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Educational Report Cards

November 17th, 2006 by Halli

If you have ever wondered how your local public school stacks up against similar schools in the state, you now have a user-friendly on-line resource. Idaho has joined Just for the Kids, found at

From the home page, just click on your state (most are participating) to start a search for the school you wish to research. The format allows you to compare your school to other schools in the state which have similar characteristics, such as percent of disadvantaged students and total enrollment. Next, the “opportunity gap” is identified – the difference between test performance in your school, and performance in the top similar schools in the state.

You may be surprised at what you find. I am a taxpayer in, and patron of Bonneville District 93. I was interested to learn that schools in Coeur d’Alene, Preston and Lewiston, among others, all perform a little better in 10th grade reading than students in our Hillcrest High School.

But that’s not all this organization is doing. They are also conducting studies to determine just how the high-performing schools are succeeding. The results will be contained in the “State Best Practices Studies”, which can then be utilized by any school to make improvements.

Take a minute to check out your district schools. Next, do something about what you learn.

Posted in Education | No Comments »

Women in Politics

November 15th, 2006 by Halli

I suppose I really shouldn’t allow myself to be so annoyed by most women in the political arena. In fact, my observations lead me to believe that a woman legislator is as likely as her male counterpart to espouse correct principles and stand up for conservative issues. It is always a rare and wonderful condition for either sex. But when women in politics do not take the part of “truth, justice and the American way,” they have a tendency to offend me much more deeply than a man in the same situation. Perhaps it’s because I am a woman that I have so little patience with these female types, several of whom I will discuss.

The Victim.

First let us examine the dour and angry “I’m a victim” female politicians. These women have a perpetual chip on their shoulder that comes from thinking all men are condescending control freaks. Granted, some are, but my experience indicates that it’s in no greater proportion than among women. In fact, this brand of political woman actually fears she is inferior to men (though loath to admit it) and then proceeds to take out her resentment on any and all males present.

In years past, these hunches may have had some basis in fact, but there’s no excuse for these feelings in today’s world. Most men are hypersensitive to any conversation or situation that may leave them open to charges of sexual harassment or chauvinism, so are very careful to avoid even the appearance of impropriety or a superior attitude.

To this ill-humored female I say, “Look, you managed to get elected (or appointed). You’re no longer a victim – you’re an equal. Take some personal responsibility, step up to the plate and act like it.”

Man Trap.

The next type of female politician might be thought of as the opposite of the “victim”. This woman looks to capitalize on her femininity, seeking power in the world of men by employing her charms.

In the Idaho legislature we’ve seen lady legislators who surgically enhance their anatomy, some obsessively. Alluring clothing and youthful styles all compound the effect. Does it work? With some of their colleagues. It does, however, tend to turn off other female colleagues who take pride in dressing and acting in a more professional manner.

Mother of All Government Programs.

Then there is the “It’s all for the children” woman politician. This is the legislator who champions every form of socialism and every intrusion into private family life as necessary to “protect the children”. I’m convinced that some of these “do-gooders” will not be happy until there is a government social worker actually living in every home that contains children. How else can we possibly protect children from their irresponsible parents?

Though some studies show that less than 3% of parents actually fail to provide for their children, this female politico believes even one incident of parental neglect or abuse justifies insertion of government controls, creation of broad new social programs (and the agencies to administer them), and, of course, the accompanying boost in spending, with resulting higher taxes. But you’d better not dare question it all because – it’s for the children. Favorite programs include government-subsidized childcare, increased free healthcare, and more programs to prevent domestic abuse.

These are the female leaders who seem incapable of understanding that the most helpful legislation for children actually helps restore their parents’ positions of leadership and responsibility in the home. This legislation would reduce pressure on parents by shrinking government to lower their tax burden. More mothers could stay in the home, children would have more supervision by people who love them, and families would be more likely to remain intact.

Will it happen? Not a chance. But you can count on these female officials to belittle any and all who disagree with their methods. Remember, to these women it’s the intent and the effort expended, not the result, that distinguishes a successful program or initiative. (And heaven forbid that parents – not government- get the credit for helping children!)

A Truly Bad Egg.

Finally we have the lady legislator who thinks she understands the world of men. And to succeed in it, she “knows” she must out-man the men. She assumes that men win by being tough and uncompromising, and by bullying others. Therefore she must be tougher, stick to her position longer, and bully harder than the men with whom she works (Sadly, a large part of her power comes from the fear her male colleagues have of appearing to be politically incorrect by pushing back against a female.)

I have never seen anyone more cruel, unreasonable or vicious than this type of misguided female politician. My experience shows that a woman gone bad is capable of being far worse than any bad man.

In Conclusion.

It is the rare male or female politician who enters public service with a firm understanding of the proper role of government, and the strength of character to stand by it. Even more rare is the lady legislator who is comfortable with her womanhood and her conservative, constitutional beliefs.

