Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Positively Googled Idaho

Commentary by Jim Banholzer


Jim Banholzer

Are you finding good news as hard to come by as a fresh drink of water squeezed from a lava rock? Feels as though you want to stay informed, but don't want to let it all bring you down? Well, now there is a neat tool for getting positive vibes sent your direction every day, via search engines and online newspaper alerts.

If you are a news junkie addicted to trademarked terror alerts, then you might have a habit as difficult to break as cigarettes or six-packs of whiskey. However, you can start by thinking of an improvement that you would like in your life, say, "Become a better man." Then plug this term into Google News alerts. Amazingly, the system is set up to alert or page you whenever anything pertaining to this phrase posts on thousands of news Web sites!

Another inspiring phrase to try is "Good news Idaho." Play around with this, trying sections with and without quotation marks. For that matter, simply turn to a thesaurus, look up synonyms for "positive," then use these words in conjunction with whatever town or state you're interested in hearing something praiseworthy about. You'll soon find that there really is a foundation of empowering news out there. It just takes a little modification to get some "Positive Idaho tidings" channeling in your direction.

Use caution of course in believing every bit of what's called good news—no matter how starved you are for some. Most subjects under the sun hold complex and paradoxical levels of meaning. To help celebrate the Yin and Yang of these gray areas, a laughing contrary coyote icon emerges from the back pages of some Native American newspapers.

Some writers try to convey a positive image about a news item when it actually lacks substance. Another group with a different agenda might try a smear campaign over the same event. The great news about this ambiguity is that by using your critical mind, you can get a good chuckle considering mainstream sources of the black and white that's read all over.

Years ago there was a newspaper that printed what it considered only good news. The bad news was that they did not sell very many copies. Was it because readers of that era were not passionate about cheerful news? Don Henley sang "People love it when you lose, they like dirty laundry." When the last copy rolled off the presses, there was no mention of their going out of business. That was unprintably bad news.

Currently there are Web sites trying to pass on similarly "happy news." A search through these sugary sites reveals what appears to be unmitigatingly beneficial news. Nutritious foods available in more schools, and anti-pollution inventions and developments in plastics recycling. Also mentioned are progress in biodiesel and other science breakthroughs. As is "housing the poor with dignity" and even Lance Armstrong.

Maybe you're not in the mood to put on a happy face while searching news data. Perhaps an alert like "Idaho Juicy Gossip" is something you'd be more interested in getting the lowdown on. If you liked that then you'll really enjoy "Idaho's unknown news."

Even if you don't have computer access, another neat trick you can use for building up a bright outlook is cozying up with a hiking book in the evening. Leaf through the pages while thinking of future hikes or reflecting on great experiences you've already had on the trails. Meditate on just one good thought as you drift off to sleep. Some find this method better than magic pills. You don't even need a doctor's approval slip for a bookmark.

I hope this advice helps in some way. After all, whenever you're in Idaho, Bliss is just down the road. Perhaps, now, an overload of compassionate news bulletins will jam your rig's built-in monitor, causing a tipping point in your truck gauges. No worries though, because you'll finally get the chance to walk around that marsh you've always driven by. There you'll find the bluebird of happiness, because your Zen-ful delay will have serenely tipped you halfway between Bliss and Paradise, where everything is super!

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