Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin - Last Words for Now

The news biz and the blogosphere have been working overtime this weekend to get out as much about Sarah Palin as possible before Gustav dominates the news cycle.

The local bloggers seem to be doing the same thing. Gene Kinsey found some additional information that bolstered my post from yesterday about Gov. Palin's expertise on energy matters. She's no slouch on energy. She can't be in a state that depends on taxes on energy for the bulk of its' revenue.

Janet Rowland should be paying attention.

Marjorie Asturias pointed out the seeming willingness of McCain and the Republicans to patronize Hillary supporters through the Palin choice to try to get their votes.
Marjorie says it best:

But let's get real here. HRC also stands for a number of issues that Palin does not, namely, abortion rights, gun control and a responsible energy policy that doesn't involve rampaging through fragile ecosystems. To vote for Sarah Palin out of spite because one is bitter about the outcome of the Democratic race would not only be stupid, it would be an insult to all that HRC has worked for all her life. Not to mention that it would reinforce this idea that women are an emotional, illogical and resentful bunch who would rather sabotage their future than vote for their chosen candidate's opponent. An opponent, may I add, who that candidate eventually -- and enthusiastically -- supported.
Marjorie makes several exquisite points here, not the least of which is that the Republican party machine is counting on not only women, but as many Americans as possible, to have their minds made up for them by emotionalism and core biases, along with symbolism, AM talk radio propaganda, and 24-hour news blather.

There's definitely much more to Gov. Palin than the pretty face. How much more is what we all hope to find out, one way or another.

She's going to get hammered on troopergate, and a few other things that are already being dredged up. I would prefer to go straight to practical knowledge and experience, and make my decision from there.

I hope that the Obama campaign will remember that as well, especially Biden when he debates her. The Lloyd Bentsen smackdown of Dan Quayle in 1988 was memorable but ineffective, as THAT clod wound up as next in line for POTUS.

Lots to do today. The yard has been delayed by some very welcome rain this morning, but I have September's Words to finish up. Godspeed to Marjorie and her husband for safe passage to Singapore and back, and may God protect those in the path of Gustav.

Michael Moore said something regrettable about
Gustav and the RNC on Olbermann's show last week. I hope he wises up a bit.

Have a good rest of your extended weekend and week ahead.

P.S. - Happy Birthday to Flip, Sal, and Paula.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Warren

This is from today's edition of The Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of Warren Buffett, born in Omaha, Nebraska (1930). In February 2008, he was ranked by Forbes as the richest person in the world, worth about $62 billion. Despite his massive wealth, he lives relatively frugally, still residing in the home he bought in 1958 for $31,500, driving his own car, and allotting himself an annual salary from his investment company of about $100,000.

In 1988, he said: "I don't have a problem with guilt about money. The way I see it is that my money represents an enormous number of claim checks on society. It's like I have these little pieces of paper that I can turn into consumption. If I wanted to, I could hire 10,000 people to do nothing but paint my picture every day for the rest of my life. And the GNP would go up. But the utility of the product would be zilch, and I would be keeping those 10,000 people from doing AIDS research, or teaching, or nursing. I don't do that though. I don't use very many of those claim checks. There's nothing material I want very much. And I'm going to give virtually all of those claim checks to charity when my wife and I die." In 2006, he announced his plans to give 83 percent of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and he began transferring stocks from his company to their foundation.

He also said, "If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians."

Happy Birthday, Warren. While I'll never understand or even want to embrace the expertise that brought you your fortune, I certainly believe that you've got things well in hand, and your head and heart in the right place. Best wishes for many healthy years ahead.

Palin = Rowland??

I don't know hardly enough about Sarah Palin to say what kind of person she is, or what kind of job I think she would do. I did some reading, and have a few ideas. One thing for certain is that I wouldn't want to be in her shoes right now for all the money in the world.

I like to look at what the other local bloggers are saying. Gene Kinsey and Marjorie Asturias weighed in early on.
Rick Wagner reacted predictably, parading a generality, an insult, and a video clip in support of his self-stated position as "Western Colorado's premier political destination". Sorry, Rick, you'll have to do better than that.

Ralph D'Andrea deferred most of his comments for later today, but did take time to try to compare Ms. Palin to Janet Rowland. This is something that ColoradoPols also tried to expand upon, but for me it just doesn't ring true because from first blush it looks like Governor Palin deserves more credit than that.

