Monday, May 26, 2008

Your Chico's Bail Bonds JUCO Blog Post

"Would you like a pop? We've got pop back there..Could you grab me a Diet Pepsi? WHAT?!...No Pop? I don't like to drink water, it makes my throat dry out more..I know it isn't supposed to be that way, but..."

- Jim Davis, "The Radio Voice of JUCO", lamenting the lack of beverage choices in the Press Box at Suplizio Field.

The amount of audio product placement accompanying the radio broadcasts of this year's Alpine Bank JUCO World Series is truly amazing and annoying. Jim Davis and his crew on KNZZ and KTMM are truly earning their Diet Pepsi with phrases like this:
"It's 3-0, Tuscaloosa Alabama ahead on the Coloramo Federal Credit Union scoreboard, and a new pitcher warming up for Iowa in The Cage at Gene Taylor's bullpen while the cleanup hitter is getting ready in the Whitewater Building Materials Who's on Deck. The Rockslide 7th Inning Stretch is coming up on the JUCO Radio Network".
Sheesh. Too Much.

When you get past this foolishness, JUCO is really a good time and quality family entertainment. Aside from some streakers a few years ago, there are not many problems at all. One thing that cracks me up is the complaints from several residents who live around the ballpark when they shoot off the Memorial Day fireworks after the last game is over on Monday night. It's one of the few things you can count on in my line of work, other than people who call when their power goes out.

One of the teams in the tournament this year has got me thinking of stuff and laughing to myself. Here's something they got me singing to myself today:

Are you ready, Grayson? All set to defend the title, Chipola?
Ready to take the field, Alvin?


JUCO, JUCO time is here,
Baseball fun, but still no beer.
Take a bus to Colorado,
thanks to Sam Suplizio.....

That's all I have so far. If anyone wants to help me finish it, feel free.

In the meantime, if you live in the Grand Valley and own a police scanner or other receiver, you can get quite an earful of JUCO action without commercials. This from a post last year:

The signal from the press box at Suplizio Field is beamed to the KTMM studios near Sherwood Park in Grand Junction via a constant VHF radio feed on what is in FCC terminology called a Relay Press frequency.

This transmission is constant from the microphones in the press box, and can be particularly entertaining during commercial breaks, witness the quote at the top of this post, monitored before the beginning of the 7:00 PM game today.

If you have a standard programmable scanner receiver, or a multi-band receiver that pulls in VHF around the NOAA weather band, plug in 161.700 or tune to just below 162 MHz while the games are going on. The signal can be heard pretty well across the central Grand Valley. You just might make a great catch yourself.

Maybe I'll catch a game later this week. It will be a nice diversion from a very challenging and frustrating time at work, my son being away on a trip, and the Penguins having a very frustrating time in Detroit. With luck and prayer, things will work out as they are designed to.
That's all that anyone can really ask for.

Have a good week ahead.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Remembering Tammy

"Almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

—Steve Jobs

Tammy Martin fought a courageous battle with cancer, at the same time as Jan did.

Tammy was a friendly face at the Oncology clinic when I would bring Jan in for treatment. She was also there for chemo, in one of those recliners, with the added difference of a laptop computer. Tammy was unusually outgoing, ebullient, and so young to be going through what she had to endure. The laptop and the smile; these are two of the things I will remember about Tammy.

Tammy lost her battle with cancer on May 13. She left a husband, two children, and a very large extended family behind.

Evan was fortunate enough to meet a lot of Tammy's relatives at her memorial service today. He is friends with Tammy's niece Stephanie. I had to work, but it was very nice listening to Evan talk about all of the interesting people he met today.

One other thing I will remember about Tammy is what she wrote in Jan's online guest book after Jan passed away:
"I didn't have the privilege of knowing Jan well. I look forward to that chance someday as we meet in Heaven, because I think she's someone I would love to have had in my life.

I pray that you will remain strong as you learn to live without Jan's physical presence. I rejoice that she is free at last from all her suffering, but that doesn't make her loss easier for the two of you. My prayers and tears are with you."
I didn't know Tammy as well as perhaps I could have. I hope that all that did know her, especially those closest to her, will keep her memory close as a loving guidepost for what the Lord has planned for all of us.

