Monday, November 20, 2017

It really is a small world, after all.

Model Railroad Magic:

Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9, 10 and Dec. 16 and 17, 

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

By Rob Carrigan,

It really is a small world after all. And there is no place that more starkly defines that, than Bob Bandy’s basement in Gleneagle. Nearly 6,000 feet of track, 1/87 the size of their real-world prototypes, operating on its own power grid, spanning the last century of railroad and engineering technology and history, at the same time. Also, nearly 20 years in the making. And it is not finished yet.

If you have wandered around the country, looking at architecture, and land forms, and transportation corridors, it might all seem oddly familiar. There is Vedauwoo, an area of rocky outcrops (Sherman Granite) located in southeastern Wyoming, north of Interstate 80, between Laramie and Cheyenne. Its name, according to some, is a romanized version of the Arapaho word "bito'o'wu" meaning "earth-born."

As you sneak through the canyons between tracks, you will recognize Pulpit Rock, locally. And mining operations on the Eagle River in Colorado, Mount Sneffels, down in the corner of the state, and the Sinclair refinery in southern Wyoming.

But complex bridges in Northeast are there too. Locations in Montana. And lumber operations in the Pacific Northwest, and places in California. The whole transportive world of the last century seems to be in that basement.

And the detail. Locomotives of every stripe. Trucks that no one remembers. Shipping containers with pioneers of shipping industry’s branding. Buildings that no longer exist in real life. People and scenes from long ago. Don’t waste your time trying to fact-check something Bob tells you about railroads in this lifetime, however. He can explain more about how this country’s economies function, and the tax structure works, in hour of railroad wisdom than the “Oracle of Omaha.”

As Bob says, “It is a time for traditions and celebrations. Let us be a part of your Christmas tradition and help us by celebrating the completion of another year of projects on the Grand Pacific Northwestern Railroad.”

Bob Bandy and Lou, will host an open house Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9, 10 and Dec. 16 and 17, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the basement at 15455 Pompeii Square in Gleneagle (off of Jesse Drive). He asks that you RSVP at or call 719-481-0566.

“We thank you for your support. It is you who tell our story. Join us this Christmas season, and see the Magic,” he says.

Cycles of transport: Trying to get there from here

Going around in circles of history and transportation

By Rob Carrigan,
I recall thinking, at least 20 years ago, that the embrace of the Internet, and all things tech-related was a modern equivalent of the gold rush. You could see it in behavior of capital markets, in consumer activity, in additional development.

We truly are a slow-moving society that keeps doing things over and over again in cycles of history.

Railroads played a key role in the development of the United States — industry in the North East, settlement of the West. The system was largely built by 1910, but then trucks arrived to eat away the freight traffic, and automobiles (and later airplanes) to devour the passenger traffic. After 1940, the use of diesel electric locomotives made for much more efficient operations that needed fewer workers on the road and in repair shops.

“Most business historians have assumed that the transcontinental railroads would never have been built without government subsidies. The free market would have failed to provide the adequate capital, or so the theory asserts. The evidence for this theory is that the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads, which were completed in the years after the War Between the States, received per-mile subsidies from the federal government in the form of low-interest loans as well as massive land grants. But there need not be cause and effect here: the subsidies were not needed to cause the transcontinental railroads to be built. We know this because, just as many roads and canals were privately financed in the early nineteenth century, a market entrepreneur built his own transcontinental railroad,” writes Thomas J. DiLorenzo, in “How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, From the Pilgrims to the Present.”

He cites for example, James J. Hill built the Great Northern Railroad "without any government aid, even the right of way, through hundreds of miles of public lands, being paid for in cash," as Hill himself said.

But "travel is never a matter of money, but of courage,” according to Paulo Coelho. And modern transportation is cycling up to front in this country, and particularly here in Colorado.

“Arrivo will first build a test site by the E-470 toll road, running past the main airport. The company could even take over a lane of traffic in either direction instead of building a whole new path. The company plans to add 200 employees to a nearby technology center by 2020, with the end goal of having a system running in the next five years,” wrote Mike Brown, a few days ago in “Inverse.” It is sort of like a hyperloop, proposed by Tesla leader Elon Musk in 2013.

“Well, not exactly a hyperloop. A hyperloop-inspired system,” notes Alex Davies of “Wired.”

“It’s a meaningful distinction,” says Brogan BamBrogan (yup, his legal name), founder and CEO of Arrivo, which today announced a deal with the Colorado Department of Transportation to develop such a network throughout the Denver metropolitan region that looks an awful lot like the maglev train systems now running in Japan and China. When Elon Musk first publicized this idea for high-speed tube travel in a 2013 white paper, he described people- or cargo-filled pods levitating above a track inside near-vacuum tubes. This elimination of nearly all friction and drag would mean that the pods could hit near-supersonic speeds with relatively little energy expenditure. Since then, hundreds of people and a handful of companies have been trying to realize hyperloop. They have mixed and matched Musk's ingredients, trying to find a recipe that delivers the right blend of cost, speed, and infrastructural feasibility,” says “Wired” Alex Davies.