Governor Palin, among other things, was a member of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for a while. To quote Wikipedia on her tenure there;
"Governor Murkowski appointed Palin Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, where she served from 2003 to 2004 until resigning in protest over what she called the "lack of ethics" of fellow Alaska Republican leaders, who ignored her whistleblowing complaints of legal violations and conflicts of interest. After she resigned, she exposed the state Republican Party's chairman, Randy Ruedrich, one of her fellow Oil & Gas commissioners, who was accused of doing work for the party on public time, and supplying a lobbyist with a sensitive e-mail. Palin filed formal complaints against both Ruedrich and former Alaska Attorney General Gregg Renkes, who both resigned; Ruedrich paid a record $12,000 fine."
A fresh Wall Street Journal article outlined some of Gov. Palin's experience on energy issues this way:

Since becoming Alaska's governor in 2006, Sarah Palin has pushed oil companies to move faster with projects to expand oil and gas production. She is widely credited with reviving a long-stalled effort to build a natural-gas pipeline from Alaska's Prudhoe Bay energy fields to the Lower 48 states.

In a state that is dependent for its operating revenue on taxes and energy royalties paid by oil companies, she has negotiated with the state's big producers, Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC and ConocoPhillips.

"Sarah Palin is pro-development and is supportive of oil and gas development in an environmentally conscious way, but she is very tough on the companies. She doesn't think that when the state of Alaska leases oil and gas to big oil, it means big oil gets to call all the shots," says Drue Pearce, an appointee of President George W. Bush who directs the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects.

Critics say Ms. Palin is pro-drilling at a time when the U.S. shouldn't pursue an energy policy that attempts to drill its way out of high prices. "She may face down the oil companies in Alaska when it comes to the pipeline, but she is singing their tune when it comes to energy policy," says Daniel J. Weiss, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a left-of-center Washington, D.C., think tank.

So Governor Palin has established a reputation for integrity by exposing corrupt practices among members of her own party, and also has a reputation for being tough on the energy companies who do business in her state.

This doesn't sound hardly at all like Janet Rowland, who on energy issues usually follows the bread crumbs left for her by her fellow commissioner, Craig 'Conflict of Interest' Meis.

I for one would be curious to hear Gov. Palin expand upon the concept of how to firmly regulate the energy companies operating in her state. Her answers may help to further deflate the lame argument that additional, reasonable regulation will drive big energy out of Colorado.

Sarah Palin sounds like a gutsy risk-taker to me. I can see how John McCain would identify with her, even if they only met once before he asked her to jump on the Straight Talk Express to Hell.

What I can't see is her presiding over the U.S. Senate as Vice President with the likes of Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Mikulski, and many other women with infinitely more political experience currently serving in the Senate on both sides of the aisle.

Speaking of both sides of the aisle, the Almanac of American Politics describes Alaska as "heavily Republican, with a Libertarian streak". One wonders how a Vice President Palin will be able to help manage a Congress that will likely continue to be in control of the other party. She may possess the youth, vitality, and charm that Dick Cheney lacks, but that won't get things done on the floor or in the cloakroom.

Governor Palin's reputation as a 'barracuda' may be a solid attribute for a politician and leader, but she's a star in summer stock when the show's on Broadway. Her talents will be best utilized in another role that will hopefully provide the experience and seasoning that she'll need to lead in Washington. Perhaps she'll be able to join the Senate if the Ted Stevens debacle results in an open seat for an Alaskan in the near future .

Friday, August 29, 2008

Convention Reflection

I admittedly did not pay that much attention to the speeches and other hoopla at the Democratic National Convention this week, save for Obama's speech last night, which I have on the DVR and need to review in its' entirety later. From what I did hear, he did a very good job. Leslie, who doesn't watch a great deal of TV news, did watch some of the speech and was impressed as well.

I like to focus on what goes on behind the scenes; how the infrastructure of a metropolitan area handles an event such as this, which while not quite a disaster response is still daunting in the human challenges it presents to those with critical positions of responsibility to the community at large.

I've attended many trade conventions in the past, and participated on the organizing committee of one national trade convention 14 years ago. When thinking back about these gatherings, for some reason I tend to start thinking of a lot of "P" words, such as:

Pluralistic Presentations
Portentous Procurement Planning
Political Posturing
Perceived Privilege
Periodic Prurience
Pervasive Partying

The best convention I ever attended was 20 years ago in Salt Lake City. It was for the advent of a relatively new concept; building a national certification standard in Emergency Medical Dispatch, along with a nationally-recognized organization to oversee training and certification.

There was a three-day certification class that was intensive, followed by a two-day conference.
I hadn't been that far west since a trip to the west coast when I was 8 years old. The ability to look around on my own, learn new skills, and network with some truly visionary people, served as a springboard for me in my career. I saw that there was so much more going on in communications than what I was seeing in the east. Before I forget, downtown Salt Lake's best kept secret is here.

7 years later, I moved to Colorado.

Unfortunately, things have changed in many ways that are to me unsavory, which led in part to the recent changes that I've made in my career path. While I still feel that there is a need for face-to-face interaction with my peers in the industry, I also feel that some of the luster of the big national trade convention has been lost to the quick and varied availability of information that the electronic information age has brought us.

