Thursday, April 29, 2010

Things...





...that come out of the earth and things that come out of Gordon Brown's mouth.  It is impossible to stem the tide of either.  The oil keeps seeping into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 4,000 barrels a day and Gordon Brown, Joe Biden and the rest of our political leaders mouths keep seeping out things they would rather have not said.  Both are necessary evils.  Oil and politicians.  We can't live with them and we can't live without them. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Economics...


...is not one of the eleven classes I teach in Social and Behavioral Sciences at Colorado Mountain College.  I wish it was because, as usual, you gravitate toward those things that you need the most.  I need to learn more about economics.  As it is right now I attack the Economics professors in the halls each day to pick their brain about what is going on in the economy.  The bottom line is that there is no precedent for what is happening.  In nearly all of my subjects there is an economics component.  I love teaching Political Science and American Government in an election year.  Lots of fodder in the news each day that can actually sustain an entire three hours of lecture.  Right now the fodder is more about the economy.  The world economy.  We Americans are so very geocentric.  We are myopic when it comes to most things.  If it is not happening in our own backyard it is not important.  This week all of the action is in Greece.  The economy of Greece was downgraded this morning to junk bond status.  Portugal is teetering on the brink of having the same thing happen.  The European Union is arguing about whether or not to bail out Greece and then probably Portugal.  Sound familiar?  Like it or not the world is flat economically.  If someone sneezes in Greece, the United States catches a cold.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Free...


..speech is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  That applies to everyone and not just to those who you happen to agree with.  Some people think that free speech should not be free if the person is saying something that they happen to disagree with.  That is not how it works folks.  It is not exclusionary.  It is the opposite.  It is a right given to everyone even those who might say something that you do not like.  I am confronted daily by liberals and conservatives who may or may not agree with my position on a certain subject.  If they agree then I am right.  If they disagree then I am wrong.  A famous quote says, "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."  If you step on my free speech rights then you are stepping on your own rights.  I will politely listen to what you have to say and I would ask the same of you. I am getting close to 70 and I will assure you that I will not change my mind and I will never ask you to change yours.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Police...


...officers see things in black or white.  They do not see gray at all.  Either it is or it is not.  Simple but dangerous.  The recent law enacted in Arizona will create havoc with police officers.  They will see it as giving them permission to stop and question anyone for any reason in any place at any time.  The police will deny that they participate in racial profiling.  They will say that they are just doing what the Arizona state legislature has mandated that they do in the interest of finding persons who are in the United States illegally.  The law makes it a misdemeanor to be in the United States illegally and will allow the police in Arizona to ticket anyone who cannot prove their country of origin and has the paperwork to prove that they are in the country legally.  I driver's license is not proof.  A passport or birth certificate is proof.  If you have dark skin, dark hair and dark eyes you had better start carrying all of your proof of your legal status with you at all times in Arizona or you will get a ticket.  Even the most radical of you out there have to admit that this is incredibly stupid and unenforceable.  Just remember that your friendly cop on the beat cannot see gray.  Only black or white.  Scary.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

National...


...Public Radio comes to me via KUNC at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley my alma mater where I earned my Master's Degree in Human Communication.  I also get the signal via XM Public Radio over the satellite to my home and my car.  But I have a dilemma. Satellite radio does not carry Scott Simon or Liane Hanson.  I am addicted to listening to Scott Simon on Saturday Mornings and Liane Hanson on Sunday mornings.  I have done this for years.  My direct radio signal comes from Greeley to a translator on Baldy Mountain above Breckenridge.  With heavy rain last week the signal got strange a couple of times.  There was an echo.  This morning it is gone.  Nada.  Nothing.  No Liane to make my Sunday.  Probably the worst part is that I will not be able to enjoy Liane and Will Shortz and the puzzle segment.  Rats.  I thought about getting in my car and speeding down the hill to Denver an hour away just to catch the signal.  Of course I did not do that as I am an optimist.  I keep checking to see if the signal is there instead of static.  It is still static.  Double rats.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Springtime...


..in the Rockies has yet to appear.  Lots of teasing.  Some green grass.  Some warm weather.  In the forty years that I have lived in Colorado it always happens.  Just when you thought it would be OK to go back in the water it starts to snow.  This time it has snowed for the past three days and continues this morning.  Supposed to end by noon.  Time will tell.  I had two to three feet of Spring on my decks this morning.  All of this right after most of the ski areas have closed.  How ironic.  Mother nature does have a sense of humor.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thomas...