My deepest sympathy to Tammy's family.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Here Comes The Flood

This is the Colorado River east of Palisade, as it runs along Highway 6 and 24 from Cameo and the mouth of Debeque Canyon.

This is Plateau Creek, which runs down from Vega Reservoir through Collbran and along Highways 330 and 65 to the Colorado at Cameo. This is along Highway 65, about a mile south of the Colorado River.

It doesn't look as if it will take very much more moisture or snowmelt to bring these waterways out of their banks. To their credit, Mesa County and the various municipal and public safety entities that serve these areas appear to be closely monitoring these conditions, and by my own knowledge and the local media accounts, are as prepared as they can be.

With the local forecast showing a pretty good chance for rain and/or snow over the next few days, vigilance and flexibility are two of the keywords that define how life is going to be for those who live, work, or travel through these areas.

I've seen my share of flash flooding and what it can do, especially to vehicles and the people in them. You can see a good example and reminder here.

Be safe out there.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rough Week

This has been a rough week. It may take a minute to understand, but my weekend has just started because at present I am working Friday through Monday, with Tuesday through Thursday off.

Working weekends doesn't bode well for me making it to church. I'm working a 12-hour shift this coming Saturday (again), which means that I will not be able to make the one weekend service that I usually can. I may have to start going on Wednesday nights, which is not my preference but is apparently the only option right now. I haven't been there in nearly a month, and it is weighing on me.

Aside from the usual craziness at work, I had a desktop computer stop working this weekend, so part of my day off tomorrow will be spent trying to diagnose and fix the problem. There is a swamp cooler to put into service, a wasp nest or two to eradicate, and Christmas lights begging to be taken down. I have procrastinated about this using the flimsy excuse that if the Alpine Bank Building can leave theirs up on the roof all year, so can I. It just isn't working anymore.

One redeeming quality that the last few days had to offer was the continued success of my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins, who thoroughly lambasted the Philadelphia Flyers to bring them just one step closer to the Stanley Cup:

I sat down on the couch to watch the Detroit Red Wings pummel the Dallas Stars in similar fashion tonight. It was about 7:30 when I closed my eyes, and close to 10:00 when I opened them again. I normally call Leslie at about 8:00, so I had to apologize for missing that.

In any event, we now know who we have to get through to hoist the Cup for the first time in 16 years. I hope all of you Avalanche fans will help out. After all, it's the Dead Wings...

Lots on the list for tomorrow, and judging from the paper lots to talk about in the coming days.

Best wishes for a pleasant remainder of your week.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Count Your Blessings..Share Your Concern

Amid all of the things that occupy one's thought processes during the course of a 'normal' day, there are moments where one is reminded of just how good we have it here, even in the face of the challenges that have been a nearly constant presence in my life over the last three years.

My brother-in-law Michael is recovering slowly at a Rehab Hospital in Massachusetts. It doesn't look like he'll be able to go back to his old group home, but there is a place for him that will have one-on-one care in a residential setting. I'm finding out more soon.

My father is hospitalized in Phoenix after emergency surgery to removed an inflamed and possibly infected gallbladder. He is in the ICU currently. My brother and I are getting updates from Dad's wife as to what we can do and what is needed.

Leslie's daughter Michaela continues to undergo chemotherapy at home, with periodic blood work and scans. She remains in good spirits.

I have a very decent job that presents constant challenges, especially as a single parent of a teenager.

I have reasonable health, even when I don't take care of myself like I should.

I can keep going on about the advantages of living in this country and region of the world, especially in the wake of recent events. We are largely unaffected by tropical weather and plate tectonics to the extent that the residents of Myanmar and China have been in recent days. The hosts of NPR's All Things Considered were in Chengdu for a special series of reports when the quake struck. Their firsthand reports from the scene have been most enlightening and somewhat heart-wrenching.

I have Marjorie to thank for making me think about this. She discovered the Bloggers Unite for Human Rights Challenge and wrote about it today. Her excellent post expanded on the relief agencies that often represent the first line of response to large-scale calamities such as we have seen of late, and the challenges they face not only from the effects of the disaster itself, but of the well-intentioned but misdirected attempts at supporting relief efforts with hard goods that don't meet the immediate need.