“Colorado drivers may be the first to escape traffic thanks to a new partnership between state officials and a Los Angeles-based hyperloop tech company. Arrivo founder Brogan BamBrogan joined Colorado transportation officials in Denver Tuesday to announce a partnership to create a network of roadside tubes at the congested heart of the city that promises to whisk drivers and their cars to their destinations at speeds of up to 200 mph. The public-private players include Arrivo, the Colorado Department of Transportation and E-470 Public Highway Authority, which operates a 75-mile, user-financed toll road running along the eastern perimeter of the city. The Arrivo test site will be near E-470 and groundbreaking is slated for early 2018. BamBrogan says Arrivo's first commercial system could be ready in 2021 depending on funding, regulatory and public-perception hurdles,” says Marco della Cava, of USA TODAY.

In the meantime, the Colorado Department of Transportation is still working with Hyperloop One as announced in September.

“Hyperloop One, the only company in the world that has built a full-scale Hyperloop system, today announced Colorado as one of the 10 winners of its Hyperloop One Global Challenge to identify the strongest new Hyperloop routes in the world. Following a close assessment of the proposals by a panel of experts in infrastructure, technology and transportation, ten teams from five countries were chosen from among hundreds of applicants. Hyperloop One will commit meaningful business and engineering resources and work closely with each of the winning teams/routes to determine their commercial viability. Additionally, as a direct result of the Global Challenge, Hyperloop One and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), with support from AECOM, will enter a public private partnership to begin a feasibility study in Colorado that considers a Front Range route from Cheyenne to Pueblo,” said release at the time.

"We are excited​ to partner with Hyperloop One in exploring the next step of feasibility of this innovative technology, potentially transforming how Colorado moves," said Shailen Bhatt, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. "The Hyperloop technology could directly align with our goals of improving mobility and safety in Colorado, and we have been encouraged by the continued progress the technology is taking," said the Sept. CDOT release.

Also, interestingly enough, CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt, who touts among his top accomplishments for the state system as being selected and launching as one of 10 global finalists and moving forward with a first-of-its-kind feasibility study to build Hyperloop, a new rapid speed travel infrastructure. Bhatt also focused on deploying transportation technology, creating the RoadX program and making Colorado a national innovation leader and by teaming with the private sector to shape our transportation future.

Bhatt will leave his position in December to become President & Chief Executive Officer at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.

Illustrations: Renderings of hyperloop system.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

More efficient means for going backwards?

Completely lost in technology, but making good time

Photo: Gijsbert van der Wal

By Rob Carrigan,

Election night, I was with a group of people, with skin in the game in a local elections, as they waited for results. Big screens surrounded the group overhead but about 70 percent of the heads were down everywhere, watching the feed on their phone. Several of them even commented on how bad they thought that was, considering how hard they tried to get their teen-age kids to look up from the phones, on a daily basis.

“It seems every generation of parents has a collective freak-out when it comes to kids and new technologies; television and video games each inspired widespread hand-wringing among grownups. But the inescapability of today’s mobile devices — combined with allure of social media — seems to separate smartphones from older screen-based media. Parents, teenagers and researchers agree that smartphones are having a profound impact on the way adolescents today communicate with one another and spend their free time,” notes Time magazine in a Nov. 6 story.

“And while some experts say it is too soon to ring alarm bells about smart phones, others argue that we understand enough about young people’s emotional and developmental vulnerabilities to recommend restricting kids’ escalating phone habits.”

According to Time, the latest statistics on teenage mental health reinforce the concern.

“Between 2010 and 2016, the number of adolescents who experienced at least one major depressive episode leaped by 60%,” citing a nationwide survey conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The 2016 HHS survey of 17,000 kids found that about 13% of them had at least one major depressive episode per year, compared with 8% of the kids surveyed in 2010. Suicide deaths among people ages 10 to 19 have also risen sharply; among teenage girls, suicide has reached 40-year highs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All this follows a period during the late 1990s and early 2000s when rates of adolescent depression and suicide mostly held steady or declined.”

I personally have always tried to treat technology like an unfamiliar dog, that might easily become a new friend, but always carries with it the potential to bite you and others around you if not approached correctly.

And it appears local educators have a similar approach.

Lewis Palmer District 38 Superintendent Karen Brofft, and the Parent Community Technology Advisory Committee earlier this week presented SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in the Digital Age, a documentary about one of the biggest parenting issues of our time.

“Are you watching kids scroll through life, with their rapid-fire thumbs and a six-second attention span? Physician and award-winning documentary filmmaker Delaney Ruston saw that happening with her own kids and began a quest to uncover how it might impact their development. Ruston takes a deeply personal approach as she probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including her own, to explore struggles over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction,” said a release about the Nov. 13 presentation.

A recent article by Louisville, Ky., writer and teacher Paul Barnwell in The Atlantic explores the issue.

“The phone could be a great equalizer, in terms of giving children from all sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds the same device, with the same advantages. But using phones for learning requires students to synthesize information and stay focused on a lesson or a discussion. For students with low literacy skills and the frequent urge to multitask on social media or entertainment, incorporating purposeful smartphone use into classroom activity can be especially challenging. The potential advantage of the tool often goes to waste,” he says

“It’s like giving kids equal access to cigarettes and candy ... teens are not as adept at understanding risk and cause and effect,” he says.

