sticks most are the atmosphere and the feelings. Set in the Northwest (mostly in the San Juan islands), it has a lot to say about this region, without explicitly going there – it has a well-drawn background, but that’s not its core subject. Its take on community relations, and how even the islands among our communities are globally linked, are both timeless and timely. This can be one of those books that changes the way you look at the world, and (maybe more than that) your neighbors.

book

Have a Nice Doomsday by Nicholas Guyatt (Harper Perennial, 2007). The back cover notes: “50 million Americans have come to believe that the apocalypse will take place in their lifetime.” The background of that, and the myriad implications how this country is run, unspool in this book, written with a light touch – it isn’t the slash job you might expect. There’s humor scattered throughout, and Guyatt’s tone is a little bemused (he’s no true believer, just a student of those who are), but he plays fair. This book is about a whole large part of the country the traditional mass media rarely treat, and rarely know how. They (and the blogosphere, for that matter) could take a few lessons from Guyatt’s approach.

book

Lincoln, President-Elect by Harold Holzer (Simon & Schuster, 2008). The subtitle is, “Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-61,” and that’s what it covers – and argues about. There’s been a strain of historical thought, starting contemporaneous with Lincoln, that he mishandled, dealt too loosely, with the secession crisis during the months between his election and inauguration. This book, by a writer of numerous Civil War era histories and researched to intricate detail, makes an excellent case that Lincoln played the few cards available to him far better than most people thought, or still do think. This book, surprisingly timely, might be therapeutic for the currently hyperventilating among us.

book

The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman (WW Norton, 2008). This came out some months before Krugman won the Nobel, and his subject is mostly politics, not economics, though Krugman expertly weaves the two of them, and makes the (academic, without getting abstruse or pedantic) case for how economic and politics have had a direct effect on each other. You needn’t agree with everything he says to find the book useful. More than any other of the year (that we’ve read), this one outlines the world view and the case for the governing just now coming into power, his early 2008 squabbles with Barack Obama notwithstanding. You’ll pick up some useful history, some useful economics, a statistics lesson or two, and more along the way.

book

Obama: From Promise to Power by David Mendell (Amistad, 2007). The two self-penned Obama books are worth the read (for different reasons), but if you want an informed outsider’s take on the man, this is a good option. Mendell was a Chicago Tribune reporter from 1998 to 2004, and covered Obama closely during most of that time; he’s familiar with the background, and he knew the man pre-fame. The book dishes little real dirt, although it amply covered almost everything that came out this year about Jeremiah Wright and other Chicago hot spots – none of those came as a surprise to anyone who read this early in the year. But it feels well grounded. There’s a little too much self-referential press material in it, and the book ends just before the ’08 presidential really kicked in. But this one may stand for a while as a solid backgrounder on the next president.

book

1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies by David Pietrusza (Union Square Press, 2008). This doesn’t seem quite like the definitive take on the subject that it might have been, that Theodore White’s once seemed to be. But it covers such a mass of detail, full of so many neatly-observed pieces, that it belongs in the upper ranks of campaign books. Reading it this fall, as the presidential campaign hit its mid stages, it seemed especially appropos – the linkages kept popping up. Good history almost always repays reading; you never know where the lessons will reapply.

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Walt Minnick

Walt Minnick

One of the three new members of Congress from the Northwest has a credential pertinent at a moment when the big issue in Congress is bailing out the three big Detroit auto makers: He is a CEO, a guy who actually has run (and successfully) large businesses. Maybe there should be no surprise he’s against the bailout.

So are a number of other members of the Northwest delegation. But the commentary just out from soon-to-be Idaho Representative Walt Minnick makes the anti-bailout case, and a proposal for what should be done instead, about as well and clearly as it’s been made.

The bottom line: These guys need to do better business, and get just enough help – which shouldn’t be direct assistance – to do that. it sounds like a better idea than the one we’ve seen from Washington, which (as he points out) is aimed only at helping the companies “limp along” for another month or two.

