Friday, October 29, 2010

So...


... when will this madness end?  Please don’t say tomorrow after the polls close.   I hear that after every election and things just seem to get worse.  The candidates get more and more negative and the only people who benefit are the media, the political consultants and the people who design, print and mail the flyers.


The sad thing is that negative advertising works.  It is a proven fact.  People love to watch train wrecks, car wrecks and the destruction of a person or a political campaign.  We are drawn to the negative because it is so much more fun and exciting than the positive.

Some of my political heroes are our District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, Sheriff John Minor, and State Senator Dan Gibbs who is now running unopposed for my old County Commissioner seat in Breckenridge.  Mark is term limited and John is running unopposed also.  All fine men.  All fine politicians and all very positive people just trying to do a good job.  They have the support of the Republicans and the Democrats alike.

I don’t ever remember any of them saying that they were going to save the world.  None of them ever made any false claims about what they would do if they got elected.  They are public servants running for office to do the right thing for their constituents.  To them being an elected official is a calling and not a job or a profession.

Actually until a few years ago the Summit Democrats and the Summit Republicans got along very well.  There were very few contested races in the general election but there were some great primaries within the two parties.  I remember going to Democratic functions as a Republican and Republican functions as a Democrat.  It was the Summit County way.  We answered Rodney King’s plea of, “Why can’t we all just get along?”   In Summit County we did “all did just get along.”

Some heavy-handed so-called conservatives moved to Summit County a few years ago and that all changed.  The cooperation thing was over.  Done for.  Killed.  Heaven forbid we might all agree on what is best for Summit County.

The United States Supreme Court decision in January did not help.  The court affirmed that money is a form of free speech and therefore any law that might attempt to control the spending of money on elections is restricting free speech. 

Today we have people running for office making false claims or claims that cannot be supported in their bid for election.  We have people running that do not have a clue as to what the office they are seeking can or cannot do under the law.  They are flat out not telling the truth.  The sad thing is that people believe them. 

I realize that many of you have already voted so this might fall on deaf ears.  For those you who have not or for those of you voting in the future I have some advice.  Do not believe any of the negative ads. For the most part they are not true.  Examine each candidate and see which one most closely matches your personal political beliefs and then vote for that person.

One comment I hear over and over again is that voters wish that there was a space on the ballot for “none of the above.”

Gary has taught Social and Behavioral Science including Political Science and American Government at Colorado Mountain College since 1983.  He calls himself a “recovering politician.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crisp...


...morning in the Colorado high country.  It was -2 at my house this morning.  The dichotomy in all of this is the forecast is for 70 on Saturday.  Maybe I will not have to blow my driveway after all.  Blow in the literal sense as in blowing snow with my snow blower.  I only used it once last year.  A couple of years ago I used it two or three times a week.  That was the year my back deck collapsed from the weight of the snow.  The attached photo is of Buffalo Mountain along the Gore Range in the wilderness area this morning.  I have climbed that mountain several times.  A couple of times with my Scots Terrier with four inch long legs.  Angel did not have a problem.  Angel finally went blind.  I noticed it when she would stand staring at a blank wall waiting to get into the house.  No door. No window.  A blank wall.  She could not see a thing.  I finally had to put her down.  She was my last animal.  My grown children leave their animals here all the time but it is not the same.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Twenty...


...inches of new snow at Keystone and it was 11 degrees at my house early this morning.  Seems like it was 70 degrees just a few days ago.  The forecast for this weekend is that it will be back in the 70s again.  People want diversity.  We get diversity.  The only thing we know for sure is that it will change.  I am looking out my window on the world this morning and can hardly see the house across the street and, the wind is not blowing.  I love watching the elementary students every morning at the bus stop in front of my house.  This morning they seemed to be very cold and at the same time very excited about the new snow.  The sweet bird of youth.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mitch...


