Thursday, September 30, 2010

Weddings...


...are wonderful.  My baby daughter is getting married this Saturday to a wonderful man.  I am so very happy.  Happy for the marriage and happy that this year of marriages is coming to an end.  The youngest daughter of my best friend of fifty years got married in May in Phoenix.  My youngest son and the love of his life got married in July.  And now my baby girl.  I am actually getting depressed somewhat as all of the activity of the year is coming to an end.  When we reach these important events in our life it is time for introspective, an examination of the past and the consideration of the future.  It is liberating on the one hand and scary on the other hand.  Whenever someone comes to me for advice on how to handle something bad or something good in their life I always have the same advice.  Take everything one step at a time.  One day at a time.  End each day in reflection on what happened in your life and then get up the next morning in anticipation of the possibility of wonderful things happening in the new day.  That is my advice to myself as I reach another benchmark in my life.



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Travel...


...in the good old days was not so good.  Yesterday I was talking with a woman from Denver who was probably in her late 70s or early 80s about what it was like getting to Summit County before the Interstate and the completion of the first bore of the Eisenhower Tunnel in 1973 and the second bore, the Johnson Tunnel, in 1979.  Most of the trip from Denver was on Highway 6 with intermittent parts where the Interstate had been completed.  Regardless, we always had to drive over Loveland Pass rain, sun or snow.  It was an adventure to say the least.  I remember driving from Denver to Aspen to ski early in the morning on two lane roads for the most part.  The top of the Dillon Dam was Highway 6 and it went through the town of Frisco to Ten Mile Canyon.  Antler's Trading Post was then a restaurant where you could get breakfast on your way to Aspen or Vail to ski.  I also remember that there were about four or five twenty four hour restaurants in Summit County then.  Bennett's in Silverthorne where Burger King is now.  The Red Buffalo in Frisco where the Historic Park is now.  They had a bakery in the Red Buffalo and you could get a fresh baked slice of pie with ice cream at 4 am when I was working midnights for the Sheriff's Office.  Is it progress that today, forty years later, there are no restaurants that stay open all night?   As a historian and sociologist I would guess that it has more to do with the completion of the Interstate.  Before people were looking for a refuge.  A piece of pie and a cup of coffee early in the morning.  While today they do not have time to even slow down as they shoot through the county getting to their destination.  No time to relax.  Again I ask, is that progress?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Things...


...that go bump in the night.  I had new flooring put in last spring.  The pieces run for long stretches in some places.  I was told by several people that when you put in new flooring you need to include expansion joints to allow for the contraction and expansion of the material as the temperature in the house changes.  They were so right.  I have the expansion joints so my flooring stays in place but as the temperature changes in my house the floor will actually make popping and cracking sounds.  Of course the temperature changes the most during the night when it drops into the 20 outdoors this time of year.  When the noise wakes me up I wonder if one of my kids has come home for the night or I am experiencing a home invasion burglary.  Very discomforting at times.  I have motion detector lighting that works great so that is reassuring.  Then when I am wide awake staring at the ceiling I wonder if the bears are trying to get into my garage where I store my trash.  Then I remember that I have a huge metal door on the garage and any self respecting bear would have a hard time taking it down quietly.  Then I continue to lay there wondering about things that go bump in the night.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday...



..morning NPR is always a treat.  This morning they were having a discussion with a couple of published authors about their experiences writing and finally getting published.  They quoted many other authors in the discussion also.  One thing that came out is that "writers write" which is exactly what I wrote on my white board in my office back in 1983.  It is not enough to think that you are a writer.  It is not enough to write once in a while.  Writer's write means that you write every day.  Another hint is to start each day writing about something that is true and not made up.  Write what you see out your window.  Write what you are thinking about at the moment.  That will always kick start your thought processes and you will soon be off and running.  Sounds so simple but I know from personal experience that it works.  My computer is in my office in my bedroom.  I have a very large sliding glass door that I look out of the entire time I am writing.  I see a lot of kids and a lot of dogs.  I sometimes see kids with dogs or dogs with kids.  See what I mean?  See how that hooks you into going into greater and more detailed explanations of what you are seeing?  I truly love NPR on Saturday Mornings.  Of course I love NPR every morning.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Positive...


