Saturday, July 31, 2010

Four...


...years ago I was a candidate for the office of Governor of the State of Colorado.  I dropped out before the primary due to lack of support from the Democrat Party.  It was a blessing in disguise.  It is so nice to sit back four years later and watch all of the silliness going on in the election for Governor this year.  I almost feel manic depressive.  Politically bi-polar.  One minute I am up and the next minute I am down.  As a teacher of Political Science I am at a loss for words.  It is almost the same feeling as when you discover that an animal eats its young or a young parent goes berserk and kills all of their children.  That is what is happening in both political parties this election year in Colorado.  The purpose is not to gain an edge on your opponent.  The purpose is to destroy your opponent.  I can only see that this will help some politicians that may not be the best for Colorado.  You decide.  Either that or buy some earplugs and a blindfold and ignore everything.  Or you could shoot your TV.  That is what I did.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What...



...are you?  Who are you?  Last night as we started review for the final examination in Contemporary Social Problems I asked my students two questions.  What are you?  Who are you?  The topic was identifying people by what group they may belong to or how society as whole views them.  It was kind of funny in a way because a couple of the students could not answer the question.  No one had ever asked them that before so they had never considered what their answer might be.  After a couple of months of spending four hours over two nights a week together I could pretty much tell them what their answer should be and they generally accepted that.  As we trundle through life we must keep in mind that, without much information, people make assumptions about who you are and what you are.  My hair is 3/4 of the way down my back and I wear three earrings much of the time.  People do not peg me as a right wing conservative. I am a liberal independent voter but it has nothing to do with the length of my hair.  Recently I have had a couple of people get angry with the way I look.  Not that it is any of their business.  I think that my look is a holdover from when I was riding Harley Davidson motorcycles and not some sort of political statement.  Some of the most liberal people I know do not have any piercings and have shaved their heads.  I am sure that some conservatives would view them as a kindred spirit.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fifty...


...degrees at my house in Lakeview Meadows at 3:30 am this morning.  "We are having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave."  The paper yesterday had a story on the snow making machines at Loveland Basin and how they will start making snow again in a few weeks.  Hard to imagine.  It snows in just about every month most years but it is just a skiff.  A flurry.  A moment in time.  Hard to believe that they are thinking of starting again.  The new college bulletin came yesterday.  I have three classes maybe four in both Dillon and Breckenridge.  The summer semester ends and the fall semester begins almost right away.  No rest for the weary.  Start in August and end in December when there will be snow again for real. I have lived here for forty years and I still am not used to the weather.  I guess it would not matter if I still played in the stuff but I gave that up as a bad habit once there were too many people on the slopes.  I read recently that Breckenridge is the busiest ski area in North America now.  I can believe that just from looking out my window on the world at the traffic backed up nearly every day of the year.  The new four lane will just add to the congestion as it will allow more cars on the road.  A friend once said to deal with traffic and tourist problems that we should just stop paving the road.  Once someone lost a windshield or two it might dissuade them from further travel.

...degrees at my house in Lakeview Meadows at 3:30 am this morning.  "We are having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave."  The paper yesterday had a story on the snow making machines at Loveland Basin and how they will start making snow again in a few weeks.  Hard to imagine.  It snows in just about every month most years but it is just a skiff.  A flurry.  A moment in time.  Hard to believe that they are thinking of starting again.  The new college bulletin came yesterday.  I have three classes maybe four in both Dillon and Breckenridge.  The summer semester ends and the fall semester begins almost right away.  No rest for the weary.  Start in August and end in December when there will be snow again for real. I have lived here for forty years and I still am not used to the weather.  I guess it would not matter if I still played in the stuff but I gave that up as a bad habit once there were too many people on the slopes.  I read recently that Breckenridge is the busiest ski area in North America now.  I can believe that just from looking out my window on the world at the traffic backed up nearly every day of the year.  The new four lane will just add to the congestion as it will allow more cars on the road.  A friend once said to deal with traffic and tourist problems that we should just stop paving the road.  Once someone lost a windshield or two it might dissuade them from further travel.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Malcolm...