“And I know smartphones do have wonderful learning potential, having had occasional success with them in my own classroom. I’ve had students engage in peer-editing using cloud-based word processing on their phones, for example. I’ve also heard and read about other educators using phones for exciting applications: connecting students to content experts via social media, recording practice presentations, and creating ‘how-to’ videos for science experiments.

We also know that other school districts across the country are in the midst of trying to incorporate technology to enhance learning, and to close the so-called digital divide—to ensure all students have access to an Internet-enabled device. One way to solve the access issue is to allow students to use smartphones in class,” Barnwell says.

I suppose it is appropriate that we consider smartphones and other technology like renowned science fiction writer Arthur C. Clark. “Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.” Or like another such writer, Aldous Huxley said. “Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.”

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Leader from a very young age

Dickson Memorial effort brings veterans’ sacrifices home

By Rob Carrigan,

Eric V. Dickson – by all accounts, was a leader from a very young age – and Woodland Park student who joined the Marine Corp after graduation in 1967.

“The cold and harsh fact that an undeclared war in progress thousands of miles from Teller County has struck. And with a terrific impact, one which will perhaps never be fully understood,” said the Courier at the time.

“Although the confusing Viet Nam conflict has been under way for more than 10 years, it had, until last weekend, received little attention in this area. Many residents have extended sorrow to relatives and friends affected by the war, But Teller County had not given up one of its own,” the Courier said.

The U.S. Defense Department telegram read: “Lance Corporal Eric V. Dickson, a member of B. Company, First Battalion, First Marines, was killed in action near Quang Tri, Republic of Viet Nam, when he received fragmentation wounds to the body from a hostile explosion device while on patrol May 31, 1968.”

“Eric is Woodland Park’s hometown hero to many of us that are still around and remember him with love. His death was incredibly hard on all residents of the area at the time. He was very well known and respected by everyone, young and old,” said longtime area resident Steve Plutt several months ago.

“Back then, Woodland Park was a very small town compared to today. A beautiful memorial fountain was erected in his honor right on Midland Avenue where everyone could see it all the time. It was right across the street from the Ute Inn. The Marine Corp even sent an Honor Guard up here when that fountain was dedicated,” Plutt said.

“As the years past however, times changed and suddenly, not many if any, city leaders knew or had heard of Eric. Our war memorial for Eric fell in disrepair by lack of maintenance from the city and then was vandalized. Soon, it seems that it was in the way of progress and was finally torn down and a public toilet was erected in its place,” he said.

Cause for corrective action.

The group hopes to raise the money to pay for, build and dedicate a new tribute to Dickson on National Vietnam War Veterans Day, March 29, 2018. That will also mark the 50th anniversary of Eric’s death. They are trying to raise a modest $75,000.

“We are a newly formed organization committed to erecting a memorial to a Woodland Park man killed in action in Vietnam in 1968. He was Woodland Park and Teller County’s only death in that war. We are raising money to have a life sized bronze of Mr. Dickson commissioned and placed in Woodland Park,” Steve Storrs, also of group, said this summer.

“We are officially endorsed by the City of Woodland Park, Woodland Park VFW Post 6051, the American Legion Eric V. Dickson Post 1980, Woodland Park Arts Alliance, Aspen Valley Ranch/ Pikes Peak Community Foundation and the Lake George-Florissant VFW Post 11411. “Our Committee (The Eric Dickson Memorial Project) consists of the following members: Denise DeNomme, Elizabeth Agan, Kim Plutt, Mark Agan, Timothy Michael McMillin Sr., Elijah Murphy, Steve Storrs, Steve Plutt.”

The project has been endorsed by State Sen. Kevin Grantham, Congressman Doug Lamborn; Woodland Park officials Mayor Neil Levy and David Buttery; the Board of Teller County Commissioners; Sen. Michael Bennet; Sen. Cory Gardner and State. Rep. Polly Lawrence.

Donations for the commissioned statue of the late Eric Dickson can be sent to Ent Credit Union, Eric Dickson Project, c/o American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, Post 1980, 920 Paradise Lodge Ln., Woodland Park CO 80863.

“Eric Dickson volunteered to serve his country. And he did so without fear, in order that each of us might have a better life in the trying days ahead. We must not let his efforts be in vain,” said the Courier, back in 1968.

Can't think of a better thing to do

The perfect opportunity to say thank you to veterans

By Rob Carrigan,

Originating as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans — living or dead — but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

Locally, and individually, we all have our own heroes. Bill Crawford, Jim Newbrough, and a host of other local guys that served in the various branches. Today, it is estimated that nearly 100,000 veterans live here in El Paso County and about 40,000 active duty.

We have roads named, William Crawford Highway (105) through Monument. We have the recent memorial built (mostly by local vets) on the edge of town in Palmer Lake that will be dedicated this next weekend.

Crawford was born in 1918, and from Pueblo, Colorado, and later joined the U.S. Army from that city in July 1942. By September 13, 1943, he was serving as a private with the 142nd Infantry Regiment 36th Infantry Division in southern Italy. On that day, he was acting as a squad scout when his company attacked Hill 424 near Altavilla Silentina. During the battle, Crawford twice moved forward through continuous fire and, using hand grenades and his rifle, destroyed machine gun nests which were holding back his platoon's advance.