That's a large reason why a few things that happened at the DNC this week were more interesting to me than the supposed substance of the actual event:

The Denver Police Online Scanner Feed had as many as 500 or more listeners on each night of the convention, and got some notice from at least one well-read techie blog. The online scanner network, which is operated by volunteers and supported by donations, provides online public safety radio feeds for every metro area in the state, and a good portion of rural counties as well.

The investigative reporting of ABC News during the convention, which focused on what they called "The Money Trail". One of their reporters may have got a little too close to that trail, and got arrested in what appears to be an overly forceful and trumped-up manner.

The network is
coming to his defense, and hopefully we'll see just as comprehensive a study of these questionable practices when the Republicans get together next week.

Something tells me that the advance team at MSNBC will be getting a different set location in St. Paul than the ground level location near Union Station that they chose for the DNC.

Check out the video:

I'm hopefully going to get a lot of stuff done around the house this Labor Day weekend. I'm going to try to stay away from the TV as much as possible. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hospice - The Wright Stuff

On Sunday afternoon I attended the open house for the new Care Center of Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado.

The building was magnificently planned and executed, and is designed to integrate fully with the existing Hospice building (the restored Miller Homestead), the Fairmount Health Park next door, and the surrounding neighborhood and assisted living communities nearby.

The building's exterior, looking from the main entrance, is reminiscent of other buildings designed by architects from local firm Blythe Design. Looking from the front hardly does the site justice, however, as the facility is exquisitely integrated into its' surroundings, and possesses noteworthy interior design features as well.

The building joins several in the Grand Valley to incorporate many design features directly attributable to Frank Lloyd Wright. Others include the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Credit Union of Colorado on Main Street, and the St. Joseph Rectory on White Avenue, all pictured below.

In contrast to the above buildings, the bulk of Wright's influence on the Hospice facility is on the interior. The main lobby, pictured here on the left, is modeled after the interiors of several Wright houses of the Prairie period, such as the interior of the Robie House in Chicago, pictured below.

The Wright-themed interior design continues with the lovely
stained glass windows that adorn the main lobby. These windows appear to incorporate several examples of Wright's prolific work in stained glass during the late 19th and early 20th century, which was second only in output and popularity to that of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Similar patterns also appear as wall treatments, inlaid into the hardwood flooring in many parts of the building, as well as in the tile work of the patient bathrooms.

The patient rooms show thoughtfulness not only in design
esthetics, but in functionality as well. The larger rooms have a sofa bed and recliner, and the french doors to the balcony are large enough to accommodate the patient's bed if desired.

Many light fixtures and lamps are all Wright-influenced, if not reproductions of his designs.

The Reflection Room, which serves double duty as a meditation room and small chapel, is one of many rooms in the facility furnished with pieces of the Mission or Arts and Crafts styles.

Outside again, the south and west side of the building is two stories, with a lower level that houses administrative offices, conference rooms, and a full-service restaurant that, when open, will serve the general public seven days a week.

An inviting plaza with a small fountain connects the Care Center to the Miller Homestead and small pond that fronts North 12th Street. The statue pictured here is adjacent the pond, and is a replica of a design called a 'Sprite' that Wright initially used at Chicago's Midway Gardens, an open-air beer garden and social gathering space that was built in 1914 and demolished in 1929. Some of the original Sprites were saved from the demolition, and now reside at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.

I spoke with Christy Whitney, Hospice President and CEO, and asked her where the emphasis on Wright came from as a motif for many Hospice operations. The Heirlooms For Hospice store in downtown Grand Junction displays at least two full-size Wright stained glass reproductions, and Hospice makes wide use of the Eaglefeather typeface adapted from a 1922 Wright design.

Ms. Whitney stated that the affinity for Wright is hers. She grew up in a suburb of Chicago, home to the largest concentration of Wright buildings in the world. Ms. Whitney added that Wright's design ideas for his single family residences seem to adapt well to the group care setting. After witnessing the execution of that opinion in the form of this newest addition to the Grand Valley's continuum of end-of-life care, I'm inclined to agree.

Still, I feel compelled to be cautious about the future. Hospice has positioned itself well in generating revenue through conventional means, including philanthropy, and also through more creative ventures such as the Heirlooms stores, a coffee shop, and now the restaurant.

The potential for Hospice is great, but is dependent upon far more than the edification of their mission through this beautiful new facility. Effective management strategies to optimize operating processes and recruit, train, and retain dedicated and compassionate personnel are a constant challenge with any organization, but more so with non-profits.

If anyone needs a reminder of what the other side of the coin looks like, you need look no further than the experience of Colorado West Mental Health since they moved into a new facility. It's a lesson that others in the Grand Valley seeking to expand their physical infrastructure may want to remain mindful of.