Here’s what he writes:

Like the many Idahoans who own and operate businesses, I have spent my entire adult life paying my bills, looking for ways to reduce costs and meeting a payroll. I never expected the taxpayers to bail me out when I made bad decisions, nor did I expect to keep my job if those decisions had led to the failure of my company.

Those values led me to promise during my campaign that I would demand fiscal responsibility from our nation’s leadership. That’s why I opposed the federal government’s bailout earlier this year of Wall Street fat cats. And that’s why I now oppose the President’s plan to give $15 billion of taxpayers’ money to the Big Three automakers, who – best case – will limp along for another month or two.

The American auto industry is too important for us to let it disintegrate. But to survive it must radically restructure – and do it now. To become competitive with its foreign competition, The Big Three must introduce new, fuel-efficient cars, close surplus plants, abandon corporate jets and luxury office space, slash executive overhead, restructure labor agreements, radically change supplier contracts, and write off its bad debts. Each company also needs “best in the world” new management, not some politically selected “auto czar” who second-guesses the same bad CEOs whose greed and poor decisions caused the problem in the first place.

The only way to quickly save the industry and the majority of its jobs is for government to force each of the companies to go through a “pre-packaged” bankruptcy. Under this process an impartial and experienced bankruptcy judge approves each company’s reorganization plan after weighing the objections and suggestions of those affected. These plans would force each company to scour the world for the best new management, and then order each company to restructure its balance sheet, most likely wiping out the interests of existing management and investors.

Part of the plan could offer taxpayer debt guarantees to induce private banks and bondholders to provide the necessary credit to keep the companies solvent. If done right, it shouldn’t require any direct taxpayer investment.

This is “tough love,” but it’s what the airline industry did to survive. Half measures like those the President just promised, or like most in Congress unfortunately seem to favor, simply won’t get the job done. They just prolong the agony, waste billions we taxpayers don’t have and leave a crippled, inefficient auto industry which still can’t compete with its more nimble foreign competitors.

Free enterprise only works when business is free to fail as well as free to succeed, and where CEOs are fired without any “golden parachutes” when their companies fail. Dedication to this principle is what for years made American business the envy of the its foreign competition, allowed each generation of Americans for 200 years to live better than their parents and made our country the most powerful nation in the world.

Bailouts to prop up bloated, inefficient big companies is what other countries do. It’s what caused socialist systems to fail. We must do better.

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Idaho

The Environmental Protection Agency has come out with its list of the soot places in America – those counties or parts of counties where the population of airborne particles is too high. This means “fine particles, which are unhealthy to breathe and have been associated with premature mortality and other serious health effects. Fine particles are 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller and are also referred to as PM2.5.” Often, albeit not always, soot.

The first peculiarity that hits you is the unlikeliness of some of these places. Franklin County, Idaho? That’s a lightly populated place, and no heavy industry to be found (nearby Caribou County, comparable in size, has more of that.) Klamath County? It’s not much more more heavily populated, and out there on the windswept – or so it’s seemed every time we’ve been there – countryside.

In Lane County, the core population center of Eugene-Springfield is tucked in a valley, and the area nearby is known for field burning. But Tacoma to the north? Heavy population, but what makes it more particulate-friendly than King County to the north?

The EPA’s explanations are, at least, on line.

Here’s the key part of the explanatory material from the EPA’s press release:

In 2006, EPA strengthened the 24-hour fine particle standards from 65 micrograms per cubic meter to 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air to protect public health. Nationwide, monitored levels of fine particle pollution fell 11 percent from 2000 to 2007.

Fine particles can either be emitted directly, or they can form in the atmosphere from reactions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Exposure to fine particle pollution can cause serious health problems, ranging from increased hospital admissions and doctor and emergency department visits for respiratory and cardiovascular disease, to heart attacks and to premature death.

The newly-designated areas in The Pacific Northwest . . .

IDAHO (Franklin County, Shoshone County)

Franklin County (Franklin)

A portion of Franklin County is being designated as a PM2.5 nonattainment area. This area is a two-state, two-region nonattainment area along with the State of Utah and EPA Region 8. The area is named the Cache Valley PM2.5 Nonattainment Area. The designation is based on 2005-2007 data from the Logan, Utah and the Franklin, Idaho PM2.5 monitors.

