Monday, August 31, 2009

Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll


A strange quiet has fallen over the Blue River Valley as August comes to a close. Must be all those guests and visitors being gone. Being quiet. Being still. We have our "most beautiful place on the planet" back again. To ourselves. Our roads and our grocery stores and our gas stations. Empty. Nice.

Channel 9 did a piece over the weekend about how there are a lot of jobs available in Summit County with the four ski areas getting cranked up again. That is true every year. Our peak times are from the first of December to the middle of April. Not long to have a job but it is a job of a lifetime. When those young people are 80 they will be in their nursing homes or assisted living facilities boring their fellow inmates about when they were living the high life of drugs, sex and rock and roll in the Colorado high country. I know I will.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I hear voices


Had a busy day yesterday so I apologize for not sending a blog.

I became a police officer in the mid-1960s and stopped in 2005 when I became a County Commissioner. I had about 30 years of active service as a police officer in New York and Colorado as well as being Chief Investigator for the District Attorney for three years and the elected County Coroner for eight years. One of my main duties in all of that was to do death investigations. My district went from Basalt near Aspen to Leadville to Vail to Breckenridge and to Georgetown. I enjoy writing and especially enjoy writing poetry. I have about twelve volume's completed and try to write something every day. At times I put it into my BLOG. Here is a short poem about thoughts I have as I drive around my old law enforcement territory up and down the Interstate 70 corridor west of Denver.

Sometimes they cry out.

The baby along the road by Floyd Hill. The man in the culvert under the Interstate. They all cry out.

The waitress who lost her head as she flew out of her BMW after she hit a tree in a drunk stupor.

The young boy who drowned near my house and we never found his body. He says "find me" twenty five years later.

The beautiful young model from Denver who decided to take off all of her clothes and lay under a pine tree after taking hundreds of pills. I can still see her in my mind as I drive by the exit to Alice (St. Mary's Glacier).

The many young men and women who lay under the snow from an avalanche saying, "I can't breathe" "Come quick."

My job was to call the death.

My job is not to keep hearing their voices.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Leonard Cohen


I read an article by Sasha Frere-Jones in the New Yorker on-line this morning about Leonard Cohen. You can read it at http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/musical/2009/08/24/090824crmu_music_frerejones

There is a talk/music program on weekends from Tucson, Arizona that includes Fred Imus, Don Imus' brother. It is interesting and funny to listen to as you are driving down the road. A couple of weeks ago they featured Leonard Cohen singing, "Hallelujah" the proverbial song that is sung in thousands of churches every Sunday morning across the world. They also mentioned that he had been on Austin City Limits.

That was the first time I heard of him.

A few days later our local PBS station in a fundraiser featured Cohen in his "Leonard Cohen from London" CD. I could not stop listening. His music is haunting. By the way he is in his 70s now.

Leonard Cohen's songs have been recorded by the Beatles and Bob Dylan to name a couple. He collaborated with Joan Baez in the 60s on some tunes. He is an icon in the music industry yet a lot of people have never heard of him.

The articles describes how his manager stole several millions of dollars from him and left him nearly broke. He won a lawsuit against her but could not recover any of the money. He is Jewish but more recently spent many years in a Buddhist Monastery.

Interesting fellow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pump Up The Volume


I have mentioned before that my taste in music is very eclectric. I have Sirius/XM Satellite radio in my car and in my home and virtually never listen to anything else. Commercial free. My favorite channels are Love, The Bridge, Classic Vinyl, NPR, XM PR and Outlaw Country. The highest volume my radio will go to is 50 and that is where it stays.

I chunk of ice hit the front of my car near Idaho Springs right after I bought it in 2004 and it took out my air conditioning condenser. Living where I live you never need air conditioning. We are naturally air conditioned . But when I go to Denver or Boulder I have to roll down all of my windows and open my sun roof to stay cool. With my volume at 50 everyone gets to hear free music while I still have to pay for it.

