Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Escape



Read a nice piece this morning about how you can't run away. The reason you can't run away is that you take your biggest problem with you. Your biggest problem is you. Hard to take but it is true. You are the single source of all of your problems so you had better learn to live with yourself. As I am reminded once again of what that great philosopher Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy and it is us." So stay put and make the best of the mess that you have created. Grow where you are planted.




--

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Granny



My treadmill died a few months ago. One last trip to the land fill. I thought about replacing it but then I would only have to move it so I decided not. Of all of the things I own it is the hardest to move. Awkward. I replaced my twelve mile run each day with the Recreation Center that was replaced by my treadmill which was replaced by daily walks. See the direction I am going? Right now I walk about two miles a day as well as riding my bike when there is no snow. I still get up around 3 or 4 every morning. Lately about 6 a.m. I spot a very small older woman in her late 80s or early 90s trucking around my subdivision and over on the bike path. I am impressed. What impresses me even more is that I see her several times for about two hours every morning. Coming and going. Up and down the hill. She is a machine. I guess it is time for me to crank it up a bit.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday


Someone came onto my yard last night and stole half of my snow. I can only hope that they come back tonight and take the rest. I have always been fascinated by being able to tell the time without looking at a clock or having the seasons change without looking at a calendar. When I was living in Guatemala a couple of years ago my clock thing got all messed up. Just about the same place on the earth for the most part but for some reason I Iost about thirty minutes. I got it back as soon as I landed in Houston thanks to Delta Airlines. Must have been in my baggage. In those days I did not have to pay extra.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Democracy



All of the recent polls in the past week since the Health Care bill passed indicate that a majority of Americans support Health Care Reform and actions by President Obama last Monday when he signed it into law. Given that why is the media doing a full court press to convince everyone that the alleged majority of Americans are opposed to the bill. In addition to not being able to spell or define words correctly the media continues to get it wrong. A democracy is not determined by the amount of noise that one group can create.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Meaning



I have written a lot of poetry in the past forty years. Over eleven volumes. I used to write them on a typewriter and then put them in a three ring binder so I could store them all in one place. When I started using a computer in the early 1980s I put them on the large floppy disks and kept them in a file. Sometimes I would print out the poems for friends. I even gave one of my volumes as a Christmas gift one year. I then moved on to leaving my poems on my hard disk on my laptop until it crashed one day. Fortunately I had some fans who were keeping my poems as I sent them out every day. Yes, at one point I wrote a brand new, original poem a day. Their kind keeping of my words saved the day and now I have a printed copy of the poems as well as a floppy disk of them saved. That has subsided and now I limit my writing to my daily blogs. Sometimes my blog is a poem for the day. This morning on "A Writer's Almanac" there was a quote attributed to poet Louis Simpson who said: "When I write a poem, I don't know quite what it means. If I think I know what it means, I've got a bad poem. I want a poem to be beyond me. I want it to be something that transfers a feeling I don't quite understand the limits of." I could not have said it better.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Geese



I guess it is official. Spring has sprung. A flock of Geese flew over my house this morning heading north in a snowstorm. No calling in sick. No complaining about the weather. No excuses. The geese just keep flying north regardless of the conditions. That is a great example of keeping your eye on the goal regardless of conditions. I applaud the geese.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Success



I am going to save you several thousands of dollars in book costs and seminar fees. The key to success is to find your passion and then focus on your passion and you will be happy, wealthy and successful beyond your dreams. Finding your passion is the hard part. All you need to do is start writing down the things that you enjoy doing. Also write down the things that you hate. Forget about the things you hate and start working on the things you like. And then pare that list down to one or two things. You can look around at the people you know who are very successful and you will see that they do this every day of their lives. It took me about fifty years to figure this out but it really works and it is free. You don't have to send in any money. You do not need to send this email to two hundred people. You just need to follow the instructions. Find your passion and then focus on your passion. I have read many books on this and they all say the same thing. Find the things you love and then focus on them and success and money will follow. After doing just about everything under the sun I found out that I truly love teaching and writing. So after I got rid of all of that nasty job stuff (by retiring) I started to focus on teaching and writing and I have never been happier or more successful. Try it. It is free and it works.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Springtime