Based on our analysis, local heating emissions from woodstoves, and emissions from agricultural activities, and mobile emissions contribute to primary and secondarily formed PM2.5 that violate the standard during stable weather events associated with extremely strong inversions.

These emissions and the related effects are limited to the Cache Valley, as they are trapped there due to temperature inversions, low wind, and local topography. The rest of the county is very sparsely populated with no sources that can contribute to a violation of the PM2.5 standard at the Franklin monitor.

Shoshone County, ID (Pinehurst)

A portion of Shoshone County (city of Pinehurst and surrounding areas) is being designated as a PM2.5 nonattainment area. The designation is based on 2005-2007 data from the Pinehurst, ID PM2.5 monitor.

Based on EPA’s analysis, local heating emissions from woodstoves contribute to primary PM2.5 that violates the standard during stable weather events associated with strong inversions. These emissions and the related effects are limited to the City of Pinehurst airshed, as they are trapped there due to temperature inversions, low wind and local topography.

The rest of the county is very sparsely populated with no sources that can contribute to a violation of the PM2.5 standard at the Pinehurst monitor.

OREGON (Klamath County & Lane County)

Klamath County

A portion of Klamath County is being designated nonattainment for the revised 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS based on 2005-2007 data from the Klamath Falls PM2.5 monitor.

EPA is designating the area comprised of the modified Air Quality Zone (AQZ) in Klamath Falls as the nonattainment area. The AQZ contains the areas that violate the PM2.5 NAAQS, as well as areas with sources that contribute to those violations.

Technical analysis by both the State & EPA indicates that residential home heating, using wood burning appliances, is the main contributor to the area’s fine particle pollution.

Oakridge

A portion of Lane County is being designated nonattainment for the revised 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS based on 2005-2007 data from the Oakridge PM2.5 monitor.

EPA designated an area the includes the Oakridge Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) and the city of Westfir and surrounding populated areas. EPA’s designated boundary includes an area that covers the mountain ridges to include the valleys in which Oakridge and Westfir are located.

EPA’s technical analysis points to residential home heating using wood burning appliances as being the main contributors to fine particle pollution in this area.

WASHINGTON (Wapato Hills/-Puyallup River Valley/Tacoma)

Wapato Hills/Puyallup River (Pierce County)

EPA is designating the Wapato Hills Puyallup River Valley (Tacoma) area as nonattainment for the 24-hour PM2.5 standard on December 18th 2008.

EPA’s technical analysis found that local sources, dominated by woodstove and fireplace emissions, cause and contribute to the violations captured at a at the monitor in a residential area southwest of Tacoma ( at 7802 South L Street at the Peterson School). Other local sources also contribute to the violations (particularly mobile sources and diesel trucks). These violations occur during the winter when temperature inversions trap emissions and result in stagnant air.

The Puyallup Reservation is included in the boundary of the nonattainment area. EPA will continue to work with the Tribe through the nonattainment area planning process to help ensure healthy air quality on Puyallup tribal lands.

EPA is supportive of early actions that the State of Washington and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency have taken to reduce PM levels in the area. Two major efforts are:

A woodstove change out program which is an effort to replace old inefficient woodstoves with new, efficient models; and

Participation in the NW Ports Clean Air Strategy which aims to reduce diesel and greenhouse gas emissions in the region by achieving early reductions in advance of, and complementary to, applicable regulations.

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buried car

Car status in western Oregon/Stapilus

There’s the news report that, in order to get to a game at Denver, the Portland Trailblazers had to head south to Eugene to fly out – as a practical matter, PDX is largely in a state of closure. As is a whole lot else.

There’s a long list of closures of various sorts. North of Salem or so, everyone is best advised to go nowhere if at all possible. (Not many miles south of Salem, the temperature gets just warm enough to turn everything to rain.) Snow emergencies have been declared in Portland and a bunch of nearby locales. Amtrak has had delays and problems.