Imagine if you will a nearly 70 year old former police officer with extraordinarily long white hair driving down the road with his car radio blaring Led Zeppelin, the Eagles or Townes Van Zant. Quite a picture.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Girlfriends


Ted Kennedy has died in Cape Cod. He was a major icon in this world whether you liked him or not. Two of his sisters died recently also. It is the end of an era. He was 77 born in 1932. I wonder if things would have been different if he had not decided to take that girl home from the party oh so many years ago? We will never know.

Things might have been different if Colorado United States Senator Gary Hart had not decided to take a girl on a trip on a boat named "Risky Business." Very risky indeed.

The governor of South Carolina has it figured out. He just ignored the fact that he got caught running off to spend time with his girlfriend in South America. It is business as usual with him. He did not miss a beat. When asked about his dalliance he just gets a quizzical look on his face and appears to think that he does not know what the questioner is asking.

Absolute denial. A refusal to accept that he was wrong. Amazing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just a thought


My classes start today. I had one week off between summer and fall. I can't remember if I did anything. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

I run/walk six miles every morning on my treadmill in the living room. I don't do any legal or illegal drugs but my treadmill qualifies. I can be half asleep and in a bad mood and depressed and confused (see above) and five minutes on the treadmill and I suddenly become twenty years old again in mind and body.

I get the greatest ideas and thoughts as I am running/walking.

This morning I came up with the most outstanding idea for a class action suit that should result in millions of dollars in a settlement. Now all I need to do is find a good attorney. Is that an oxymoron?

Monday, August 24, 2009

School's Open Drive Carefully


She seemed to be very tall. In the beginning I could only see her head as she moved down the bike path. Her head did not bounce up and down the way it would if she were walking or running. Her head moved motionless as her body moved north toward the school. She was on a very long skateboard. Probably good practice for snowboarding in a few weeks. She was on her way to school for the first day this school year. School is open.

I did not attend a one room school growing up in Rockwell City, Iowa. I attended a one building school. K through 12 all in the same building. Kindergarten through ninth grade were all in the older building on the east side, the side with the playground. High School 10th through 12th was on the west side, the side with the parking for all the student's cars.

I was an intelligence specialist in the Air Force from 1960 to 1964 and I spent a lot of time looking at aerial photographs trying to decide which buildings to blow up based on their use. I could have told you that my school building was a school building just based on the playground and the parking lots. Funny how function follows need.

Drive carefully. School is open.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Honorable


If you are a former president you carry the title of president for the rest of your life. It always goes before your name in introductions and in the media. That is also true with senators and representatives. When I am introduced in public I remain Representative Lindstrom even though I left office two years ago. I don't see that as a problem and it is a short resume of my last job as an elected official.

Along with the title I still get a ton of mail, e mail and phone calls from people asking for my advice, my opinion and my experience on various matters. That is not a problem either and it probably keeps me from a life of crime or at least out of the pool halls. In addition I am asked to speak or attend ribbon cuttings on a regular basis.

I have two successor's Senator Dan Gibbs and Representative Christine Scanlan who are still in office. If they attend a function then I will not because in my opinion it takes attention away from the people who still have to run for office while I do not.

One funny thing in all of this is that I am very often introduced as "The Honorable" Gary Lindstrom. I want to know by who's opinion. What makes me or any current or past elected official "honorable?" Based on recent highly publicized events it some instances it might be more appropriate to say "The Dishonorable" for some elected officials.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Asleep at the Wheel and Bob Wills


Last night I went to an Asleep at the Wheel concert in Breckenridge.

I have followed "The Wheel" for many years. I read recently that they are celebrating their 40th Anniversary. Their lead singer Ray Benson is 58 years old so that makes him a mere child when they started. Ray now hails from Austin but was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. Hard to believe when you listen to him. Little Joe from the Oak Ridge Boys is also from Philadelphia. It must be the hotbed of country music.

When I was in the New York Police Department I worked with an officer who lived in Brooklyn who wrote country music and had been published a couple of times. Brooklyn, NY. Another hotbed of country music.