...energy flows from my classroom.  It is almost hard to describe.  I think the best example is that, after lecturing non-stop for three hours, my students walk up to me individually and thank me for the class and tell me how much they are looking forward to next week.  In all of my years sitting in classrooms I can't remember that every happening.  I enjoy lecturing so very much.  This semester I am teaching Contemporary Social Problems, American Government, Political Science and 20th Century World History.  I am also taking another class as a student in Latin Film.  I have take several classes in this series and this semester we are watching films in Spanish on immigration.  Cesar Mun is the instructor and is magnificent.  He and I were talking after class this week about how teaching effectively is almost like performance art.  You must be interesting and be able to capture the attention of your students for three hour all by yourself.  Last night my "Smart" board stopped working which also involved all of my audio visual capability.  I left the electronic age and went back to the way they have done it for centuries.  I stood in front of the class without notes or a book and just talked about 20th Century World History.  No props.  No smoke and mirrors.  Just me.  I loved it and I think my class did too.  Daddy, tell me a story and I did.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rain...


...has finally come to the high country once again.  With the major fires near Boulder and Loveland I was worried it could happen here.  The closest trees to my house are about a 1/2 mile away over by the Blue River.  But I am always reminded of the Oakland fires a few years ago where the fire jumped sixteen lanes of an Interstate Freeway.  No fire break there.  When a forest fire gets going it super heats the air around it that actually causes things to spontaneously combust regardless of any fire breaks or prevention measures.  I have seen video of houses actually exploding in flames before the main fire ever reaches the structure.  The real miracle in the Boulder fire was the survival of "Sizzle" the black cat surviving the fire and later we found out that the cat was actually 48 miles from home.  Apparently he had lived in the mountains near Boulder in the past and returned during the fire.  Maybe something about being a black cat?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

News...


...feeds on the Internet have replaced my need to feed my news addiction.  It works for me.  Now I am getting over 700 different opinions and sources for news.  Lately they have been focused on how much the Republicans hate the Tea Party.  And that the Democrats love the Tea Party because it splits the Republican vote and might result in some Democrats winning in a few weeks rather than losing.  I find the whole thing to be incredibly amusing.  As a recovering politician and someone now looking at the whole thing from the outside in rather than as before looking at it from the inside looking out...I find the whole thing sidesplitting funny.  Nothing makes any sense anymore.  Last weekend the buzz was that the Tea Party and the Republicans will lose a lot in the election and by yesterday the pundits were saying that the Tea Party has enough steam and power to actually win some elections.  Everyone has to keep in mind that, regardless of it's name, the Tea Party is really not a party.  The party of the Tea Party is the Republican party that really hates the Tea Party but after the Tea Party members running on the Republican ticket win big in November I am sure they will be embraced by the Republicans once again.  Remember, there will be a test later.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Motorcycles...


...are an icon of a cult.  The cult of riding across the country in the middle of the night in below freezing weather.  My high school classmate Keith rode out from Des Moines earlier this week to attend a gathering of Honda Gold Wing owners at Copper Mountain.  He stayed with me all week and spent his days riding just about every part of Colorado with some of the nearly 300 participants in the meeting.  This morning at around 5 am he left to ride back to Iowa.  The outside temperature was around 30 degrees and the sky was very dark.  Such is life in the fast lane on two wheels.  I have done the same ride and I have never been so cold in my life.  I was on a crotch rocket with no windshield or ferring.  Not good.  The 75 mph wind sucks every bit of the heat out of your body even in the summer.  I gave up my Harley about two years ago as a bad habit.  Today I am happy to turn the heat in the Honda up to 75 degrees and enjoy some quiet classical music as I travel.  My hope for Keith is that he can and will ride as long has he want to ride.  Just as I did.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday...