...McConnell finally said it.  I appreciate his honesty if not his politics.  He was quoted as saying that the sole purpose of the GOP is to prevent Barack Obama from being elected to a second term.  Easy to see.  The other thing is that the Denver Post was quoted today as saying that Tom Tancredo, an Independent, is the only Republican running for Colorado Governor.  I wonder how Maes feels about that?  I am to the point where a seven day nap might cure all of this.  I am in the unenviable  position of trying to explain all of this to my Political Science class and my American Government class.  Maybe I could just not mention it and the whole thing will go away.

Monday, October 25, 2010

High...


...wind warnings this morning.  I get weather alerts from all over the world and today I had high wind warnings for Utah, Iowa, Oklahoma and, of course, Colorado.   I looked out around 3:30 am when I got up and it looked like a normal morning.  Dark.  I was writing away at the computer at around 7 am and I think I felt the house move in the high winds.  Looked out and sure enough we had horizontal snow.  Blowing sideways.  Loveland Basin Ski Area opened yesterday and Arapaho Basin opened this morning.  One of our many local radio stations is broadcasting live from A Basin and they described the snow conditions as heavy, new powder.  Normally they would say fifteen inches of man-made.  Nice.  We have had a very balmy fall with temperatures in the 70s until a couple of days ago.  I was doing my 12 mile daily run in very light clothing and would work up a good sweat every day.  Not today.  I have said this before but I am convinced that the reason people live here are two fold.  First for the views and second for the crappy weather.  Without crappy weather it can get pretty boring around here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Patience...


...is a virtue that I often forget.  Around 10 am this morning my mouse started acting up.  Out of the blue I could only right click and not left click.  You might think that is not a great problem but when you have to left click in order to do anything It becomes a real problem.  I tried just about everything.  I have a couple of (mice) mouses from other computers and I changed it out and it still did not work.  I have a reinstall disc for the drivers but could not use that because you have to left click to do the reinstall.  I even tried to dump my entire computer and restore the operating system and could not do that either.  I left the computer on for about an hour and came back to see if it had fixed itself and that did not work.  I had given up.  I was going to haul it off to the repair guy or to the land fill (recycling) in the morning.  I shut it down for about two hours and then decided to turn it on and let is sit without messing with it for a couple more hours.  Three hours later I came back and it had fixed itself.  It works fine without my doing anything other than to do nothing.  The more I did the further away from fixing it I got.  I left it alone and lo and behold it fixed itself.  Believe it or not I have had this experience before.  I am sure that Microsoft has some magical thing in their operating systems that makes repairs as long as you do not screw with it.  Teach me.  Once again, the take away for today is to remember that patience is a virtue and it does fix computers.  It is the Microsoft patience factor.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Death...


...is the logical outcome of life and of everything else that matters.  All things must come to an end.  This is so sad but so true.  This morning I heard a political analyst describe the death of the Obama revolution.  How the conservative, tea party Republicans will win the upcoming election and how congress will change in the process.  I suppose for some that is the good news.  For others it is also the bad news.  The analyst basically implied that we must continue to be afraid of what we have wished for will come true.  That the winners will find themselves mired in such a quandary of trying to meet their campaign promises while also trying to run a government that cannot be run the way they would like to run the government.  "Beware of what you wish for because it might come true."  I like to believe that I have some vision in such matters.  The radical swing to the right will result in an opposing radical swing to the left again.  I subscribe to the theory that 10% of the voters are true conservatives while 10% of the voters are true liberals.  The remaining 80% of the voters will, on any given day, at any given election, will go either way.  Karl Rove and George Lakoff have both figured this out.  What causes people to vote in a particular direction is what they feel and not what they think.  Voting is an emotional process and not an intellectual process.  This theory is being affirmed every minute of every day of this election.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Juan...


...Williams from NPR was fired for making a comment about how Muslims on airplanes make him nervous.  I have been listening to Juan for many years and I have always appreciated his clear, concise review of the news.  I knew that he was also working for FOX News but I never watch Fox News so I have never seen or heard him there.   When an on-air personality suddenly leaves after being part of my life and in my home on a nearly daily basis I feel the loss.  I am not making a judgement about his wisdom in his Muslim comment but I am letting you know about my opinion of him as a reporter.  I believe in the First Amendment to our great Constitution that gives us the right to free speech among other things but I guess that free speech is not really free when someone is paying you for your opinion.  I am reminded of the old saying, "You dance with them who brought you."  If you are dining at the table the you should agree with the person who bought the meal.  Juan did not do that and now he is walking down the road kicking rocks.  Been there, done that.  Good luck my friend.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dilemma...