Asleep at the Wheel majors on Bob Wills tunes. Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys became famous in the 1930s and 1940s for their radio show. Their genre was Country Swing. Not considering their name they actually broadcast out of Tulsa, OK. Another hotbed.

During the years of the dust bowl and the depression in the plains of Texas and Oklahoma there was no money and the only entertainment was listening to the radio. I have mentioned this before but people would take the battery out of their car and bring it into the house at night to run the radio in the kitchen or living room. Texas swing of the Bob Wills ilk was something that was clean and wholesome that the entire family could listen to and even "Cut the rug." Dancing to you young people.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Any Excuse


I have 47 students registered so far for the fall semester. They still have about a week to register so that number will go up. I had 78 in the spring. I have taught at Colorado Mountain College since 1983.

I will be teaching Social Psychology, Sociology I, Political Science and American Government. The interest in the classes goes in the same order.

I have 32 men registered and 15 women.

Summit County has a reputation for having a disproportionate number of men vs. women.

Our permanent year-round population at the last census was about 26,000. When I moved here in 1974 it was 3000.

Rumor has it that there are 15 men for every woman here. Not sure that it can be proved statistically but the men use that as an excuse as they walk home alone from the bars at night. Any excuse in a (snow) storm.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Do nothing and stay out of trouble


I have always believed that if you want to stay out of trouble then do absolutely nothing. Yes, nothing. When I was a police officer the only cops that ever got into trouble were the officers who actually did some work. The rest would hide. They would never get into trouble because when you hide there is nothing for you to get into trouble about.

That is the case with politicians too. The most worthless elected officials are those who virtually collect a paycheck but never are an advocate for anything or pass any bills or take any controversial positions or ever get into trouble. How can you get into trouble if you never do anything?

The same is true in education. There are some educators who are always pushing the envelope. They are always looking for new and innovative ways to do things. They are always in trouble. Others come to work, do the minimum just to get by, collect a paycheck, retire and never leave a mark on the system or the process. They just get by with doing virtually nothing.

President Obama is a good example of what I am talking about. He has been criticized recently for taking on too much. For moving too fast, for trying to change too many things. In essence he is being criticized for working. He is not happy just getting by. He wants to make this a better place to live. He wants to make this country healthier and at the same time save everyone billions of dollars in health care expenses.

Thank God he has decided to work. Thank God he has decided not to be a spectator. Thank God he has decided not to be like many of his predecessors from both parties.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Will Be 103


On NPR over the weekend I heard an interview about the progression of knowledge.

Right now the amount of knowledge is doubling every year. This time next year we will have at our doorstep twice as much knowledge as we do this year.

A big part of that is the progression of digital information. We can shove more information into a smaller space and then extract it at a faster pace than ever before.

The commentator was talking about how, in 2045, medicine will have progressed to the point where no one will ever die. We will have conquered all of the known diseases and figured out how to repair defective and broken parts to the point that we will live for eternity.

That might be the up side for many but in 2045 I will be 103 years old. Imagine spending eternity in a 103 year old body. Not a pretty sight.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Time Marches Backwards


Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge opens their new building today.

The Grand Opening is August 29 which I will have to miss.

I started teaching at CMC in 1983 more than 26 years ago. The former campus was in a building that was built in 1909 the year my father was born. It served as the Summit County High School from 1909 to the 1950s when it was condemned by the school district to pave the way to build a new high school in Frisco which is now the middle school. The "condemned" high school in Breckenridge continued to be used until last Friday.

While it was the CMC building it actually won an award for being a unique and historic building for the college. The "condemned" building won an award. How neat is that?

It was my office in 1976-1977 when I was with the District Attorney. It was also the South Branch of the Library, Breckenridge Town Hall and the first location for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center.

The basketball gym was converted into a two story set of classrooms while the main floor remained painted with the markings for the basketball court. The college traded the building back to the Town of Breckenridge for the land where the new building is located and now they will restore it back into Town Hall. There is also a movie theatre (The Speakeasy) in the basement where the High School Auditorium was located. The original stage remains in place.