After the battle, Crawford was captured by the Germans and presumed dead. So in 1944 the Medal of Honor was presented posthumously to his father. Later in the year, Crawford was among a group of soldiers rescued from German captivity.

On January 13, 1946, he married Eileen Bruce. He re-enlisted in the Army in 1947, retired in 1967 with the rank of master sergeant. He later worked as a janitor at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and as director of the Lucretia Vaille Museum in Palmer Lake.

While working at the Air Force Academy, he mentioned to friends that he had never received the Medal from the president. In 1984, during that year's graduation ceremony, President Ronald Reagan formally presented him with the Medal.

Crawford died at age 81 on March 15, 2000, in his residence at Palmer Lake. Upon his death Governor Bill Owens authorized all Colorado flags to be lowered to half staff in his honor. He is buried at the United States Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs, the only non-USAF, US Army enlisted person buried there. He is one of four Medal of Honor recipients from Pueblo, Colorado, the others being Drew Dennis Dix, Raymond G. Murphy, and Carl L. Sitter.

Jim Newbrough, the great grandson of David McShane, a Monument pioneer who built a fort on the edge of town in the 1860s. Newbrough was awarded the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster for his heroics in the Mundi Air Strip Battle during World War II. He single-handedly manned a machine gun nest at that Pacific outpost and is credited with saving the battalion that day.

“As the fight progressed, Newbrough, alone on the gun, kept it going constantly,” said Yank Magazine in December of 1943. “Nobody, not even he, knows how many belts of ammunition he expended. As the gun continued to fire, it attracted more and more attention until it seemed that Newbrough was the only target. Bullets spattered onto everything, cutting down the shelter, half on top of him and clearing the underbrush from around him.”

Next week, a number of celebrations, tributes and events thank Veterans for their service. I can’t think of a better thing to do.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Battling an unseen monster

Nothing is more dangerous than a monster that you can't see to fight.
Our grandfathers and grandmothers remember.

Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919 in Colorado

By the numbers:

When: 99 years ago.

First reported case in Colorado, September, 1918:
"Spanish Flu” was first reported in Colorado on September 21, 1918, among the Student Army Training Corp stationed at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Hundreds of soldiers were sickened and 19 later died, according to Katie Randolph, of the Denver Public Library On September 27, 1918, a young Denver University student named Blanche Kennedy, died of pneumonia a few days after returning from a trip to Chicago, according to University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine. It was Denver’s first influenza-related death.

Number of Coloradans who perished:
Between September 1918 and June 1919, nearly 8,000 Coloradans died from influenza and its complications. Colorado had one of the highest mortality rates in the country, possibly because it was home to a large population with compromised lung function (miners and tubercular patients) — folks at a severe disadvantage for fighting pneumonia.
“The flu in 1918 was a pandemic (rather than an epidemic) as it spread quickly and affected a large number of people across several continents. In Denver, Colorado Springs, and towns throughout the state, officials tried to control the spread of the virus by encouraging the use of face masks and placing restrictions on public gatherings, Randolph wrote.

Number worldwide killed by 1918-19 Influenza pandemic:
According to medical researchers, Flu infected 500 million people around the world, including remote Pacific islands and the Arctic, and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million (three to five percent of the world's population), making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.

Life expectancy at that time:
Disease had already greatly limited life expectancy in the early 20th century. A considerable spike occurred at the time of the pandemic, specifically the year 1918. Life expectancy in the United States alone dropped by about 12 years.

Local response:
City Manager of Health and Charity and former Denver mayor Dr. William H. Sharpley took quick action, according to reports from University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine. “Having heard reports of influenza across the state and assuming that the epidemic would soon reach Denver, he had proactively formed an influenza advisory board on September 26.
Sharpley urged the public to be on guard. He recommended that residents avoid needless crowding, cover all coughs and sneezes, keep their homes and offices well ventilated, and seek a physician at once if cold-like symptoms developed. He also offered the less-than-helpful recommendation to keep a clean mouth, a clean heart, and clean clothes, and advised those affected to make nature your ally, not your prisoner” by avoiding tight clothes and shoes,” reports said.
“Neither Sharpley nor the influenza advisory committee were convinced that the first eight cases near Denver were due to the same virulent “Spanish influenza” strain that was making its way across the nation.It was not until several days later, on October 4, when the number of cases and deaths had climbed rapidly, that Sharpley and the advisory board realized they were facing the deadly epidemic. Sharpley quickly ordered hospitals to isolate influenza patients in separate rooms and not in the general wards, or to use screen dividers between beds in institutions where such separation was not possible,” University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine reported. Colorado Springs restricted some public gathering and canceled meetings. Other towns and governments followed suit.

Statewide, the effects of the pandemic varied:
Some of Colorado's mountain towns were crippled. Silverton, then a bustling mining town, lost 10 percent of its inhabitants. The flu was transmitted at a public gathering in Silverton. But Gunnison County, where Crested Butte is located, only lost two people. At the first precautionary warning in 1918, schools were closed across Gunnison County, and remained so for at least two weeks. County officials also required certain places to remain closed for four weeks. Anybody wanting to enter the county was required to be quarantined for two days. The school and business closures were finally lifted after four months, say officials in Telluride, who have studied the past in Gunnison while trying to prepare for a potential pandemic flu transmitted by avian species, in 2007.

