Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wyoming: A Prosaic Triangulation Theory

South Pass Road
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
This has been a long time coming...

On Election Day, I took my "Obama" sign down by 7:00 p.m.—an hour or so after the polls closed in Wyoming. I had decided days earlier that's what I'd do no matter the outcome. Besides it was dark outside by that time.

The election night returns were to start pouring in my 7:00 Eastern Time and once they did, the results came quickly—quicker than many expected. I was glad. I didn't want to see McCain's campaign experience a slow death. Sure I wanted Obama to win, but I wanted him to win big. No ugly recounts in Florida or Ohio. No special meetings of the Supreme Court. Just one big, fat win for Mr. O.

I had promised our girls that if NPR projected an Obama win, I would shout everyone milkshakes. And once the announcement came, I was off on my bike for the goods. By the time I returned, McCain was finishing his concession speech.

How fast did defeat or victory come? Faster than a slow carry out order at McDonalds.

Before it was clear that Obama had surpassed the magical 270 electoral votes required, it was even clearer that Wyoming's two senate seats were going to be won easily by the Republicans. Further, its lone Congressional seat (that was almost won by a Democrat two years earlier), eluded Gary Trauner once again only this time it was a new and improved Barbara Cubin—aka Cynthia Lummis who defeated him and proudly boasted to the media afterwards that Dick Cheney will be her mentor. Wow.

Which brings me to a little triangulation theory I came up with.

As it turns out, President-elect Obama suffered his worst defeat of the night at the hands of the Cowboy State—only 33% of Wyoming's voting electorate darkened their oval for the former "community organizer." The state that simply claims to be OK, Oklahoma, was a close second giving him only 34% of their votes. Even the folks of Arizona and Alaska (McCain and Palin's respective states) were more generous to the senator from Illinois. Throughout the month leading up to November 4, I watched the polls and was puzzled to see that Utah was projected as the most anti-Obama state with less than 30%.

Sadly, I was reassured that Wyoming beat out Utah in the anti-Obama votes once the polls closed on November 4.

So, while Obama and the country talked about and embraced a change in the country's direction, things were going to remain the same regarding the Cowboy State—as usual. Conservative to the bone, and in my opinion, to a fault.

All of this reminded me of an article I read earlier in October from the Billings Gazette—the headline read, "Wyomingites come up short in study of personality traits." Maybe you read it.

It was a study that was published in the September issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. The prevalence of five personality traits were mapped to all of the states including the District of Columbia and sadly, Wyoming scored no better than 48th (out of 51) in three of the five areas. These three areas of deficiency were "openness" (how open to new ideas and new experiences people are), agreeableness (how friendly and cooperative people are), and conscientiousness (how dutiful and reliable people are). Perhaps the only good news from the study for Wyoming is that as a people, we're not very neurotic (how prone to anxiety and stress people are) compared to most of the nation.

Then there is the "Republican for a Reason" advertisements that kept on appearing in my hometown newspaper the Powell Tribune leading up to Election Day. Perhaps you're one of the lucky few to have read them, "If you think Wyoming has a better quality of life than just about anywhere else in the country, we agree." Below that reads, "It's no coincidence that 75% of the top elected leaders in Wyoming are Republicans." As if life in Wyoming is good because of an abundance of Republican politicians?

And how do we get Republican leaders? I suspect there are many folk who consider themselves Republicans casting such votes.

So, what do we have here? First of all, Wyoming led the charge against the man who easily won the Presidency. In other words while most of the country was making a gradual turn to the left, our state made a hard right. Well, that makes sense given the study that basically says we are close-minded, not very friendly or cooperative (see Dick Cheney) and self-centered. What else are we as a people—oh yes, Republican... for a reason.

Do I have to spell it out?

If George W. Bush could run for another term despite his boondoggled presidency, he'd still get re-elected if all he had to count on was Wyoming.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

McCain's Skeleton Closet

Barack Obama a Muslim? A friend of a known "terrorist" from the 1970s? A long-time member of Rev. Jerimiah Wright's church? He still gets my vote because if we're talking flawed character traits and questionable associations from the past (and present), Barack Obama can't hold a candle to John McCain.

You see "my friends," John McCain has a shady history himself through his various associations over the years—all of which are more documented than the trite scuttlebutt on Obama.

Start with a Google search using some of these names and terms and find out how many dots you can connect back to our beloved war hero and maverick, John McCain: Jim Hensley and Kemper Marley (Sr.); Joe Bonanno and John McCain; Kemper Marley and the Mob/Mafia; bombing, reporter, Don Bolles and Kemper Marley; horse racing, Kemper Marley and Emprise.

For those of you that can't be bothered, I'll give you the Reader's Digest version of what you probably don't know about John McCain (in case you haven't figured it out by now)... he has ties to the Mob through his in-laws (the Hensleys). Further he has accepted money for his past (and present?) political campaigns from members of the mafia. Former Mafia boss Joe Bonanno, one of the top five Mafia bosses in New York City, invited Senator McCain and Arizona's governor to his birthday party in Tucson, Arizona in 1995. McCain sent a congratulatory telegram back because he was unable to attend. In 2007 McCain also accepted $2,100 in campaign contributions from each of five members of Bonanno's immediate family.

If Obama's a terrorist sympathizer for attending civic-minded board meetings with 1970s anti-war radical Bill Ayers, what's that make McCain in his cozy ties with the mafia?

Most amazing is that none of McCain's dodgy history has surfaced in Obama's campaigning or via the "liberal" media. I find it hard to believe that either entity isn't aware of the senator's Mafia connections.

What else might we learn about John McCain before we cast our votes on November 4?

On two other notes: Regarding foreign relations experience, McCain pundits have continually pointed out that Senator Obama is lacking in this department. Perhaps he is, but millions of Americans have spoken and are obviously confident in his ability when considering those from his own party that he defeated with more experience—including his VP pick, Biden. One has to wonder how well Sarah Palin's candidacy would have fared if she had competed in the Republican primaries from day one.

When discussing taxes and the now-iconic "Joe the Plumber," McCain has singled out Obama's quote regarding "wanting to spread the wealth around." Why is that such a bad thing? I'll gladly have my taxes increase from 36% to 39% when I'm making $250,000 per year... no problem!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Drillin' & Spillin'

Permian Basin
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
For those of you who only need sound bites instead of lengthy, articulate essays...