Interesting when progress can be defined as the town moving into a building that was actually condemned nearly 60 years ago. I think it is a wonderful idea and fully support the decision. We need to preserve the past whenever possible.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Woodstock


Forty years ago this weekend 500,000 of my friends and neighbors gathered to listen to some tunes on a farm in upstate New York.

It was not held in Woodstock because that location did not work out. Neither did the second location. It was held in the third location in Bethel but it was still called Woodstock. It has had an identity crises ever since then.

My good friend Ralph went to Woodstock but I did not.

I stayed home.

Ralph was one of my partners in the New York City Police Department and he and I were in a group of about 400 police officers hired to work security at the event.

I stayed home.

Ralph went and had a great time and brought a Woodstock security t shirt back for me.

It has been so long that I can't remember the reason that I stayed home but I am sure that it was a good reason.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Give Me A Break


It is hard to imagine that school has started and it is still the middle of August. I know that the change was brought about by the need to have 180 days of school and still give the children a Fall break, Christmas break, early Spring break, late Spring break and a break break. Give me a break.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weakness


I know that a lot of people may disagree but I believe that man can be considered a predator. I am sure that there are a lot of big game animals that would agree.

Beyond the natural desire to kill things to eat I think that it goes much further than that. I keep seeing things in my day to day life where when man sees a weakness in a person they have a natural response to attack. Not to offer help or to look toward forgiveness but to actually attack someone who is down or is showing a weakness.

My major addiction is the news. I have tried to stop it but it is so very hard. I have moved to the point where I no longer watch television news but I still listen to NPR and the BBC. The news is full of stories about how man is attacking man because a weakness has been discovered.

I think that we could attribute the economic problems to this as well. Bernie Madoff and others found a weakness in some people, greed, and attacked until the greedy person had given up all of their wealth.

You see it in Iraq and all over the middle east where governments use a perceived religious weakness (or being misinformed) to cause men to kill other men. In the current health care debate some men are using deception to find a weakness in some people to attack the plan or the people proposing the plan.

There is no answer to this dilemma. All we as reasonable men and women can do is to recognize that it exists and to identify it whenever it rears its ugly head.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dumb vs. Dumber


"We are having a heat wave. A tropical heat wave." It is 30 degrees here this morning. I can see the palm trees waving in the breeze off the deck of my cabana. Well not really but it is a lot warmer today than yesterday. As I moved around Summit County yesterday there was a hint of Autumn in the air. Today there might be a hint of August in the air.

When I was growing up in Iowa I used to read Mad Magazine. They had a cartoonist whose name was Don Martin. He did a cartoon called "Spy vs. Spy." One spy was dark and the other spy was light.

I think that today Don Martin could do a cartoon called "Dumb vs. Dumber" and it could be about the health care plan and the people who oppose the health care plan. The people who are proposing the health care plan are dumb because they have yet to realize that people do not want a health care plan. Yes, I think that it is a good idea but just because it is a good idea does not mean that people want to have the plan. The people who oppose it are dumber because their arguments in opposing it are based on lies and things that are not even in the plan.

Oh well. I guess it gives dumb people and even dumber people something to do as we wrap up this summer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The arrogance of Geese


A gaggle of Geese flew low over the house this morning on their way to more southern places and warmer climes. It was almost as if I could see them thumbing their wings at me through my bedroom window saying, "We are heading south sucker and you are not." After 40 years in Colorado I am used to this arrogance on the part of our honking friends in the sky. I wish them godspeed and promise to be waiting for them to return in a few months lightly tanned and with a smile on their beaks as they head back to Canada.