...Jefferson once wrote that that a government that governs least, governs best.  Be still my Libertarian heart.  He was so very right.  John Dean, the former counsel to Richard Nixon, has written a book about President Warren G. Harding.  Harding was president right after Woodrow Wilson and right before Calvin Coolidge in the early 1920s.  I have not read the book but I did hear a discussion of Harding's presidency recently.  Apparently the actual "worst" depression ever in the history of the United States started when Woodrow Wilson was still president. It was during that period when he was recovering from a stroke and his wife was actually the president of the United States.  Not unlike Nancy Reagan as President Ronald Reagan was suffering from early onset Alzheimer's.  Mrs Wilson was doing a great job but had no clue as to what to do about the economic depression.  So she did nothing.  Harding was elected president and the same issue applied.  Harding did not know what to do about the depression so he did nothing at all.  The market corrected itself and, except in the minds of many historians and economists, the depression was forgotten.  This may seem cruel to some of you but in our recent economic downturn I seriously believe that the best action would have been no action at all.  Let the banks fail.  Let the car companies fail.  Let the Wall Street fat cats fail. Let the unions fail.  It is a form of social engineering in reverse.  Leave things alone and see what happens.  It worked for Wilson and Garfield and I think it would have worked for Bush and Obama.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Years...


...and years of allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests went unpunished.  Years and years of Bishops covering up the sins and moving the priests from parish to parish without any consequences.  In a couple of instances Bishops were honored for the way that they tactfully avoided dealing with the problems.  And now comes the Pope.  Now comes the accusers saying that the Pope when he was a Cardinal was complicate in covering up the problem.  Whoa Nellie.  Now we have someone's attention.  In the past week or so the Pope has now met with the victims.  Prayed with the victims.  Cried with the victims.  Now the abuse has officially happened and something will be done about the mess. There was a report this morning about victims in Mexico of one priest who was moved to the archdiocese of Las Angeles where the abuse continued.  Now two bishops in two countries have allowed the sin to continue for who knows how long.  One Cardinal even blamed the new social media for the problem.  Another Cardinal said it was because homosexuals were all pedophiles.  I think we have identified the problem.  It is narrow thinking and blame transferrance.  Why not say that there are certain men who are attracted to the priesthood because it is a great place to meet young boys.  It has nothing to do with celibacy.  It has nothing to do with homosexuality.  It has to do with the culture in the Catholic church that has allowed this to continue for centuries.  On another note a recent survey of Catholic priest indicates that more than one third of all priests have had heterosexual relationships since becoming a priest.  So much for a vow of celibacy either with young boys or older women.  I think the church needs to clean their own house immediately and stop making excuses.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Drugs...


...are dangerous.  I am not talking about illegal drugs.  I am talking about the prescription drugs that we all know and use.  First of all the most abused drugs on the planet are the drugs in your medicine cabinet.  Our children are not buying drugs from the local drug dealer.  They are going to your medicine cabinet and helping themselves.  You know.  The sleeping pill that you take every once in a while.  You remember the percocet that you got from your dentist for pain.  You took one and left the rest in your medicine cabinet.  Either use them or get rid of them.  The second part is the hard part.  Never ever flush any drugs down the toilet.  They go into our water system and can screw up fish habitats.  The sanitation plant cannot remove drugs from the water so they flow into our lakes and rivers.  I read this morning how male fish change sex from birth control drugs in the water system.  By the way some of that comes through our bodies so we are not flushing the drugs directly.  We are processing them through our bodies  before they hit the water.  I served with a former nurse in the State Legislature and she commented recently that everyone needed to flush their unused drugs to get rid of them. Wrong.  The Colorado State Legislature just passed a law to allow people to turn in their unused drugs so they can be shipped to poor nations and be used there.  That is a great idea.  Get them out of the hands of our kids.  Get them out of our water system.  Get them into the hands of people who can legitimately use them.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Troops...