... is occurring in education today. I have thought about this for a long time and had a good conversation yesterday with a friend on the subject.  Now here are the facts:  Today there are more people in the United States over the age of 50 than under the age of 17.  Our birth rate is now very low.  The dramatic increases in the numbers of school age children have dropped dramatically.  Yes, the numbers continue to increase in some locations due to people moving into some areas such as the southwest but generally speaking our population has ceased to increase.  If it were not for our undocumented foreign worker population of approximately 12,000,000 our total population would be decreasing dramatically.  Now for the dilemma.  With no new students in elementary, secondary and higher education, how are the powers that be planning for these decreases?  What will they do with the staff, the teachers, the support personnel?  What will they do with the empty buildings?  I am not kidding.  They need to plan to go out of business or come up with a new business model for the systems that are in place today.  In many large cities they have already begun to close and consolidate elementary schools.  It is just a matter of time before the decrease in the curve will reach the higher levels.  Knowing how educators are always looking at tenure and lifetime positions this whole thing will be a shock once it comes to our education systems

Monday, October 18, 2010

If...


...it sounds too good to be true then in probably isn't true.  On NPR this morning (You can look at it at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130544236&ft=1&f=1001) there was a discussion about some research that is being done at Stanford on key words that executives use when they are lying to the public and the press.  It is amazing how they have boiled deception down to a few things and that it is so very accurate.  When they use glowing terms.  When  they never answer the question and only talk about the qualifications of their experts.  All of the things that we have heard so very often in the past few years as our economy has gone down the toilet.  I think the article should be required reading for everyone and maybe we will all stop being so naive when we think that if a person is wealthy and successful that they are also being honest.  

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Covering...


...up the problems do not make them go away.  This morning the BBC interviewed the head of Ford Motor Company.  He had been an executive with Boeing for many years and now is in charge of Ford.  One of the things that he discovered when he moved over to Ford is that the executives were hiding the problems.  Shoving them under the carpet and not dealing with them. They were afraid they would be judged by the number of problems they had.  Hence the problems never went away.  He immediately began to compliment his leaders who brought problems forward and let the organization deal with the issue.  It sounds so simple but I have seen it all my life.  Some people come to work early and leave late.  They are dealing with the problems.  Others come in late and leave early and are only thinking about what they are going to do on the weekend or for their vacation or their retirement.  They are "me" oriented rather than "us" oriented.  Ford is well on track to becoming the best car company in the world.  I only wish that all leaders and organizations felt the same way.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Voted...


...today.  My mail in ballot finally arrived and I filled it out and mailed it already.  Not a major stretch.  I think what I ended up doing was not voting for the best candidate but rather voting for the lesser of two evils.  Not in every case of course but unfortunately in many.  My favorite people who should have been on the ballot were not for various reasons.   Either they lost their primary or decided to drop out of the race early.  I don't blame them and it might have been the best thing for them in the long run.  This is not a good time to be an elected official.  You get beat up winning the election and then go into office and immediately be attacked by both sides, both parties.  It is hard to do a good job when you can't figure out who your friends might be.  As a recovering politician I have to fight the demons every day as my phone rings with requests or I get e mail asking for my help.  My heart goes out to anyone who truly wants to save the world.  It is a lonely battle.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Noise...


...coming from the sky yesterday.  I looked up and did not see anything at first.  Then I could see a large mass of dark spots very high in the sky.  It was a very large flock of birds.  They were so high that they were a couple of thousand feet way above the tops of the 14,000 peaks near my house.  I could see the Red Tail Hawks better as they were flying lower hoping to catch a lunch of the weak or straggling birds from the flock.  Much like life as there is always someone waiting to eat you alive if you show any sign of sickness or weakness.  I suppose that is part of survival of the fittest in nature and in life in general.  Only the strong survive.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Miners...