A sidewalk leads from the Miller pond, past the south side of the new building, connects with the Hermosa Ave. neighborhood, then continues around to the east toward the parking area and the Fountains assisted living complex.

Lining this sidewalk are numerous bricks with tributes to patients and friends of Hospice, including someone who I think would have been very comfortable here in her last days.

Get over when you can to see what's happening. Count
your blessings, and enjoy the rest of your week.

Photo Credits: (Robie House Interior)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Budweiser High School MADDness

(Apologies to The Firesign Theatre)

The national controversy brewing about lowering the drinking age took a decidedly
local flavor when Mesa State President Tim Foster signed his name to a statement issued by The Amethyst Initiative. This statement says, in part:

A culture of dangerous, clandestine “binge-drinking”—often conducted off-campus—has developed.

Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students.

Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.

By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.

The statement further calls for elected officials "to support an informed and dispassionate public debate over the effects of the 21 year-old drinking age". It's important to note that the statement that President Foster and 128 other college presidents signed does not call for the wholesale reduction in the drinking age; it merely calls for examination and dialogue, two essential components of education, parenting, and effective leadership and governance.

Groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving reacted predictably. The Daily Sentinel called them on the carpet for their reactionary approach to the mere mention of any type of discourse on the issue, and I'm in full agreement with the Sentinel on this one.

Leslie and I had a spirited discussion about this earlier in the week. She told me that for someone with such a strong disdain for alcohol such as myself, it's surprising that I would support even the consideration of making it legally available to 18 year olds.

She's right, of course. I tend to be very judgmental when it comes to the abuse of alcohol, and those who imbibe and behave irresponsibly. To be honest, I have little tolerance for stupid drunks. It's a character flaw that I need to work on.

I've written before about my own internal debate regarding this issue. One the one hand, I believe that with additional responsibilities should come additional privileges, and that dovetails with the premise that the responsibility to vote in elections and die for one's country should bring with it the right to have a drink if one chooses.

On the other side of the coin, I have to question the maturity level of many of our young adults who are about to turn 18. Consequently I have to question the habits of many parents and other role models who have raised or mentored these children in a manner that allows them to glamorize and trivialize the consequences of alcohol consumption, particularly in excess.

I realize that a line has to be drawn somewhere. Regardless of where we draw it there will be those who are denied what their responsibilities and maturity level should afford them, as well as those who need to do some serious growing up.

I found some very interesting web resources while looking further into the Amethyst Initiative.
This new effort to organize university presidents is part of a larger campaign called Choose Responsibility. Led by a university President, CR's stated mission is "to promote informed public debate and support a fresh approach to the problem of reckless and excessive drinking, especially by young people".

This organization, funded wholly by philanthropy, offers many tools to begin reasonable discourse on these issues. They will be featured as part of an upcoming 60 Minutes story on alcohol and drinking ages.

As personally conflicted as I am about alcohol consumption by our young adults, I cannot condone a refusal to sit down at the table and discuss the issue honestly and openly. This issue for me represents a big part of what is right and wrong with America. We need to get serious and get to work.

Hastings Tribune
Aug 22, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Won't You be My Neighbor?

"All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we're giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That's one of the things that connects us as neighbors - in our own way, each one of us is a giver and receiver".
This evening, the Grand Junction City Council will officially recognize the Hawthorne Park Neighborhood Association. Our neighborhood is benefiting from the influx of several new residents who are purchasing older properties, renovating them, and living in them. This increase in owner-occupant households has resulted in an equally increased sense of community, not so much in a tangible way but in a more human way.

There are two young couples in my block who have been active in establishing the association, and have taken advantage of some of the grant funding available for special projects to improve the area. In our case here, that has meant city-funded beautification of the "park strips" between sidewalk and curb, with labor contributed by the property owner.

Where once was gravel or dirt, we now have irrigation, new trees, and attractive xeriscaping. It's rather impressive (and will become more so as the plants grow), and a credit to the owner-occupants who put forth the effort.

Combined with some of the wonderful things being done by other residents that I've written about previously, the potential for continued improvements to the cohesiveness and beauty of the Hawthorne Park neighborhood is greatly enhanced by the initiative of these neighbors to approach the City about such a designation.
The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.
- G.K. Chesterton
To be truthful, I have neighbors that have enriched my life to a point where things would have been much harder without them, and I have neighbors that I have not spoken more than a few words to in over 9 years. Despite the trivial human frailties that all of us possess, we all seem to watch out for each other, but are respectful of each other's choices and limitations.

If the neighborhood association turns out to be a facilitator for assistance and developing those community efforts and human intangibles that I referred to above, then it stands to do a great service to our area. However, I will be watchful for signs of intolerance, such as those that tend to populate many HOA's, here and elsewhere. Neighborhood associations should exist for the betterment of the community at large by promoting improvement strategies, not attempting to impose them by ostracism or other means.