Drill, Baby, Drill =
Spill, Idiot, Spill.

Keep in mind, this article has to do with the same area where the oil industry and its cronies (i.e., wealthy Republicans who stand to gain big time) want to expand drilling.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dumbing Down Elitism

Study Hall Teacher
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Elitism... how did it become a four-letter word here in America?

When I was in New Zealand for a year, I remember how the term "dumbed down" became so closely associated with America and Americans. I was somewhat taken back when it came up those first few times. After a while I started to figure out how it was... or at least that's what I thought. My explanation was that the association of "dumbed down" and "America(ns)" had to do with our (i.e., Americans) no-nonsense simplicity, our efficiency and our tendency to eliminate all of the fringe and ornamentation in any given project, our direct line of thought and its application to achieving our goals.

Even when George Bush was elected President in 2000 and I was in Christchurch, many Kiwis I encountered seemed to know what he was all about before I did. They referred to him (back then) the way I do today... not-too-bright, incompetent, butcher-of-the-English-language, arrogant, etc. Again, I was rather taken back thinking to myself, "Well, let's give him a chance before we totally condemn him."

Eight years later it seems that America itself has embraced this image of associating ourselves with the term "dumbed-down." Although we don't think of ourselves with such blunt terminology, however eloquent one states it, the translation is the same: we've been cultivating a growing distaste for anything that resembles elite or elitism. I'm unsure when the movement started, but George Bush's Presidency has certainly fertilized it.

I was just reminded that the founders of this country were elitist—highly educated, cultured, and brilliant. Isn't the formation of the "electoral college" a reflection of such elitism?

Sam Harris' recent Newsweek article attacking the candidacy of Sarah Palin has truly solidified my theory/opinion regarding our aversion to elitism.

I'll finish with quotes from his insightful article here, but I invite you to read the entire piece, print it out, and share with others.

—•— —•— —•— —•— —•—

What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. Watching her deny to Gibson that she had ever harbored the slightest doubt about her readiness to take command of the world's only superpower, one got the feeling that Palin would gladly assume any responsibility on earth:

"Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child's brain?"

"Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I'm an avid hunter."

"But governor, this is neurosurgery, and you have no training as a surgeon of any kind."

"That's just the point, Charlie. The American people want change in how we make medical decisions in this country. And when faced with a challenge, you cannot blink."

...The prospects of a Palin administration are far more frightening, in fact, than those of a Palin Institute for Pediatric Neurosurgery. Ask yourself: how has "elitism" become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated.

...I believe that with the nomination of Sarah Palin for the vice presidency, the silliness of our politics has finally put our nation at risk. The world is growing more complex—and dangerous—with each passing hour, and our position within it growing more precarious. Should she become president, Palin seems capable of enacting policies so detached from the common interests of humanity, and from empirical reality, as to unite the entire world against us. When asked why she is qualified to shoulder more responsibility than any person has held in human history, Palin cites her refusal to hesitate. "You can't blink," she told Gibson repeatedly, as though this were a primordial truth of wise governance. Let us hope that a President Palin would blink, again and again, while more thoughtful people decide the fate of civilization.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Maybe It's Not That Bad

Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Was it my imagination, but I just finally made it around to watching Bill O'Reilly's interview with Barack Obama and I didn't detect any blood. Geeeeeeze, they were rather chummy weren't they and seemed to see many things on a fairly eye-to-eye basis. At least they appeared to understand one another and where each was coming from. Are things really that bad between the Republicans and Democrats in this country that they can't sit down and talk like these two iconic forces?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin & McCain's Bridge To Nowhere

No Jumping Here
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Despite the research of several different reporters and news agencies coming up with conclusive evidence that Sarah Palin actually did support "The Bridge To Nowhere," to the extent of campaigning and lobbying for it, Sarah Palin's recollection is quite different: “I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere.” And almost everyday since her memorable (historic?) Republican National Convention speech, she continues to repeat this claim as she stumps around the country with her running mate, John McCain.

With overwhelming evidence of her outright lie, John McCain and his supporters continue to prop her up while backing her deception on this topic. Which really makes McCain and company a bunch of liars too. Wow, there's a news flash, politicians who lie.

But, is it a lie?

Probably, but some might not consider it a total lie. Yet, it's hardly truthful. If the world is as black and white as Republicans like to paint it, I'll side with calling her claim a lie. She only said "no thanks" after the project was dead in the water. As one reporter stated it, she carried out the last rites on the ill-fated project.

And lying about a fairly petty happening of the past in light of those affairs awaiting her and McCain (should they get the nod in November) makes one wonder what else they might be willing to lie about down the road. However, if they eat crow and come clean now about The Bridge to Nowhere, their bid for the election is doomed for certain. Too bad because my respect for them would surely soar. But coming clean in front of the American public doesn't accomplish a thing. Undoubtedly McCain and Palin surely know they have made their bed, and now have to lie in it hoping the American public's apathy and callousness come to their rescue.

Perhaps the saddest thing about all of this is that there appears to be a large percentage of the American public who refuse to believe or simply don't care about such indisputable findings (... well, I'm sure Fox News could come up with something in their arsenal of "crack reporters" that counters all other media reports regarding Palin).

That being the case, maybe Rev. Jeremiah Wright wasn't so far off the mark after all.

Read John Ridley's brilliant piece on "Palinguage."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Post Convention Indigestion

Wink Politics
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
The Democratic and Republican conventions are here and gone—thankfully and, at last. In hindsight, I think my vote could simply have gone to the candidate whose party said, "You know, there's no need for a convention since we already have our unanimous representative, so we're just going to take all that money that we would have spent and give it to a bunch of Katrina victims who still haven't recovered yet."

I watched some and listened to both conventions when I could—neither impressed me much. All I could think was that some rich alumni gave a bunch of money to their alma mater to be used for one big pep rally.

Someone needs to give John McCain muscle relaxers... talk about "wooden." That guy makes Al Gore look like he doesn't even have a skeleton. I know, I know, injuries from his days as a POW...