Photo information:

1. Healthcare workers in Denver, 1918.

2. An emergency hospital at Camp Funston, Kansas, 1918. “Of the 12 men who slept in my squad room, 7 were ill at one time,” a soldier recalled. (New Contributed Photographs Collection / otis historical Archives / National Museum of Health and Medicine)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Going back to the root of a word

Time to put the ‘conserve’ back into conservative

By Rob Carrigan,

If you look up the root word of conservative in the dictionary, “conserve,” chances are, you would see a definition like “protect something, especially an environmentally or culturally important place or thing, from harm or destruction.”
Conservative forces, and even Republicans, did not always have the reputation of being adverse to environmentalism. Lets just take a look backwards.
Examples of environmentalism in politicians tabbed as “conservative” are as follows.
One of my favorites characters in the political arena was Teddy Roosevelt. Growing up as kid in small town Colorado, in which one claim to fame was at least three Rough Riders charging San Juan Hill with Roosevelt, maybe I was predisposed. But the idea that big-game hunter, lifelong Republican, bully-pulpit president like Teddy Roosevelt could appear like an environmentalist, was once not so farfetched.
During his presidency, T.R. preserved more than 230 million acres of wilderness, created the U.S Forest Service, aggressively pursued soil and water conservation, and established more than 200 national forests, national monuments, national parks and wildlife refuges.
"The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem," he once said, according to the Theodore Roosevelt Association. "Unless we solve that problem, it will avail us little to solve all others."
Even Ronald Reagan was greener than you think.
“Reagan pushed for and signed the Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone-layer-depleting, climate change-promoting chlorofluorocarbons. His administration did the initial work on a “cap and trade” system to control acid rain that ultimately was implemented during the George H. W. Bush administration,” notes the conservative Weekly Standard.
“A classic example of Reagan’s approach can be found in the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, which the president signed in 1982. The law established the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS), a zone that today encompasses 273 million acres of land (an area larger than all but one national park in the lower 48 states) in which federal subsidies to new development​ —​ notably, subsidies for roads, housing, and flood insurance​ — ​are forbidden. Private interests may still develop the land but must do so without a penny of federal money. It is estimated the law has saved taxpayers $1 billion since its enactment.
Let’s look at conservatives on the international front. Margaret Thatcher, who was trained as a chemist at Oxford University, the late British Prime Minister Thatcher may have understood the scientific basis of climate change and other environmental issues better than many other politicians. "It is mankind and his activities that are changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways," she once said, according to the Guardian. "The result is that change in future is likely to be more fundamental and more widespread than anything we have known hitherto. Change to the sea around us, change to the atmosphere above, leading in turn to change in the world's climate, which could alter the way we live in the most fundamental way of all."
Even unpopular conservatives like Richard Nixon, had positives in the Green World.
Nixon signed into law a long list of environmental legislation. Among those measures: “The National Environmental Policy Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Environmental Pesticide Control Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Endangered Species Act were all signed by or supported by Nixon, according to Mother Nature Network (
He also established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a cabinet-level federal department.
Take for another example, Barry Goldwater — five-term Republican senator from Arizona and a presidential candidate in 1964 — but also a committed outdoor enthusiast.
"While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails," he wrote, "I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment."
Goldwater initially supported the construction of Glen Canyon Dam, which some say destroyed the colorful gorges of Glen Canyon beneath the water of Lake Powell, he later regretted his position. Shortly before he died in 1998, Goldwater joined the Republicans for Environmental Protection (now known as ConservAmerica).
In the current political environment of climate denial, I know some see environmentalism and conservation as “dirty words.” But I still see room to put the “conserve,” back in conservative.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Ready to count the ripples

Cast a stone into the river of choice

By Rob Carrigan,

In the next few weeks, hopefully most of you will grab that red, white and black, oversized envelope marked “Official Ballot Enclosed” and make some choices.

Ballots were mailed to military personnel and overseas voters on Sept. 22, and ballots were mailed to local, active voters on Oct.16. Return ballots must be received no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day, except for military and overseas ballots. Military and overseas ballots are due no later than the 8th day after Election Day. Mail ballot drop-off locations were open starting October 16, and will remain open until 7 p.m. on Election Day. There are 15 mail ballot drop-off locations and these are open 24 hours, in El Paso County, and similar situation exists in Teller County.

On the outside of the envelope of the ‘official election mail,’ the county clerk and recorder’s office usually suggests “Vote Early. Once you decide to vote, return your ballot to one of our convenient ballot drop-off locations listed on the enclosed Secrecy Sleeve,”

El Paso County notes “Returning your ballot early helps reduce campaign calls and streamlines the election process.” All good objectives, I would agree.

Learn more about ballot drop-off. For more information about the 2017 Coordinated Election, visit the El Paso County election page.

For Teller County,

“The good thing about democracy is that every vote counts. The problem with democracy is that every vote counts,” according to Charbel Tadros, author of ‘Leviathan.’

So basically, the deck is stacked against the folks that don’t vote. But more than that, the system is our system.

“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." A foreigner by the name of Winston S. Churchill said that about his country’s similar form of government in Speech in the House of Commons, Nov. 11, 1947.