There are several things that I can think of that would enhance the quality of life and sense of community in our neighborhood. One is a neighborhood watch program, which again can be a slippery slope if not managed properly.

Another idea concerns those vacant lots at the corner of 5th and Chipeta, several of which are owned by the Library District. If the library isn't planning on expanding anytime soon, those lots might be a great place for a community garden, much like what is happening in the 1000 block of Main Street. That's a project I'd be interested in, even though I seriously lack any kind of green thumb. I guess I'm more driven by the divine inspiration provided by fresh red bell peppers and Roma tomatoes.
The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor.

- Hubert H. Humphrey
The City, while being commended for its' efforts to forward the development of neighborhood groups, should nonetheless be cautious about continued actions which threaten to dilute the quality of service provision to our little part of the "original square mile" as well as other established neighborhoods. This activity consists mostly of automatic annexations of properties under the Persigo Agreement with Mesa County.

This agreement needs to be re-negotiated, and/or more stringent, individualized consideration given to development applications that involve annexation. The effective quality of life of all current city residents is at stake.

On a greater political scope, please take note of the author of the above quote. This man's presidential aspirations were dashed in part by a divisive convention peppered by violent outbursts. In this context, and especially on the eve of the events in Denver 40 years later, perhaps Recreate68, Code Pink, and those entrenched Hillary supporters should be re-thinking their plans. As much as the Democratic Party is a political establishment, with all of the negative connotations of that term, it may very well be better than the alternative.

On the other side of the coin, here's hoping that the Democratic establishment and the Denver Police will exercise prudent judgment in monitoring and addressing protest activities. I know that the ACLU, CopWatch, Denver Open Media, and other organizations are geared up to document, publish, distribute, and litigate over controversial or openly abusive police tactics.
The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.

- Martin Luther King, Jr., from Strength to Love (1963)

On both sides, restraint is the order of the day. Let's be good neighbors.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Local Observations

It's been a busy week of catching up, and after a few days of it I still feel adrift and overwhelmed. Hopefully the first day of the new school year will allow me to reset and regroup a little.

Several recent occurrences in our area caught my attention while I was gone, and since my return I've had some time to think about them.

The pending sale of the Daily Sentinel is certainly an interesting if not unexpected development. I must commend Alex Taylor, the paper's relatively new Publisher, for the frank and open manner in which the paper reported on its' own sale, as well as his own individual efforts at rumor control. I admire his courage and straightforwardness, even if the actions he is trying to defend on behalf of his company risk putting the Sentinel in the hands of someone like Rupert Murdoch.

The mood of the publication since the announcement seems strangely subdued, with some exceptions, i.e. the unsinkable Gary Harmon. Denny Herzog hasn't blogged since the announcement, perhaps in deference to his boss, but I'd still like to hear his assessment of the situation.

From what I've read it all sounds like a bloodless corporate business decision. There seems to be more than a little bit of irony for me in the revelation that indebtedness related to a Cable TV operation, combined with the tough economy (especially for newspapers) led Cox to this course of action.

In my limited assessment, Cox has a bigger intangible debt to its' employees than any sum it may owe to investment bankers. Bad form.

Put me in the column of those who thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the Riverside Parkway.
It will be a boon to commuters, truckers, and a long overdue reprieve for residents of Orchard Mesa trying to get around, as Ralph D'Andrea so accurately stated a few days back.

Ralph also recently published his 1,000th Junction Daily Blog. Congratulations to him on the achievement, and many thanks for the insight and education he has helped provide to many of us trying to navigate the sometimes stinky bog that is politics.

The Parkway is an example of getting what you pay for. We The People stand to be asked to pay for several other additions to our municipal infrastructure this November. As I've stated previously, this election has significant implications for our country in so many ways, with so many of them local in scope. Get registered, get informed, and get involved.

I enjoyed Josh Nichols' editorial in Friday's Free Press, where he takes the City of Grand Junction's development staff and Planning Commission to task for appearing to make a development decision using only morality as a guidepost, after claiming that such an action was beyond their capabilities when considering a controversial development in the recent past.

I can't speak to the motivations of the commission in these actions, but I can say what I know, which is that 3 members of the Planning Commission, along with two alternates, will have their terms expire in October.

The city is currently soliciting interested city residents to apply, although it is kind of a travesty that eligible residents of the 201 Sewer District outside the city limits cannot participate. They're the ones whose communities are being affected the most by many decisions regarding annexation under the 10-year-old Persigo Agreement.

Current city residents are also being affected, as the city grows in lockstep to development activity as opposed to any organized fashion, and the current service delivery models for public safety and other services are impacted, in many cases without apparent regard to delivery benchmarks such as resource coordination and response time. The Public Safety Initiative will supposedly help resolve some of these issues, if approved by the voters. 'Maybe' on both counts.