One things for certain, the next first lady is going to be a "looker" according to some pundits. I heard Cindy McCain's outfit would have maxxed out my credit card—to the tune of over $300,000. Now I want to know what Michelle's "address outfit" set her back.

I keep on reminding myself, that no matter who wins it's got to be better than eight years of George Bush, regardless of what the Obama supporters keep saying. Yet, with Sarah Palin in the room, I'm reminded of Dan Quayle. We'll see how well she holds up come the debates and she finds herself surrounded by a crowd of not-so-faithfuls. I didn't like the idea of Quayle assuming the office should something have happened to the elder Bush back then and I'm not too crazy to think about her taking over either under the same (even more likely) circumstances.

I suppose what has left the greatest impression on me (not necessarily in a good way) from the two pep assemblies was the mantra/cheer coming from the Republican crowd after McCain mentioned the need to drill for more oil—"DRILL BABY DRILL, DRILL BABY DRILL, DRILL BABY DRILL..." Never has there been greater reinforcement for generalizing or stereotyping the Republicans and their short-sighted notoriety. I suppose "Drill Baby Drill" t-shirts are next. Listening over the radio, I could almost see their arms growing longer as their knuckles approached the ground while their brows cast a great shadow across their eyes.

I must be some kind of elitist.

"Elitist"… it really has become a four-letter word thanks mostly to AM-conservative-talk-show radio.

I wonder how many people have considered the true definition of "elitist." Here's one that I found on my liberal-biased, Macintosh laptop computer: a group of people considered to be (and not according to themselves) the best in a particular society or category, esp. because of their power, talent, or wealth.

Well, that ain't me folks—especially the part about power and wealth, while talent is surely debatable.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hey John, Call Ted

Fueling Up
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
First it was Abba, then John Mellencamp... now it's Jackson Browne.

Apparently no one in the music biz wants anything to do with John McCain... Poor, old fart.

Most recently, Jackson Browne is suing McCain for $75,000 related to copyright infringement and damages to the singer's reputation. The crime? Someone in McCain's Ohio campaign family decided to use the song Running on Empty to mock Barack Obama's comments about American drivers tuning up their rigs and maintaining proper air pressure in their tires to offset our thirst for petrol at the pump.

Hullabaloo like this can only help Jackson Browne, so why is the singer bringing a lawsuit into the picture? I'm unsure, but if I were him, I'd use my courtroom winnings to fund Barack Obama's campaign even more—talk about adding insult to injury.

So, what's with these high-profile causes like a presidential campaign (Republican or Democrat) helping themselves to someone's artistic work? Sure, I can understand if it's Mrs. Anderson's fifth-grade class making their end-of-year multi-media slide show, but for Pete's sake, it's a presidential candidate representing the entire Republican Party! What are they thinking?

Has anyone in McCain's camp considered Ted Nugent? Isn't he a big-time Republican and a highly decorated NRA advocate? Surely McCain's marketing spin doctors can do something with Cat Scratch Fever, Love Grenade or Nugent's "Can't Grill 'Em Till Ya Kill Em" mantra.

Well, I'm off to the iTunes music store now... gonna replace that vinyl copy of Running On Empty.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Only Wind Energy Fact You Need To Know

Martin & Turbines
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
This is directly from a web site of the United States Department of Energy and its Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy page.

"The wind energy resource in the United States is plentiful. Good wind areas, which cover 6% of the contiguous U.S. land area, could supply more than 1.5 times the 1993 electricity consumption of the entire country."

Read it again.

We don't need to dig up and burn more coal. Yes, transitions are painful, but not as painful if we address them early rather than later.

Too bad a nobody like me is touting this little fact rather than the coal-courting senators of Wyoming (where wind is the only thing more plentiful than coal)—John Barrasso and Mike Enzi.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dark Days

Dark Days & Great Basin Rye
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
If I were living in the Middle Ages, I'd probably think the world was coming to an end. Instead, I'm told it's only a wild fire burning in nearby Red Lodge, Montana—some 40 miles away as the crow flies.

At 5:00 in the afternoon on the 30th of July, the day should be bright, but if I didn't know any better, I'd swear a class five tornado was bearing down on my little town.

It's amazing to watch the sun high in the sky turn blood red and at times almost disappear completely. And all around me, flakes of ash fall from the sky that likely came from what was a dead or bark beetle-infested tree.

We've seen conditions like this for about five years running now. When I first moved to Powell, I never saw anything like this. Now, it's an annual event. Yet, every year as the fires start up and choke the sky, I still think to myself that all of this isn't quite right.

I suppose it would be easy for me to say something like, "If this ain't global warming, I don't know what is." But, I don't know. Perhaps it's just a little global bad luck, a hiccup in geological time.

Yet, for those who simply discount it all and confidently (or blindly) say it is only a hiccup and global warming is just another scheme concocted by liberal extremist to control everyones' lives... well, that's quite a gamble to make—with everyone's money, isn't it?

Postscript: Which is more believable: liberal Democrats wanting to control everyone's lives by forcing us to rely on renewable and unlimited energy sources or conservative Republicans wanting to continue with their great profits in maintaining the status quo regarding our dependence on fossil fuels?

What's the worst case scenario if global warming is a hoax and we buy into it?

What's the worst case scenario if global warming is for real and we ignore it?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wallowing in the Oilzoic Era

Green Dino
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
The other day, I dropped in on a city council meeting. Upon my arrival, I discovered that the council was in an "executive session," so there was nothing to do but sit there and gape and perhaps visit with fellow gapers.

Behind me, a handful of local men were talking about drilling for oil and how easy it is—according to them, 30 days was the time it takes from when they start drilling in the Gulf until oil starts pumping into the Mainland. They were blaming Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats for the high price of gas—that it had doubled since they had taken over the House and Senate. I suppose. Never mind how expensive petrol was before the Democrats took back Congress—and just barely. At least the Democrats haven't declared a mandate like President Bush who barely won a majority (arguably at that) in both elections.

I don't know any of these men or their backgrounds with the exception of one whose background is in physical education and coaching. Because I wasn't invited in on the conversation, I bit my tongue and didn't comment on how short-sighted they all sounded to me. For the most part I kept my trap shut with the exception of one quip I let out to the one I know about solar energy. He wasn't amused and quickly turned the subject to athletics—a topic that was agreeable to both of us.