Monday, August 10, 2009

We made it to Monday


On my news feed this morning was the report of nine people dying in a helicopter vs.small plane crash in the Hudson River, a 19 year old boy drowning at St. Mary's Glacier near Idaho Springs, eight people dying in a car crash where the driver, a mom, was under the influence of twice the limit of alcohol and marijuana too. She died as well as her child and the three children of her brother as well as three people in the other car that she hit head on as she was driving the wrong way on a Parkway near New York City and last but not least is the grandmother near Ouray who may have been eaten by a bear that she may have been feeding. This is being disputed by her family who are now saying that she would never feed the bears. I saw the pictures of her house and she literally lived in a cage to keep the bears out. She had a large amount of animal feed but that was for her three large dogs in the house.

You can't make this stuff up. We should all be thankful that we made it to Monday.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

1969 Boulder


Most of you know that I spend Sundays in Boulder with my wife Lynne. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis almost 30 years ago and has spent the past nine years in Mesa Vista Care Facility (Terrace Heights). My normal routine is to drive to Broomfield to the Super Wal Mart, call Lynne on the phone and get her Wal Mart order for the week, go shopping, go to Church with Matt and Maria in Lafayette at Flatirons Community Church, go to Mesa Vista, get Lynne's lunch order, go get lunch, bring it back, help her eat lunch and then drive back to Breckenridge. All of this starts around 6:30 am at home and ends back at home around 6:00 pm.

In all of this travelling I get to spend a lot of time in Boulder. Today I kept thinking about the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock and how someone could create a period film using the people in Boulder. None of that would require actors or costumes because most of Boulder is still stuck in 1969. I am not talking about all of the old hippies like me. I am talking about the 17 and 18 year old boys and girls. They are wearing tie dye shirts, bell bottoms and all of the special effects of the 1960s.

What a great place to shoot a retro movie about the 1960s. Low budget. No sets. No special costumes. Just normal Boulder folks. Yeah. Let's do it. I could play the very old hippie. The Bruce Dern role.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The smell of wood burning


It was 25 degrees this morning at my house.

When it is that cold early in the morning my neighbors will sometimes throw some wood on their fireplace to take the chill out of the house. It is easy to tell when that happens because the wood smoke smell will come into my house. Not an unpleasant smell. Much like aroma therapy and it brings back many memories of bygone years in various places in this world.

Sometimes the smell makes me walk through the house checking to make sure that something is not burning here inside my home. Of course there never is anything burning but it is a good exercise. I do have six or seven smoke detectors and two carbon monoxide detectors so I would hope that one of them would go off if something was on fire.

I have two fireplaces. One in the living room and one in the master bedroom. Both are gas and if it were not for the neighbors I might not ever smell wood burning. That is ok. They can have the pleasure of cutting, splitting and hauling the wood while I get the nice smell of burning wood without getting off my couch.

Friday, August 7, 2009

What Price Progress?


A good friend of mine is a Captain with a local fire department. A few days ago a fuel tanker caught fire coming down off of Loveland Pass probably after his brakes got too hot. The tractor and the tanker were a total loss. There was nothing left except melted pieces of steel from the frame. He was hauling diesel and unleaded fuel and once that gets going their is nothing that will stop the fire.

My friend said that the driver only suffered minor burns but not from the initial fire. He was burned when he went back into the cab to get his cell phone. What price progress when someone would risk their life for their stupid cell phone?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I am not your mothers


One of my favorite things to say as I teach my college classes is, "I am not your mother."

I am just wrapping up the summer semester and will give the final next Wednesday. I am teaching Comparative Government and 20th Century World History. Both classes are very interesting and I enjoy teaching both subjects. One speaks about systems while the other focuses on specific events in our recent past.

From just about the first day of class I can tell which students had great parents and which students did not. The students with a strong foundation in life are pretty much self sufficient and are always chomping at the bit to get going to the next level. The students who have never learned responsibility and have been "just getting along" are so much different.

My co-dependent self will want to hold their hand and spend a lot of time explaining what is required of them in the class. I realize that is wrong and that is exactly why they are in trouble in the first place.

My best bet is to remind them that, "I am not your mother" and then turn the issue around and ask them what they think they need to do. Let them figure it out on their own and then give them an affirmation if they are right.

