Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Busier Week in Review

Wal-Mart, Centennial, CO, 9/28/09

All kinds of "bargains" to be had today...


Denver - This past week at school was as advertised; heavy on math, procedures, and understanding manual processes that have been largely computerized across the aviation industry. Nevertheless, the work is challenging, I understand the reasons behind it, and I appear to be holding my own. All of my test scores have been 90 or above so far.

We get into navigation this week, which doesn't look like a picnic either. While this is going on I'll be starting to review the material from previous weeks in preparation for the class final and FAA written exam in just under two weeks. I'll be here until at least then.

I apologize in advance for having to limit myself in the frequency of my posts while I'm at school, but it's necessary. Here's some things that caught my eye over the last week:


Senator Russ Feingold introduced the JUSTICE Act (
Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts) last week. According to an excellent overview by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this bill is "the perfect vehicle for reform of the surveillance powers in the PATRIOT Act, as well as the much broader and more dangerous FISA Amendments Act (FAA), the warrantless surveillance law that was passed by Congress last summer". More information is available through the Good Law Tracker in the sidebar of this blog.

It seemed less than coincidental to me that the government would announce arrests in five separate, reportedly unrelated terrorism cases during the same week that this legislation was introduced. This included the Najibullah Zazi case that made so much of last week's news here in Denver and elsewhere. Sunday's Denver Post also included a Page 1 story about some of the tools that may have been used to monitor Zazi and his activities.

Regardless of what tools were used and to what level of success they achieved, they require additional scrutiny and control when they are used, especially if they involve the lawful activities of U.S. citizens. The JUSTICE Act will also remove the telecom company immunity included in the FAA last year, so that they can be held accountable for their actions in supporting surveillance of citizens that has been held as unconstitutional.

The act deserves serious consideration and support from those on all sides of the political spectrum who value individual liberty.


Gene Kinsey wrote two excellent posts over the last week. The first was an indictment of the continued practices of irrigation companies in the Grand Junction area to restrict access to the roads adjacent to the canals they operate for use as urban trails.

The canal roads are truly beautiful in places, but the provincial nature of the irrigation companies to deny access to them, and legally thwart the City's efforts to use them for other purposes, is kind of ridiculous.

Gene's post today about the Regional Center combined his personal knowledge as a volunteer and parent of a special-needs child with his passion for assuring that these all too easily forgotten members of our society receive the care they deserve.

Gene made a bold assertion - that moving some of these patients will cost them their lives - but I think he knows about what he speaks, at least about this topic. I also think it's great that Libby is a therapy dog. She's a little sweetheart.


The G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh went off without a hitch, but the surrounding protest activities will likely keep lawyers, courts, and bureaucrats busy for some time.

The protests were both innovative (hanging a banner from the West End Bridge - nice) and confrontational. The police exercised restraint in some areas and stupidity in others. As Denver experienced with police handling of the DNC last year, it appears that some of the rules of engagement (for lack of a more acceptable term) include subdue and arrest first, settle out of court later.

It has been reported by several media outlets that students at Pitt and other passers-by were taken down, tear gassed, and shot with bean bag rounds for no reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bad form...

The backlash has already started, and doesn't look as if it will quiet down until some form of punitive action against over-reacting police is secured, as well as substantive change in local tactical planning for these types of events. Being familiar with some of the players, such as the Thomas Merton Center and a very potent local ACLU chapter, there won't be any letting up.


I've been trying to read a little of the Bible each morning before I go to school. I've been choosing a chapter at random, and today came across Proverbs 10:9, which says:

He who walks with integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will become known.

Matt and Meredith on NBC were blathering on about Roman Polanski while I was reading this, so I guess that inane morning television contributed to this line of thinking on my part. It could have been worse; Fox and Friends, who needs enemies?

Anyway, I tried to think about what motivates someone to try to become predatory in the way that Polanski did, or Johnnie Walker thought he was doing. I came up empty. It's just not worth the time or effort to me to try to figure these people out.

Polanski certainly had it harder than most, with his pregnant wife being murdered and all, and I certainly couldn't do the job of the District Attorney in continuing to pursue this after 30-plus years. I guess it comes down to what you really want in the end.

Leslie asks me that question all the time - what do you want? Peace, tranquility, and fulfillment, being with her, and seeing our children grow up around us honorably, is definitely part of it, but otherwise I haven't a clue. All I know is that the path I've found myself on is sometimes a hell of a way to go about it.