The two vehicles at Ridenbaugh Press are snowed in, and now look not a lot different than the vehicle in the picture. We’re relatively fortunate: We can stay put in reasonable comfort for a while. Those who can’t say that have difficulties, of one kind or another, ahead.

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US capitol

The annual Congressional Quarterly ratings of members of Congress are out, meaning we have some detailed analysis of pieces of the voting record of the delegation.

The three key numbers in the analysis (delivered via the link in the form of a handy spreadsheet) are “participation” (the percentage of key votes actually cast), percentage support for their own party’s position, and support for the position of the White House.

The participation score is easily disposed of, since the delegation uniformily did well there. The low number was for Oregon Democratic Representative Darlene Hooley, but that likely reflects a stretch during the year when she was under the weather, and it was a still-respectable 89%. The next lowest was Washington Democrat Norm Dicks at 93%, also pretty solid. Among House members the highest percentage (99%) belongs to two incumbents who were hard-challenged, Idaho Republican Bill Sali (who lost anyway) and Washington Republican Dave Reichert (who won). All six senators scored at least 96% participation.

Who was most loyal to their own party’s positions? Of the 20 delegation members, 18 scored 93% or better in support of their own party’s position. The two exceptions should be no surprise: Reichert again, at 75%, and Oregon Republican Senator Gordon Smith, at 54%. Republicans running hard against the tide, the calculus worked, barely, for Reichert, but not for Smith.

And presidential support? A big gap, obviously, between the Republican and Democratic members.

The high mark of support for President Bush among the Northwest 20 was the 77% scored by Bill Sali – did that, in some subtle way, contribute to the edge that knocked him off? By contrast, Reichert, also in serious electoral trouble but a survivor, voted with Bush just 53% of the time, and Smith was even lower, at 49%.

Among Democrats, the high percentage (28%) was shared by the three Democratic senators – maybe reflecting the number of the votes the Senate cast, as opposed to the votes in the House. Among the Democratic House members, the numbers ranged from Hooley’s 12% to Washington Representative Adam Smith’s 20% – a fairly narrow band.

In all, a generally partisan group (bearing in mind the political pressures on Smith, Reichert and Sali), operating in relatively narrow bounds. Will the pattern reflect next time around, or will the demands on the new Congress change the dynamic a bit?

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dollar

On December 2 we posted about the eight Northwest banks that had applied for and been approved to receive federal bailout funds. None of the banks gave the slightest indication they really needed the money, only that the funds would improve the looks of their books. They’ve been quiet (and there’s been damn little regional news coverage about them) ever since. (See the excellent ongoing ProPublica reporting on the bailout.)

Those eight numbered six in Washington state, one each in Oregon and Idaho. They were (in order of size): Sterling Financial Corp in Spokane (WA), $303 million; Umpqua in Portland (OR), $214.2 million; Washington Federal in Seattle (WA), $200 million; Banner Corp in Walla Walla (WA), $124 million; Columbia Banking System in Tacoma (WA), $76.9 million; Cascade Financial Corp in Everett (WA), $39 million; Intermountain Community Bancorp in Sandpoint (ID), $27 million; Heritage Financial in Olympia (WA), $24 million.

Since then two small banks, both in Washington, have joined the list: Timberline Bancorp at Hoquiam, $16.6 million; and Washington Banking Company at Oak Harbor, $26.4 million.

Today, national Associated Press has out a fine article on the bailout recipients (more than 200 of them nationally) saying that “after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation’s largest banks say they can’t track exactly how they’re spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.” Read that story.

So what the Northwest banks doing with their money? There hasn’t been a lot of specificity. Newcomer Timberline had this to say (and this is a typical statement from the banks) in its press release: “The additional capital will enhance our capacity to support the communities we serve through expanded lending activities and economic development. At September 30, 2008, we were well capitalized and will continue to be well capitalized following the addition of new capital through the Treasury program.” Note the statement that “we were well capitalized” – that means they had plenty of money and didn’t need the federal money. If they don’t need it, then what are they doing with it?