...are popping up out of the ground in Chile.  As American politicians both Democrat and Republican are telling us we have already gone to hell in a hand basket or if we don't vote for them then we are surely going to go to hell in a hand basket, courageous miners are coming up from hell in a hand basket.  I can only hope and pray that the politicians take heed to the faith and courage of the miners, their rescuers and their families in these perilous times.  My advice to the politicians and their advisors is to sit down and shut up.  You are not helping the situation with your behavior and comments.  Thank God for all of the wonderful people in Chile and those around the world who have worked so hard for several weeks to complete the rescue.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Snow...


...this morning.  Four inches are forecast along with warm weather which will quickly dispatch the four inches.  Oh well.  Such is life.  Such is the weather.  I sometimes wonder why people in their right mind would ever want to live in such a hostile environment.  We have snow about nine months a year.  Then in the other three months we are still liable to get snow.  Housing costs are extremely high.  We can sometimes be charged 20 to 50 cents a gallon more for gas when the retailers pay the same wages, same rent and same price from the refinery that they do in Denver.  I sometimes think that the only really good reason to live in the mountains in Colorado is the view.  Each and every day I can leave my house and enjoy a totally new view based on the time of day, time of year and the weather.  I know that some people who move here are upset with the lower salaries that go along with the higher cost of living.  I remember being told many years ago that you have to add $10,000 to your salary as the cost to you for the view.  It is worth much more than tha

Monday, October 11, 2010

Obama...


...is considered too liberal by the Republicans and is now considered not liberal enough by Democrats.  Today on NPR they did some interviews with voters who had decided not to go to the polls this year.  Many were Democrats and their excuse was that Obama was not liberal enough.  He decided to increase the troops in Afghanistan while at home he backed off of a really good health care bill. He is George W. all over again.  They had voted for him in 2008 because they wanted a liberal president after the eight years of George W. then Obama disappointed them by not being liberal enough.  In a free democracy we enjoy the privilege of having and voicing our opinions.  This year is a watershed year for opinions.  Maybe we should call a King's X and start all over again?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lennon...



....was the last name of one of the four young men that I provided security for in the summer of 1965.  They were in New York City to perform at the World's Fair at Shea Stadium.  They were also known as the Beatles.  I was normally in the background and did not talk to or interact with any of the Beatles.  I was just there to prevent any of thousands of young girls from molesting them during their visit.  Whenever they show the Shea Stadium concert I can still see myself standing on the dugout at home plate as the Beatles performed on third base.  John Lennon would have been seventy years old today. I even studied his lyrics in a Critical Analysis of Literature class in graduate school in the 1970s.  I have heard a few retrospectives in the past few days and whenever a song comes on I get choked up.  I don't even remember being a big fan in those days.  I had the "Help" album but that was it.  I had also remembered them as they performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.  I lived in England in 1962-1963-1964 so I was familiar with them but not a big fan.  I am a much bigger fan today.  Something about growing old together.  We only have Paul and Ringo left to remember.  I was in the New York City Police Department in 1967-1968-1969-1970 and was not there when John was shot and killed.  I did work in the area near the Dakota, the apartment building where John and Yoko lived.  Nice quiet neighborhood and not a place to die.  This morning on Scott Simon's show they played an interview with John a few days before he was murdered.  He talked about not caring about yesterday but caring about the future.  He commented that Bob Dylan, Elton John and he were only about 40 at the time and they had an entire lifetime ahead of them.  Some did.  John did not.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nobel...