During the same time, one of these men who seemed to have all the answers was talking about how the proposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) would amount to one letter-sized piece of paper in the oversized conference room were we waited. I assume his point was that the actual area of activity was miniscule compared with the entire ANWR region.

Yesterday I watched with sadness the developing news regarding the huge oil spill on the Mississippi River near New Orleans. I will venture to say that the source of the oil in that particular tragedy probably came from an area the size of a postage stamp relative to the designated area around it, yet look at the havoc it has brought to a river that is already dirty enough.

It appears that the Exxon Valdez was not illustrative enough for some of us—not here in Powell, Wyoming at least.

Meanwhile John McCain appears to understand the gravity of the event as he cancelled a visit to an offshore oil rig in Louisiana attributed to the unstable weather from Hurricane Dolly. But one has to wonder if the oil spill in the Mississippi River may have influenced his plans as well. Promoting off-shore drilling with a major oil spill in the same neighborhood makes for an ugly juxtaposition.

I wonder when we (as one people) will wake up to the hollow promises of the oil-dependent age we live in—its always-looming environmental hazards waiting to happen, its filth layered in greed, and its wreckless disregard for the planet we call home?

When will we rise from the dark days of the Oilzoic Era?

Postscript: As I write this, I've heard Republicans argue that Nancy Pelosi's request to immediately free up 70 million gallons of oil reserves won't bring down the price of oil, yet John McCain claims that President Bush's support to open up oil drilling has already caused oil prices to drop. Right...

Whatever happens, I hope the price of oil stays high enough to bring us to a somewhat painful, but necessary transition regarding our future in energy. I like to think of such wishes as "tough love."

The doctor has told us that we are overweight and it's going to require a long and committed effort to correct the problem rather than an overnight pill. I wonder if we—the people of this planet—have the gumption to take on this unavoidable and enduring challenge.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Let the Weening Begin

Transportation Cost
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
The word is out that the price of oil is going down thanks to the reduced demand by we Americans. Of course I noticed it is still sitting at $4.27 per gallon as I rode my bike past the petrol station today. Tomorrow or the next day, perhaps the drop in oil prices will finally start to reflect at the local gas pumps. But, you know what? I could care.

I'm going to keep right on riding that old bicycle all over town even when gas is down to under $2 per gallon (not that I think such will really happen)—even after the snow begins to fly again.

Too bad all of us can't—and more sadly, won't adopt such self-imposed behavior. If so we could have the oil companies right where we want them—over a barrel—rather than them having us right where they want us.

I wish there would never be a need again to fire up my gasoline-powered pick-up, but there will be days I'll need it. Nevertheless every time I have to carry or haul something, I'm always going to ask myself, "Can you carry it on your bike instead, even if it means multiple trips?" I suspect the answer will be "yes" on most occasions.

And when I need to trek around in the McCullouch Peaks as I often do, the bike is going to be in the truck's bed and I'll be riding over the dirt roads via my human-powered two-wheeler. I'll just use the pick-up to get me to the general location I desire.

Given how the oil companies have treated us and profited—not to mention the carbon emissions produced, I don't care how cheap gas ends up.

Let the weening of oil begin.

And while you're at it, consider this little gem of an article as well.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Watered Down 4th of July Tributes

Orange & Wet
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
I've been on a glorified hitch-hiking trip since June 23 with a truck driver documenting the truck driving life. Chris, the driver I speak of, wears a cowboy hat, listens to NPR and and loves NASCAR—go ahead, try to fit this guy to any given stereotype. It ain't happening. Nevertheless, that's another story for another day.

While delivering a truck load of goods with Chris over the Fourth of July weekend, we tuned in to Sirius Radio's NASCAR show "Tradin' Paint" somewhere in West Virginia. In their tribute to America on the Fourth, hosts Steve Post and Danny "Chocolate" Myers along with the various NASCAR personalities interviewed went on and on about how the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are over there doing such a great job preserving our wide-ranging freedoms including our freedom of speech.

Not to diminish the radio show itself, but I found its attempt to pay tribute to America on that particular day to be rather banal—in other words, a bunch of George Bush party line bullshit.

Not that I don't support the troops, I simply don't buy that particular line about preserving our freedoms via these psuedo-wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. When Adolf Hitler was banging down everyone's door back in the '30s and '40s, I believe our troops engaging the Nazis preserved our freedoms. But it's a real stretch to think that Saddam Hussein or a ragtag group of terrorists running around in Afghanistan or Pakistan are (or were) threatening my freedom or anyone else in this great land. We should only be using our troops to strike down Osama bin Laden and then call it "Mission Accomplished." There's no war to be lost or won over there, just a rat or two that needs to be greased. I feel better about saying that the troops we have in Germany and Korea are preserving our freedoms than those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In short, I don't believe our assorted freedoms are any safer today than they were before we invaded Iraq or Afghanistan nor are they any safer than before or after September 11, 2001, or Oklahoma City in April of 1995. Whatever freedoms we have lost—or feel we have lost—are the result of our own elected leaders and the paranoia they have instilled in us.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Death of a Neighborhood Icon

There Goes The Neighborhood
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
An icon in my hometown was lost today. The massive cottonwood tree that towered over the 300 block of North Bent Street, on the west side of the road was destroyed... chopped down, demolished, or killed however you want to state it.

Certainly this tree was one of the larger ones in town yet I'm confident it had a few good years remaining in its gargantuan status. It seems possible that the old tree was establishing itself around the time when this town was starting to sprout from its badlands foundation.

All the same, it no longer is.

Even in its splendor, apparently it was not worthy enough to stay put, rather it was eradicated (are you ready for this?) to make way for a new parking lot. If there's any saving grace in such destruction it is to know that it was sacrificed for a church parking lot. Nevertheless, that hardly makes its demise lighter.

I don't know if there is any respectable way to bring down an old, stately tree. Is taking it down one limb at a time better than bringing in heavy equipment (as was the case today) and simply busting off the limbs in reckless fashion? I don't know. My hunch is that a small team of climbers with chain saws and a methodic approach would have been more respectful to the tree and universe than bringing in the heavy guns and taking it down quickly. I believe that if a tree becomes as colossal as this one was, it should come down under nature's laws—not ours. It feels as though we just killed the Dali Lama rather than Saddam Hussein.

