New Holl Family Photo

Holl Family - c 1954.jpg

Aunt Sue, in Victoria, emailed this old photo yesterday.  Shown, left to right, are Uncle Fred Holl, Aunt Jeanne, Peter Holl, my grandfather, Millie, grandmother, Uncle Manfred, and Aunt Debbie.  My guess — and it’s only a guess — is that it dates from about 1954 and was taken in Canada.  It might be a little earlier, too.  Missing here are the two sisters, Gisela, my mother, and Aunt Sue, and their spouses; they were far away by this time in California and Victoria, respectively.  Great Picture!

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Uncle Manfred

Manfred - 1965

Dr. Manfred Holl (1928-2018)

Manfred passed away at his home in Carmel Valley, California on April 28, 2018.  He was my mother’s younger brother and the youngest of the four Holl siblings.  Manfred kindly gave me a summer job at his Monterey-based meteorological research firm in the mid-1960s.  Manfred and Debbie also provided support and respites during my time at Ford Ord, for basic and advanced training.  The picture dates from 1965, when he appeared in a print ad in a business oriented magazine.  His physics Ph.D. was from U.C.L.A. and he ran a successful research operation, linked to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, for many years.  An unfortunate conflict over an inheritance issue fractured relations between Roizens and Holls many years ago.  He is survived by his spouse, Debbie, and sons Christopher and Michael.  I have many more good memories than bad, fortunately.  R.I.P.

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Safeguarding Col. Wallace’s Semi-Sullied Reputation


Wallace, 1887

There are weighty questions in history’s halls – Why did Rome fall?  What launched the Renaissance?  Why the American Civil War?  The following doesn’t deal with one.  It merely touches on one of history’s countless minor footnotes – in this case, here in Wallace.

Author Tony Bamonte offered a long quotation from Richard Magnuson’s Coeur d’Alene Diary at page 59 of his recently published book, Historic Wallace, Idaho and My Unforeseen Ties:

In 1887, the Colonel was called to Coeur d’Alene by the U.S. Land Receiver and informed that the scrip he used to buy the land was no good.  Wallace claimed he then paid the land officer $50 “for advice” and was told the government’s letter informing the land office about the scrip would not become a part of the Land Office records.  Wallace then went to Spokane Falls to buy other land scrip so he could cover his purchase, but he found it was too expensive.  He claimed the land officer told him to sell the land and no one could injure him for it.  The land officer said he would protect him as his attorney…. Wallace contended the entry or issuance of duplicate scrip was fraudulent, and that he would fight to establish his rights.

On March 7, the town council met to consider ways to raise money to get a patent on the town land.  Colonel Wallace asked that nothing be done for 30 days, as a land officer was on the way to investigate his land problem.  His request was not complied with.

Continue reading

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Wallace’s upcoming mayoral election


It was good to see — in the Wednesday, October 25th edition of the Shoshone News-Press – that Wallace’s upcoming mayoral election will be contested.

I’m guessing that Lynn Mogensen is the likely frontrunner at this point.  Her long service on the city council and perhaps especially her employment with the U.S. Postal Service have surely provided her with a wide array of acquaintances and friends around our town.  I like Lynn, and, speaking for myself, our interactions have always been friendly.

At the same time, I hope Wallace voters will take a close look at Lynn’s opponent, David Sherman.  I don’t know him well, but I’ve been following his remarks and commentaries for some time on Facebook.  On that medium David Sherman may be said to come across as an intelligent, thoughtful, educated, and sensible voice.  Perhaps especially in his many exchanges with our local Hunter-Thompson-esque and firebrand wordsmith, the redoubtable David Bond, Sherman elevates the medium.    Continue reading

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“David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities” — for Zoe

midwife toad.jpg


Dear Zoe,

Sometimes just before going to bed I like to watch a nature program on Netflix, just to take in some easy watching and to appreciate nature’s beauty and variety before drifting off to sleep.  Yes, I get tired of the endless repetitions in their scripts – including, for example, that old saw that juvenile animal play develops important life skills.  (“I know, I know!”)  But I like these sorts of programs anyhow, in their moment, and spend some time, when I’m hankering to watch one, looking for something new and interesting.

Last night, as it happens, I stumbled upon a David Attenborough series called “David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities.”  I was a little reluctant about starting it, thinking I may have seen all his examples before – on one or another of his other great productions.  The individual programs in the “Curiosities” series are short and, so far at least, he considers two such “curiosities” in each program.  So far, in the two programs I watched last night, he’s examined the chameleon, the giraffe, the platypus, and the midwife toad.  Well, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I’d lucked out.

Why?    Continue reading

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A needless safety disconnect in football

IW signal

Signal for an inadvertent whistle

Football season is upon us again.

I pursued a sidelight career as a high school football official – a “ref” – for ten years in my earlier life in the San Francisco Bay Area.

My initial training as a “newbie” official harbored more than a few unexpected revelations.

It didn’t take long to discover that football officials had their own subculture, a “social world” more or less unknown to everybody else.

One of the key elements in that secret world, as it turned out, was a generalized abhorrence and bitter distaste for something called the “inadvertent whistle,” or “IW.”

Seasoned officials tried to avoid the inadvertent whistle at all costs.  It was one of the very few mortal sins in the craft.     Continue reading

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Unpacking “gratuitous”


Though I probably use the word no less often than most of us do, the term “gratuitous” has always seemed vaguely problematic and suspect to me.

In its more common usage “gratuitous” means “unwarranted” or “uncalled for” in a negative sense – as in an undeserved slight, insult, or cut.  We say, for instance, “That was gratuitous!” when a criticism was wrongly offered or excessive.

And yet the word’s root — “gratus” – also underlies such neighboring words as “gratitude,” “grateful,” and “gratuity” (or tip), all sourced in the Latin word meaning “pleasing” or “grateful.”

In what sense, then, should we connect this “grateful” meaning-root with the unwarranted criticism or claim meaning we intend when we say “gratuitous”?  How, in other words, do “gratuitous” and “grateful” share a meaning bridge?    Continue reading

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