Month: March 2013

Mr. Newspaperman: Why do 24 hour stores have locks?

Kuna Melba News, March 27, 2013

Dear Mr. Newspaperman,

I’m expecting and my husband and I are having a very difficult time coming up with a name for our child. We decided to not learn the gender of our baby and have been trying to come up with gender-neutral names. We were hoping you could help us out.
Anonymous, Kuna

Dear Anonymous,
Having been raised in the more southerly portions of the U.S. I have always been fond of two-name names. Many are used for either boys or girls such as Bobby Jo or Billy Lou but often these names result in teasing. Teasing can make a child tougher though. I tried to name my own son “Sue” after the Johnny Cash song written by Shel Silverstein but my wife put her foot down.
A quick search on the Internet can reveal quite a few great sites for names. Within five minutes I found a site for you. At they have a blog post that addresses the gender neutral question. Using baby name statistics from 2011, they suggest names like Dakota, Justice, Jessie, Phoenix, Finley, Quinn and Sage.
I recommend looking out your window at plants and birds to inspire your choices. Take a look in your spice cabinet. I’ve always thought Curry would be a great name for a kid. A few weeks before my daughter was born I was gazing out my window at my beautiful patch of Zinnias that were growing like weeds. That’s how my own
spawn got her name.

Dear Mr. Newspaperman,
If 7-11 is open 24 hours a day then why are there locks on the doors?
Scott S., Kuna

Dear Scott,
There are locks to keep out the zombies. But, seriously, this question is one of those brain buster type puzzles that motivates one to think of a really stupid answer to give.
You know this is a common question because as one types it into Google search, Google tries to guess what you
are going to ask. The first suggestion after you type
“Why does 7-11…” is
“Why does 7-11 have locks?”
So, you expended more effort to write me a question than it would have taken you to look it up yourself. Here’s the top list of six answers I like.
1.    The name 7-11 originally refers to the hours of operation, 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. Therefore, a business would need to lock the doors while it was closed.
2. Convenience store doors are built with locks in them, not custom made without locks.
3. Sometimes the store does close, especially on holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving although this is happening less and less.
4. If an employee is by
himself and needs to “go”
then they might need to lock a door.
5. They need to close on occasion to do inventory. They do this in the middle of the night.
6. In the event of a robbery, natural disaster or some other freakish emergency like a zombie apocalypse then the store might need to close for a short while… at least until they restock the gum.

Remember, there are no dumb questions, just dumb answers. Send your dumb question to

Paydirt – A Gardener’s Column: Growing A Garden

Kuna Melba News, March 27, 2013

I was once told that a good garden takes at least three years to get going from scratch. As I look out my front window, I think about this fourth year and I’m just now beginning to get to know the intimate areas of the yard where certain plants work well and where they don’t. The garden has definitely evolved over the years, as has my skill as a gardener. I know I’ll need a lifetime to get my garden where I want it to be. Perhaps it will be those that inherit my dirt who will do it.
gardeningWhen my partner and I, along with her and my genetic offspring, removed 3,600 square feet of sod in the front yard a few years ago the neighbors were concerned. I was embarking on an urban gardening career planning to sell vegetables at the local farmer’s market. The front yard, once an expanse of green dotted with yellow dandelions and blue green spiked leaves of Canada thistle, was to be my flagship plot. I trucked in 20 yards of organic dairy manure compost and used the cut sod pieces to form berms along the front edge of the yard near the street.
That year I used the gravity irrigation pumped from the access ditch in the back of the property to water everything. The produce was abundant and tasty. My customers were happy. I constantly flashed back to the times on the family farm hoeing and planting vegetables on my parent’s seven acres of tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and corn. I hated it then. I love it now.
For two years I managed several lots around the city, collecting the produce from each to supply a small vegetable booth at the farmer’s market, have vegetables for my small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription program, supplying a few local restaurants with specialty vegetables and having a little bit left over for my family.
Now, several years later, as I have returned to somewhat of a desk job being the editor for a small paper once again, I only manage the plants in my own yard. These years, however, I have many more flowers, shrubs and trees as opposed to vegetables. I think I’m also ready to talk about gardening in the medium I love so well… newsprint.
During my “growing” years I managed to fulfill the requirements for the University of Idaho Extension Service Master Gardener program. Becoming a Master Gardener was one of my life’s bucket list items. While I was one of the younger folk in the classes, I felt I had an advantage. I had the opportunity to learn from all of the older gardeners who had decided to pursue the MG program in retirement. I was going to put what I was learning to use on a business level. I’d recommend the program to anyone with a passion in gardening.
While according to the rules, since I am not actively in the program I am not allowed to call myself a Master Gardener anymore, the skills I learned through the program allow me to advise others. This is what I hope to do with this new gardening column.