Just the other day, the house that was on the same lot, was gingerly carried away and placed a couple blocks up the street to begin a second residence. Too bad the tree couldn't have been included. If anything, the tree was more worthy of saving than the house that sat underneath the giant cottonwood's branches all of these years.

As I was photographing the dismantled poplar, I overheard one of the children in the house next door say that it seemed weird now that the tree was gone. He didn't say anything about the relocated house.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Another Cracker for Obama

Originally uploaded by mdt1960
John Edwards I am not—not even a super delegate, but I think it's high time that I announced my support for Barrack Obama as he seeks to become the 44th President of the United States. Surely anyone who knows me is not all that surprised. Nevertheless, I think the Democratic party is approaching critical mass and I just want to do my part to bring us all together before we go by the way of Darth Vader's Death Star.

And isn't Hillary starting to resemble Rocky Balboa in the those final rounds when he's too stubborn to go down for his own good?

I reckon there is George Bush to thank regarding my decision to back Obama as things can't get any worse—a quagmired war, a sinking economy and out-of-sight gas prices. Undoubtedly the three remaining candidates still in the running (and even those that have withdrawn) would improve things in Washington, across our country and around the world when juxtaposed with George and his low-brow administration. For the most part I should feel pretty good when I awaken on November 5 and learn of the election results. And there we have it folks, the legacy of George Bush—the guy who managed to run the country so far into the ground that the next guy/gal can't help but look good when they step into the Oval Office on Day One.

But Obama personifies that old adage that goes something like, "desperate times call for desperate measures." Basically, we can't afford not to pull out all of the stops, allowing this shipwreck to turn itself around and prevent it from going over the falls. And Obama is the only one who is really talking about giving Washington and the country a true "makeover" that it so desperately needs.

Perhaps he's not strong in foreign policy, but I know he's smart enough to get the right people on his staff to make up for any deficiency. The same goes for any other areas of inexperience. Stop and think about it, everyone has a soft spot when it comes to running the country and providing any given President is intelligent enough, wouldn't they all surround themselves with the right people to shore up anything that's lacking... unless of course they were George W. Bush?

Further, I think a guy like Obama is more of a uniter; certainly not the divider that defines Dubya's reign. Nevertheless, I suppose the loyal White supremist around the country won't feel like joining the party, but they're freaks anyway based on their tainted education (or lack thereof). Who needs 'em?

Yet, as long as I'm here, it has been interesting over the past couple of weeks (since the West Virginia primary), to hear about Obama's "lack of appeal" when it comes to uneducated, White, working-class men and how "he needs to address this problem" and "retool his message" if he expects to get their votes. Hearing the media dance around this little issue, I just kept thinking to myself, "Obama doesn't have a problem appealing to uneducated, White, working class men, they have a problem with him being African American."

In my days of working with this particular demographic, I heard that n-word (containing the two "g's") used more prolifically than any other time in my life—by far. Disclaimer statement: Of course, this isn't to say that all of those whom fit this particular profile harbor such views. Far be it for me to stereotype my own kind!

Finally, this week, Kevin Merida, a reporter for the Washington Post, looked this demon straight in the eye that includes some not-so-surprising remarks from West Virginia's finest voters. Listen for yourself.

Should Obama get the nod from the Democrats, but lose the general election to tired-old-White-man McCain, I'll surely have my doubts that the better candidate won, but more troubling will be whether or not I believe America—in its heart—voted for the best candidate.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Gasoline: The Real Price of Freedom?

Iowa Junction
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
I'm awake at 2:28 a.m.—thinking about the semester coming to a close and George Bush's ideas of freedom.

It's an exciting time of the year. The school year draws to another close and it doesn't really matter if I get a good night's sleep or not. Classes are over and only exams remain.

If the calendar year were reduced to a week, it would be Friday at 4:00 p.m. right now. The full weekend is in front of me.

With the promise of summer's frolic ahead, I wonder about frolic's key ingredient—freedom. Where's my freedom as I consider the greatest symbol of freedom in the United States as the automobile, which now requires $3.50-plus per gallon to send me on my way to "freedom?" Who can afford that kind of freedom except the well-off, the privileged, the elite, the established and the upper crust of our society—basic code talk for rich White folks?

According to what I paid for petrol one year ago today, it now cost me 20 percent more to fill up my gas tank today—just in one year. My take home salary doesn't reflect the rising cost of fuel.

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but could a sitting president affect the price of gasoline during his/her office? Given George W. Bush is from an oil family, I doubt there's anyone that can honestly and without some form of shame say that he has nothing to do with the outrageous increase in gas prices.

Regular gas prices during the Clinton years:
1993: $1.10/gal
1994: $1.11/gal
1995: $1.14/gal
1996: $1.23/gal
1997: $1.23/gal
1998: $1.05/gal
1999: $1.16/gal
2000: $1.51/gal

Increased by 1.37 times from the time he started office until he ended

Regular gas prices during the Bush years:
2001: $1.46/gal
2002: $1.35/gal
2003: $1.59/gal
2004: $1.88/gal
2005: $2.27/gal
2006: $2.58/gal
2007: $2.81/gal
2008: $3.xx/gal

Increased by 2.39 times from the time he started office until he ended

What I do know is that my definition of "freedom" is becoming more and more "confined." There's a new oxymoron: "confined freedom." At one time, I considered my freedom to include the entire West and sometimes beyond. Now, it's only the county I call home and occasionally the surrounding Big Horn Basin of Wyoming and parts of Montana. If the strangle hold of high gas prices continues, my true freedom will be whittled down to the distance I can cover on my bicycle and my imagination's ability when reading a good book.

Perhaps I have it wrong. Freedom has nothing to do with how far you can go in your car—perhaps that is just an aging form of American decadence. For example, how do the "free" people of Germany do it—their gas prices translate to $8.63/gallon?