Marjorie gave some examples of these relief agencies that need monetary resources to provide for those immediate needs, and resupply for future ones. My donation to Doctors Without Borders is on its' way tonight.

On my own Human Rights front, there are several issues that I am interested in, most notably the oppression and exploitation of women and children, especially in the name of religious intolerance or to sate the desires of elites and the wealthy for sexual gratification.

There are so many examples of egregious abuses outside our borders that it almost seems trivial to cast an eye on those attitudes and abuses that taint our own national legacy. I will not fall into that trap, however. Our nation's history remains fraught with these examples, and some of the most socially ingrained biases are now coming to the forefront as it becomes more evident that an African-American will be one of the major candidates to lead this country. I am seeing some of this firsthand, and have had to look at myself in ways I never thought I would have to. I'll have more to write about this down the road.

Our country is being held up to the mirror in more ways than one, and the world is watching.
In the realm of human rights and how we evaluate our leaders and each other, we will be forced to take a serious look at ourselves in the context of how we function as a nation that aspires to emulate Christian ideals.

In the meantime, take stock of the wealth we have here, both in material and spiritual terms, and be prepared to stand up for what is right for our world.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Roundabout Rage

Dean Humphrey - The Daily Sentinel

I was working when this tragedy on I-70 occurred on Monday afternoon.

I really can't offer any special insight on the a
ccident, but there seems to be a great deal of community concern about the factors that may have contributed to this. Many of these concerns were directed toward the roundabout at the 24 Road interchange, the design of which many seem to be attributing some of the blame for this accident. Ralph D'Andrea and Rick Wagner both weighed in with concerns about the appropriateness of roundabouts in multi-lane configurations, providing access to limited access divided highways like I-70.

There have been follow-up stories in yesterday's and today's Sentinel editions, including a strong defense of the design and si
gnage characteristics by representatives of both the City of Grand Junction and CDOT.

I went out and took a look for myself. I know a little bit about t
hese things, but I'm not an engineer or an accident investigator.

This is the impact point of the accident. The dark stains on the roadway are from the motor oil and other fluids that leaked from the involved vehicles.

You can see tire tracks leading away from the point of impact. These tracks are from the fluids on the roadway. One thing that appears to be conspicuously absent to me, from this photo and the one above, is the absence of skid marks from either direction. It appears as if there was no attempt at braking by either car.

This is the eastbound off-ramp at Exit 24, seen from the roundabout.

Nancy Shanks from CDOT was quoted today:
“It’s not an easy-flowing right-hand turn...You may even have to travel over a piece of that median.”
not so sure about that assessment. That median doesn't look to be much in the way. Should one make this right turn in error, there do appear to be several warning signs, however.

Here is a view down the off-ramp a little bit.
There are DO NOT ENTER signs at the top of
the ramp, followed by these two WRONG WAY
signs on either side of the roadway.

Something tells me that there's more at work here than just confusion over a roundabout.
I'll bet there will be some changes in response to this, and it won't be the first time.

The signs identifying the road that each overpass is carrying over I-70 are a new addition since the fatal crash last summer involving a semi that severely damaged this overpass at 26 1/2 Road.

This crash happened at about 2:30 in the morning, and there were numerous conflicting reports from motorists on I-70 who couldn't identify where they were.

This is a welcome addition to the I-70 corridor. Too bad that a fatal accident had to happen to bring it about.

That being said, the Sentinel's editorial yesterday is absolutely correct in its' assessment of the issues, and support of roundabouts as safe and efficient movers of increasing volumes of traffic.

As I've said previously, roundabouts can be subject to design flaws just as any other man-made conveyance, and we've got lots of examples locally. I think it's safe to say that the design and signage of this roundabout, and the eastbound off-ramp, was not the primary cause of this tragedy. The driver of the silver minivan that accessed the Interstate in the wrong direction continued at highway speeds for nearly a mile before the crash.

Can a better job be done? Certainly. In most cases it always can. The ruminations of trial lawyers notwithstanding, human beings are not perfect. I expect that CDOT will re-evaluate the 24 Road roundabout, implement some positive changes, and incorporate those changes into the same type of roundabout now under construction at the Fruita exit.