...coming home from our three wars, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan, and who have perished in those wars fly into Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for processing. That has gone on for many years. During the Bush administration the entire process was held in secret. No one was allowed to be at the landing of the bodies. No one was allowed to honor them when they came home. "Thank you for your service" was meaningless during the Bush administration. One major flap occurred once when a photographer got onto one of the aircraft and photographed the flag draped coffins and the pictures ended up in the papers and on TV. Heaven forbid that someone might think that someone actually died in defense of their country. When President Obama became president he actually went to Dover and was present in the middle of the night when the planes landed. He honored our men and women who gave their highest gift for our great country. Since then the policy has changed. Now the family can to to Dover to greet the returning dead heroes. I heard this morning that more than 75% of the returning soldiers are now greeted by their families at Dover. What would those 75% have done during the Bush administration? How did they honor their children when they returned from the fighting? The program is so popular that they are now building a new hotel for the families and have built a welcome center where ceremonies can be held. We are no longer hiding the sacrifice. We are now giving our troops their rightful honor on their return. I continue to be opposed to all three wars and still cannot see a purpose in all of that but at the same time I honor all of the military who serve and sometimes die for me in those god awful places. Take a moment today to remember them and be thankful that the families now have been given the right to grieve at Dover.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Finals...



...are quickly approaching. End of semester full court press. Students finally wake up and look at the calendar and exclaim holy crap! When did you tell me that I had to do that? Syllabus? I don't need any stinking syllabus. I can cruise until the very last day, hour, minute, second and then rush my projects just to get a grade. The students who care are always up tight and worry about their grades when they really do not have to worry. The students who don't worry really should worry but they don't. They are creating a worker pool for the future for underachievers. Sad.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday



...is not only a day of the week. Sunday is an attitude. People act differently on Sunday. More relaxed. Less driven. More willing to take it easy and not get upset. I drive to Boulder every Sunday and the drivers are even different. More compliant. More willing to let people pass or to cut into traffic. I think they call them Sunday drivers. I like to drive slow regardless of the day of week. I drive the speed limit and on six days of the week I drive people nuts. On Sunday my speed is much more welcome. More accepted. I guess I am a Sunday driver every day of the week.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nature...



...is in control. We are always so smug about controlling our destiny. Being in control of our universe. Being the smartest in the room. That is all well and good until nature decides to let us know who is really in control. All it takes is one stinking little volcano in Iceland to ground over 16,000 flights. Put everyone in the entire world on the ground or in some instances on the floor of the airport terminals. So much for our smugness. So much for our self importance. There is an unintended consequence. This morning on BBC they were talking about how the CO2 emissions have been reduced to levels not known in current records. No aircraft. No nasty stuff going into the air. The amount was in excess of 250,000 pounds a day. The other one is noise pollution. There is none. Total quiet around the major airports. I guess that nature knows what it is doing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Politics...



...is a deadly business. A United Nations report into the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto almost three years ago has concluded that her death could have been prevented "if adequate security measures had been taken. That news today that the government of Pakistan did little to help in the followup investigation of the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto does not surprise me. In that part of the world it is not fashionable to be a woman or especially a woman with aspirations. I remember when Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two body guards a few years ago. I guess it is not limited to women. Anwar Sadat was assassinated while he was watching a military parade in Egypt by some military troops. Then there was Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Israel who was assassinated by a young Israeli zealot who was concerned that Rabin was not conservative enough and was willing to give lands back to Palestine. Then there were the four assassinations of American presidents Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy by persons who did not like their politics. I don't think those jobs pay enough.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hate



...and bigotry came up in class again last night. I was very much up when the question was asked and sincerely wish that I had a tape recording or a transcript of what I said in response. Anyway, this is what I remember now that it is 4:33 am the following morning. What I said was that people who are hateful, prejudiced or bigots suffer from a severe lack of intelligence. They come from a point of being stupid to the point where stupid has become their life. People with those attributes think in a very narrow world where they are sincerely afraid, fearful of people who are black or are Muslim or are brown or speak Spanish. I told my students about living in Georgia in 1961 when everything was still segregated. Black people would step into the street when I walked down the sidewalk. There were two waiting rooms in the Greyhound bus station. There were two water fountains side by side. Two rest rooms next to each other. A black person would never look you in the eye. A black person would never fail to call me sir. Keep in mind that I was 18 years old and just a boy from Iowa farm country. People who are hateful, prejudiced or bigots live in a constant state of fear that a minority will somehow marry their daughter or steal their job. They are so very threatened by that potential competition that they throw reason out the window. I will not waste my time naming names. They know who they are and you know who they are. Just be careful about who you listen to or agree with during these times. I heard a commentary yesterday about how we are moving into another period of McCarthyism where we will start to see threats to our way of life everywhere. But if you listen carefully to both sides of any issue you will quickly see that only one side professes love and forgiveness while the other side professes hate and fear.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Weather...