As a side note: Regarding Hillary Clinton and John McCain's proposal for a national gas tax holiday... I thought it was interesting when ABC News' George Stephanopolis (once a White House aid to her husband) asked Hillary Clinton to name one credible economist who sided with her and McCain on the summer gas tax suspension, she said everything but a name. Good question George.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Who Cares for the Little People?

Muddified Water
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Listening to the reports coming in from the cyclone-ravaged Irrawatty Delta of Myanmar (Burma), I couldn't help but think of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. In fact, based on the stories posted thus far, with the exception of the higher number of deaths, it sounds like the same people are running the show (or not running the show) in Myanmar as those in New Orleans. Already, complaints of little or no government action/reaction to the event have surfaced, and those affected, displaced or killed are those that are the poorest of the poor—just like New Orleans.

Myanmar and The United States... I thought these two countries were worlds apart, but not so when it comes to taking care of their own poor.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Fallacy of Calendars & Weather

May Snow
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Yesterday was May 1 and as I made my way for the door, I started to reach for my gloves considering the blustery day that awaited, but than caught myself and decided that with May's arrival, I would go without gloves until they were required again—sometime in the distant October.

This morning I awoke to a wet two-inches of snow on the ground and what appears to be a punishing Wyoming wind. What am I to make of that—nature sticking it back in my face, further proof that I'm really not that intelligent?

So many times over the years—usually in April—I tell someone how, almost without fail, we will have at least one snow fall in May, and sometimes after graduation and its exodus of students from the campus. I'm always amused by that scenario where summer recess is here and it's still snowing.

We're still a week away from graduation.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Barrasso's World of Coal

Good Things2Life
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Wyoming Senator John Barrasso is definitely looking out for Wyoming—especially the Wyoming coal industry. In his electronic newsletter dated April 22, Barrasso writes a pro-coal piece that reads like a promotional brochure from one of the coal companies in the voice of a Barbara Cubin-esque high school cheerleader. Perhaps a few of his buddies in Campbell County sent him the coal-is-wholesome copy in an overstuffed briefcase full of "campaign donations."

In his opening paragraph, the good senator argues that "coal should never become a stranded asset." Yet he says nothing of Wyoming's unlimited energy assets found in its relentless wind and the excessive tally of solar-enriched days—much more prolific than old-school coal.

But wait, there's more. He argues that "complete substitutes to coal have often proven to be unsuitable, insufficient, or too costly to power America's homes and businesses." Did I miss something? "Complete substitutes?" When or where did we carry out this experiment? Undoubtedly he would have said the same kind of thing back in the early 1900s when the Wright Brothers were fooling around on the beach at Kitty Hawk. Let's not get Barrasso mixed up with innovative thinking.

And if it's not enough to use coal to provide our electricity, Barrasso proposes that it should be used to produce gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Great, let's burn even more of this filthy fuel source—screw the planet and everyone that lives on it as long as there will be plenty of good jobs in Wyoming for years to come.

Barrasso resorts to a few Dubya scare tactics as well when he attributes a lack of coal use with power outages saying, "Blackouts across the Northeast in August of 2003 should have sounded a warning." Well John, the warning translates to this: Hey America, stop carrying on like the greedy and self-centered mega-consumers that you've been for all these years. It's time to pay the piper.

Perhaps what's most laughable about Barrasso's pep talk for coal is he proposes that coal is the answer to an antiquated infrastructure, "But, America has an aging energy infrastructure—from pipelines to transmission. Energy policies warrant a more comprehensive review and far-reaching solution. Coal can, and must, be an important contribution to that solution." OK, let me get this right... the solution to an aging energy infrastructure is to fix it with an energy source from the Dark Ages?

Barrasso attempts to show us his "green side" as well. "Even if policymakers chose to mandate a reduction in carbon dioxide," he states, "America cannot afford to close the door on coal." It's hard to argue his point here, especially if America continues to sit on its fat ass and do little to nothing about real alternative and renewable energy solutions.

Finally the Wyoming Senator concludes in saying, "America cannot abandon our nation's most abundant, affordable, and secure energy resource." Brilliant, just brilliant. He would have said the same thing about horses when a guy named Henry Ford was tinkering around with something called the horseless carriage.

P.S.: Here's a semi-related question to consider on the carbon capture technologies discussion. They want to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground—for how long? Forever? Even radioactive material breaks down to a harmless substance after enough time passes. Does carbon dioxide stored away for a long period of time magically transform back into oxygen?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Torture: "Just Say No" or "Just Do It"

Wabi-Sabi Bits
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
I was having a little lie-down on the front porch the other day and suddenly found myself drawn into the nearly-silenced radio and a debate going on about the harsh interrogations that has been employed by our country—i.e., torture. And it just wasn't any old debate between radio talk show hosts, rather this was between a panel of six esteemed thinkers on the topic and its related areas.

Torture is something I've never believed in because it is a detour from the moral high road—no matter the conflict. Yet, I've never given it much thought or expressed my disapproval. But this debate changed all of that. In particular the comments from one of the panelist whom I'd never heard of until that day—Darius Rejali, Professor of Political Science at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

Rejali's brief closing comments solidified my anti-torture thoughts when he stated the following:

"Is it better to be loved or feared? Loved or feared? The correct answer is: If you can fight with one hand tied behind your back and win, you will be loved and feared. And that's the American way. If you want to be merely loved, you will be despised and if you really want to be feared, you will be despised."

In the comments from the panelist who opposed Professor Rejali and his two colleagues, there was a consistent reference to the severe conviction, commitment and determination possessed by today’s enemy—"something we've never seen before." I don’t doubt this intensity found in these militants, yet I wondered about my father who served during World War II and the Korean War. Did he think the Japanese were less convicted, determined, or committed in their cause than our so-called enemy of “Muslim extremist” our forces face today? And, didn’t we fight that war (somewhat) with that one hand tied behind our back?

Here is the link to the debate. I dare you to listen in.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Fantasy: Sticking It to the Oil Man

Turbine Alley
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
America wants more oil and they want it cheaper. So what, who doesn't?

The other day I heard that Washington has been pressuring OPEC (The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) to open up the spigot a bit more with the hopes of lowering the prices at the pump and easing the pressures on the U.S. economy.

OPEC's response (which undoubtedly represents that of the oil companies as well) was there was no need to pump more oil and that the run-up in prices is due to investor's dim speculations in the market and not fundamental problems regarding supply.