Have a good week.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Busy Week in Review

Denver - This last week was busy for me. Intense material review and two tests, and it doesn't look like it will let up for this week either. I've been told this is one of the hardest weeks, as there is a lot of math and detail-oriented work involved. I was doing problems for homework yesterday and I see what they mean. I almost need a ruler to make sure I'm reading the right column or row on a conversion table. The reading glasses are helping.

Several occurrences and observations were noteworthy this past week, and I'd like to share a few of them.

The Seventh Street Historic District Overlay went over like a lead balloon at the City Council level, and rightly so. Council "continued", perhaps indefinitely, additional consideration of the overlay to the City's zoning code.

Not resting on their laurels, the resident activists of the 7th Street area are setting their sights on what they perceive as flaws in the City's proposed Comprehensive Plan. In an e-mail sent earlier this week, 7th Street resident Kathy Jordan cited portions of the "Comp Plan" that "increases density in some areas by 100 percent". Ms. Jordan also asserted that the overlays and Strategic Plan that were continued last Monday will be a moot point if the Comprehensive Plan is approved.

The plan calls for as many as 8 dwelling units per acre (RSF-8) in my corner of Downtown GJ.
It appears from what I can find in the online plan documents that there really isn't anything specific set aside for the 7th Street Historic Corridor, roughly from Grand Avenue to Teller Avenue. The latest Comprehensive Plan Future Use Map puts a big black and white picture over the specific zoning for the Downtown; I wonder why...

It sounds like there may be a groundswell of opposition to the city's intentions for the Downtown area as a whole, not just 7th Street. While I'm reserving judgment on this until I have the time to learn more, the solution for many of these residents may be a simple and personal one; live well enough now so that you and your heirs have the ability and resolve to control your individual properties, and their current use, for as long as possible.

It was heartening to see a willingness on the part of two valley fire departments to sit down and talk about the future of their areas, and how they might work together to provide appropriate protection for them.

The initial dialogue between the Grand Junction Fire Department and the Clifton Fire District was described in the Sentinel's account as an "open thought process", and that "there is no timetable for reaching any decisions". Still, it's good to see the Fire and Emergency Medical Service providers for the bulk of the county's population start talking about better ways of working together.

One point in the Sentinel article required clarification. The GJFD and Clifton service area boundaries were described as meeting "in the Pear Park area", where there are reported response time issues. To be more accurate, the district boundary runs the length of 30 Road, from the Colorado River to I-70, and further north into the desert for EMS calls.

Common sense has affected how the two departments handle calls in this boundary area. For example, GJFD will respond to calls at the Grand Junction Speedway, which lies just east of the 30 Road boundary in the desert north of I-70. This is because the only road serving the track originates from the end of 29 Road, in GJFD's district.

One other suggestion regarding boundary responses would be the establishment of what is called an "automatic aid area", extending perhaps 1/4 mile on either
side of the 30 Road boundary. Calls received that fall into this area would be responded to by both departments simultaneously. I wouldn't be surprised if something like this were in the works already, but it sure would be helpful to alleviate the headache in dispatch when trying to ascertain which side of 30 Road an accident or other incident occurred on.

Here's to success in their efforts, and may they help set a positive example that other public safety agencies can follow.

I saw some interesting things while in Denver last week. I attended a gathering sponsored by the ACLU of Colorado regarding the protection of murals as free speech and works of art.
This discussion stemmed from the City of Englewood's attempts to prosecute the owner of a smoking accessories shop and a used car lot for painting murals on their respective buildings in alleged violation of the City's sign ordinance.

The presenter also stated that the headshop owner had the mural (see photo) painted on his building in response to the building being repeatedly tagged with graffiti, and Englewood's refusal to assist with removal. Maybe someone should tell Englewood officials about the excellent resource-sharing efforts of Grand Junction and Mesa County to remove graffiti at the request of property owners.

This gathering was held at The Other Side Arts, a Denver gallery and support center for local artists that was also in the news last year, after Denver Police arbitrarily painted over a graffiti art mural on the side of their building in advance of the Democratic National Convention. The City of Denver is now paying for the replacement of that mural.

On the media front, the Huffington Post has introduced a page devoted solely to Denver and Colorado news. They have signed up numerous publications across the state as partners in this effort (this includes the GJ Free Press), and GJ blogger and curmudgeon Ralph D'Andrea wrote a column that was featured prominently alongside stories about water. It looks really good so far.

Also, I've thoroughly enjoyed the redesigned Westword, Denver's alternative weekly paper. It looks more like a slickly-produced magazine now, with excellent graphics and writing on significant local issues. An example of both is this past week's cover story on the surgical tech who infected dozens with Hepatitis C while employed at Rose Medical Center in Denver.

