by Inlander Readers & r & & r & On the Road & r & Thank you for the excellent, comprehensive article on the state of cycling in Spokane ("Blazing a Trail," 7/27/06). Cycling is alive and well, and there is something for everybody. I was a little disappointed in the informal survey results, but I suppose it's to be expected since so few ride a bike to work. I'm a bicycle commuter, and I have a challenge for those who have never biked to work: Try it once. That's all. Just one time.

Here's how: First, some safety tips. Dress to be seen. You don't have to invest in a bright jersey or jacket, but wear something that makes you stand out. When you drive, do you expect to see cyclists on the road? I bet not. So you want drivers to see you.

Have you ever seen a cyclist go onto the sidewalk, back onto the road, into a crosswalk, onto a sidewalk, onto the road, back on the sidewalk, etc.? You have no idea what they're going to do next. Follow the rules of the road as if you were driving a car. Drivers will know what to expect from you.

Now, if you don't ride much, then on a day off, ride a similar distance to get an idea how long it will take you. Scout possible routes so you can take advantage of designated bike routes, quiet roads, the Centennial Trail, etc.

And make this easy on yourself. On the day before you ride, bring in a change of clothes so you don't have to stuff them in a backpack on the ride. What about cleaning up? If you don't have access to a shower near work, then leave early and take your time. If there's a fitness club nearby, see if you can pay to just shower and change there. Choose a day when the weather will be most comfortable for you. Make sure you have a place to secure your bike. Enjoy the ride and the fresh air.

So you rode to work and back again. How did it feel? How was the ride different than the drive? What did you see and hear on the ride that you would have missed while driving a car? How much did you not spend for gas and parking? What can you do to enjoy the ride more? How did your workmates react to your riding in? Are you crazy? Crazy enough to try it once more? C'mon -- just one more time?

Hank Greer & r & Spokane, Wash.

Canadian Takeover? & r & It took hundreds of years for this country to acknowledge it had carried out crimes against the Native Americans. In the meantime, we portrayed them as primitive savages. In short, we demonized them.

It took hundreds of years for us to admit slavery was wrong. We depicted Africans as primitive savages, incapable of taking care of themselves. Again, we demonized them.

America has done great things. But we have also done hideous things. Somewhere during the last 50 years, we lost our innocence. Things like Watergate and Vietnam showed us another side of American politics. Our government isn't always the nice guy. We are all terrorists and saints. Many of our own actions in Iraq and other countries could be labeled as terrorism.

If we are to ever create peace in the Middle East, and not just a cease-fire, we must stop demonizing what started as a legitimate resistance. In 1967, during the Six-Day War, Israel took four parcels of land from several native peoples. Subsequent acts of resistance from these natives were crushed violently. The people of the captured lands were forced into refugee camps and poverty-stricken "settlements." Call them reservations if you like. But the resistance continued, and eventually it bred Hezbollah and Hamas, among other organizations.

If Canada were powerful enough to storm our border and take over the Dakotas, Montana and Minnesota, wouldn't we resist? Would we just surrender these states? Conversely, if we were overrunning the Native Americans today, wouldn't they resist in much the same way as the Palestinians? Would we be right in taking their land?

American and Israeli presence and policy in the Middle East has created the terrorism we see today. The onus is on both governments to make the grand gestures that would create peace. None of this killing -- from either party -- is justified. Extremists are calling the shots on both sides, and innocent people are dying. If we wait hundreds of years to admit we've been wrong, we probably won't be here to write that textbook. Please, God, let us finally learn from history a little sooner, and see our mistakes before it is too late.

Carl David Leeth & r & Spokane, Wash.

Milfoil Not the Pest & r & On our recent canoe/camping excursion to Upper Priest Lake, I am glad to report that we didn't see any milfoil infestation. It's a beautiful lake, indeed, and nearly pristine. But how long will that last? As we paddled up the Thoroughfare, we were nearly swamped by the wake of a huge inboard boat going about half-throttle with stereo blasting, unmuffled exhaust booming and a bunch of folks partying heartily. I understand how much fun that is, but I wonder if after a full day of lake revelry these people were going to take time to perform a thorough cleaning of the boat and intake so as to not spread biological contaminants. Milfoil is spreading because of unsanitary power-boat habits.

Now, as people in power boats claim the waters of lakes Coeur d'Alene, Pend Oreille, Priest, and all the smaller lakes in the area, I would suggest -- in order to preserve the quality of the Upper Priest -- that power boats be banned from this lake. On our camping trip, we saw what we considered a critical mass of canoes, kayaks and nonmotorized users to justify setting aside one small lake for that "less likely to spread milfoil" use.

Roger Hayes & r & Moscow, Idaho

Dirty Money & r & In conversations about the 2006 5th District Congressional elections, I've heard a lot of buzz on the Democrats' side about the Republican "culture of corruption." Truthfully, as a moderate Democrat, the partisan and rhetorical nature of the debate didn't interest me.

What interested me after researching this issue were some of the unsettling truths I learned about Cathy McMorris. First, she accepted $1,000 from convicted felon and former congressman Duke Cunningham. She donated the money to charity, but only after it was clear that he would be convicted of bribery. Second, she took $5,000 from indicted Texas congressman Tom Delay's Political Action Committee, ARMPAC -- money she has refused to return. Third, she has also received $2,500 from Bob Ney, the first congressman implicated in the Jack Abramoff corruption debacle.

Not only that, but, according to the House Office of the Clerk, an official tracker of congressional votes, she voted to weaken House ethics rules in a move that, as far as I can tell, would have made Tom Delay appear less corrupt.

As an Eastern Washingtonian, I feel in my gut that we can do better. We can do what's right!

Rob Grabow & r & Spokane, Wash.

Kudos for Conspiracies & r & This afternoon I met a young man from Spokane who told me that your paper had run an article on the 9/11 search for truth. I just found and read this article online and wanted to thank you for having the guts to use your media outlet to educate your readers. The fact that you allowed such an article is a glimmer of hope for so many United States citizens who are increasingly looking to other sources for news concerning the United States -- sources other than our mainstream media. Whatever a person's belief may be concerning the attacks on 9/11, at least you allowed the topic to come into print and allow an open discussion.

I encourage you and your readers to continue to look into such topics -- not with the intent of trying to divide us into conspiracy "nuts" versus proponents of the official conspiracy story, but with the intent of bringing the truth concerning the attacks of 9/11 to light.

M. Yeager & r & Bellevue, Wash.

American Original: The Life and Work of John James Audubon @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 19
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