This ideal was personified in the late former Congressman Helen Chenoweth-Hage. Yes, “Congressman” was her title of choice, and her commitment to smaller government and personal freedom was unshakable. Yet no one was more gracious, more comfortable being feminine and professional, or more articulate in expressing and defending her positions. Her great character received universal respect and she gained rapid recognition in Congress as a leader. Even though she had already left public service at the time of her premature death, she and her example are sorely missed.

Fortunately, in our own Idaho Legislature we have been blessed with more such women including Lenore Hardy Barrett, Dolores Crow (now retired) and Shirley McKague.

Yes, it is possible to be a lady, and to stand on constitutional principles. But how rare is such a woman in politics.

Posted in Politics in General | No Comments »

An Opportunity for the Idaho Falls Mayor

November 15th, 2006 by Halli

Jared Fuhriman, the Idaho Falls mayor, has a background in public service.  He has done much good in the community.  However, he does not have previous experience as an elected official.  If his activities were confined to his former duties as an Idaho Falls police detective, or to his ecclesiastical duties in a local congregation, residents of the city would have no cause to worry. However, he is now our mayor.

As police detective, Fuhriman reported to Chief of Police Kent Livsey. The organizational structure of the police department is anything but democratic – some might even call it an autocracy. The Chief speaks and the cops on the street (and the detectives in the black suits) jump. That’s just the way a police department works.

As a church leader, Fuhriman operates in a theocracy. And the mouthpieces for deity in his church unit are, of course, Fuhriman and the other leaders, accepted by common consent. That’s how it should be.

The problem arises when Fuhriman confuses the office of mayor with the duties and methods of a chief of police and/or a church leader. Time after time, he has demonstrated this confusion as he treats other elected officials as inferior hirelings. He also seems to have the impression that all his pronouncements bear the weight of scripture, to be obeyed as such.

To Mayor Fuhriman I say, You have a wonderful opportunity to serve the citizens of Idaho Falls, and to learn and grow personally.  Please bone up on democratic processes (Roberts Rules would be a good place to start). Do not assume you know the duties of all elected officials. Bone up on those, too. If in doubt, ask. Please study the US Constitution, and the writings of our founding fathers.  When your desire to serve and protect are combined with a firm knowledge of our form of government, you will be a truly amazing mayor of Idaho Falls.  But only you can make that happen.

Posted in Idaho Falls Issues | No Comments »

Mike Humberd: More Questions Than Answers

November 14th, 2006 by Halli

The precipitous departure of Idaho Falls Airport directer Mike Humberd raises more questions about his performance while on the job since 1999. He announced his acceptance of a new job at an undisclosed location in Colorado just 15 days before reporting for duty there.

Remember the internal investigation of charges of sexual harassment? That’s right, the one conducted by Idaho Falls director of Municipal Services Craig Lords. City councilman Larry Lyon says there were many reports of Humberd’s misconduct, given by people who were willing to speak on tape. There were also allegations of private use of city property. Will residents of Idaho Falls ever get the answers they deserve? Stay tuned…

Posted in Idaho Falls Issues | No Comments »

Mom’s Best Pie Crust

November 13th, 2006 by Halli

This pie crust, prepared and baked by Mom, was actually taste-tested by a panel of discriminating women and compared to both lard pastry and shortening pastry. This oil recipe was voted tastiest and most tender.

2 c flour
1 t salt
Sift together. Add
1/2 c oil.
Stir with fork and mix thoroughly until all flour is mixed into oil. Add
4-5 T cold water
all at once and stir only until barely moistened. (Over-mixing will cause crust to be tough.) Use a rubber scraper to form into a ball. If there is much dry flour remaining, add a small additional amount of water.
Roll out to fit pie pan.
Makes 2 9″ pie shells, or 1 double crust pie shell.

Posted in Recipes | No Comments »

Pumpkin Pie Dessert

November 13th, 2006 by Halli

1 box yellow cake mix (reserve 1 c for topping)
1/2 c melted margarine or butter
1 egg
Combine and press into bottom of 9″ X 13″ pan, greased on bottom only.

1 large (2 pie) can pumpkin
1 lg can evaporated milk
1 c sugar
3/4 t salt
2 eggs
1 t pumpkin pie spice (or 2 t cinnamon and 2 t allspice)
Combine all and pour over crust.

1 c reserved dry cake mix
1/4 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 c margarine or butter
Combine and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes or until set.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Posted in Recipes | No Comments »

Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie

November 13th, 2006 by Halli

1 egg
¾ c brown sugar
2 T flour
½ t salt
1½ c pumpkin (fresh cooked or canned)
½ can evaporated milk
1 t cinnamon
1 t allspice

Combine all ingredients in blender. Pour into unbaked 9” pie shell. Bake at 425F for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325F and continue baking until set (approx. 35 minutes).