...must be a woman for obvious reasons. Beautiful, warm, soft and comfortable at times but tempestuous and ever changing at other times. As I grow older I think that I am more influenced by the nuances in the weather. If the sun is shining I am happy and if it is cloudy I am depressed. It really does not have anything to do with the temperature because a very cold, bright sunny day in January can make me happy and a very hot, cloudy day in July can depress me to no end. "Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) has often been quoted as saying: "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." (although it appears his collaborator on The Gilded Age, Charles Dudley Warner, actually wrote the statement). " We can't get the quote right as well as not being able to do anything about the weather. Looks like a very nice day at 9600 feet today. I can see thousands of stars up in the sky and that is always a good sign. The high today should be 52 degrees so that is tolerable also. Jose Lopez, my very good friend and contractor, will come by this morning, rain or shine, and put new flooring in the master bathroom. Life is good.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Texas



is still Texas. I lived in Texas for most of 1960 in San Antonio and at Lackland Air Force Base and Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls during basic training and Air Intelligence School. The word that resonates the most about that experience is "lonely." Being away from home at 18 for the first time in my life. Being removed from my friends who had enlisted with me who then went off to other bases for training. I was in San Antonio this past weekend to visit the family of my son's fiance. They live near Lackland and I saw many things that reminded me of my experience forty years ago. There are still some of the World War II buildings around the area and I am sure that I had seen them before and maybe I even lived in them for a while. I think that some things never change. I remember being in England around the same time and found the remnants of machine gun emplacements and anti-tank devices along the roads and fields. Artifacts of the past. Something that archaeologists might look at in wonder many years from now and try to figure out how we used them and what purpose they served. I hope that no one ever forgets. I know that I won't.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Heard



a pilot being interviewed on NPR yesterday and he was saying that the past ten years have been the safest in history for air travel. He said that there was only one major plane crash since 9/11 and that was an American Airlines plane that went down near JFK. Being the paranoid that I am I started to remember all of the crashes in the past ten years. We had two or three at DIA alone. There was a big one where everyone died in Rochester, New York. You remember. The one where they found out that neither pilot knew how to fly and they were both very tired. Of course there was the miracle on the Hudson. Granted no one died but I do not think that a plane crash only includes events where someone dies. I will give him credit for trying to be positive and demerits for being a bold faced lier. Something about putting on a happy face and maybe no one will notice.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Coal



And another reason we should not use coal is that it is very dangerous to mine the stuff. President Obama and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter keep saying "Clean Coal" when, in fact, that is a myth perpetrated by the coal industry. There is no such thing as "clean coal" and everyone should stop using the term. Coal has always been dirty and will continue to be dirty. Colorado just passed a bill requiring Xcel to convert three coal fired power plants over to natural gas. That is a step in the right direction but natural gas is not clean either. It is merely cleaner. I have been watching the news reports of the mine disasters in China and West Virginia in the past week. I can't imagine what that means to the families and to the men and women who have to go underground every day and risk their lives to mine coal. When I was working in the oil shale in 1979 in Parachute many of my fellow workers had left the coal mines in Hayden and Somerset to work in the shale because it was safer. The stories they told about having to ride into the mine on their backs staring at the roof of the tunnel a few inches from the tip of their nose gave me chills. Then after enduring the claustrophobic trip into the mine they spent the entire day stooped over because the mine was only four feet high. They said that after eight hours of that they could hardly stand up after work. Yes, they were paid well but it was hardly worth the pain and stress on their bodies. One driver told me about three of his friends who were crushed to death in a mine over by Carbondale even after warnings from the workers that the ceiling was going to fall. He packed it in that day and came to work in the shale. At least in the shale you could try to run if you were about to die.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New



It all started a couple of years ago when Bill and Jill (real names) built a new house to the north of my house. They put their old house on the market and a couple with a young daughter bought it and started to fix it up. They replaced all of the windows, paved the driveway and painted the siding and trim. Then the family who owns the Mexican Restaurants who live on the corner decided to paint. They had aluminum siding that never needs to be painted but apparently they did not like the color. They also replaced the roof. That house was only about ten years old but I guess they thought it needed a new roof. Mine is over twenty years old and is just fine. Guy who lives behind me decided to remove all of the wood siding on his three car garage and replace it with new wood and stain. He also put new stain on the fence that separates our homes. I had a large deck collapse about five years ago and I had repaired it myself. That only lasted one winter before the snow made it collapse again. That was number one on my list for about four years. When I started calling around for someone to do the work I guess I got carried away. I ended up redoing all three of my decks including new railings. I also replaced the siding and had it painted again. Then the outside looked better than the inside so I painted the interior and replaced most of the flooring removing the carpet and putting in wood laminate. After all of this the family that started all of these projects with their remodel decided to replace their deck after mine was finished. When will this madness stop?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