...is just another day when you are retired.  I am still in school three days a week.  Actually three nights.  So I truly have every day of the week off and a four day weekend every week.  I find it funny every morning when I have to consciously think about what day it is and what is on my agenda for the day.  I sometimes think that the "work" in being retired is trying to remember what it is that you have to do each day.  As I listen to my students recount their lives and their daily activities I am envious that they are running helter skelter, to and fro trying to get everything on their agenda done every day.  Nice.  I hope that they realize that retirement is a myth and that they certainly must beware of what they ask for as they too are liable to get it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Motorcycles...


...have a tendency to become invisible without notice.  Even the best trained eye can miss seeing one as it comes toward you just as you are making a turn into its path.  I was a police officer  for nearly forty years and I was the county coroner for eight years and saw way too many serious and sometimes fatal accidents involving invisible motorcycles.  I promise you that the motorcycle rider can see you but sometimes it is difficult if not impossible to see a motorcycle coming toward you down the road.  As the sign says, "Be Aware" and be on the lookout for motorcycles.  Stop sight seeing and gawking at the mountains and pay attention to the road.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yellow...


...is a color 
and not 
a sound.  

Standing 
in a stand 
of bright 
yellow 
Aspen 
the yellow 
screams 
at me 
in silence.  

The cool air 
resonates 
the yellow 
perfectly 
as we 
all look
 to the north 
and listen 
for the white.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Days...


...just seem to slip away this time of year.  The skies are totally clear and the air is even clearer.  So very nice.  I get caught up in the day and soon the day is gone.  As I lay in bed at night I review my daily events I suddenly discover that I have, once again, not written my blog.  Shame on me.  When I don't write my blog for a couple of days my good friends get worried as to my well being.  Because I live alone and will sometimes go for three or four days without human contact they can only picture me laying on the floor mumbling, "I have fallen and can't get up."  I could get one of those button things that calls for help but to have it work you must have a telephone line.  I refuse to have a real telephone because of all of the political Robo calls and house siding solicitors.  Yes, I am on every no-call list but that does not matter.  They still call.  So, I must risk finishing my life laying listlessly on the floor staring at the ceiling wondering why I have not painted it recently.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Red...




...tailed hawk has been working hard along the tree line finding and eating all sorts of small animals.  I took this picture recently of the hawk as it circled above me on the Bike Path.  Short of the great American Eagle I think that the hawk is one of the most wonderful birds on this planet.  I am always amazed at how they will fly so very high and be able to see a small mouse in the grass.  I am sure that the hawk is also watching me but not for food but for the game I might stir up. Lunch.  What a wonderful place to be this fall.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Absurd...



...is the only way I can describe our current political situation.  A pastor in Florida is threatening to burn the Quran (Quran, Kuran, Koran) take your pick on how to spell the word.  People want to build a Mosque in New York City in lower downtown and some think it is an affront to the memory of the victims of 9/11.  A party that is not even a party, the Tea Party, is trying to influence national and local elections forgetting that the problem is the economy and not our government.  Democrats are refusing to associate with our Democrat president.  Republicans are turning their back on Republicans in favor of the Tea Party.  I teach college American Government, Political Science, United States History and World History and have never seen anything like this.  All of this positioning appears to be the culmination of a death wish that will only result in many one-term right wing radicals being elected just to prove a point that does not exist.  I am reminded of the old saying about cutting off your nose to spite your face.  By acting this way they are going to lose.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Whiter...


...Shade of Pale by Procol Harum is one of my favorite songs.  I have an I Pod Shuffle and I Tunes picks my songs each day automatically.  When the computer picks a Whiter Shade of Pale it just makes my day better.  Northern Exposure was one of my most favorite TV shows.  John Corbett, the fellow who played Chris the DJ, had to disposed of his biker friend's body he used his catapult to fling the casket into the lake.  The director went into slow motion and allowed the casket to spin in mid air for a long time with a Whiter Shade of Pale playing the background.  For me is was one of those defining moments in my life.  From then on I decided to not attend funerals or memorial services.  First of all the dead person will never know if I was there or not and second, any funeral or memorial service would be anti-climatic after Chris' memorial to his biker friend.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Aspen...