I've also found a small, Denver-based restaurant chain that has me wandering by at least every other day for something healthy. Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill boasts four locations in south and west Metro Denver, and serves an excellent falafel plate with hummus, lettuce, tomato, chicken or beef if you want, and warm, fresh-baked pita for a reasonable price.

I hope they succeed enough to consider a jump over the mountains to Grand Junction, like Smashburger was able to do. This kind of quick, healthy dining out is something that GJ could really use.

At my mother's urging, I rented an older movie this weekend, 1997's The Rainmaker starring Matt Damon, Danny DeVito, Mickey Rourke, and Claire Danes, written (from John Grasham's novel) and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The story includes some topics that are still highly controversial today, and that put forth a reminder about what's left in the balance when profit is the only consideration. DeVito's character put it best; "There's no feeling in the world like putting it to an insurance company" (or something like that).

I was also saddened by the death of Patrick Swayze, who broke the tough-guy mold as an actor when it suited him, and produced some excellent work in the process. While Ghost is the most recognized example of this, City of Joy and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar stand out to me as well.

I think I'll spend the rest of the evening trying to figure out how Jay Cutler and "Da Bears" beat the Steelers today. I hear it had something to do with missed field goals, but that's not enough. I was hoping that Cutler would have been humbled today, but I guess you can't win 'em all.

Back to the books tomorrow. Have a great week ahead.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Downtown Development - Dichotomy, Diversity, Duplicity

Tonight the Grand Junction City Council will consider a zoning change in the Downtown area, what is called an overlay zone in the area known as the 7th Street Historic Residential District.

This past June, Council approved an application for a Bed and Breakfast in the Historic District, much to the chagrin of several homeowners there who believe that a 1984 plan establishing the district, and maintain single-family residential zoning in the area, was not being honored. The City responded that the agreement was not incorporated into the current Zoning and Development Code, and therefore had no bearing on the B&B or future development applications. Visions of Rose Mary Woods and the 17-minute gap were in my head when I heard this.

As very competently reported by Mike Wiggins in this past Saturday's Sentinel, the owners of these homes are loading up their inflatable turkeys and preparing to do battle.

As a resident of the Downtown, I enjoy the diversity of the community and the uniqueness of what has been done with many properties. I welcome some of the changes that are proposed for my corner of Downtown, which include multi-use structures for business and residential use. I also thought that a B&B on 7th Street was not a harmful or inappropriate use of the property involved, and I said so in June. I still believe that today.

However, the proposed changes that the City is considering would establish a process for approving applications that does not include enough opportunity for public comment before an application is approved. Adequate publication and solicitation of comment are essential components of any process that manages the alteration of the landscape of any neighborhood.

Additionally, I believe that the 8 property owners who have secured legal representation over the absence of any enforcement of the 1984 plan have a point. If their assertions bear any weight of truth at all, I believe that they are being disenfranchised, and that the plan 'preserving' the historic character of their neighborhood has been conveniently set aside by the City in a bit of procedural legerdemain. I also believe that they are prepared to sue the City if necessary.

I attended a community meeting on August 29 at what was once Washington Park (it's now owned by District 51), and heard this and many other concerns voiced to the organizers, as well as City Planning and Public Works Director Tim Moore, who was solidly engaged in the proceedings and very professional in his approach.

Some residents are very concerned about so-called "transition zones" that abut their properties proximal to the North Avenue commercial corridor. These could conceivably allow for commercial structures to be built alongside their residential property. Yeah, they're right.

Other voices at the meeting voiced opposition, if not animosity, toward the presence of any multi-family housing going up in areas close to the 7th Street corridor and elsewhere. Some of these comments, as well as comments about "what kind of people" would frequent the recently approved B&B, smacked of classism to me, and I called at least one person on it.

As much as the residents of the historic district may have a case against the City for the way they have been treated, those kinds of attitudes did not endear some of them to me, and threaten to derail any meaningful discussion of a development issue before it begins. To me it sounds like someone yelling about death panels at a meeting about health care reform.

I'm at school in Denver, otherwise I'd be there tonight. Even with as much thought and research that has gone into these proposals, they need to go back to the Planning department for some re-tooling, and the City owes at least an explanation, if not more, to those it made a commitment to in 1984.

Have a good week ahead.

How Much Has Changed?

Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac struck quite the chord with me today about the state of our mainstream media. I'll post the segment in its entirety, but the last paragraph hits home, especially in light of the weapons of mass distraction pervading much of the MSM today.

On this day in 1998, Maureen Dowd (books by this author) published her column that went on to win the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. It began:

"The President must not lose his job. Not over this.

"Certainly, Bill Clinton should be deeply ashamed of himself. He has given a bad name to adultery and lying. He has made wickedness seem pathetic, and that's truly a sin.
"Kenneth Starr, all these years and all these millions later, has not delivered impeachable offenses. He has delivered a 445-page Harold Robbins novel.

"If we are going to dump our President, it should be for something big and bold and black and original. Not for the most tired story every told.

"Middle-aged married man has affair with frisky and adoring young office girl. Man hints to girl he might be single again in three or four years. Man gets bored with girl and dumps her. Girl cries and rants and threatens, and tells eleven people what a creep he is."

Maureen Dowd wrote this column eight months after the scandal first appeared in the media: the Drudge Report Web site foreshadowed it on January 17, and The Washington Post introduced it into the mainstream press a few days later, on January 21, 1998.

Clinton had been the defendant in a sexual harassment civil law suit brought by a former Arkansas state employee, Paula Jones, that was dismissed before it ever went to trial. During a deposition while the Jones lawsuit was active, Clinton was asked questions about sexual relationships he allegedly had with other young female government employees, including Monica Lewinsky; the plaintiff was hoping to argue that Bill Clinton had a pattern of this sort of behavior. While he was under oath, Clinton expressly denied "sexual relations" with Lewinsky. A judge ended up dismissing Paula Jones' million-dollar lawsuit because even if Jones could prove that Clinton had done the very things she said, making sexual advances toward her, she couldn't prove that there were any resulting damages that would have entitled her to money.

Monica Lewinsky was transferred from the White House to the Pentagon, where she confided to a co-worker about her relationship with Clinton. The co-worker, Linda Tripp, told a literary agent about it, and also began secretly recording the phone conversations she had with Lewinsky, in which Lewinsky discussed her sexual relationship with Clinton. But in public, Monica Lewinsky was denying the relationship, and as part of the Jones case, Lewinsky had signed a legal affidavit swearing that she did not have a physical relationship with Clinton. When Linda Tripp learned of Lewinsky's affidavit, Tripp turned the tapes of her phone conversations with Lewinsky over to Kenneth Starr, who was investigating Clinton on real estate investments.

Starr threatened to prosecute Lewinsky for perjury and obstructing justice, based on the affidavit she'd signed, and then offered her an immunity deal if she would testify before the grand jury about her sexual relationship with Clinton. She agreed, and she also turned over the infamous stained blue dress to Kenneth Starr, which contained Clinton's DNA, and which she had not dry-cleaned for all those months at the insistence of Linda Tripp.

Clinton testified in August from the Map Room of the White House. His testimony was broadcast to a federal circuit court and then released to the media. In December, the United States House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, issued Articles of Impeachment for the offenses of obstructing justice and perjury. The impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate started on January 7, 1999, and lasted for 21 days. The Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Clinton on both counts and refused to issue any formal censure. So Clinton remained president.

In the months that the Lewinsky scandal was dominating the press, the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were bombed, killing 224 people and injuring more than 4,500, and soon linked to Osama Bin Laden. During this same time period of the Lewinsky scandal, Hugo Chávez was elected president of Venezuela, and Iraq announced that it would shoot down any U.S. or British planes patrolling the country's no-fly zones, the Euro was established, and the Chinese government announced that it was restricting Internet usage.

The Internet is certainly a more ubiquitous and readily available source of news than it was back then, thanks to broadband, Wi-Fi, cell phone browsers, and the like. Fortunately there are news outlets that focus on more "real" news than what was being substituted for news back then.

For example, two recent investigative series in two of the nation's leading newspapers showed what newspapers are still capable of, and how they can create the future of the medium.

Both series leverage the Internet in unique and comprehensive ways to provide interactive content that creates additional understanding and impact for the reporting. These are:

Fatal Flights: A Perilous Rush to Profit
, a Washington Post series about the impact of competition on medical helicopter safety, published the weekend of August 22 and 23.
A lot has changed since I handled my first EMS Helicopter mission over 20 years ago, but a lot has stayed the same; hopefully there will be some more common sense changes coming.

Toxic Waters, a continuing series in the New York Times. The latest in the series, published today, detailed the thousands of violations of the federal Clean Water Act that have been reported, but not investigated, enforced, or mitigated by enforcement agencies such as the EPA.