...Gladwell.  I am a big fan of Malcom Gladwell.  I have his three books and have enjoyed all of them.  His first book was “The Tipping Point:  How little things can make a big difference.”  His second book was “Blink: The power of thinking without thinking.”  His most recent book is “Outliers: The story of success:   I would highly recommend buying all three and putting them in your permanent library as you will continue to refer to them for the rest of your life.  I teach Sociology, Psychology and Ethics as well as eight other topics and these books reference all three areas of study.

In our current terrible economy I know a lot of people who are unemployed, underemployed or unhappy in their job.  Gladwell in, The Tipping Point, has a short piece on finding a job from Mark Granovetter in his book, “Getting a Job.”  I reread it yesterday and found it even more profound than I did when it first came across my desk in 2005.

Here is an excerpt from “The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell.

“There is a very good example of the way connectors function in the work of the sociologist Mark Granovetter.  In his classic 1974 study “Getting a Job” Granovetter looked at several hundred professional and technical workers from the Boston suburb of Newton, interviewing them in some detail on their employment history.  He found that 56 percent of those he talked to found their job through a personal connection.  Another 18.8 percent used formal means-advertisements, headhunters-and roughly 20 percent applied directly.” 

“This much is not surprising; the best way to get in the door is through a personal contact.  But curiously, Granovetter found that of those personal connections, the majority were “weak ties.” Of those who used a contact to find a job, only 16.7 percent saw that contact “often” –as they would if the contact were a good friend-and 55.6 percent saw their contact only “occasionally.”  Twenty-eight percent saw the contact “rarely.”  People were not getting their jobs through their friends. They were getting them through their acquaintances.”

“Your acquaintances’ by definition occupy a very different world than you.  They are more likely to know something that you don’t.  Acquaintances represent a source of social power, and the more acquaintances you have the more powerful you are.  It is a matter of numbers.  When you are looking for a job, the more the merrier.  The greater opportunity you have to sell yourself.” (Paraphrased)

I would recommend buying Mark Granovetter’s book also.  It sounds like his advice is excellent.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Do...






...what you love and the money will follow.  This is the title of a book that I first read many years ago and that I recommend to many of my students.  The basic premise is that if you are doing what you enjoy doing then you will be successful.  If you worry more about making money than about your personal happiness then you will probably spend most of your life doing something that you hate. According to many surveys most of the working stiffs in this world really do not enjoy their job.  They are doing it because they got on the wrong track and feel they can't leave.  They are doing it because their parents said they should and then they found out that it was the last thing they really wanted to do. Yes, you might be financially successful but around the time you reach 45 you will look back and ask yourself, "Why did I waste my life doing something that I really did not like doing?"  I have written before about the need to find your passion and then to focus on that passion.  The most difficult part of that equation is finding your passion.  I like to use things like:  Your passion is things that you enjoy doing.  Your passion is things that make you happy.  Your passion is your greatest dream put into action.  Your passion becomes your goal.  If you spend the entire week in the office thinking about how you would rather be a rafting guide then maybe you should be a rafting guide.  If you spend your entire week thinking about traveling and being in other countries then maybe you should find a job in another country.  I realize this all very simplistic but it is true.  If you see this in your life then I would suggest that you decide to change immediately.  You are not getting any younger

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Diet...



.and exercise.