On a related note, it was reported last week that the Planning Commission's hearing that included the controversial "Gentlemen's Club" (what an oxymoron) would not be televised on Cable Channel 12 as per the usual practice, due to the scheduled broadcast of primary election returns.

This is to be expected, as Channel 12 belongs to Mesa County and it would follow that activities of county government would trump anything the City would have to offer in the same time slot.
The city can have it's own cable channel for similar purposes just by asking Bresnan for it; it's in the city's cable franchise agreement. Hopefully something will get started in that area soon.

Off to bed. Hope you have a good week ahead.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

More Travelogue and Road Lessons

I'm back in Grand Junction, and there's lots going
on, but lots to get out ahead of it as well.

Provincetown on a summer evening is one of my favorite places on Earth.

There is an organized chaos, a joy of living, a sense of friendliness and irreverence that makes being a part of the crowd a very enjoyable experience. Sailing on the bay out of Macmillan Wharf is
a calming complement to the true sense of community that is abundant in places like Commercial Street, pictured above.

Luckily, we in Grand Junction have something that approaches; the Thursday night Farmer's Market.

Driving across Ontario offered few significant visual differences, but turning on the radio was an entirely different matter.

I found one news station on the AM dial with coverage of the propane plant explosion in Toronto the morning we drove through. The remainder of the AM stations seemed to be programmed with traditional music and commercial formats. It was quite the contrast to the barrage of divisive noise that populates the bulk of the AM dial in the states.

After leaving Des Moines on Tuesday morning, the weather cleared out and I decided to spend some time improving on the quality of the driving experience across Nebraska by traversing it via US Highway 6. This is the same Highway 6 that travels through Grand Junction, starting in Bishop, California (it originally started in Long Beach) and going all the way to..well, Provincetown. There's something about the highway and its' course that speaks to me.

Aside from the pungent odor of the occasional feedlot, the trip did not disappoint. We saw several oversize load trucks carrying huge blades for the numerous wind turbines that we saw being built in both Iowa and Nebraska. We saw a solar powered car going eastbound at about 50 MPH. We also got to drive through several interesting small towns and small cities, including the attractive regional 'hub' cities of Hastings, Holdrege, and McCook.

There were a couple of ulterior motives that led me to drive this particular portion of Highway 6, and both involve chasing the past. I'm tied to Holdrege and Hastings by a particular person, who was my first steady girlfriend in high school. Her home life didn't seem to lend itself to the possibility of college, and also led her to want to get out and get away as soon as she could.

When I told her that I wasn't ready to get married at 17, my stock dropped rapidly, and I was soon replaced by a Nebraska native who was stationed in a branch of the armed forces nearby. In 6 months she was married, and off to live in Holdrege. From what Google can tell me, she now lives in Hastings, has several grown children, and is a respected crafter, YMCA instructor, and musician. Her husband is a fairly well-known figure in the local and regional media.

In retrospect you can't help but be happy for people who know what they want, and go out and get it. For some reason I wanted to see where all that happened for her, and then move on. And that's what I'm doing.

Our second stop was in
McCook, and I found several reasons to celebrate the past there. The highway itself told a story of its' past, in the form of remnants of the original Highway 6 near a rest stop that is a hold-over from the old highway, and is also accessed by the current version of the highway.

I was struck by how narrow the two-lane road was, with no shoulder save for the grass. No lengthy off-ramps here; the turn-off to the rest area was a straight right turn with an attractive curve up a small hill.

My other reason for stopping was to see the only Frank Lloyd Wright structure built in Nebraska.

The Harvey P. Sutton House sits on top of a hill amongst other nice examples of local houses.

The house has been meticulously maintained, and like most Wright houses of his Prairie period that are maintained in such a way, it's hard to believe that the house was designed and built over a century ago.

There is a vintage clock in front of the town's old Carnegie Free Library building, which indicates it's from Sutton's Jewelry Store, perhaps the same Sutton that built the Wright house. That, along with the well-maintained red brick streets in the business district, gave me the distinct impression that there were some progressive people in this town around the turn of the 20
th Century, and that McCook is indeed a diamond in the rough of the high plains of south central Nebraska.

Our trip home continued along US-34 into Fort Morgan, and back onto the Interstate from there. We did get to see the Massacre Canyon Memorial near Trenton, Nebraska, and got to see a nice looking sunset between Wray and Yuma once we crossed the Colorado border.

And so the sun sets on another road trip. Aside from some of the other lessons learned along the way, I would have liked to have planned some sightseeing a little better, but the spontaneous nature of some of the trip was also very welcome.

Evan is getting ready to start school next week, and has been with his friends almost constantly since our return. I'm getting ready to start a new job soon, and am equally excited about that.

This autumn portends to be filled with all kinds of new directions and experiences, not only for my family but our nation as a whole. As driving across this country helps prove to me every time I do it, we are so very different, but can also gather together and make many positive things happen.