Springtime in the Rockies often means some of the worst snow storms of the season. We can have 70 degree weather one day and three feet of snow the next. I remember June 6, 1973. I was leasing a 700 acre horse ranch near Conifer, Colorado. We had already planted a garden and there were wild flowers everywhere. Late on Wednesday it started to cloud up but it remained warm. That night it snowed over 36 inches. The horses did not know what to do and the four wheel drive pickup refused to move in the wet sticky stuff. We ended up walking to do the chores and wading through some very high drifts. The next day the sun came out and I climbed to to the top of the big hill next to the house and skied down. Spring never disappoints at 10,000 feet.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hawk


Driving to class last night around 7 p.m. I saw a lone Red Tailed Hawk sitting on a long stretch of wire between two poles on State Highway Nine near Breckenridge. The Hawk was the master of its domain. The older I get the more sensitive I am to wildlife and take a lot of pride in viewing wildlife in their natural habitat. I also wonder about the thousands of people who drive the same path that I do every day and never see a thing except the rear bumper of the car in front. What a shame. I am just glad that I don't do that anymore.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lights


I know it is spring. My neighbor took his Christmas lights down today. Actually I think they have been up for a couple of years so maybe he missed spring last year. My snow in the driveway is gone. The street is no longer white and is now black asphalt again. Just got a weather alert that a new storm is coming in tonight. Those are easy to deal with as the snow normally melts as soon as it hits the road. The drive system on my twenty year old washer is going out. Metal on metal sounds. Not the usual splashing of water. You can tell the difference. I either need to buy a new washer or move. I suppose I will buy a new washer. I finished my application for a full time teaching position at the college today. Full time is 30 hours a year. I am part time and I have been teaching 33 hours. I guess I am already. Oh well. Might put on my speedo and get into the lawn chair on the deck before the snow comes.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Teabagging


I am not going to get into it but this is something that I have known about for years. Might have something to do with being a cop. We all need to understand the intelligence level of the members of the so called "Tea Party." I was listening to talk radio on my satellite radio yesterday and the debate was heated over health care reform. Twice, yes twice, opponents called in and described themselves as "teabaggers" and how they were opposed to health care reform. Debating with these idiots is like taking a gun to a knife fight. There is no debate with fools that do not even know what they are called. Look up "teabagger" on the Internet and you can see what these pond scum are calling themselves.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sound


I sometimes create "white noise" at home to distract myself from other sounds. It is mindless stuff and does not require any thought. Late yesterday I found out that I have to write three essays that are due Monday. No problem but I am jammed today. I am jammed Sunday. I am jammed Monday. So I guess I needed to write them this morning. I am addicted to "Car Talk" so at 9 a.m. when that show was over I immediately turned off the satellite radio, the stereo, the CD player, the television (CSPAN II Book Talk) and any other noise producing appliance and started writing. In two hours I had written about 3000 words and completed my edits. I think that making my house silent probably increased my productivity by about 500%.

Friday, March 19, 2010

South


The entire month of March is spring break month in Summit County. College students from all over come here to ski and party. This week many of my own students were not in class because they were celebrating with their fellow students from other states. Coming back from Boulder on Sunday the Interstate was crowded with van loads of students and skis from Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. I guess it is the contrast or maybe the fear of going to Mexico the other favorite place for spring break. I think the whole thing is great. That we can host thousands of young people for a week in the snow. I am sure that they will remember the trip for the rest of their life. The magic of being in Colorado at 10,000 feet is a thrill of a lifetime. Some of us still feel the same way after being here for forty years.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Slush


As many of you know I am highly critical of the National Weather Service. They can never get it right especially when it comes to the Blue River Valley. I will not list all of their excuses but there are many. The forecast today was actually refreshing. It said that we would get 12-14 inches of snow or slush. I love it. I have never seen slush fall from the sky. I will look forward to that. I would imagine that the slush part is something a local TV forecaster came up with when they found out the level of moisture in the snow. Whatever it is I know that it will be better than Fargo.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reunion


It sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable to have reality hit me in the face. I remember when I thought 50 was really old. Yesterday I got the agenda for my 50th High School Reunion. 50th? Not me. Heck, I am only 25 so how could that ever happen? I graduated from a very small school in Iowa in a very small class. About 1/3 have already died. I guess I am in the 2/3 that is too ornery to die? I got my teaching schedule for the summer semester and could not find a way to get to Iowa and back and not miss any classes. I went on line and a couple of search engines found a way for me to do it. Might be the last hurrah for some of us. I would imagine that will change every year that passes. Life is not inevitable however death is inevitable. I am going to take some extra time this reunion so I can spend some quality time with the people I grew up with in the 1940s. 1940s? In two years we will be 70. I guess it is true.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Coal


A bill was introduced yesterday in the Colorado State Legislature that will allow Excel to shut down coal fired plants and replace the boilers with natural gas. Xcel supports the bill because it will remove them from having to comply with Federal Clean Air Standards that they cannot meet. Keep in mind that when Xcel's costs go up we pay the bill so in the short term this is a good bill. In the long term I am not so sure. One issue is how long can they stay on Natural Gas before they have to go to other sources of energy. I am the Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club. I am reminded of the saying, "Cutting off your nose to spite your face." Are we getting a little now in favor of a lot less later. I am also reminded of, "Having your cake and eating it too." I think that Xcel is having their cake and I am not sure that I am getting any.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Juarez


Three people connected to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, were shot and killed over the weekend. One of the dead was an El Paso, Texas Sheriff's Detention Deputy Sheriff. The only common denominator is that they were all connected to the United States consulate in Juarez. In response the United States Department of State has put restrictions on all of the American Consulates along the border from Tijuana to Laredo. The drug trade is based on demand. The demand comes from the United States and the drugs normally pass through the border into the United States. Demand reduction has been tried and failed. Eliminate the customers and you eliminate the drug trade. I wonder if the two countries are thinking about creating a zone within Mexico that would become a military operation with both the United States and Mexico. The Mexican police are ineffective as they are many times drug dealers themselves. What hell hath we wrought? By the way this is only along the border with the United States. There are few if any problems within the country so I would encourage you to travel to Mexico without any fear of problems.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Life


I think sometimes that reoccurring themes in my life are really messages about what I should be doing. One thing comes up all the time as I counsel my students and my children. We are all faced with circumstances in our lives. Sometimes we create them and sometimes they just occur. We need to be very careful not to let the circumstances rule our lives. We should let our lives rule the circumstances. If we let what happens to us and around us determine what we do in life, our life will be out of control. We will be moving from one event to the next and never move forward and never make progress. Yesterday I heard the same thing said differently. Plan your life. Make a plan and then follow it to completion. If you do not have a plan then someone else will make a plan for you. The someone else in my instance are circumstances. I have found that it I write down my plan (my goals) they come true. It has something to do with committing them to writing. Try it. It works. Get a pad of paper and write down your goals. Short term, long term. Just goals in general. Keep the list and add to it as things come to mind. After a year you can check back and be amazed at how many goals you have achieved. I have lists that I made thirty years ago and everything I wrote down has happened. I made a plan instead of having someone else plan for me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Time


I know that all of you are going to get up at 2 a.m. tomorrow morning to set your clocks one hour forward. I know that I am. I like Daylight Saving Time (there is no s on the end of saving.) In fact I like it so much I wish that we were on Daylight Saving Time all year. When I was in Phoenix recently my friends down there were talking about how regressive the residents are down there. Might have something to do with the excessive heat. To make their point they told me that they have a memorial in Arizona to the person who fought to not have Daylight Saving Time in Arizona. As if that idiot was some sort of hero. As if that person had some special wisdom that caused an entire state to be out of step with the rest of the nation. I thought it was the United States and not the United States minus one. It is not an honor to be disruptive and contrary. Imagine if all of the states acted the way Arizona has with Daylight Saving Time. What a mess. Total chaos.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Scary


A notorious gang member in Denver was convicted yesterday of murdering a Denver Bronco in a drive by shooting. The case took over three years because of the gang implications. The judge in the case had around the clock armed security during the trial and many witnesses refused to testify because of the threats by the gang members. We read about how the drug gangs in northern Mexico have literally taken over the police and the government. There are daily stories about how police officers are beheaded and hung off bridges on commuter routes to send a signal to the people to stay away from their turf. A couple of years ago an Adams County an Assistant District Attorney was murdered near his home by what is believed to be criminals. When you think about all of the things we worry about on a daily basis none of that can hold a candle to the threat of gang members taking over our criminal justice system. We need to act quickly and decisively to quell this threat before it is too late. No one should ever have to live in threat of their lives in 21st Century America.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Problems