...Peace Prize was awarded today to an imprisoned Chinese dissident following a campaign by Chinese intellectuals to encourage awarding him the prize.  I am sure that he deserved it and I wish him well.  I wonder if the Chinese government will buy him a cake in jail to celebrate.  Nobel was the fellow who invented dynamite.  Nitroglycerin was used as the primary explosive for many years but it was highly unstable.  You can cause one drop to hit the ground and it will explode.  Dynamite is basically sawdust and nitroglycerin with the sawdust being used to stabilize the nitro.  When I was with the Summit County Sheriff's Office we would be called on a regular basis to investigate the discovery of very old cases of dynamite in old mines and construction sites.  Each of the ski areas also had caches of explosives used to blast unstable snow to control avalanches. The Colorado Department of Transportation has explosives to set off avalanches along the highways.  The primary use of explosives for many years has been in war.  There are so many different iterations of explosives that we would call the Emergency Ordinance Demolition (EOD) crews from Fort Carson to take care of much of what we would find in Summit County.  They also would come on a regular basis to conduct classes for our officers on what is dangerous and what is not.  One thing that was interesting is that the nitro would actually bleed through the dynamite and end up in the ground below the explosives and thus becoming inert and of no danger.  There are stories of the old timers  throwing dynamite on the campfire in place of wood.  Heat will not set it off but pressure will.  The pressure with dynamite are the explosive caps that are set off by electricity.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Alpenglow...



...on the top of Buffalo Mountain this morning giving an even better accent to the Alpenglow from the rising sun.  Alpenglow is one of the most often misquoted term I have ever known.  Alpenglow is when the sun shines "on" the mountain rather than from behind the mountain.  I even see where experienced and noted writers and journalists use it improperly.  When the sun rises in the east (and it always does) the sun will shine first on the mountains to the west.  That is Alpenglow.  It is not when the sun is going down in the west and the sun goes down behind the mountain giving a halo effect.  It can also refer to the sun shining on the mountains to the east as the sun sets in the west.

Here is one definition: Alpenglow (from GermanAlpengl├╝hen) is an optical phenomenon. When the Sun is just below the horizon, a horizontal red glowing band can sometimes be observed on the opposite horizon. Alpenglow is easiest to observe when mountains are illuminated but can also be observed when the sky is illuminated through backscattering.
Since the Sun is below the horizon, there is no direct path for the light to reach the mountain. Instead, light reflects off airborne snowwater, or ice particles low in the atmosphere. It is this circumstance that separates a normal sunrise or sunset from alpenglow.
Although the term may be loosely applied to any sunrise or sunset light seen on the mountains, true alpenglow is not direct sunlight and is only observed after sunset or before sunrise.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Obsessive...


...drivers drive me nuts.  You know them.  They hammer the accelerator to get right on your tail even though there is no place to go if they got by because traffic ahead is jammed up.  Then when they finally get by they hammer the accelerator again and get right on the rear bumper of the next car.  I sometimes wonder if they think that cars will evaporate if they get real close to the rear bumper.  The truly funny thing about this phenomenon is that at the next light they are still only one car length ahead of you.  You, who have been relaxed, listened to some good tunes and taken it easy.  I sometimes think that some drivers rush themselves into an early grave.  So what is the rush?  Why put my life and the life of others at risk?  I won't even get into the fact that most of these drivers have SUVs or big pickup trucks.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Waning...


...moon this morning.  Just a sliver of light at the edge of a huge circle in the eastern morning sky coming up over the Continental Divide.  Looked like someone had used a paper punch in the sky. Getting up at my ungodly hour each morning is both a curse and a blessing.  A curse in that there is only so much you can do in the dark. I can't run.  I can't ride my bike.  I do my Yoga and read and write and that is about it.  The blessing is that it is so very dark that I can stand on my deck and see every star in the universe.  No ambient light to distract my eyes.  There is little or no noise coming from the highway and I can actually hear the water running in the Blue River across the road.  I like to think of it as my "me" time. I can chose to relish the blessing or curse the dark.  I prefer the blessing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Normal....


