10.29.2008

C.C.C.P.

Chloe... reached a mini-milestone recently: She is now tying her own shoes! We were surprised to see how quickly she picked it up. (Insert joke here of her helping her old man how to learn to tie his shoes.) Speaking of Chloe, here's her school picture.

Constitutional Right to Vote... was exercised today by both Peggy and I. We took advantage of the early voting sessions primarily because a) Peggy's going to be traveling on Election Day next week and b) it will hopefully cut back on the phone calls and knocks on the door. In addition to the myriad political and judicial posts up for grabs, there were an additional 23 state/county/city ballot questions. I'm thankful the one question involved making it (slightly) more difficult to get a question put on the ballot.

Chamberlain... I haven't written too much about him lately and, well, that won't change much now. (There's really not much to write about when 80% of his day is spent sleeping.) But with this post is a recent photo of him. Notice how excited he is to be getting a bath?

Philadelphia Phillies: World Series Champs... pretty amazing! I'm not much of a baseball fan, but over the last week or so I found myself watching and rooting for the Phillies more often than I did the whole time when I was in PA. (The fact that the games were over at a decent time here in the MDT time zone helped, too.) I'm happy they won not because I directly get a joy out of it, rather because certain segments of my family are huge fans and I know they directly will. (Go to the parade, Mom and Eric... it'll be fun!)

10.24.2008

The "P" word...

Well, we're somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 days away from the General Election, and it's got me in a Politics kind of mood. I know this sort of post isn't something one comes to this blog for, so I'll try to make it enlightening, entertaining and/or quasi-educational.

For those unaware, Boulder city is a VERY left-leaning town. And a right-leaning independent like myself is kind of an oddity around here. I was a on a bike ride a couple of weeks ago with some friends and their friends, and I was talking to one rider (who happens to place himself near the Libertarian part of the political spectrum) who has lived here a while, and his comment was: "It's pretty funny telling people you're something other than a Democrat. They look at you like you're some kind of rare zoo animal... they didn't think that non-Democrats existed in Boulder."

"So, who are you voting for?" you might be thinking. Well, I'm not completely enamored with either of the major candidates, but I do have a weak frontrunner. It's not like there's a dearth of choices, either, because on the Colorado ballot there are sixteen – SIXTEEN, count 'em, 1-6 – candidates for President! Despite my penchant for making things up to get a laugh, I assure you, the following are honest-to-goodness candidates (and parties) on the CO ballot:
  • John McCain / Sarah Palin - Republican
  • Barack Obama / Joe Biden - Democratic
  • Chuck Baldwin / Darrell L. Castle - Constitution
  • Bob Barr / Wayne A. Root - Libertarian
  • Cynthia McKinney / Rosa A. Clemente - Green
  • Jonathan E. Allen / Jeffrey D. Stath - HeartQuake '08
  • Gene C. Amondson / Leroy J. Pletten - Prohibition
  • James Harris / Alyson Kennedy - Socialist Workers
  • Charles Jay / Dan Sallis, Jr. - Boston Tea
  • Alan Keyes / Brian Rohrbough - America's Independent
  • Gloria La Riva / Robert Moses - Socialism and Liberation
  • Bradford Lyttle / Abraham Bassford - U.S. Pacifist
  • Frank Edward McEnulty / David Mangan - Unaffiliated
  • Brian Moore / Stewart A. Alexander - Socialist, USA
  • Ralph Nader / Matt Gonzalez - Unaffiliated
  • Thomas Robert Stevens / Alden Link - Objectivist
Did you catch the news that the Obama campaign raised $150 million in September? Not through September, in. This news was accompanied by this plea from a campaign manager, "Even though we had such a great September financially, we need to ask you to continue to contribute." Astounding? Oh my, yes. Good astounding? Well, I guess that's open to debate. Personally, I would never give money to any political campaign, largely because I feel a) there are more important and needy organizations/charities to fund and b) there's already too much money in politics. So, yes, I disagree with the notion that donating to a campaign is a form of free speech. Obama and McCain (and their 14 competitors here in CO) were speaking freely before they started accepting donations to their presidential campaigns, right? (No sarcasm intended, but if someone can explain -- or point me to -- why giving money to a political campaign is protected free speech, I'd love to read it.)

Well, this is getting kind of long, so I'll close with these two hypothetical questions I heard recently.
- The first I heard on NPR. Why is it we have only 2 choices when it comes to picking a President, but 50 when it comes to picking Miss America?
- The second came from my brother. Why is it our government can force all broadcasters to go digital by February 2009, but can't force auto manufacturers to make more fuel efficient cars?