We have been told for years that if you reduce your intake of food and increase the amount of physical exercise you get you will lose weight.  Now there are a couple of studies that refute that premise.  The studies say that if you sit on your couch all day long and do nothing you will burn almost as many calories as if you exercise.  Rats.  Just when I thought I had it figured out.  It does not say that exercise is bad for you.  It is very good for your heart and lungs and your overall health.  But what it is saying is to forget doing exercise to lose weight.  It does little or nothing for a slimmer you.  Of course what you eat has a huge bearing on the whole weight thing.  If you want to maintain your current weight then find out the number of calories needed to do that.  You can find it for you personal needs on the internet.  If you want to lost weight slowly shoot for around 2000 calories a day.  Not carbs and not protein and not fat grams.  Just calories.  Where the calories come from is not important.  You could do a 2000 calorie a day diet of M/Ms (my favorite fruit) and still lose weight.  If you want to speed things up in an unhealthy way then get closer to 1000 calories a day.  Not a good idea especially  over the long haul.  Now before you whip off a nasty comment to me just keep in mind that I do not make this stuff up.  Some researcher made this stuff up.  The report that I heard this morning on the BBC quoted scientists in the United Kingdom but there have been US studies as well.  Time will tell.  See you on the couch with the remote control and the big bowl of candy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fathers...



...and sons.  The older I get the more introspective I become.  I have five children, two sons.  My father had two children and one son, me.  My oldest son Eric lives in Ithaca, New York and is 43.  My youngest son Matthew lives in Denver, Colorado and is 29.  My father passed away twenty four years ago in Iowa at age 76.  I turned 68 in May.  What I find myself doing on a regular basis is thinking about what my dad was doing when he was my current age. What his health was like and what kinds of things he was doing that he enjoyed.  I also ask myself the question of what was I doing when I was the respective ages of my sons.  It is an interesting exercise to look back and then consider today.  I was always very proud of my father.  He accomplished a lot under daunting circumstances.  I am also proud of my two sons for what they have already accomplished and what they will accomplish in the future.  I have no regrets in life.  I am sure that I would have done some things differently but I also realize that my father had the same thoughts and challenges as well as my sons have today.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Marmion...


...is an epic poem by Walter Scot.  It contains the often quoted statement, 

Oh, what a tangled web we weaveWhen first we practise to deceive!

I was reminded of this as I have read about candidate for Colorado Governor Scott McGinnis and his struggle with the truth.

I have known Scott personally for the past 27 years. I had lunch with him a few years ago in Denver.  He is a former Glenwood Springs police officer.  Went to law school and became an attorney.  Served in the Colorado House of Representatives.  Became a United States Representative in Washington D.C.  Left that to work for a Denver law firm.  He is now running for Governor of Colorado.

There is a family in Beaver Creek with a lot of money who are big supporters of Republican candidates.  Their son ran for my old seat in the Colorado House of Representatives and lost.  He then ran for Colorado Secretary of State and lost that also.  I read recently that he has now moved to California. 

The family apparently paid Scott McGinnis $300,000 to write a paper on water here in Colorado.  It looks like Scott hired a retired water engineer from Glenwood Springs to help him with the paper as a researcher.  That fellow included parts of an old paper written by Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs.  Scott published the paper as is and got the $300,000.  

Now the Denver Post has investigated it and found that Scott plagiarized some of the paper.  Scott blames the researcher.  Scott's campaign has now asked the researcher to take full blame for the error and he has refused and has come out against Scott.  

At the same time a column and a speech that Scott gave a couple of years ago included verbatim text from another document written by someone else.

Today Scott is being asked by some in his own party to step down from the Governor's race.  I think the time has come and I would echo that request.

It is so very hard to find good help these days.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dinosaurs...



...are extinct because they could not change.  The same thing is happening with the print media business. 

Printed books and printed newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur.  I always laugh when someone tells me how important it is that they hold a newspaper in the morning and read it over coffee.  Or, how important it is to be able to hold a book and to smell a book.  Talk about rationalizing your position. That is a joke.  How does holding a piece of print media enhance the reading experience.  

I get over 700 news feeds every day and I don't hold or smell my computer.  I do learn a lot and end the day a lot more informed than when I started.I read the New York Times, The Washington Post and The Denver Post on line every morning without leaving my bedroom or even getting dress.  And yes, I get a ton of ads in the process and nearly every day I click on one or two ads to check out their offers and products.   

I love books.  In fact I bought three new books last week from Barnes and Noble.  But,  I did not buy them so I could smell them and hold them.  I bought them because I wanted to learn something.  