Posted in Recipes | No Comments »

Seasoning Your Dutch Oven

November 12th, 2006 by Halli

An aluminum Dutch oven usually does not require any initial treatment except washing in hot, soapy water. However, some brands may come with a factory-applied wax coating that must be removed. If the coating is very heavy, place the Dutch oven in a gas barbecue, upside down with the lid leaning against the pot, set the temperature to medium, and close the lid. If you must use an indoor electric oven, open your house doors and windows, and heat in a 350F oven. When the Dutch oven stops smoking, turn off the heat and allow to cool. Be sure to wash and dry before using.

When you bring home a cast iron Dutch oven, you will find it also coated with a layer of protective wax to prevent rusting. If the wax is so thick you can scrape it off with your fingernail, burn it off by the same method as described for the aluminum oven. If it is not extremely thick, scour the Dutch oven well with an abrasive pad, using soap and hot water. Then rinse and dry. Regardless of the method you used to remove the wax coating, now coat the Dutch oven inside and out with white Crisco shortening or vegetable oil. With an indoor electric oven, heat your Dutch oven to 400F for 30-45 minutes, or until it stops smoking. If you are able to use a gas barbecue, heat your Dutch oven on the medium setting for 20-30 minutes, or until the oven stops smoking. You can tell the oven is properly seasoned if it has turned dark amber to black, and has a satin sheen to it. If it still looks essentially as it did when you opened the box, repeat the process. If the Dutch oven feels sticky, reheat until it stops smoking.

Posted in Dutch Oven | 1 Comment »

Miscellaneous Dutch Oven Tips

November 9th, 2006 by Halli

A Dutch oven is a very versatile cooking pot. You can turn over the lid, place it directly on the coals, and use it for a frying pan. You can heat oil in the oven and deep fry onion rings, scones, etc. And with both the pot and the lid, you can bake, roast, boil, brown, etc., etc.

To minimize the clean up, you can line your Dutch oven with heavy-duty, extra-wide aluminum foil. There will usually be some food that leaks onto the oven, but it will usually not be baked on, and clean up will be quick and easy.

When you can actually smell your dish as you walk near the hot oven, your dish is probably done, even if your watch or timer says it hasn’t been long enough. When you lift the lid to check for doneness or to stir, use care to keep coals and especially ash from falling off the lid onto the food. Though “activated charcoal” is reputed to aid digestion, it doesn’t look very tempting on top of the cobbler or chicken dish! Likewise, be careful where you set the lid while tending to the dish. It will pick up sand or dirt, which will be transferred to the food.

When you’ve finished the cooking stage and have served your guests, remove the food from the oven as soon as possible, and don’t store food in it, unless it is an aluminum oven. In a cast iron oven, the result will be rust. Do allow the oven to cool by itself, and never pour cold water in a hot oven, or hot water in a very cold oven, as the oven may crack.

Remember that if the weather outside prevents charcoal or gas cooker preparation, just pop your Dutch oven in your indoor electric oven. The Dutch oven legs will just fit between the rails of your oven racks. Set your temperature to 350F, or other specified temperature (you can use a similar conventional oven recipe for guidance) and bake for the appropriate length of time. There are both cast iron and aluminum Dutch ovens made specially for indoor ovens, which are minus the legs and the flange on the lid.

If you are into emergency preparedness, as I am, keep a Dutch oven, supplies and ingredients for easy meals handy. Even canned stew will taste great heated in a Dutch oven. Don’t forget to practice your skills during times of less stress!

I love to use mixes for cakes and corn bread, and to open cans for casseroles and cobblers, to minimize food prep time. For me, the fun comes in the cooking. However, many Dutch oven cooks are into gourmet cooking and love to concentrate on multiple courses and elegant presentation. Pick your style (or a combination suiting your taste) and have fun. And remember, for your own safety, never eat food prepared by a skinny Dutch oven cook!

Posted in Dutch Oven | No Comments »

Other Dutch oven equipment

November 9th, 2006 by Halli

As with almost any popular pursuit, it is possible to spend a lot of money accessorizing your Dutch ovens. You really just need equipment that gets the job done, so if you have a pair of pliers around the house, and there is no safety issue, you probably don’t need an expensive lid-lifter. Many of these items can be found in a dollar store. Use your imagination! Here is a short list of items and/or functions you will need when you cook in a Dutch oven.

  • Matches
  • Charcoal chimney
  • Newspaper or other fire starter
  • Lid lifter/pliers
  • Heavy gloves
  • Lid stand
  • Long tongs
  • Metal table or other surface
  • Coal scraper, like a putty knife
  • The usual cooking utensils

Posted in Dutch Oven | No Comments »

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