I am also am a fan of a particular quote of Abraham Lincoln. “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.” The beer reference, I think was a stiff afterthought attempt at humor, but all-in-all, not a bad idea.

The truth is, as Mother Teresa (also a foreigner), identified, the idea that intent and deliberation goes a long way in all of our efforts. “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Cast a stone, and create many of your own ripples.

Photo info: Native American Navajos register to vote for the first time in 1948.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Top of the world views nearby

Spruce Mountain: Locals love looking out from the overlooks

By Rob Carrigan,
The large, tree-covered mesa known as Spruce Mountain is a popular local track for hikers, horses, bikers and more. Visible from Interstate I-25, Spruce Mountain Road, County Line Road, and Highway 105, it is part of an important wildlife corridor allowing travel between the Pike National Forest and Greenland Open Space and Greenland Ranch. Douglas County has created over 8.5 miles of recreational trails on the property.
The Spruce Mountain Trail gently switchbacks up Spruce Mountain through a ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forest up to rocky overlooking vistas and a loop around the fairly-flat, forested mountaintop. Lookouts offer breathtaking views of Greenland Open Space, surrounding buttes, Pikes Peak, the Palmer Divide, Carpenter Creek and thousands of acres of protected open space. There are plenty of lookouts, ridges and meadows from over eight miles of trails. For variety, descend on the service road, hike the loop to the west, and hike back along the Eagle Pass trail, says information from Douglas County Open Space and Natural Resources.

* 8.5 miles of trails. Staying low on the easy Eagle Pass Trail will take you along the edges of forests and meadows. Moderately easy hikes to the upper loop will gently climb through shady forests to a wide and gentle trail that circles the top of the mountain. Small children commonly hike it, but keep an eye on them at the rocky lookouts. Ice and snow can build up on the shaded trails on the northern climb. The east end of the Service Road that Descends Spruce Mountain can be difficult, since it is steep and usually quite rutted. The western loop of the Eagle Pass Trail and the Service Road are moderately easy.
* Trail Length, It is about 5.5 miles from Spruce Mountain Road parking lot, around the Upper Loop, and a roundtrip back. You can add on another couple of miles to include the meadows and beautifully forested Eagle Ridge on the west side of Eagle Pass Trail and the Service Road.
* An interpretive kiosk and a port-a-potty are available in the parking lot trailhead, which accommodates cars and light trucks only. Trailers may be parked at the large Spruce Meadows Trailhead along Noe Road to the northeast. There is no water available at this site. Water is available a spigot at the nearby Greenland Open Space Trailhead.

Location: 13415 Spruce Mountain Road, Larkspur, CO. From I-25, take the Greenland Exit (167) to the west and travel ¼ mile west on Greenland Road and ½ mile south. Bypass the Greenland Trailhead and continue right on the main gravel road (Noe Road) over two sets of railroad tracks. (If you have a horse trailer or very large vehicle, park at the Spruce meadows parking lot on your left and take the 2-mile trail to Spruce Mountain.) Vehicles without trailers can continue another mile west on Noe Road to Spruce Mountain Road. Take a left and head south for about one mile to the parking area on your right. Or, cars can exit at Larkspur and go south six miles to Spruce Mountain Road to the entrance on the right.

Contact: Douglas County Open Space and Natural Resources at 303.660.7495.

Year acquired: 2003 – 231 acres fee simple, 2008 – 662 acres fee simple, 2008 – 458 acres conservation easement
Acres:  893 acres Fee simple; 458 acres in conservation easement
Land Category:  Preserve/Wildlife habitat
Conservation Tool: Fee Title & Conservation Easement
Cost: $8,985,000 Douglas County, $250,000 Great Outdoors Colorado, $1,875,000 United States Department of Agriculture – grant pending
Partners: Great Outdoors Colorado, The Conservation Fund, Douglas County, private conservation buyers. United States Department of Agriculture and Colorado State Forest Service
Location: Three and half miles north of Palmer Lake. Six miles south of Larkspur, with access along Spruce Mountain Road. The property is located between Perry Park Road and Spruce Mountain Road, south of Noe Road in the South I-25 Conservation Corridor.