I guess I am also teaching them about life because they did not get that when they were still at home.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Someone's Children


Just watched the two American women landing in California after being released in North Korea. It was overwhelming to me to see this happen.

I watched an interview with one of the fathers last night and he was so very happy. He referred to the past few weeks as being an emotional roller coaster. The women were sentenced to serve 12 years hard labor following their conviction of being in North Korea illegally.

I have also read the reports this morning about what it took to get Bill Clinton to North Korea to help in their release. Apparently the two were reporters for Al Gore's news organization and that association started the effort to effect the release. North Korea had said they would consider the release if "a former president" would come to North Korea.

I have five children. Two sons and three daughters. I can't imagine the pain and suffering I would go through if this had happened to any of my children.

Every prisoner in the entire world is the son or daughter of someone. I am sure that they all feel the pain of having someone you love locked away in prison. My heart goes out to all of the parents of prisoners.

We need to be proud of the efforts of all of the men and women who caused the release of these women.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

No New Taxes


The Dog Days of Summer are upon us. Nice if it weren't for all those folks out there in their cars driving up and down the highway looking at the mountain views. Oh well. I guess that is what pays the bills.

President George H.W. Bush got crosswise with the voters after saying, "No New Taxes" and then raising taxes.

President Barack Obama campaigned on a promise that any new taxes will only be paid by people making more than $250,000 a year. Now today people from the White House are saying that a new tax on the middle class might be needed to pay off the debt for the stimulus package and other such stuff.

The lesson is to not say anything one way or the other about taxes. When someone brings up taxes change the subject. It is something that removes presidents from office or at least the second term.

The mess was created by President George W. Bush. He passed the first stimulus package and then President Obama had to continue the effort by passing the second package.

Maybe would could just give the credit and the blame to both presidents.

Monday, August 3, 2009

It is about freedom


One of my favorite quotes is, "If you don't stand for something then you will fall for anything." It is sometimes hard but you should have a good idea about what you believe.

We are the sum total of all of our experiences. You might have been heavily influenced by your parents or a teacher or a close personal friend. You influence people as well as you are influenced by others.

I think that in our society of free speech and democracy that we must allow others to speak and think differently than ourselves without criticism. We don't have to agree with them but me must allow them to speak because, if we restrict their speech, we are restricting our own speech.

As a recovering politician I am always reminded of the people who would call me on the phone to announce that I "must" agree with them because they voted for me or better yet that they contributed to my campaign. Hog wash.

I promise that I will not insist that they agree with me if they will not insist that I agree with them.

It has something to do with freedom. Mine and yours.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Another Day in Paradise


There are some days that are so much better than others. The recent crappy weather has really gotten on my nerves.

Today was the exception. What a wonderful day in paradise. The traffic was always going the other way. I was always going in the right direction. The sun was always shining on my day. People everywhere were smiling.

I ran into a guy in Broomfield with a t shirt that said "My guns are always loaded." It was a Nike shirt. When I commented on his shirt he said that he had lost over 500 pounds recently. He looked great. I told him that I worked out every day. 100 push ups. 100 sit ups. Six miles on the treadmill. An hour of Yoga. That I was pushing 70.

Then came his 500 pounds.

He won the contest. I told him that he looked great and that I was very proud of him. Did not know him and had never seen him before and will never see him again. He made my day and I hope I made his.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

No snow in August


The first day of August and it is not snowing. That is a step in the right direction. Actually it is a beautiful day. We sometimes say that God does that on weekends for the tourists so they think it is like this all the time. In the winter we say the same thing because it seems as though it snows every Saturday and Sunday. Of course that is not true but it makes for a good legend.

I have two more weeks of the summer semester left. Then two weeks off and I start the fall semester. One thing that is really strange is that our college here has never had a winter semester. We go right from fall in December to spring in January. You would think that in a major ski area you would have a winter semester. Not us. That is OK. Because after nearly 40 years in Colorado I am ready for no winter.