We The People will see no lack of opportunities for creating better communities and a better nation in the months ahead. Let's not squander the chance.

See you around town.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Almost Back

Des Moines - The better part of 3 days of driving through steady downpours, construction delays, border checkpoints, and more construction delays (Chicago deserves a double mention) has me pretty much down for the count and ready to get back to a somewhat normal routine.

I've driven to Grand Junction from here before in a straight shot. It's about 13 hours in good weather, and there is rain forecast for tomorrow. Having Evan to share the driving load will help, but I'm reserving judgment until I see what awaits in Nebraska and beyond.

We left Boston on Saturday and went through Buffalo (an over 100 year old Wright house is here), Niagara Falls (in a downpour - lovely), then across Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan, and southwest around Lake Michigan to Chicago's northern suburbs, where my Aunt Fran lives with her husband Rich. Monday night brings us here, where hotel rooms are at a premium and truck traffic was pretty crazy.

It's Tuesday morning, and a steady rain is falling here. It'll be a fun day of driving...NOT.
It has been good to keep up with what's going on in GJ, and this morning brought a nice surprise in the Sentinel.

Gus the therapy dog is a sweetheart; I've met him more than once. He's part of a great program that is reaching its' stride and is sorely needed as an integral part of the emergency response community.

You can follow Gus' progress through his second hip replacement here. I certainly will. Looking forward to seeing Gus again soon.

In fact, it will be good to see my own house again soon, although there is someone I would prefer to be close to much more often who is far away. Miss you, babe.

My brother-in-law Mike is celebrating his birthday today. He is also being evaluated for admission to a head injury treatment program. The injury he suffered in April is continuing to present challenges for him, and I'm hopeful that he'll be able to gain access to more specialized care in the near future. Happy Birthday, Mike.

Have a great day.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

John Edwards

I don't have much to say about this, save that I feel bad for the man and his family. His statement to the media pretty much says it all for me:
"In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself."
I personally thought that being egocentric and narcissistic were prerequisites for Mr. Edwards' chosen professions. He made his fortune as a personal injury lawyer and then translated himself into politics with an idealist/populist bent.

I don't doubt that he is beating himself up something fierce over this. Of course, the shrill and judgmental segment of the political blogosphere (AKA the vast majority) is joining the party.
I will defer to John 8:1-11.

Yeah, he screwed up bad. He'll atone for those mistakes to his Lord. I for one have other things to worry about, as do those who write history, AKA the MSM.

Abandon the false indignity and focus on what really matters. Please.

Son of Travelogue

Cambridge, Massachusetts - Keith Olbermann is seen looking down at the street while preparing to go on air on Monday evening from the NBC studios at 10 Rockefeller Plaza in New York. Since we watch his show regularly, we're familiar with the background view, so we knew where to look for him and decided to wave at him when he came into view. Maybe he thought it strange, but considering his ratings maybe he'll have to get used to it.

I personally think it's pretty cool that Olbermann wears jeans when he does his show. I'm now trying to imagine Bill O'Reilly in yellow plaid bermuda shorts, with something from Victoria's Secret underneath. That would fit.

Evan wanted to see this memorial to the late Clash guitarist Joe Strummer, located in the East Village near Tompkins Square Park. The music and politics of this pioneering band appear to have struck a chord with many of the current teenage generation. It's kind of appropriate that this tribute exist in what is largely considered the birthplace of punk rock in the US.

This is in Chinatown, just south of Canal Street. The first thing that came to my mind upon seeing this was "Tonight's Special - Shamu on a Stick".

One thing that stuck out with me upon arriving in Times Square was a lengthy ad on one the big electronic displays urging viewers not to buy counterfeit goods. After wondering how the folks at the Sea World theme parks would feel about this restaurant, Evan and I walked about 6 blocks on Canal Street, through more fake Rolexes, perfume, and designer sunglasses than I thought possible in one place.

Upon crossing an intersection, an older Chinese woman, standing at the corner with a nondescript white shopping bag, asked in a near whisper as we passed by, "DVD Movie?", and let one side of the shopping bag flop open. Evan told me that there were what appeared to be several bootleg copies of The Dark Knight inside. Further down the block was a contingent of NYPD officers observing the marketplace, but not doing anything that I would consider a proactive attempt to stop illegal activity. Probably more of a show of force, emphasis on show.

Seeing this up close for the first time brought home the point that our government, in conjunction with other nations, sees counterfeiting as a significant threat. They see it as such a threat that they are willing to compromise personal privacy and the security of personal information, by assuming everyone crossing a border is engaged in piracy until proven otherwise.

Granted that there are legitimate concerns about such counterfeit goods as medications and electrical components, but these types of things would not require the intrusion and/or confiscation of the personal electronic devices of ordinary citizens, or other searches or seizures which would otherwise be considered unreasonable.