We’re trying to inquire of the banks: What are they doing, or will they be doing, with the money? We’ll let you know what we hear – if anything.

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truck

chains

Last legislative session, the Idaho Legislature passed and the governor signed a bill proposed by Senator Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, that imposed a new regulatory requirement on business in Idaho. This was a case of a legislator seeing a need and moving to fill it. On I-90 between Coeur d’Alene and the Montana line, there have been frequent cases of big trucks sliding off, jackknifing or otherwise getting into accidents on the several passes the interstate traverses, 4th of July probably being the worst. Other states nearby have far stricter winter travel requirements; Idaho had not. But the case for this one seemed fairly clear. The independent trucker association described the bill this way:

“The new law, previously S1379, applies to large trucks along stretches of two roadways: Lookout and Fourth of July passes on Interstate 90, and Lolo Pass on state Highway 12.
When state highway officials determine that conditions merit traction devices, trucks will be required to place chains on at least one tire on each side of one drive axle, regardless of the number of drive axles. Chains also will be mandatory on one axle at or near the rear of each towed vehicle.”

Has it helped? A Spokane Spokesman-Review article today says that it has. The recent snows in the Idaho Panhandle have been stunning in quickness and depth, and a mass of truck accidents wouldn’t be surprising.

But Shoshone County Undersheriff Mitch Alexander was quoted as saying, “I don’t think we’ve been getting the calls for the jacknifed rigs like we have in previous years, not even close. So I think it’s working . . . It’s always a nice thing when you see something work, you know.”

Appears to have done.

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Idaho

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Ronald Reagan famously asked people in 1980 whether they thought they were better off than four years before; the prevailing answer was negative, and challenger Reagan won. Four years later he asked (at least implicitly) the same thing, and the prevailing mood was more positive; and as an incumbent he won again.

This isn’t specifically Northwest in nature, but in an interview with Time magazine incoming President Barack Obama offered a more specific scorecard of his own. It might be useful in evaluating the crowd now moving into power, as the next set of mid-term elections arrive in 2010 – a set of marks Northwest candidates too might be held to. This was Obama’s take:

On [domestic] policy, have we helped this economy recover from what is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression? Have we instituted financial regulations and rules of the road that assure this kind of crisis doesn’t occur again? Have we created jobs that pay well and allow families to support themselves? Have we made significant progress on reducing the cost of health care and expanding coverage? Have we begun what will probably be a decade-long project to shift America to a new energy economy? Have we begun what may be an even longer project of revitalizing our public-school systems so we can compete in the 21st century? That’s on the domestic front.

On foreign policy, have we closed down Guantánamo in a responsible way, put a clear end to torture and restored a balance between the demands of our security and our Constitution? Have we rebuilt alliances around the world effectively? Have I drawn down U.S. troops out of Iraq, and have we strengthened our approach in Afghanistan — not just militarily but also diplomatically and in terms of development? And have we been able to reinvigorate international institutions to deal with transnational threats, like climate change, that we can’t solve on our own?

And outside of specific policy measures, two years from now, I want the American people to be able to say, “Government’s not perfect; there are some things Obama does that get on my nerves. But you know what? I feel like the government’s working for me. I feel like it’s accountable. I feel like it’s transparent. I feel that I am well informed about what government actions are being taken. I feel that this is a President and an Administration that admits when it makes mistakes and adapts itself to new information, that believes in making decisions based on facts and on science as opposed to what is politically expedient.” Those are some of the intangibles that I hope people two years from now can claim.

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Jane Lubchenco

Jane Lubchenco

The Northwest hasn’t picked up many spots on the top level in the Obama Administration – none of the full cabinet posts. The top appointment is for administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But that may not be such a minor thing.

President-elect Barack Obama had a few words about that appointment in today’s radio/video address:

Finally, Dr. Jane Lubchenco has accepted my nomination as the Administrator of NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is devoted to conserving our marine and coastal resources and monitoring our weather. As an internationally known environmental scientist, ecologist and former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Jane has advised the President and Congress on scientific matters, and I am confident she will provide passionate and dedicated leadership at NOAA.

