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Grateful for help while recovering

On June 2, 2007, I was in a terrible accident that almost killed me. My therapists and doctors have told me that this date can be a very emotional one and hard to get through. I decided to write a letter thanking the many people who have been supportive of me and my family and have given us monetary donations.

I have so many doctors, nurses, therapists, former co-workers at Smurfit-Stone, friends, family and neighbors to thank. I'm very lucky to have my family and so many caring people. I am lucky to be alive.

My life is currently made up of rehabilitation full-time. It is my job just trying to get better and get some of my life back. I am currently not working. But I hope to be back working during 2008. I am trying to give back the generosity shown by so many others by performing worthwhile duties at the YMCA. I've returned to help coach my son's little league baseball team. The many coaches and parents with the Mount Sentinel-Southside Little League team have been very kind, generous, and supportive. I appreciate the friends and instructors I've had in Leadership Missoula and Leadership Montana.

Just about everything I do now is rehabilitation and it is as hard and frustrating as any work I did to earn my bachelor's and master's degrees. I believe recovery is possible, just like graduating from college was, and the progress I make is because of my hard work and everyone's unwavering support.

I may not be able to do everything I could before the accident - not yet anyhow. I can assure you it will not be for a lack of trying and hard work.

Thank you, Missoula, for your kindness and generosity.

Leif Griffin, Missoula

Shop, home economics are valuable

Last month at Franklin School, I attended a lunch event with my fifth-grade daughter, her classmates and other parents.

The event was to help prepare our children for their move into middle school, an institution I find offensive and unnecessary in the first place, as I have always advocated going back to K-8. However, this is the path we are going down so that's the way it is. The event was fun and informative; we played some games and learned together.

When the subject of curriculum arose, I was disturbed to learn both home economics and shop classes were being replaced this year with drama. I could tell by the looks on several parent's faces they were as disturbed as I was. I placed a call to Jan Madison with Missoula County Public Schools. She has yet to return my call verifying the shift from self-sufficiency to liberal arts for our sixth-graders. I'm looking forward to her call.

I'm having a difficult time understanding what the end game in all of this would be.

Home economics isn't about servitude, it's about learning life skills. Who doesn't need to know how to cook for themselves or mend a garment or how to balance a checkbook?

I was in shop class in grade school and while I didn't grow up to be a craftsman, many of my friends did and have led happy and productive lives building our homes, parks and offices.

We can't all be thespians or philosophers, although we can produce well-rounded children able to be self-sufficient and productive members of society.

If you are concerned about this please join my by contacting the school board to stop this change in curriculum.

Robert Gee, Missoula

Cheney's pals profit, we pay more

Is it any wonder the oil companies are making record profits?

Let's see, you have Dick Cheney in charge of drafting America's energy policy. He meets only with energy company officials. They meet behind closed doors. He refuses to identify the people involved or topics discussed. He refuses to release transcripts of what was said. He refuses to reveal any decisions made. The 20,000-or-so page document never once mentions the word "conservation" or the importance of the concept of conservation.

Eight years after his energy policies started to work their corporate-profit magic, we are all paying far more for energy than we ever have and energy company profits have never been higher. Is this really surprising? This is exactly what this administration is all about - representing and protecting the rich at the expense of everyone else. I pay all the taxes I owe. But under this administration, it's the richest 1 percent of Americans and oil companies, swimming in our money, that get tax breaks. Bush is currently trying to get those tax breaks made permanent before his term is up. Now that's a legacy.

Since the advent of Cheney's "energy plan," gas has risen to $4 a gallon with no end in sight. In other words, things are going exactly as Cheney planned.

Ron Stirling, Missoula

Inexperienced? Remember Bush in 2000

He promises to change the way politics work in Washington and to bring polarized factions together. He claims to be a uniter, not a divider, and assures us he, and his proper wife and two daughters, will restore dignity to the White House.

Despite his brief history in state and national politics, he has a compelling story of drug and alcohol use during his student days. He claims exposure to the Christian faith and acceptance of Jesus as his personal savior have saved him and called him to higher service.

Despite an Ivy League education and an income in the six figures, he has a common touch. He exercises and is in good health.

Some call him naive and inexperienced, so he surrounds himself with the lions of his political party as his trusted advisers. They give him their endorsement, funding and ideology.

A fawning media quickly explains away his infrequent flashes of temper, arrogance and stammering inexactitude while propagating the back story campaign to silence any and all opponents as "too old," "too establishment" or "too, too."

It worked eight years ago. The winning campaign dragged George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove through the Supreme Court into the White House, Iraq and our pocketbooks. We all know how well that has turned out.

So here we go again. Another young, arrogant, newly saved Ivy Leaguer, with a prepared speech and the promise of a cure for all our ills offers us "change we can believe in."

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Vote carefully. We all must live with your choice.

Kathe Randle, Polson

Obama makes McCain look qualified

Let the fun begin. The presidential race now comes down to choosing between John McCain, who is about 75 percent conservative, and Barack Obama, who is 110 percent liberal.

As soon as Obama announced his win, I am sure I heard the sound of clucking and the nervous rustling of feathers. Why, yes, it was the sound of Obama's very large flock of chickens as they prepare for their "coming home to roost" event.

These chickens all have names, some of which are: Abortion, Rev. Wright, Rev. Moss, Rev. Pflegel, Inexperience, Appeasement, Tony Rezko, More Taxes, Liberal Courts, Same-sex Marriage, Socialism, Empty Suit, "G.D. America," Silver Tongue … and on and on. You can add to this list your names for his chickens. There appears to be plenty.

Suddenly McCain doesn't look so bad after all.

Joel Olinghouse, Hamilton

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