That last part is certainly true. When was the last time you heard of a gasoline station running out of gas?

Nevertheless, here's what I think OPEC was saying in between the lines, "We're not going to increase the supply because the price of petrol will go down and then we can't make as much money. So, as long as you stupid Americans maintain your unquenchable thirst for gasoline, you can stick it where the sun never shines."

And since we can't control our own gluttonous consumption of oil, perhaps what this country—and more importantly—OPEC and the oil companies need is a good little depression that results in a radical drop in the demand of petroleum. Perhaps a little anarchy will follow in a select number of places adding a bit of well-needed humility here in "The Land of the Free (only free in the distance we can ride our bicycle) and the Home of the Brave (i.e., the self-serving, greedy capitalist)."

And maybe, just maybe after all of that, we'll finally get serious about alternative energy sources like wind, solar and tidal power.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Shooting Down John McCain One More Time

Sun Over KC-97
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
I'd vote for John McCain anyday... over George W. Bush that is. However, given the other choices currently available, I feel pretty safe in saying that he won't be getting my vote.

I know everyone used to talk about how "wooden" Al Gore appeared, but check out this video of McCain... you can almost see the strings that are controlling his arms and eye lids. Do you suppose his nose will grow too?

And what's with his eyeballs? He blinks about four times more than his cronies in the video.

As long as I'm at it, what the hell is going on with McCain's use of the phrase "my friends?!" Talk about beating a dead horse. Sometimes when I hear his voice on the radio, it's like Fred Rogers has come back to life as a politician rather than a kid show host.

Perhaps he should consider running for mayor of Mr. Rogers' neighborhood instead.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Exxon's 19-Year Stench

Clean Energy Residue
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
As oil prices hover at a record $100 per barrel and we dish out over $3.00 per gallon at the pump, I found myself sick with sarcasm to hear this morning that after 19 years since the tragedy of the Exxon Valdez, Exxon is still resisting court orders to pay a modest $2.5 billion in punitive damages.

Exxon claims they have paid out enough. They've spent money attempting to clean up their mess... as they should. Yet, they do not believe they should be punished for allowing an employee with a colourful alcoholic history to return to the helm of a giant tanker resulting in over 11 million gallons of crude oil, spread across 600 linear miles — larger than the distance between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. Their defense, they didn't profit from that incident. But what of the continued activity? They still profit highly from that, do they not?

And to think, this is the same company that boasted of record profits in 2007—$40.6 billion. And their squawking about paying an additional $2.5 billion. What really gets me is that our society simply sits back and lets it all unfold in front of us—doing nothing about it. Just saying, "Hmmmm."

When will the people take this country back? When will the people declare a boycott on the oil companies—where no one purchases gasoline for an entire week? Imagine pulling that off a couple times per year.

Oh, how I hope to see the day that the oil companies of Exxon, Chevron, Shell go by way of the old typewriter manufacturers named Underwood, Royal and Remington.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hands Over Our Hearts and Other Thoughts

Anthem Singers
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
When attending grade school in Akron, Ohio, we learned to place our hand over our heart when reciting the Pledge of Alliegence and if you were wearing a hat, you took it off and placed it over your heart during the National Anthem. I don't recall any instruction, about placing your hand over your heart during the National Anthem nor do I recall observing anyone participating in that manner.

When I attend various sporting events now, I always see people with their hands over their hearts during the National Anthem. When did that start happening? Was Akron, Ohio somehow different than Wyoming or Montana during the 1960s?

• • •

While travelling down the highway the other day between Cody and Greybull, a Cadillac Escalade (a luxury pickup truck) passed me. Watching the rig grow smaller on the horizon, I considered a visit from the grave with a soldier or sailor who died during World War II. In telling this soul about how the world has changed since they left, I considered Christopher Lloyd's astonished and disbelieving reaction as the wacky professor in Back to the Future when McFly tells him that Ronald Reagan will become the future President of the United States. Surely this 1940s-esque American would be just as surprised to know that Cadillac is now the maker of a pickup truck.

When did utility and luxury become lovers?

• • •

A friend was recently telling me about how often he heard Coyotes howl in the night when he lived in Eastern Washington—at least once a week he said. I was thinking about his observations and realized that although I live in Wyoming, I can't remember the last time I heard a coyote's cry in the night air. What's wrong with that picture?

• • •

From Sarah Vowell's book The Partly Cloudy Patriot

If Newsweek's Jonathan Alter is correct, Bush's jockish disdain for highbrow thought is the very origin of his White House bid. "In a 1998 New Yorker piece (about Al Gore)," Alter claims, "the vice president talked about the ideas of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, a French existentialist. Bush read the article, and later told friends it was one of the reasons he ran for president—to keep intellectual pretentiousness out of the White House." In his campaign, Bush promised to restore honor and dignity to the White House, but the promise to keep intellectual pretentiousness out is one that is likely to be kept.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Blinding Ponies

Net Ball Action
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Like Grant Gifford of the Northwest College Trail Newspaper, I too was amazed to watch the deficiency of sportsmanship in the basketball game between the Lady Trappers of NWC and the women of Little Big Horn College. But from my vantage, I'm not as quick to lump all the blame on the visitors from Crow Agency as Mr. Gifford did in his brief and shallow editorial—indeed, I thought it was a two-way street.

The young woman from LBHC who was ejected from the game certainly had it coming, but the struggle/skirmish resulting from a loose ball between her and NWC's Ashley Buckner wasn't as one-sided as the writer made it out to be; and talking with other Trapper fans about it, I wasn't the only one who saw it that way. Simply put, both players should have been ejected for the incident. As they say, it takes two to tango (or tangle).

Admittedly I wasn't in attendance when LBHC coach Dominic Gaglia was called for a technical, but coaches drawing technical fouls for remarks directed toward the referees during a basketball game are hardly uncommon. As for Coach Gaglia's inaction following the conflict on the hardwood that lead to his player's ejection; could it have been that he felt frustrated with his team's performance and attitude, slighted by the referees, or was he simply displaying his coaching "style" like that of the stone-faced Tom Landry? Did Mr. Gifford talk to the coach after the game to verify his accusations? I mean, that's what a journalist would do, right... interview coaches after the games?