On Book TV on C SPAN II recently there was an excellent discussion on this very issue.  Publishers of newspapers and books were on a panel talking about the future.  

Now consider what they said.  

There are more words being written and read today than ever in the history of man.  Words and writing is not a dying business.  It continues to be a growth industry. There are more writers today than there ever have been.  There are more journalists reporting the news today than at any other time.  There are more news media outlets today than ever in the history of man.  And none of these are in the print media.  They are all writing and publishing in the digital market.  

Speaking of markets there is more money being spent today in the media for advertising but not in the print media.  The money is being made in the digital market.  

Words and the selling of words is a growing field but not doing it in print.  The only change is the delivery system.  Newspapers and magazines are moving quickly to digital areas because they can see the writing on the wall. No pun intended.   They can see that the appeal of holding print media and smelling print media has already gone the way of the dinosaur.  

I have said this before but, in 1995 at a public forum on Libraries I asked the question what will the world be like without books and libraries?  Fifteen years later we are at that point.  The old adage of "Publish or perish" is still true but everyone needs to look at the new and wonderful ways of publishing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Re dux...



...hollyhocks.  A very good friend sent me this yesterday after reading my blog on hollyhocks.

"The story I have heard about hollyhocks is that before the days of indoor plumbing hollyhocks were usually planted next to outhouses. Thought you'd agree with that sentiment. The Seed Savers catalog refers to them as outhouse hollyhocks."  Natures own room deodorizer even when the room is the entire great outdoors.  Ain't life grand?  I also remember that hollyhocks had little impact on the odor of the outhouse on a very hot day in Iowa in August.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hollyhocks...



...are part of a haunting memory of mine of growing up in Iowa.  They seem to be everywhere growing like weeds.  They grew in the shade and in sunshine with a dull sort of color in a dull sort of bloom.  They did not smell nice like many flowers  but rather they had what I would call an unremarkable smell.  Not something you wanted or would remember.  For some reason I remember them growing most often in the alleys of my home town often growing against an old wooden fence or a crumbling outhouse or barn.  Not a place that any self respecting flower would want to be.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

While...



...the east coast swelters in triple degree heat I have thirty degrees at my house this morning.  How ironic when there are those who are spending major fossil fuel costs to cool down while I shiver in my July mountain temperatures.  Of course when we start to receive our early mountain snows the east will still be temperate in their fall colors.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Marriage...



..is an interesting and challenging thing.  My youngest child Matthew married the love of his life and his soul mate Maria Arroyo this past Saturday at Sapphire Point here in Summit County.  It has rained every day for an entire week and the day of the wedding was dry.  What a nice thing.  The reception was at Matt's uncle's place in Bill's Ranch and that was great also.  Matt and Maria and the cousins put the whole thing together and it went off without a hitch.  I often wonder if marriages are an event in the lives of the children or the parents.  Probably both.  A time for kids to look forward and for parents to look back.  Life is good.

-- 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Stock...



...market numbers were way down yesterday.  Maybe Paul Krugman was right.  In my Contemporary Social Problems class last night we were talking about Education.  I always have a hard time with that unit.  Students need to learn how to plan their education.  They need to pick a major sooner rather than later so they don't take a lot of hours that they will never be able to use.  120 hours to get a Bachelor's degree with nearly half of that in your major field in core classes.  The rest are classes that a required by the college as basic required core classes and electives.  I am the worst example in the world.  It took me two years to finish my Associate's Degree and then another thirty three years to finish my Bachelor's degree.  Again, 120 hours needed and I had completed over 200 hours at about seven different colleges.  Not a good plan.  And then the other dilemma for today's student.  What field can I pursue to get a degree that will give me the best opportunity for getting a job. Any job in any place.  A few years ago it was computer science then it went to anything in the medical field.  I wish that I could tell them what will happen in Paul Krugman's scenario for the future.  The best bets are things that relate to food, clothing and shelter.  You know, the basics, the things you need to survive.  Well maybe not the shelter part because we are seriously overbuilt and the population is not increasing very much lately.  Hmmmmm.   What's a teacher  do?