Chat: The story behind Celine

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Yep, it’s Wednesday Chat Day.

Yo, ho!

By the way, I’ve received just one lonely email asking why and how Celine Dion manages to make it into our North Idaho conversation almost every week.

The rest of you get it, right?

We’re pretending this is an enjoyable Vegas-style performance. And so naturally, being the opening act for Celine would be sweet.

But if we can imagine being in Las Vegas, Celine would certainly love to do a stint up here.

So she’s part of our Chat Day — and yes, our “hearts will go on.”

Surely you saw “Titanic.”

Which reminds me, we’ve got to entertain you soon, before the whole thing starts to sink ...

ITEM: Last week we mentioned that many states are moving to a “Vote at Home” (VAH) system in an attempt to increase election participation.

Here in Kootenai County, where less than 15 percent of eligible voters actually cast ballots in the May primary, any available help would be welcome.

Reader Carol Fairhurst emailed to note that we actually do have a form of VAH — but you have to do a teeny bit of work yourself.

“Each January, you fill out a request for ballot (available on the ‘County Elections’ web site),” Carol wrote.

“Check all the optional elections, and like magic the voter will receive a ballot in the mail a couple of weeks before the election.

“No waiting line, no postage required, and you have time to study, consider and think about your vote.

“Easy-peezy!”

That’s a pretty good description, so if you don’t want to leave the house to vote, follow Carol’s lead and get on that website.

ITEM: A study commissioned by U.S. News and World Report has deemed Idaho is the fifth-ranked state in the nation for public safety.

The numbers were passed along by the Idaho Republican Party, which obviously feels it’s responsible for all good things that happen here.

Anyhooo...

In the study, public safety was considered a sub-category in an overall look at what’s called “Crime and Corrections.”

Public safety evaluated both the violent crime rate and the property crime rate in each state, as measured by the FBI in 2016 — the latest year for which stats are available.

Overall, having that high rating is a good thing, and I think we do feel safe here (although somebody ran off with that neat Scottish head cover from the 3-wood in my golf bag).

In case you’re wondering, the “safer” states ahead of us were Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and — cough! — New Jersey.

Oh, and since pretty much all of you are wondering, California limped in at No. 34.

Hah!

ITEM: Kootenai County is basically middle-class — despite some obviously rich folks and a group who are truly struggling.

I get it that we have a fairly large lower-middle number of households, but that’s still middle.

There has been much hoo-hah from both major parties about improving lives of the middle class.

Sam Wolkenhauer, regional analyst for the Idaho Department of Labor, was consulted on whether the Federal Reserve’s trend of raising interest rates in a solid national economy would help middle class enclaves like ours.

“The Federal Reserve simply doesn’t look at income distribution when they are determining their policy,” Sam answered. “The Fed operates on what’s called a ‘Dual Mandate,’ which is granted to it by Congress.

“The Fed’s dual mandate is to strive for maximum employment and price stability.

“So even though issues like middle-class wages and income distribution are very important to people, by statute the Fed is not created to target these issues with its policies.”

Gah.

Just one more official agency that isn’t much help to most of us here.

ITEM: My pet search is now officially a success!

Yes, I still want more photos of your dogs, cats, ferrets and pythons that play with your kids.

We’ll get them in the paper, one way or another.

But one hunt is more or less over.

A gentleman named Allan Fonken, who has plenty of land and even more animals, sent me a photo of his llama named Ace.

Awesome!

I was going to wait a couple weeks, and if I didn’t hear from anyone, I might have solicited photos from Seven Stars Alpaca Ranch on Folsom Ridge Road in the Coeur d’Alene foothills.

They definitely have some llamas (which are bigger cousins of alpacas), but ...

That would have been cheating, no?

Thank you, Allan, for saving me from an ethical quandary.

And now, with the llama hunt complete, I think we can make way, so...

It’s all yours, Celine.

•••

Steve Cameron is a columnist for The Press and a confirmed llama lover.

A Brand New Day appears Wednesday through Saturday each week. Steve’s sports column runs on Tuesday.

Email: scameron@cdapress.com.

Facebook: Steve Cameron

Twitter:@BrandNewDayCDA

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