I'll confess that I'm not a basketball expert, but I do know a thing or two about sportsmanship. So, as long as we're making a critique on sportsmanship, I'd like to point out a "blown call" made by the home team as well.

Having dressed only six players for their game (and we don't know the true reason for this, do we Mr. Gifford?), it seems the Little Bighorn College Lady Rams never had a chance. I suspect the only time the game was close was the opening minutes of the game. So, it's safe to say, the game's outcome was probably never in doubt.

With a dark cloud over the game following the ejection, LBHC battled the Lady Trappers with only five players—and no bench. Then, early in the second half, one of the remaining five players for LBHC fouled out, giving NWC a "power-play" advantage of five-on-four—something that is common in hockey, but not in basketball. (At that point I was reminded of the book, Blind Your Ponies by Stanley G. West. Read it.)

And maybe it's just me, but I was a bit surprised that—up by over 20 points and facing a team with only four players who were no better than any one of their own—NWC didn't make it an even fight and stand down one of their players to the side court. What a classy gesture this would have been. No doubt applause would have followed from everyone in the crowd and perhaps cleaned up some of the bad blood between the two teams from the first-half skirmish. But NWC chose to keep all five players in the game, and to add insult to injury, maintained a rotation of "fresh horses" as the LBHC team dragged on.

I'd have understood our team's decision to keep all five players in the game if it were early in the season when playing time is critical, but this late in the season and with little at stake, it seems logical for a display of good sportsmanship to trump over pummeling one's opponent—for a change.

Perhaps I expect too much.

As their lead increased, the Lady Trappers were hardly illustrations of good sportsmanship themselves. You'd think they were losing the game in the demonstrations they put up when they thought they had been fouled (and probably were) or were called for a foul that wasn't all that obvious.

Lastly, the NWC advantage of five-on-four wasn't very impressive or overpowering, and I found myself cheering for the feisty, understaffed, and outgunned Lady Rams as they battled against a superior NWC team. With the exception of the score, such scenarios are hardly favorable for any team in the same position as NWC. Should they blow-out their outnumbered opponent, it comes across as running up the score, and if they don't succeed in blowing them out... well, everyone might wonder how they even won the game. The only respectable thing to do then (especially if the score is lopsided) is to keep the player numbers even.

In closing, perhaps the LBHC team didn't secure any votes in the good sportsmanship department that night, but the Lady Trapper basketball team also failed to recognize or simply ignored a unique opportunity to raise the bar of good sportsmanship.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Made In China

Old Meets New
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
October 7, 2005

Last night I threw out my old house slippers that my wife had purchased for me the last time she was in Christchurch. As I carried them out to the alley where the dumpster awaits, I considered the stars above and the thousands of miles the slippers had travelled (not necessarily with my feet in them). After making the glorious journey from New Zealand to Wyoming, they would simply return to the earth via the Powell Landfill. I felt they should be sealed up and shipped back to Christchurch where someone could depose of them in a more respectful manner; much like the remains of a foreign national who is returned to their home country for burial.

I looked at the shoes one more time. The tags on the inside were very worn, but I could plainly read, "Made in China." Hmmm. Still, so far away but, their mysterious appeal and existence seemed to suddenly fade when I considered all the things around me that are made in China. Undoubtedly the slippers will feel right at home in the Powell Landfill.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Uneventful Bliss

Fading Footsteps
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
A little after 5:00 this morning my 14-year-old cat, Schnebley, could be heard crying from behind the two doors that separate us from him—the kitchen door and our bedroom door. Before I heard the cat, my ears detected wind chimes clanging somewhere in the early morning darkness signaling a winter storm was undoubtedly making for a miserable morning. Forgetting my slippers, I climbed out of the warm bed to see about him; probably hungry was my guess. As it turned out, I'm not sure what he really needed. He ate a bit, but if I had to guess I'd say he was simply starving for attention. He's a bit fussy about everything. If given the gift of speech, I reckon there would still be times he couldn't articulate his needs.

Although I was up and about early for a Sunday morning, my wife and her two daughters would be rising soon as well—off to the second part of their two-day swim meet at the local high school. So, rather than go back to bed after seeing about Schnebley, I put on some coffee and half-listened to The California Commonwealth Club on the radio with the cat while folding towels from the dryer that were destined for the swim meet. I rather enjoy listening to the CCC, but I rarely get the opportunity as it is only broadcast on my local NPR station Sunday mornings at 5:00 a.m.

In other news on the day, I learned we are officially one year away from inaugurating a new President. Yesterday Hillary Clinton defeated Barrack Obama in the Nevada democratic caucus while Mitt Romney won the Republican version of the same race. Back in South Carolina, John McCain was victorious in the Republican primary there. Alas, I'd vote for any of them over George W. Bush—anyday.

The Patriots of New England are hosting the San Diego Chargers in the AFC title game while the Green Bay Packers are giving the New York Giants a tour of the frozen tundra at Lambeau Field. Who cares? Despite the millions that do care, as I see, they all deserve the bitterest and coldest weather given the NFL's insistence on playing in January and thus squatting on the hockey and basketball seasons.

Meanwhile in Mississippi, it snowed nearly three inches, but the ground is too warm there for snow to accumulate. I gaze out our frosty window considering Mississippi's dreadful snow scenario. That never happens here in Wyoming. Our best hope is that it comes down sideways fast enough that it eventually blows off to Nebraska or South Dakota, but the single-digit cold temperatures always linger.

My feet have grown cold and I'm determined not to retrieve my slippers from the bedroom for fear of disturbing my wife's precious sleep. So, I wait until she is awake. Rather than turn up the furnace while everyone sleeps, I sometimes turn on the kitchen stove—with the doors closed to the small space, it warms up nicely on cold January mornings in Wyoming like today.

The cat continues to vocalize whatever it is that concerns him. And as if it's the most important thing in my day, I direct my full attention to him—like a doctor attempting to solve a patient's problem. I remind myself of a retired, senior citizen at home shuffling about the kitchen while addressing my cat.

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. day—a holiday. I have another day to feel as though my only worries are the everyday un-events around this house.