In the meantime, roundabouts work. They move traffic more efficiently and safely than the 4-way intersections they replaced. Like the traffic jams, crowded retail centers, and surfeit of construction vehicles and energy company service trucks, roundabouts are a necessary component of the traffic engineering model for a growing metropolitan area like ours.
They're here to stay. Get used to it.

And most importantly, our heartfelt condolences to those touched by this tragic occurrence. May the Lord's peace be upon you in this difficult time.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

I hope that everyone had a pleasant Mother's Day. I sent my Mom a nice plant, and had a nice phone conversation with her. It's still kind of melancholy around here, especially because I had to work today and Evan was at home by himself. I know he misses his Mom a lot, but he doesn't show a lot of his feelings. I suppose that's to be expected from a teenager, but I do my best to make sure he knows that I'm accessible.

It really wasn't that bad of a day or weekend. The Art & Jazz Festival was a nice diversion on Friday and Saturday evening. It's nice to be able to walk there, and last night the sounds of Hazel Miller and her band drifted up 4th Street into my neighborhood, giving the late evening an enjoyable ambiance.

The Sentinel had an interesting group of features today on High School graduations. One that particularly interested me was a story about graduation songs, good, bad, and otherwise. The title of this post popped into my head when I was thinking of potential song titles. It's a Monkees tune, and before you cringe (a lot of us remember their 'performance' at Country Jam a few years back), remember that for a band created exclusively for a TV show they actually had some really good songs.

I don't know what the class song choices were in the 60's around here, but the title and lyric to this song might have warranted consideration by some GJHS kids during that time:

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
Mothers complain about how hard life is
And the kids just don't understand

Creature comfort goals
They only numb my soul and make it hard for me to see
My thoughts all seem to stray, to places far away
I need a change of scenery
Whether or not a song like that would have passed muster with the powers that be remains to be seen (I can hear that conversation now; "Well, it's better than 'Purple Haze'), that's part of the fun of doing something like that. It's all part of the last great act of defiance against The Man - right up there with beach balls, shorts and tank tops underneath your gown, and throwing the caps at the end.

I really don't remember whether or not my graduating class had a 'class song' or not. I asked Leslie about it on the phone tonight (she graduated 3 years after I did), and she said that she couldn't remember any of that stuff about high school. She had too many other things to do.

While so many of us cling to high school memories, some of us just saw it as a stepping stone to something else entirely. I have to admire both approaches as a part of the path we're all headed down. The different paths that we take, the very existence of them, are part of what defines us as human beings and citizens of this great but deeply flawed country.

2008 Graduates, hold on to the good memories of these years as long as you can. As Simon and Garfunkel said best, "Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you".

My 30-year class reunion is coming up in October. I'm still debating on whether or not to go. I had a few close friends there, but not many, at least not until after high school. Today I thought about what a good class song would have been, taking into account what I know after 30 years in 'the real world', and what I remember about that time of my life.

I was surprised to come up with one rather easily, without racking my brain too badly. It was released in 1977, during the autumn and winter of my senior year. I heard it on the radio a couple of days ago, and it immediately brought back both the joyous and bittersweet memories of that time, along with the hope, uncertainty, successes, and failures of the true formative years that lay in wait after the last diploma has been handed out.

Song lyrics | The Pretender lyrics

Hug your high school student if you've got one, and enjoy the week ahead.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Budweiser High School

This past Tuesday evening Evan and I saw Iron Man at the Regal. It was very good, and is probably worth a second big-screen look to drink it all in.

Being a Marvel Comics fan for many years, I can say with relative certainty that Tony Stark / Iron Man is a role that Robert Downey Jr. was born to play.

While on the way to get something to eat afterward, we chased down a pretty cool picture of Mt. Garfield.

We wound up exiting the Interstate at Clifton, and while merging in from the off-ramp Evan
asked me, "Dad, which school is that?"

"I'm not sure that IS a school" I replied. Upon closer inspection, however, imaginary sources started to tell me that maybe Evan was on to something.