Now go vote!

10.19.2008

Weekend Recap - He Ain't Heavy...

Thursday - The weekend got off to an early start as my brother Eric arrived this morning. We grabbed some lunch on Pearl Street (a popular pedestrian mall in town) and I gave him a brief tour of the neighborhood and surrounding hills. He had been up for quite a while, so prior to heading out for tonight's "fun" he caught 40 winks. After catching some zzzzs, he and I headed into Denver to watch the Flyers play the Avs (and hopefully put an end to their losing streak.) Well, those hopes were quickly dashed, and the guys in black and orange were, well, embarrassed. Final score: 5-2. We left hoping the rest of the weekend would provide cheerier times.

Friday - Today began with another trip into Denver, this time to take a tour of the US Mint there. We arrived in downtown a little early, so we took a walk around Civic Center Park and up the steps of the State House (where, on the one step, is the marker indicating 5,280 feet above sea level.) What we found surprising was the monument to Colorado's Civil War dead. It not only had quite a few names on it, but also on it were where the various regiments had engagements... New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri were all listed. Who knew Colorado had troops in the Civil War and that fighting took place this far West? Certainly not two East Coast-raised kids.

After that brief history lesson, it was time to tour the Mint. We got in line, and after being inspected for any contraband (weapons of any kind, cameras, aerosols, combs or hairbrushes... not kidding about the last two) we were given time to look around their exhibit on the history of money. We both found the following three related items to be the most impressive:
- A coin minted by Pontius Pilate
- A Roman coin similar to the one shown to Jesus which prompted his response: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.”
- A Shekel of Tyre, which is widely believed to be the same kind of silver coin paid to Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus.

As for the tour of the actual coin-making facilities, they, too, were pretty impressive. Everywhere one looked were coins at some point of the production process. Interesting fact: it costs about 1.5 cents to make a penny, and nearly a dime to make a nickle. For the numismatists and budding capitalists alike, the tour must be akin to walking through Wonka chocolate factory. Unfortunately, though, there were no opportunities to sneak off with a sample or two.

After the Mint tour, we toured another local landmark: the Coors Brewery in Golden, CO. Unlike the tour earlier in the day, there were free samples. (However, at the risk of offending the occasional reader and Coors consumer, let me just say, that given my druthers and assuming free samples are provided, I think I'd much rather prefer a tour of the Guinness brewery in Ireland.) The best part of this tour was the "kettle room." It's where the various grains and ingredients proceed through various steps (which for the purpose of this blog, aren't important.) What made this room so great was the smell... no it didn't smell like beer; rather, a huge, warm loaf of freshly baked bread.

After the Coors tour, it was a scenic drive up Lookout Mountain (which is the final resting place of William "Buffalo Bill" Cody), and then back to Boulder to have a birthday dinner (Happy 42nd Eric!)

We were lured to downtown Boulder tonight to witness the CU Stampede (a pep rally/parade that takes place on the Pearl Street Mall the night before home football games.) What lured us there if we're not CU alums? Peggy had read earlier in the week that Ralphie (the living buffalo mascot) was to make an appearance. After listening to the various school songs and walking behind the band to where Ralphie was to be penned up, we had our expectations dashed — no Ralphie. So, to soothe our sorrow, we went home and had birthday cake and ice cream!

Saturday - This morning was Chloe's last soccer game of the season. She and the TigerBears played well, and were able to score a couple of goals. It was a great way to wrap up the season. After the game and end-of-season cupcake and juice box mixer, we went home and changed around for an afternoon visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. For mid-October, the weather could not have been any better... upper 60s/lower 70s at the park's entrance, and sunny upper 40s/lower 50s at the higher elevations. The aspens were a little past peak but the clear skies provided some outstanding views. As for wildlife, we saw some HUGE bull elk resting outside the park, and a Steller's Jay.

Sunday - It was back to the airport again this morning to send Eric off back to PA (not without some gentle lobbying first to have him move out here... he'd get to see the Phillies at least once a season, right?)

10.10.2008

Poll Results

By a razor thin margin, it appears as if the masses (or at least 12 of you) believe there is a better chance that I will shave my legs before I shave my head. Though I didn't vote, I must admit that I'd side with the minority in this case. (Don't expect it any time soon, though.)