To conclude on an uplifting note, we concluded our visit to New York with a first visit to a Frank Lloyd Wright building, and it did not disappoint. I've read extensively about the Guggenheim Museum, but the experience of being inside validated everything I had read and then some.

The continuous ramp, when combined with the art on display (in this case the exquisite multi-media art of Louise Bourgeois), resulted in a disorientation toward everything except the art on display. The ramp seemed to go on endlessly until it did in fact end.

My familiarity with the struggles of Wright and others to get this building built, combined with the nearly surreal quality of viewing great art in a great space, makes me feel as if I can understand
Wright's vision for serving the needs of the art and the space to display it.

We start back west tomorrow. Hopefully there will be as many obscure and interesting things on the way back as there were headed this way.

Best wishes for a safe and happy weekend.

Photo Credits: (Guggenheim facade)
Ed O'Keeffe (Guggenheim ceiling)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


We got to Hyannis late last night after a very busy 30 hours in New York. Thought I would share some observations and thoughts related to travel and other things, especially considering the rain that has finally caught up with us at the eastern end of the continent.

Pittsburgh is always enjoyable, especially with the chance to see familiar, beautiful and interesting people and places. I spent quite a bit of time with Leslie and her daughters. Michaela is holding her own after the most recent round of chemo, and was scheduled for a bone marrow biopsy today.

Evan wanted to have some pictures taken for his senior year from Mt. Washington, and it was a beautiful day for it.

I also took Leslie and her girls to the Carnegie Science Center, particularly the World War II-vintage submarine USS Requin which is permanently moored on the Ohio River adjacent the center.

We also greatly enjoyed the traveling exhibit of artifacts from RMS Titanic. Upon entering the exhibit, each attendee is given a card in the fashion of a ticket for passage, with information about a person that was aboard Titanic, along with their intended destination and those they were traveling with. The artifacts were very interesting, but also were presented in such a way as to deliberately associate them with their owner, or the other passengers and crew on board.

At the end of the exhibit there is a large list of all who were aboard, and whether or not they survived the tragedy. Evan told me that the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC employs a similar method of providing each visitor with information on an individual prisoner of a concentration camp, with information on whether or not they survived at the end of the tour.

On the way out of Pittsburgh we stopped at the
Johnstown Flood National Memorial.
The memorial is located along what was the site of Lake Conemaugh and the poorly-maintained earthen dam that gave way under the pressure of torrential rain on May 31, 1889. The picture is looking back toward what was the lake from part of what was the dam. Imagine that all of this was covered with water, which was then unleashed on the City of Johnstown and surrounding areas. Over 2,200 people died in what has been called the first and one of the worst man-made disasters in U.S. History.

Now before you start thinking that we're on some weird disaster tour, I'll have you know that we saw some very interesting and uplifting things in New York. I'll post some more tomorrow, but now it's time to make something of the day. Have a good one.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Lessons From The Road

Stamford, Connecticut - Four days in Pittsburgh visiting with my mother, some friends, and Leslie and her girls. Fun and relaxing for the most part. Humidity gave way to sunshine and a gentle breeze on Saturday. Evan and I went into Downtown to take some pictures, which came out pretty nice. I'll post a few here when I get a second.

Didn't look at a computer for most of those days. Pittsburgh has two Apple stores, and since I had never been in one before I did take a look at several of their offerings. The new IPhone is pretty cool.

I've learned, and had reinforced, several lessons during this trip. It's late, and Evan and I have a train ride into New York in the morning, so here is a brief synopsis of each one:
  • Criteria for a truly quality eating establishment -
Late-Night hours (24 hours preferred)
Good food to eat, like breakfast all day, chicken wings, and good appetizers
Lots of TV's
Heinz Ketchup - Anything else is crap.
Pepsi products

Examples of the above in action - See Quaker Steak and Lube.
  • It pays to research how much state taxes are levied on gasoline. Case in point: The gas in Missouri is about 20 cents cheaper a gallon than in Illinois.
  • "Modern industries are handling the forces of nature on a stupendous scale…Woe to the people who trust those powers to the hands of fools.”
-John Wesley Powell as quoted by David McCullough in The Johnstown Flood

I found this while walking through the Johnstown Flood National Memorial. Something to
remember while rushing furiously to develop new sources of energy. An interesting
observation from a pioneer of western 'exploration' and Lake Powell's namesake.
  • Before leaving Pittsburgh for the Northeast with the intent of using I-80, check the NASCAR schedule. Today marked the second time that our travels were brutally complicated by a race at Pocono Raceway, and the resulting outflow traffic. 20 MPH and bumper to bumper from Stroudsburg to New Jersey. Urge to throw something...
Time for bed. More in a couple of days.