...is a very subjective term.  What is normal?  Who is normal?  Today normal is returning to my normal routine after a flurry of events and people surrounding the wedding of my daughter Amy.  I cherish normal.  My mother Dorothy was agoraphobic.  The definition of the word means, "fear of the market place."  Today they would just simply say afraid to leave the house.  My mother would put on her scarf that covered most of her head and face and go shop at 7 am in the local grocery store.  I only remember her traveling to Colorado and New York to see me and her grandkids.  She did fly to Washington DC to visit the grave of JFK as she was deeply moved by his death.  She was a stay at home mom and only in late life did she get a job cooking at the local assisted living home.  She did not attend church but did work in the church kitchen for receptions following funerals.  I never asked her the right question.  "What's up with that?"  My father was always friendly and outgoing in his profession of being a plumber and eventually the custodian at the local school.  He really liked getting out of the house.  He traveled a lot when he was young and spent a few years sailing around the world with the Navy during World War II.  He had several strokes in 1976 but never let that keep him down.  He traveled on a Greyhound bus to Colorado and New York several times after he could no longer drive. I guess you might say that my mother and father were polar opposites.  That never seemed to be a problem.  They just had different definitions of normal.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Rehearsal...


...for the wedding and the subsequent dinner was interesting.  First of all I will admit that I am no fun.  The world "elope" kept ringing in my ears.  And yes, I know that all of the pomp and ceremony is for the bride and for all of the other women of the world.  It is her day.  Her event.  Her major opportunity to showcase herself and her friends and family.  I love my daughter very much and the guy she is marrying is perfect for her.  I wish them the best and that they will have a long and happy life together.  Last night the pastor and his staff could not have been nicer.  He is a long time friend of mine and we have known each other for almost thirty years.  Great guy.  Great church.  I was also reminded of the old saying about the acorn does not fall far from the tree as I watch my OCD self personified in my daughter and her planning.  Every part of the ceremony was well planned and thought out.  Every minute of what everyone was going to do and will do was considered.  Her music is two songs by the rock group "Journey" and the processional alone is nearly five minutes.  Five minutes to walk about thirty feet.  Of course that includes the bride and me, her father, and the six members of the wedding party.  By the way something neat.  Shawn, the groom, picked his sister Desiree to be the "best woman" rather than having a "best man."  That is so cool.  The rehearsal dinner was very nice and included all of the friends and relatives of the bride standing and saying nice things about the groom and the friends and relatives of the groom standing and saying nice things about the bride. I tried to avoid that part and was almost successful until the assembled masses insisted that I stand and give some remarks.  Of course I did and turned it into a quasi-stand up comedian routine.  Yes.  I was sober.  Elope is such a simple word.  Elope is so easy to say.  Elope does not cost a lot.  Elope means you can buy a new car instead of having a wedding.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Gas...


...stations were a major source of entertainment and education during my formative years.  My high school friend Kieth spent some time with me recently and we reminisced about the gas stations of the 1950s in our home town of Rockwell City, Iowa. One of the more memorable places was Cloyde Yeazel's Cities Service Station a few yards from the back yard of my birth home.  Cloyde was like a second father to me and taught me more than any teacher I ever had.  How to fill a car with gas, how to change oil and a filter, how to fix a two-cycle grass mower and most importantly how to wash a car. We all learned to smoke cigarettes a lot there as well as drinking Pepsi from a bottle half filled with peanuts from the peanut machine.  I hung out at his station from about the age of ten until I was sixteen when I went to work for Ray Bigelow in his welding shop during the day and in Bob Folsom's Standard Station at night.  Cloyde had some very interesting employees.  Marv Becker was one of the most memorable along with Chuck Lenz and a fellow named Kenny.  Chuck and Kenny were great but then there was Marv.  Marv was from Pomeroy and had just graduated from high school.  I was about 12 and Marv had two very irritating habits. He would de-pants me including my underwear and then run them up the flag pole near the highway.  That would required my running out to the street sans clothing to pull the flag pole cord to retrieve my underwear and pants.  If that was not humiliating enough Marv would sometimes pick me up and dunk my head in the toilet in the men's room.  I think today they would call Marv a child abuser.  Back then they called him a comic and a bully.  Everyone always got a good laugh out of my dilemma and I would smile and take the abuse.  I remember that Marv eventually let the gas station to go to work for Ozark Airlines as a clerk and baggage handler.  Ozark eventually went out of business or merged with another airline.  I wonder if Marv had anything to do with their demise.