War



I have read a couple of articles recently about the positive impacts of war. War is a way of maintaining a political balance. It is a way of boosting the economy through the production and sale of military products and armaments. War is a way of training leaders who go on to become heads of corporations or major political figures. I even heard one author over the weekend talking about how we are getting better at war when we have only killed 4,000 in Iraq as compared to 50,000 in Viet Nam. I personally think that all of these opinions and comments are bogus. There is nothing good about war. Nothing.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Obituaries



I think it must go back to my mother. Every day she would tune the radio to the station in Storm Lake to get the hospital report and the local deaths. The obituaries. I remember reading the obituaries every day until I stopped subscribing to the paper a few years back. Now I read them on line. Even though I was the county coroner for eight years I am not fascinated with death. In fact I refuse to attend funerals or memorial services. Too macabre. What I am interested in is reading about what a person did with their lives. How they spent their time before they died and not how they died. Funerals and memorial services are for the living. To see and be seen and not about the person who died.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mistress



The west is a demanding mistress.




In a few weeks I will have lived in the Rocky Mountain west for forty years coming to Denver in 1970 from Iowa via New York City.



No one ever said it would be easy.



Along with the beautiful vistas and the wonderful warm days comes a lot of danger and intrigue.



Last night coming from a friend's cabin in the woods I encountered several cars and trucks in the ditch illuminated by the overhead emergency lights of the police, fire department and tow trucks. Saturday night in the high country. A little too much acceleration and a little too less traction on the thickly covered with ice roadway combined with the angle of the dangle curve. Throw in a dash of alcohol and some inexperience of youth regardless of the age of the driver and you have a lot of danger and intrigue.



The only reason the pioneers in the high country survived is that you can only get a certain amount of speed out of a horse and, when drunk, the same horse will take you directly to the barn without any direction.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Missing



We have a 12 year old girl, Kayleah Wilson, missing in Greeley since last Sunday. Six days ago she left her home and her mother to walk to a birthday party near the Greeley Mall and has not been heard of or seen since then. A true mystery. My good friend Pete who used to be our District Attorney and is now a District Court Judge used to tell me that no one can ever have their lives examined very closely without finding some fault. This young lady is a middle school student but was dating a 17 year old young man. They are now saying that he is not a suspect as they had ended their relationship. Our only statewide daily newspaper The Denver Post has an on-line edition where you can read the paper and then make your own comments for the world to read. Nearly all of the comments are about this 12 year old girl dating a 17 year old man. I guess time will tell. Her teachers and principal all say that she was very nice, a good student and was very well liked. She did have asthma and needed an inhaler. Her father lives in California but he is not a suspect either. She was 5'1" and 145 pounds so she was big for her age. I have five children and seven grandchildren and stories like this break my heart.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Santa



Santa in Spanish means holy. Santa Semana in Spanish means Holy Week. It is the full week prior to Easter that will be observed this Sunday. Quite by accident I ended up in Guatemala at the beginning of Holy Week, Santa Semana, in 2007. The good news was that there were many events going on in my little village of San Pedro on Lake Atitlan. The bad news was that schools and many businesses were closed for the week. For the most part it was good news. For the most part it turned out to be the most memorable time in the several weeks that I lived in Guatemala. The people in the village make wonderful designs from various natural substances including colored sawdust and place them on the streets. Two or three times today I have had newsfeeds about Santa Semana along with photos or videos of the celebration. To me it symbolizes faith. In Corinthians Paul spoke of the three most important things for Christians. Faith, Hope and Love. Regardless of your personal beliefs or regardless of the time of year, all three are so very important to each and everyone of us.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pickups


I was out walking this morning when an extra large red pickup drove by and the back draft almost knocked me to the ground. This guy had jacked up his truck about as high as you possibly can and then put the world's largest tires (not really) under it and very tall exhaust stacks sticking high above the cab. I immediately wondered if jacked up pickups with big tires and over sized exhaust pipes had now become the latest phallic symbol. I could not see inside the truck but I could only imagine a very short man with a very large ego driving.