"You know, that kind of DOES look like a school", I said with a whimsical smile. " I wonder which one it is".

As we drove further, our question was quickly answered, courtesy of an impressive sign on the southeast side of the building.

"Oh, now I remember! It's Budweiser High School!", I exclaimed.

"Gee Dad", Evan asked with a hint of excitement in his voice, "is it too late to do a Schools of Choice request for next year? What's their mascot?"

"I don't know, and I think you're pretty much locked in to Junction for your senior year. Anyway, the place looks pretty boring. No athletic fields or anything."

"I know", Evan said, "They're the Hops. The Budweiser Fighting Hops! Boy, I wonder how many MIP tickets get given out at their football games?"

(Editor's Note: This building is actually Central Distributing Company's facility in Clifton.)

This made me think for a minute. What if there was no legal drinking age, and the stigma of 'forbidden fruit' that surrounds alcohol was removed from the social fabric of our country?
Then I thought, that's a pipe dream. Look at your own family, and what life, liberty, and the pursuit of the next shot-and-a-beer have done to some of them.

I looked around and found compelling arguments pro and con about having a legal drinking age, or at least having a lower one that dovetailed with other responsibilities that we confer upon 18 year olds. After reading those, I'm left as conflicted as I'm sure many others are about conveying the legal privilege to drink in conjunction with the responsibilities of adulthood.

I then found this website, which made a good deal more sense than just the recitation of countless studies, or lamenting the heavy-handedness of the nanny state. It tries to speak to hearts and minds, about making good decisions, and solid choices based upon the core values that hopefully we parents have spent a good deal of time and energy imparting on our children.

Best of all, the site is a local product, which speaks volumes about the expertise and commitment available in our area to address critical issues like this one, and others like Meth. From the sound of it, we have another problem that is making a comeback, and that perhaps underage drinking enforcement may help impact as well.

With the above in mind, here's a letter to Evan and his friends, and to all teens and young adults out there:


We love and care for you so much, but you need to know how to live on your own.
That's why we let you go out in the evening, so you can work, laugh, love, and play, and find out who you really are and where you belong in this complex world.

Please be smart. Use the common sense that God gave you.

Stand for what you truly believe in, and you won't fall for the spontaneously negligent or criminally stupid entreaties of other mortals.

We're watching. Five-O is watching. And if that's not good enough for you, God is watching.

Have fun, but please be real careful out there.



Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Do The Math - Again

Here we are again at 1st and Grand. The last time I looked here was a little over three months ago, when gas prices were about 21 percent lower than they are now.

These prices have been pretty much the same over the last week or so, except that the price at the Loco store was $3.49 about a day before I snapped these pictures, which was Tuesday afternoon.

I still haven't heard an explanation from anyone with a little more knowledge on the subject than myself as to why two gas stations across the street from one another, presumably selling the same brand of gasoline, would have such a marked disparity in price.

If I had the time, I would research it more. This link helped a little, but doesn't really explain the situation above. The Eagle store isn't even giving away free coffee with a 10 gallon purchase like they did in January. I suppose there's no help here.

Gene Kinsey opined today on John McCain's proposal to suspend the 18 cent per gallon Federal tax to provide some relief. Gene adopted what I thought was a somewhat one-sided approach to the issue, and one of his commenters called him on it.

Gene went so far as to try to tie Obama's response to the proposal to an elitist label, and questioned all of the candidates' abilities to run a hamburger stand.

At this stage in the game they're
all elitist to some extent; what separates them is what you feel in your own heart about the message they're trying to send, with a fine filter to keep the noise and distractions out.

Another commenter suggested that more oil was the only way to "sustain" ourselves. What, pray tell, are we trying to "sustain"? I could go off on a tirade about our bloated, conspicuously consuming, gas-guzzling, entertainment-addicted society, but then I would look in the mirror. We're all guilty of some of that. Realizing that we are all culpable is the first step in realizing that we all play a part in the solution.

I live and work Downtown, but I drive to work, in part because I usually run errands or do shopping afterward but also out of an innate fear of a lack of quick mobility in case of an emergency. This hearkens back to when my wife was sick; I rode my bike to work once for a meeting, and she had a serious problem that necessitated a rapid pedal back home.