I have my class schedule for this summer. I will be teaching Contemporary World History (20th Century), Introduction to Sociology I and a new one, Contemporary Social Problems. I had seen that on some other schedules at other campuses and it looked interesting. It is actually the next iteration of Sociology where we will look at issues in a more focused and in-depth study of the problems that society faces today. I have spent a lot of time living in third world countries and have actually worked in urban ghettos in the past. I think that most of my students today have a jaded view of the world and have a hard time understanding illiteracy and poverty. Short of doing what I have done this course should give them some idea of what the other side of life is like in the world. I would hope that they would end up with some compassion and caring for those less fortunate.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Zamboni


The Zamboni fell through the ice at Keystone Lake yesterday. It has become an annual rite of spring to have it fall through around this time of the year. The Zamboni is not a short fat Italian tourist from New York but is the tractor like thing that smooths the ice for the ice skaters at the resort. They also use them for the ice in hockey arenas. Of course that ice is only inches thick where the ice at the lake should be a lot thicker. Maybe Keystone could contract with some GPS system to monitor the ice thickness from outer space because to eyeball it does not seem to work.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sun


When I got up very early this morning the forecast was Dark. No light. Snowing. Cold. A few minutes ago the clouds departed and the sun came up over the Continental Divide. I was reminded of the song by the Beatles. Here are the lyrics that just about says it all. Don't forget to turn your clocks forward one hour Saturday Night/Sunday Morning. That will speed up the arrival of spring.








Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,

and I say it's all right



Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter

Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun

and I say it's all right



Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces

Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun

and I say it's all right



Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...



Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting

Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,

and I say it's all right

It's all right

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rockslide


Glenwood Canyon was closed in both directions near the Hanging Lakes exit early this morning due to a major rock slide. Reports indicate that some rocks the size of semi fell on to the roadway of Interstate 70. In the forty years that I have lived in Colorado there are three places that a regularly closed due to rock slides and just about any time of the year. All of Highway six in Clear Creek Canyon falls on a regular basis. A sheer rock face just above Georgetown falls every year and closes I 70. And then there is Glenwood Canyon with the same problem. You would think that after over fifty years of the Interstate system that the Colorado Department of Transportation should be able to fix the problems. In my experience they keep putting band aids on the problem expecting the rocks to never fall again. Hope springs eternal. I think that we need to rethink the management of the Colorado Department of Transportation and make ending the road closures a priority.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscar


The Oscars are tonight and it is about time. Afghanistan, health care reform and Oscar buzz have taken up most of what we have been spoon fed by the media in the past couple of weeks. I am not sure which is worst. I think that the Oscars far exceed health care as far as being political. The commentators have gone out of their way to say why Avatar will not win and The Hurt Locker will win. Or why Jeff Bridges will get the award because it his "his turn." I thought it was for acting and not standing in line the longest. Most of the talk has gravitated toward the films that should have been nominated or should have won. A contest of should ofs. Movies are a form of escape. Movies are fantasy. Movies are a way of forgetting about Afghanistan and health care reform. That is a good thing.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Degree


I have always been fascinated about how little time it takes in conversation with a total stranger before I find that we know people in common. It happened this morning with a couple from Gore Pass, Colorado near Rabbit Ears. In less than five minutes we found out that we had all lived in San Antonio at the same time a couple of years ago and even attended the same church. It took just a few seconds to come up with names of people in common and then just a few more seconds to be discussing the idiosyncrasies of the people and I am talking about the intimate aspects of their lives. In my life it seems that there is only one degree of separation. Only one person in common away from knowing a whole lot about the person. Must be a function of growing older and knowing a lot of people.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Life