Monday, October 9, 2017

We will miss Joiner’s strong and confident voice

The thing that stood out over and above for me  about Jere Joiner, was his voice.
Not necessarily his physical voice, though that was made for radio, or the opera, or something special but the way he took charge of what he wanted to say, when he wanted say it.
“Writing is not about the voices in your head, but the voices that make the great leap to the page,”  said J.H. Glaze, also a writer of renown.
Good writers have cadence, a pitch, a tone.
A writer's voice is something uniquely their own. It makes their work pop, plus readers recognize the familiarity. You would be able to identify the difference between Tolkien and Hemingway, wouldn't you? It's the way they write; their voice, in writing, is as natural as everyone's speaking voice.
Jere Joiner had such a voice in his writing, his speaking, and in more than once, in our own arguments. Sometimes, Joiner wanted say something that I disagreed with, or many times he wanted to present it in a way I felt was inappropriate. Or on occasion, I even thought I could improve the message, if he would just do it my way. All those discussions ended well because, in addition to a strong voice, Jere Joiner also knew how to listen, while still making his point.
“What is needed most is empathy, the ability to look out at the world through another person's eyes. Such an ability rarely comes naturally, but it can be learned. The solution is learning how to do it, and then making it happen on a large enough scale to be effective,” wrote Jere in one of his frequent letters to Gazette, over the years.
“Sociologists know that people tend to group themselves according to interest and education. College professors associate with college professors. Police officers, particularly, like to associate with other cops. Musicians, doctors, pro football players, pilots, politicians and teachers all feel more comfortable around people who think the way they do. They have common interests and understand each other's problems. Such groups may belong to a union, fraternity or civic organization where mutual ideas and views are shared and discussed,” Joiner said.
“Empathy will change the narrative, particularly if it goes both ways. Identifying and strengthening the ties that bind should be everyone's goal,” he explained.
His voice was born of his experience, of which, I was in awe.
Shreveport Detective Captain, leadership in the Sheriff’s Offices in Teller and El Paso counties, FBI training at Quantico, international expert status on use of the breathalyzer, political operative, father, husband, community leader, were just some of the roles he excelled at.
Also, one telling example of his strength of character, and as current El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder notes proof that “Jere was a fine man with a huge heart and will be missed,” was what the dogs thought of him.
He often would bring his two Portuguese Water Dogs to the office, and they would, without incident, wait patiently in the back office, for him to return, if he were to step out.
The minute they heard his voice, it was a homecoming of sorts. The dogs missed him back then, like all of us at the Courier, Woodland Park and points of the compass near and far, will miss that strong and confident voice that we all cherished.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Whispered in my ear, recently

In aggregation, the last few days, have been difficult for me. Others too, I am sure.

From a release from El Pomar:

"All of us woke up Monday to the shocking news that once again our country had a community in crisis. While the nation and the Las Vegas community need to process the how and why of such a deadly event and grieve for the loss of life while caring for survivors and families, many of us around the country want to help, to do something positive, to act.

From a column I wrote years ago about 1974 Chevy Vega I once owned:
Air band concerts took place on the hood as music from the soundtrack of the movie FM blared from the speakers inside.
"It's alright if you love me. It's alright if you don't. I'm not afraid of you running away from me, honey. I get the feeling you won't," sang Tom Petty . Break down, car. Go ahead and give it to me.

Believe it or not, a mental health professional can make it through his or her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs without having a single, significant discussion on what the term “mental health” actually means (or the term “mind” for that matter).
We tend to be trained to think that mental health is “not” something.  In other words, one becomes mentally healthy when they are “not depressed” or “not anxious” anymore.   At best, we receive a very functional definition of mental health.  That is, a person can be considered mentally healthy if they are able to function well at work and in relationships.  That’s a decent working definition, but it leaves a lot of territory unexplored.


From a news story I wrote Friday:
The suspect arrested for menacing bikers and others as they searched for Tim Watkins, before his body was found near Mount Herman Road west of Monument, is reportedly been called a person of interest in the murders of Delphi, Indiana teens Abby Williams and Libby German, according to various news outlets in Indiana.
Two teenage girls, Abby Williams and Libby German ages 13 and 14, were killed while hiking on a trail in Delphi, Indiana in February. Police have not released how they were killed.
Nations was living homeless in Morgan County the same week the girls' bodies were found, according reports. He was living under bridges in Morgan County when the girls were murdered, according to the Morgan County Sheriff's Department.

The “FM” story unfolds across a background of concerts, broadcast music, appearances by various rock stars, and public appearances by the station DJs. A minor subtheme to the film is the competition between QSKY and another area radio station. The major event of that subtheme occurs when Jeff arranges to broadcast a live concert by Linda Ronstadt that is being sponsored by the competitor's radio station.
Another minor subtheme is the ongoing task of massaging egos of the various DJs to keep them happy and on the air.
Martin Mull appears in his feature film debut as a zoned-out record spinner. He plays Eric Swan, a libidinous disc jockey with eyes for everyone female. The character is self-centered, smarmy, quick tempered, and overbearingly insincere. During the course of the film, Swan beds a supposed girlfriend, encounters a female fan with a peculiar physical "gift", and barricades himself in owing to a severe emotional breakdown due to his agent's dropping him and his girlfriend's leaving him, all within the confines of QSKY's studio.
Also rounding out the cast are Cleavon Little, who plays the Prince of Darkness, QSKY's overnight host (Little had previously played a disc jockey in the 1971 film, Vanishing Point); Eileen Brennan as " Mother", the 40-something nighttime DJ; Alex Karras as "Doc Holiday", the midday DJ with the lowest ratings on the station who is eventually let go from the station; and Tom Tarpey as new sales manager Regis Lamar, the bane of the disk jockeys' existence.
In addition, the film includes live appearances by Tom Petty & REO Speedwagon and live performances by Linda Ronstadt & Jimmy Buffett. Steely Dan performed the title theme, which became a sizable hit. The Eagles, James Taylor, Bob Seger, Dan Fogelberg, Billy Joel, and Queen were featured on the Platinum-plus soundtrack album.
From Wikipedia listing from “FM,” the movie.