Tomorrow morning I will try to take the first step back to where I was. I used to walk or bike at least two days a week. I'm going to take Melanie's advice and try to reduce my own personal usage and demand.

I've got a ride-along with the Sheriff's Office in the morning, so I'm going to walk or bike down there. Time, circumstance, and personal resolve will hopefully allow me to "sustain" this practice through the spring and summer and into autumn.

It all comes down to hearts and minds, and the courage to change for the better. Isn't that one message that We the People are being fed by one of the three who are trying to become the proprietor of that big burger stand on Pennsylvania Avenue?

And for those of you who think that the actions of one person don't have an effect on the outcome, maybe you should move to Fruita.

Good Night.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A Thing of Beauty

I've been a hockey fan since I first persuaded my Dad to take me to see the Penguins for my 14th birthday.

I thought I would share one of the finer moments of my day today.

Many see hockey as a brutal, violent sport, and to some extent it has been. There are cases to be made that it can also be a sport of artistry, fluidity, creativity, and grace.

Witness the winning goal today that sent the Pens to the NHL Eastern Conference Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers. This is the way hockey is meant to be played. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Media Matters - Wagner Division

Rick Wagner redeemed himself a little with his Sentinel column last week on campaign finance laws and free speech. He referenced the same George Will column that I did, but he also succeeded at writing a decent column about the campaign finance quagmire without once using the name of the person principally responsible for its' existence. Some guy named McCain. Quite the effort required to do an end-around like that.

In the one step forward, two steps back department, Rick tried to make some good points in his blog post today about some of the alarmist rhetoric seen in the You Said It and elsewhere about agricultural burning in the Grand Valley. Unfortunately, I think he stretched the argument too far on this one by trying to turn this concern into an indictment of the entire environmental movement:
"The things that were once merely irritating and perhaps even useful are now sold as deadly. The environmental lobby would like you to believe that everything that makes one even momentarily uncomfortable or that one can see in the air is at least damaging if not deadly. Farmer burning a field -- you get sick; car wreck with a little antifreeze in the street -- environmental catastrophe."
Rick, I grew up in Pittsburgh, and while I did not see the worst of it I do remember my mother sweeping the black soot off of our back porch every morning.

I'm sure that those barons of the steel industry didn't give much concern to what their factories were belching into the sky until the health effects became more widely known. The same goes for those Uranium mill operators who thought nothing of burying tons of mill tailings all over the Grand Valley. Their effects are more gradual and insidious, but no less potentially catastrophic.

I've lost a wife, mother-in-law, and grandmother to lung cancer. Knowing what I know about their environment, habits, and situations, I believe that exposure to an airborne irritant or carcinogen, be it from steel mills, cigarettes, or decaying Uranium, played a role in their respective afflictions.

Burning fields may be an effective, long-standing tradition in the valley, but we know what airborne particulates in the form of smoke can do to people. With more people in the valley comes a time for re-assessment and choices in how agriculture interacts with more living and working spaces across this valley.

Restrictions on burning are an inevitability as the Grand Valley continues to grow. Deal with it.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Prayers for Michael

My late wife Jan's brother Michael lives in a group home in Massachusetts. He has some developmental delays and a seizure disorder, which is mostly controlled by medication.

Two Saturdays ago Mike was on a field trip when he had a seizure, fell, and struck his head. He was taken to a nearby hospital where CT scan showed a right temporal skull fracture with some subdural bleeding.

Mike had two operations to drain off the blood and try to address the skull fracture. He had lost his left side movement and sensation after the injury; this was restored, with some weakness, after the surgery. He was also not speaking very much, but is eating and taking his meds.

On Tuesday, Mike was transferred to a rehabilitation facility not far from his home and friends. I'm hopeful that he will regain the needed function to rejoin the friends he's lived with for the last 22 years.

With both parents and his only sibling now gone, it's fallen to me to manage his affairs, and should he not show progress I'll likely take a more proactive stance in identifying the best possible long-term care options for him. This will mean at least one trip up there to assess and make decisions. I'm hoping that he'll be able to return to what has essentially become his family and his routine.

Your prayers for Mike are greatly appreciated.