...are turning.  It is almost as if they have a calendar and know that summer is over and fall is upon us. Today is Labor Day so I guess the date is right.  I have lived in here for forty years and it seems as if the very best time to view the Aspen is normally around September 15.  Of course it has a lot to do with the weather and the altitude.  They turn sooner high up due to colder temperatures and sometimes stay yellow into October in the deep canyons.  Another sad thing is that some years the wind will come up and in one day all the leaves are gone.  You can never really tell.  The other interesting thing is how the yellow some years is more yellow than other years. One theory is that it has to do with the amount of moisture in the ground.  A dry year produces a more dull yellow color while a wet year produces a bright yellow.  Of course I do not have a clue about either and I am just repeating another Old Wive's Tale of the Colorado High Country. For the most part the mountains only have one broad leaf tree and that is the Aspen.  Lots of different kinds of pine but they stay green.  Or brown in the case of the Pine Beetle dead trees.  Speaking of Old Wive's Tales of the Colorado High Country...the other day I ran into a friend who is in the property management business.  He was beside himself because someone had told him that because of our wet summer we were going to have record snow fall this winter.  I have to laugh.  In my time none of the portends of heavy snow have come true.  I have seen heavy snow in the fall and then no more for the rest of the winter.  I have seen no snow in the winter and then right after the ski areas close on April 15 we will get six weeks of the heaviest snow ever.  There are only two things that are always true.  Number one is that it will snow.  Number two is that it won't snow.  Take your pick.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Freezing...


...weather should not be too conducive to the blooming of new flowers.  This morning on KUNC, National Public Radio from Greeley, a commentator was talking about how researchers at Colorado State University have developed some Pansy's as well as other varieties that can be planted in the fall and then will bloom each year in September and October after the first hard freeze.  As I am on my daily twelve mile trek I always keep an eye out for some bloom I have never seen before and lo and behold this morning I encountered a tiny yellow flower.  It was no larger than the nail on my little finger.  It was tiny and it did not look like it would mature past it's current state.  Nice what you can find when you just keep your eyes open.  Sometimes the very best things are small and nearly hidden unless you pay attention.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Twenty...


...five degrees at my house overnight.  There was frost on Guy Fletcher's roof.  He is in Arizona so I am sure that he does not care. His friend Cindy had a stroke a few weeks ago and Guy diligently pushes her around circle every day so she can get out in her wheelchair.  She is only 55 years old and not a good thing to have a stroke at that age.  Or at any age for that matter.  Wendy and Amy are two moms in the subdivision with small children.  They are both from New York and in a fine New York tradition they too push their kids around the circle in their strollers.  I remember 46 years ago when my oldest was just a baby.  Her mother insisted on having the biggest, nicest stroller made at that time.  I think that we could have done away with a house and a car and food on the table in favor of having the best stroller that money could buy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

News...



...report today out of Washington state.

Oops: Hiker Shoots Himself In The Rear

Hiker Moved Gun To Back Pocket For Comfort

A hiker on Blewett Pass shot himself in the butt when he put a handgun in his back pocket.
The Chelan County sheriff's office said the 52-year-old Snohomish man had moved his .40-caliber handgun from its holster to his back pocket Saturday to see if that position would be more comfortable for his hike.
The Wenatchee World reported the gun fired the bullet down his left buttock and left leg, coming to rest just above the knee. He was treated at Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee and released.

This goes right along with a story out of Colorado last week where an elementary school student in Lakewood in Jefferson County was discovered to have a handgun in a backpack in school.  Apparently the father had forgotten that he put the gun in the backpack and the child took it to school not knowing it was in there.  An astute teacher noticed that the backpack was unusually heavy and opened it to discover the gun.

I think that there should be a "people in their right mind" provision for anyone to own a handgun.