This story is of particular interest to many on the Western Slope of Colorado, due to the exemptions from the Clean Water Act currently enjoyed by the energy industry as it pertains to the use if hydraulic fracturing fluids. This makes the FRAC Act even more important for consideration and adoption by Congress, and the signature of President Obama.

Good night.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jammin' in the Name of the Law...

(Apologies to Bob Marley)

It's truly amazing how a few breaths of nonsense can place into question over 10 years of common sense government oversight of a major public event.

Leroy Standish's reporting in yesterday's Daily Sentinel, coupled with the Sentinel's editorial today, seemed to attempt to champion the exasperation of County Commissioner Craig Meis as he vainly attempted to shed yet another responsibility of county government. It seems that Mr. Meis feels that an "exit strategy" is needed from the contracts that the Sheriff's Department has entered into with Country Jam for security services.

Had Mr. Standish ventured into his paper's morgue a little bit more, he wouldn't have had to weakly assert that "In the 1990s, there was a riot at Country Jam". The year was 1998, to be exact.

This was the first year that the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center provided on-site dispatch support to the MCSO at Country Jam.
I was there in a professional capacity, having assisted the previous two years as a volunteer amateur radio operator, and witnessing firsthand some of the chaos that necessitated a ramping-up of law enforcement operations.

A lot of attendees were already disappointed after Thursday night headliner LeAnn Rimes cancelled due to illness just before showtime. The Steve Miller Band had just concluded an extremely well-attended and well-received set on Saturday night. Over the week prior, locals who had rented several campground spaces (and parked a motor home across them) were promoting after-show campground parties in local papers. The advertised Saturday night event included a wet t-shirt contest.

When the Sheriff's Department and Country Jam management shut this down pre-emptively, the crowd that gathered became unruly, and soon the fight was on.

Since that unfortunate year, the event organizers and Sheriff's Department have worked together closely to identify problem areas and address them proactively. The arrival of Foremost Response, a more professional-than-average private security company, has given the MCSO an opportunity to reduce on-site resources, and focus on more egregious activity that is still at problematic levels at these festivals.

The lure of alcohol plays all too great a role at these events, from both a profit standpoint for the organizers and liquor companies to illegal and irresponsible use by participants, often with injurious and tragic results. There were reportedly fewer minors cited for possession or consumption this past June, but there were also a record number of DUI's.

The MCSO's Capt. Rusty Callow was right on the mark when he compared alcohol use at Country Jam as exceeding that of a community of 25,000. With these events, the second most populous city in Mesa County is being created, and that's just the campers. And every day is Mardi Gras.

Commissioner Meis' "frustration and concern" over providing these services, even in a reduced fashion, smacks of a disturbingly reactive, almost laissez-faire approach to providing for the public safety and welfare at a major public gathering in his area of influence and responsibility. Here's a news bulletin, Commissioner; the Country Jam Ranch is not a well pad, and alcohol is not fracing fluid.

Equally culpable is the editorial staff of the Sentinel for getting behind Mr. Meis on this issue.
Country Jam and Rock Jam are major events that compare to every other festival event in Mesa County like Samuel Adams compares to Keystone Light.

"Exit Strategy"? Terrain features notwithstanding, Mack is not part of Afghanistan. Nor is it up for annexation by Grand Junction or Fruita, so the Commissioners can't wash their hands of it via petition or Persigo agreement. So long as people imbibe, fight, steal, or otherwise take advantage of their fellow man, there will be a need for a visible law enforcement presence out there. Period.

The Sheriff and his staff are to be commended
for engaging in a well-organized, fiscally responsible effort to maintain order and enforce the law at Country Jam and Rock Jam, while remaining cognizant of the impact of such an event on staff and fiscal resources. The Sentinel was right about one thing; there aren't too many MCSO employees, but there is a lot of overtime when Jam time comes around.

The Sheriff's measured and professional response has its foundation in the solid operational planning and management structure that was the vision, and is now part of the legacy, of the MCSO Incident Commander at Country Jam during those crazy years; then-Operations Captain Bill Gardner.

I had a good day today. Got good grades on the first tests, and am looking forward to digging into the wonderful world of METARs and TAFs. If I sound annoyed, it's because I'm tired of talking about Country Jam, and done thinking about it. It's well past the time for County government to follow the Sheriff's lead, and quit whining.

Men and women in green, be safe out there.

Good night.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Just Wondering....