From a Daily Beast, Tuesday Column by Stereo Williams

A sticking point for Petty was when fans began to bring Confederate flags to shows. In 2010, Fred Mills of BLURT recalled seeing Petty live in 1990 (with Lenny Kravitz opening, no less) when a fan tossed a Confederate flag onstage.
“A certain yahoo element had already been making its presence in the crowd known, emitting whoops and raising beer cups whenever Petty would make a regional reference. It was starting to feel like a NASCAR rally in the arena. Now, as the band eased into the song’s signature piano intro, somebody tossed a folded-up object onto the stage,” said Mills. “Petty walked over, picked it up, and started unfolding it: a rebel flag, symbol of the Confederacy—and of a whole lot more. He froze, uncertain as to what he should do. Well, wave it proudly at all your fellow Southerners, you could almost hear the collective thought ripple through the air. Instead, Petty walked back to the mic, still holding the flag, and slowly began to speak, talking about how on the Southern Accents Tour a few years ago they’d included a Confederate flag as part of the stage set, but since then he’d been thinking about it and decided that it had been a mistake because he understood maybe it wasn’t just a rebel image to some folks. As a low rumble of boos and a few catcalls came out of the crowd, Petty carefully wadded the flag up and concluded, ‘So we don’t do’—nodding at the flag—‘this anymore.’ Glaring at it one last time and then chucking it back down, he glanced at the band then launched directly into the next song.”

From a release Monday from Douglas County Sheriff’s Office:
On Sept. 30, The Douglas Regional Dispatch Center received a report of a body along the side of the road in the area of SB I-25 at MM 167, the Greenland Exit, South of The Town of Larkspur. Deputies and Larkspur Fire were immediately dispatched to the area to investigate.
The body of a female was located South of the Greenland Exit near MM 165.5. Although the cause and manner of death are still under investigation, The Douglas County Coroner’s Office has identified the female as Shelby Weatherly (DOB 9/20/1993).
Putting all of this together, we all want some kind of control in our lives. When our control in one area is restricted, we look for another outlet. That means that it is worth spending some time thinking about the areas of your life in which you can exert some control. Perhaps you have a creative outlet in which you feel you have mastery. One reason why these kinds of creative outlets are therapeutic is that they provide you with an arena in which you have control that you can use as a refuge when other elements of your life feel out of your control.
Follow Art Markman, Ph.D. on Twitter:
“I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy.”
From a release from CU Boulder:
Beverly Kingston, director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV) at the University of Colorado Boulder and Bill Woodward, training director at CSPV are available to discuss research-based strategies for preventing violence, including mass shootings. “A lot of times someone hears or sees something that doesn’t seem right and they don’t know who to call or how to report it. We would say: Do something,” says Kingston. She points to research by the U.S. Secret Service showing that in 4 out of 5 mass shootings at schools, someone other than the attacker knew of the plans. “They also found that most attackers engaged in some behavior prior to the incident that caused concern or indicated a need for help,” Kingston says.
She credits Colorado’s Safe2Tell Initiative, out of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, as an important resource for preventing numerous subsequent tragedies. Founded after the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, Safe2Tell provides a 24-hour anonymous tip line for citizens to report concerning behavior.
“When you are crazy you learn to keep quiet.”
In just eight hours, learn to identify and respond to signs of addiction and/or mental illness in a friend, family member or co-worker. Mental Health First Aid is an international program, but this is the last local offering in 2017. Class size is limited, and registration is required at For more information, contact NAMI-CS at 719-473-8477 or National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Adult Mental Health First Aid Training, 8am-5pm, Friday, October 27, 2017, Citizens Service Center, 1675 Garden of the Gods Rd., Colorado Springs 80907, FREE, NAMI Colorado Springs 719-473-8477
“In Scandinavia, there was a firm belief in the ability of some people to change into or assume the characteristics of bears. Our English word "berserk" comes from this legend. It was thought that if a warrior was to don a bear-skin shirt (called a bear-sark) which had been treated with oils and herbs, that the warrior would gain the strength, stamina, and power of the animal. These people would be driven into a frenzy in battle and were said to be capable of biting through the enemy's shields or walking through fire without injury.” — Gary Coulbourne
Sometimes, stories should be allowed to tell themselves.
In November of 2003, I began exploring the idea of writing something about how my friend, Lynn Leavell’s life and death had an impact on my own, and the lives of some of my friends. Pieces of that exploration have appeared here and there, but the definitive account, the be-all-to-end-all version that puts the matter to rest, never seems to emerge.
After wrestling with this mystery off and on all these years, the truth may be that I will never understand. Life may simply be just one damn thing after another, or not.
But following are few of the conversations and exchanges I’ve shared as I wander about, seeking.
Intro to a blogpost about a friend of mine.
We got somethin', we both know it, we don't talk too much about it
Ain't no real big secret, all the same, somehow we get around it
Listen, it don't really matter to me baby
You believe what you want to believe, you see

You don't have to live like a refugee
(Don't have to live like a refugee)

Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some
Tell me why you want to lay there, revel in your abandon
Honey, it don't make no difference to me baby
Everybody has to fight to be free, you see

You don't have to live like a refugee
(Don't have to live like a refugee)
No baby you don't have to live like a refugee
(Don't have to live like a refugee)

__ Tom Petty, Michael W. Campbell