There is an old saying that it is better to wear out than to rust out. In other words stay mobile because if you don't your body gets the wrong message. The older I get the more I find that is true. For me it is no longer acceptable to take a day off from exercise because I know that if I do I will feel miserable the next day. Without working out my muscles ache. I realize that is counter intuitive but it is true. Recently they have decided that walking ten minutes a day is all you need. No 10Ks. No marathons. Just a short walk does the trick. Never take the elevator and always use the stairs. Park as far from the door of where you are going as you can. Just that short walk will add years to your life. Stop using sugar and salt. Don't drink diet drinks or soda with sugar. Drink 64 ounces of water a day. The other major thing is to keep your mind active. I read everything I can get my hands on and still that is not enough. I am reminded of the synapses in our brain. The path that the electricity takes as it sends signals from one part of the brain to the other. Don't know if that is true but I believe it. I watch Jeopardy every day and can answer most questions. I do cross word puzzles and sometime I can even fill one out without stopping and get them all right. I am not bragging. I am just sharing my coping mechanisms. In my advanced years I have known a lot of people who have retired to the recliner and then died a couple of years later. I say this all the time but we can choose to live or we can choose to die. I choose to live. Use it or lose it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Leadership


I feel like a prophet. What I wrote about a few days ago came to pass yesterday as President Obama announced that he is sick and tired of trying to get a bipartisan health care bill and now he has decided to push it to a vote in Congress. This will force both Democrats and Republicans to go public with their support or rejection of health care reform. Their vote will be crucial in elections in November. All of the Representatives and one third of the Senators will be elected this November. Some will be elected or rejected based on their vote on health care. Regardless of how you feel about health care reform is it refreshing that President Obama is finally showing some leadership. Franklin Roosevelt had to push many things out of congress during the depression. Many were declared unconstitutional later but he got the country going again. Lyndon Johnson did the same thing with Medicare, Civil Rights and Voter Rights in the 1960s. Later he decided not to run for another term because of the severe backlash from his own party. What he did caused the southern Democrats to become southern Republicans and it literally gutted the Democratic party for many years and insured the election of Richard Nixon. At some point the president has to act presidential. George W. Bush did it on a daily basis enacting some very bad programs that actually ended up electing President Obama. I have always liked the old saying, "It is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission." The bottom line whether you agree or not is that good leaders must lead. They are hired as leaders and not as followers. They are hired as leaders and not moderators or facilitators. They get hired to make the tough decisions. They do not get hired to be the nice guy. They do not get hired to win a popularity contest. As much as I disagree with his policies, George W. Bush understood that and it appears that now Barack Obama does too.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spring


Spring blooms for you. Last week in Arizona it was very cold. It was even very cold for Colorado. There was heavy snow all around Phoenix and I-17 between Flagstaff and Phoenix was closed several times due to heavy snow. I think it warmed up a bit the day after I left but I came back to Colorado to several very heavy snowfalls. Roads were closed and there were a ton of accidents. The past three days the weather here in the high country has been wonderful with highs in the 30s and 40s. That being considered I am declaring that it is now spring regardless of what the calendar says. I noticed yesterday that Daylight Savings Time starts on March 14th this year. That is only a couple of weeks from now. What more do you want? Stop complaining and enjoy it. (That part was for me.)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Death


I have been asked by a friend from over thirty years ago to help him finish a novel on a death that I investigated way back then. Amazing how that process stirs up old thoughts and some very real memories. The case was a four year old girl who was eaten alive by two dogs in a local neighborhood. We charged a woman who was supposed to be watching the dogs with Criminally Negligent Homicide. She was convicted but a retrial was ordered and she was acquitted at the second trial. My friend asked me some very specific questions about the "why" of the case. Why were the dogs loose? Why was no one watching the dogs? Why was the woman acquitted? After all these years those questions remain unanswered for the most part. I think that this only highlights that owning any animal is a responsibility that must be taken seriously. Owning an animal is a 24/7 job and you can't just open the door and let dogs roam. As a result of this case, laws have been passed limiting owners from letting dogs run loose. More deaths have occurred since this one and more will occur in the future. By the way. I do love dogs but if you love dogs you must take care of them. Letting them run is not taking care of a dog. Running with them is taking care of a dog.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monument


Last week during spring break from the college I drove from Breckenridge to Phoenix to spend some time with some old friends for a few days. I decided to drive over Vail Pass to Grand Junction down through Moab and south into Arizona through Kayenta and Tuba City. I realized very quickly that I had taken that route many times but had never done it in daylight. I got to see Monument Valley for the first time in the light of day. What a magnificent place especially in February when all of the tourists are safely away in their homes for the winter.