Unmentioned there was that she is a professor at Oregon State University (did a presidential brother in law have some peripheral involvement there?). Her university web pages note that she is the Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology and a professor of Zoology. A descriptive line says she “is an environmental scientist and marine ecologist who is actively engaged in teaching, research, synthesis and communication of scientific knowledge.”

You can see some of that fitting into one of the major themes Obama has been developing, an emphasis on science and scientific training; today’s weekend address was all about that. And at a point when climate change is going to be driving a lot of policy, a NOAA administrative stands to be a good deal more than just a manager of weather stations. More specifically, Oregon has been in the middle of a string of new developments that relate to just that – wind energy, ocean-wave energy development, a governor’s push to use the state as a major electric car staging ground – and Lubchenco’s role could have a measurable effect on all those things.

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statehouse

Washington statehouse

All those stories you see about newspaper cutbacks are far from academic or theoretical: They directly affect what you know, and directly affect any attempt to keep watchdogs on the people and organizations in power. That point comes home strongly in a Seattle Times article out today.

There were in 1993 some 34 full-time reporters at the Washington statehouse at Olympia, many of them from newspapers around the state. That number fell in half by last year, and couple drop below 10 next year – a stunning fall of more than two-thirds in 16 years. Papers like the Vancouver Columbian, whose circulation area takes in upwards of a third of a million people, will have no one watching their delegation or local interests at Olympia. The Tacoma News Tribune has gone from two (full time) reporters to one, and the Times itself from three to one.

Whose interests are being served by that?

The situation seems to be less severe in Oregon and Idaho, which at this point may have larger statehouse press corps for population size than many states do – albeit not large.

Jeff Mapes of the Oregonian wrote us, “I don’t think it has been as dramatic in Oregon. We have just about the same coverage of the capital as before. It’s a little hard to count, though, because we have people shuttling in and out of Salem because it’s relatively close to Portland. During the session we’ll probably have a half dozen people doing some legislative coverage, but there will probably just be three there full time.”

In Boise, veteran Statehouse reporter Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review indicated change hasn’t been drastic, but it has been happening:

“We’re about where we were last year in Boise, but we’ve seen a gradual drop over the years. The Idaho State Journal in Pocatello and the CdA Press stopped sending a reporter last year, the same year I lost my intern and the Statesman went down to one full-timer. (The Press hired a freelancer last year, but didn’t this year.) AP has downsized its Statehouse presence to two full-timers, one an intern, as of last year. And the only broadcast media with full-time presence at the Idaho statehouse any more is Idaho Public TV. The commercial TV and radio folks still show up, but don’t maintain a fulltime presence.”

Fingers crossed, then, that we’re finding a floor here, rather than about to crash through a new lower level . . .

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Idaho Oregon Washington

You may have noticed that we’ve done a little sprucing up, code-wise. We’ve operated with a sound WordPress package for more than three years, but we haven’t upgraded its core engine in all that time. So things have become increasing scratch/patch. And after a while, a little shaking out helps.

What’s here is, for the most part, much like what was here yesterday – from many of the basic elements, you can see this is still Ridenbaugh Press. But there’s been a little reworking under the hood, and will be a little more. The site’s purpose and content, though, go on.

Let us know what you think.

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This is hard winter in the Northwest. Minus 6 at Burns today. At our headquarters, the backstreets were snow-covered from early morning on; the highways were worn down, but looking treacherous.

We were lucky. Spokane was buried under two feet of snow – to the point that simply moving around at all became a questionable thing. Most of North Idaho was hardly better off. And the snow storms, while not especially fierce, are beginning to feel never-ending.

Here a couple of snow pictures from around the region, from Chiloquin (about a half-hour north of Klamath Falls) and from inside Seattle, where this kind of snow isn’t such a commonplace matter.

snow at Chiloquin

Snow at Chiloquin/Joanne Lipsiea

And at Seattle . . .

snow at Seattle

Snow at Seattle/Nancy Kool

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