These are my study materials for the next six weeks. The instructors are estimating 2-3 hours of study time per night, and more on the weekends. That's fine with me, but I'm wondering if it's worth coming back to GJ every weekend.
Some of my classmates are here from India, Luxembourg, Germany, and Nigeria, so they're here for the whole six weeks. Maybe I'll need to do the same thing, if only to maximize study time. I'd rather come back, though. We'll see...

Special Event Invitation

Please Join
Governor Bill Ritter, Jr.
For a Doughnut Breakfast this Saturday in Grand Junction

He will will meet with local activists over breakfast to discuss the

economy, the state budget, local issues and the campaign.
Saturday, September 12th
9:45 AM
At Mesa State College at the Book Cleff Cafe
1020 Elm Avenue, Grand Junction, CO

The intersection of Elm Ave, and College Place

I received the above invitation this afternoon via e-mail.

I appreciate the efforts of Governor Ritter's campaign

to gain credibility and generate support in a heavily

Republican area of the state, especially through an

event at Josh Penry's alma mater.

I'm wondering how they expect to accomplish that when

there doesn't appear to be anyone on his staff that knows

how to spell "Book Cliff".

View Larger Map

I'm in the process of learning my way around South Metro

Denver. While driving around I noticed the above buildings.

The building marked with the green arrow and the letter

"A" is the Arapahoe County Jail.

Given the most recent arrest of a pro football player in

the Denver area, I'm wondering if the proximity of this

facility to Broncos headquarters is coincidental or by design.

Have a good week.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A Little Break in the Burgh

Greenwood Village / Centennial, CO - Took the Sunday night redeye last week from DIA to JFK, then a connection that got me to Pittsburgh by mid-morning on Monday. Now I'm back in Denver, getting ready to start school tomorrow and plot some potentially serious changes. More about that later.

Over the last week, I did not touch a computer or watch any live television. I did read a few newspapers and went through my e-mail on my cell phone. Other than that, I was largely removed from the "virtual" outside world, spending a lot of quality time with Leslie and her girls.

Pittsburgh has been an interesting place for the last few months. The upcoming G-20 Summit and its planning process have been the focal point of local government and emergency services since June. Part of this includes preparing for extensive and well-coordinated protest movement that plans to descend upon the city as well.

The visit was definitely something I needed, and not only because I miss her very much. My immersion in technology and information is at times not healthy, and being with her brings that point to bear in a very significant way.

We ate Greek food, went to one of the best farm markets anywhere, and enjoyed a double feature at the drive-in. I did a couple of repair projects for Leslie, and observed some of the things she has to deal with as a parent of a cancer kid.

Leslie's daughter Michaela, who I've written about previously, is now participating in the clinical trial of a cancer medication that appears to be impacting her tumors in a positive way. She receives the medication every three weeks; this is followed by one week of IV medications and fluids to address the biggest side effect of the medication, that being vomiting and dehydration.

Friday night was the first night of this one-week cycle. I watched as Leslie mixed three different medications with saline in three different syringes, each to be delivered over a 15 or 20 minute period via an infusion pump. She then has to put a bag of fluid on a different pump that is infused over 12 hours. Michaela carries this in a backpack when she is walking around.

This protocol, which includes other IV and oral medications during the day, appears to be working well; Michaela's episodes of vomiting have been drastically reduced. She is able to go to school. She wants to be a normal second grader, and is growing tired and frustrated with her illness and its effect on her ability to be active.

One thing that I find gratifying and somewhat humbling is that Michaela likes it when I am there. In the wake of the changes that our collectives lives have seen over the last few years, it feels to me that it is time to embrace that change a bit. That's what I'm starting this week.

I'll be taking a six-week course at the Jeppesen headquarters near Centennial Airport south of Denver to obtain my FAA Flight Dispatcher license. I hope to take this training and licensure and obtain a job somewhere within the aviation sector.

I'm keeping an open mind, have committed to maintaining a positive attitude that comes with any new venture, and am clearing my calendar and email in-boxes for the next few days to get acclimated to the routine. I plan to return to Grand Junction on the weekends, but will also try to take in some of my favorite things in Denver if I have time; the Rockies, Rapids, lots of movie choices and good Mediterranean food are a few of these.

I'll also be remaining active on this blog, if only to post observations at times, but I have several collections of ideas that will be out there, if more infrequent in their posting while I'm at school and afterward.

There's plenty going on out there that is relevant to both my past and future which I am heeding the call not only to write about, but to act upon. The woman I love, and the skills that I have been given, are both big action items in this scenario. How this evolves is the adventure that well-lived lives are made of.

Have a good week ahead.