10.04.2008

A day of football, American and otherwise

Woke up to another brisk, sunny Saturday morning, and a pretty full slate of athletics.

Chloe had another soccer game in the AM. Thankfully, this game was more competitive than ones in recent weeks (i.e. Chloe's team scored a goal this week.) It doesn't bother the girls too much, but us parents do like to see the joy in their faces when the TigerBears score a goal. Scoring aside, the coach and I are beginning to see some gains and we'll have to take pride in that.

After an afternoon of relaxing (me) or getting manis and pedis (Peggy and Chloe), it was time to head down to Folsom Field on CU's campus to watch the Buffs take on the Longhorns of Texas. We got there a little earlier than anticipated, which provided several benefits: it allowed us to get a bite to eat, watch the marching band do their pregame pep rally in the field house, and see the scoreboard showing a 0-0 tie (because that's as good as the score got for the home team.)

The most anticipated event of the night, though, was watching Ralphie run. Ralphie is the real, live buffalo that runs out onto the field before the game and after halftime. There are handlers tethered to her (yes, despite the name, Ralphie is a girl) that in theory are there to guide her around the field and into her trailer. But in all practicality, after watching this event one clearly sees the handlers are largely along for the ride.


In addition to those tethered to her, there are handlers I've termed "the human guardrail." They position themselves around midfield in an arc, creating the "outer barrier" to where Ralphie is supposed to run. As Ralphie runs towards them, they "guide" her through the turn by running in the arc they formed, and if everything goes right, she runs safely to her trailer. The video below isn't the best quality (it was taken with a digital point and shoot) but it does somewhat capture the spectacle.

(Pictures, top to bottom: Chloe in action on the pitch [x 2]; Chloe waiting for Ralphie to run; a view of Folsom Field with the Flatirons in the background.)

video

10.03.2008

11,897... 11,898... 11,899...

With some of her recent business travel having taken place on weekends, Peg felt it was high (no pun intended, as you will soon read) time take some comp time.

The activity of choice: hiking.

The location: the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area of the Roosevelt National Forest. (Where's that you ask? Short answer: about 35 minutes west of here.)

The lucky person who got to join her: me.

After getting Chloe on the bus, we jumped in the car and headed to the trailhead. As we approached it, we noticed a couple of things: 1) it was about 10 degrees warmer back at the house, 2) the road was closed about 0.5 mile before the trailhead, so our hike just became that much longer (times 2) and we may not have time to reach the summit of Mt. Audubon (13,221 ft.) and still get back in time to meet Chloe at the bus stop and 3) man, it sure was a beautiful area. Because 2/3 of the trail was to be above treeline, we weren't too concerned about reaching the summit because we knew we'd have views for most of the hike. And we couldn't have been more right.

Even when amongst the various evergreens, the views were great as we went through a couple of switchbacks. The trees not only became more sparse as we climbed, but as we continued on, we noticed they also became noticeably smaller and twisted. We learned from the hiking cue sheet that these latter characteristics are indicative of a krummholz formation. And indeed, as we approached the timberline, we felt more wind hitting us, but also more sunlight. Once in the alpine tundra, the views were everywhere... plains to the East, and mounts and peaks everywhere else.

After about 2.5 hours of uphill, we found ourselves at 11,900 feet and beginning to notice the effects of it, too. Rather than rush to do the final 1.25 miles/1,321 feet and risk missing Chloe getting off the bus, we felt it was a good place to take a break and eat our lunch before heading back down.

(Pictures, top to bottom: Brainard Lake and some of the Indian Peaks; some of the views as we headed back down; a pretty good place to have lunch; one happy hiker.)

10.02.2008

2 months in, I revisit the Dewey Decimal System, y se habla espanol?

It's our 2 month anniversary here in CO, and so far so good... no cowboy hats and/or boots, no country music presets on the radio, no wrangler jeans, no altitude sickness, and no (visible) body piercings. We've been meeting a good number of families in the neighborhood, and by way of Chloe's soccer team and common acquaintances back East.

Today was also my first day volunteering at the library at Chloe's school. (I know, the irony is amazing... me, a person whose collection of books would fit in a milk crate with room to spare, is volunteering in a library of all places.) I'm there to help the kids check books in and out, and do some reshelving.

Another "first" today was Chloe's first Spanish class. She heard a classmate talking about it last week and became interested in taking it herself. I looked into it and, since it wasn't too late to sign her up, got her enrolled in the after-school class. Que divertido!