Mark Barnes is a former University of Idaho Extension Service Master Gardener.
If you have topics or suggestions about what to cover in this new column, please contact

Mr. Newspaperman: Flags and Those Facebook Date Facts

Kuna Melba News, March 20, 2013

“I don’t always know everything, but when I don’t, I know how to find out.”

Dear Mr. Newspaperman,

I have several faded and worn United States flags that are in need of proper disposal. Is there any place in Kuna that will accept them? I see lots of U.S. flags flown by residents in and around Kuna and I would think that proper flag etiquette and disposal information would be an interesting and useful article for the community.

– Richard Watts, Kuna

Dear Richard,

It took nearly 150 years from the time Betsy Ross first stitched the stars and stripes for George Washington to when there were guidelines established as to how Americans should display the flag. Prior to the establishment of Flag Day on June 14, 1923 there were no guidelines by the state or federal government as to how the United States flag should be displayed or treated. It took another 19 years until President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved the United States Flag Code as federal law on June 22, 1942.

Since then, not much has changed in the guidelines as to how to display the flag. However, with varied success there have been a few attempts to amending the law in recent decades. During the 1980s there were several efforts to outlaw flag burning as a form of protest. Two cases even made it all the way to the Supreme Court. In both cases it was ruled that it would be unconstitutional for the government to prohibit desecration of the flag due to the protection of free speech as outlined in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Recently, a 2005 law was passed that prohibits real estate management organizations from restricting homeowner’s rights to display the flag. Also in 2005 the House of Representatives passed with a two-thirds majority an amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting the burning of the American flag but when the vote came up in the senate in 2006, it missed the margin needed to pass by one vote. If it had passed, it would have needed to be ratified by at least 38 states before becoming an amendment.

While the United States Flag Code is federal law, there is no penalty for failure to comply with it. The U.S. Supreme Court has established that breaking these rules is protected by American’s First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech.

So it is quite ironic then, that the proper way to dispose of an American flag that has seen its better days is to burn it. What? You say?

It comes down to respect. Guidelines for displaying the American flag include not displaying an old, tattered rag that is no longer fitting to serve as a symbol of the United States. Would you burning the flag in protest? No. You are burning it out of respect for what it represents.

Several organizations including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boy Scouts of America, Girls Scouts and the National Sojourners offer their services to dispose of flags. Some hold ceremonies, usually on Flag Day, in which flags are folded, burned thoroughly and the ashes buried.

There is nothing in the guidelines that say you can’t dispose of a flag yourself. Simply fold the flag properly in the triangle shape then create a nice, hot fire, big enough to burn the flag thoroughly with no parts or pieces left over. Be sure to check local outdoor fire rules or burn bans before doing this part. While burning the flag it might be nice to salute, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, have a moment of silence or even sing a patriotic tune. In other words, give the flag some respect while you burn it. Collect the ashes of the burned flag and bury them in a respectable place. The American flag is considered a living thing, so give the ashes a nice burial.

We checked with the local VFW in Kuna but they said that they do not perform a flag burning service. Todd McGillivray, Troop Committee Chair for Boy Scout Troop 181 in Kuna said they regularly collect flags to dispose of and handle the process during their campouts in a private ceremony. If you have a flag to dispose of you may contact McGillivray at 208-861-7800.

Dear Mr. Newspaperman,

Did you know that it will be another 823 years before we have another March with five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays in the same month?

– J.R., Melba

Dear J.R.,

I didn’t know that, because it isn’t true.

This is a common email message myth that gets sent round and round. It creeps up every so often like a bad cold sore. While this March has five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays there are other months that this happens as well.  You can look at  May 2009, January and October 2010 and July 2011; and so will August 2014, May 2015… and so on. The cycle follows a multi year cycle of six, five, six and 11 years due to skipping between leap years. The longest stretch between the same months with quintuple three-day weekends is 11 years, not 823.

In some versions of this email, it also tells how this is based in Chinese Feng Shui and is called “Money Bags.” Supposedly if you send the message on to friends, you will be rolling in money within four days. If you believe that I have a Nigerian
prince I’d like to introduce
you to.