2/26/07

"The City should..."

Saturday afternoon a church group from Kansas, homeward bound, was stranded here in The Smile Hi City because US 50 was closed. Why was it closed? The wind was creating a blizzard of snow and dust that completely obscured vision on the highway.

So...the church group came back to La Junta but couldn't find any rooms at the inns.

So...one of the cops called to see if the First Church of the Nazarene could put them up. That's a big church building with lots of room. Pastor Brian Williams was more than pleased to offer assistance, and the kids stayed there in the church. Not only that, but they were able to chow down at the church, as the first annual chili festival was being held there by the church's Young Marrieds group.

Huh. Pretty good, hey?

Well...apparently not good enough. There have been complaints that "the City" should have done something.

Now there is a perfect example of that 'handout' mindset. The government should handle all the problems.

Why?

This was a church group, denomination unknown, mostly because it didn't matter. Another church helped out. The church would have helped out had it not been a church group.

It's easy to sit back on one's duff and say..."The City should have done more..." or "The City should have done this..." or "The City should have done that...".

The fact of the matter is that the city is set up to activate the Senior Center as a shelter. This is in cooperation with the Red Cross. But this situation last Saturday wasn't one of those that involved the Red Cross. The blizzard back on New Year's Weekend was such an event, and the Senior Center was in fact used as a shelter, and stranded travelers stayed in it.

I expect that had someone given Rick Klein a call about this 'issue' this past weekend, he could have and would have had the Senior Center opened for that purpose.

But no one did. There was no need for it.

What the cops did was rely on known community resources, and adapt, improvise, and overcome. There was no point in calling the Red Cross for a very temporary weather blitz. How long would cutting all the red tape have taken?

So the cops did good, and so did Pastor Williams, and so did the congregation of First Church of the Nazarene in feeding the kids. They did what preceding generations of La Juntans have always done: they relied on...self-reliance. It seems to be a vanishing attribute here in The Smile Hi City these days. Obviously we still have some, but it sure seems to be fading in favor of having the government do everything up to and including wipe our collective butts.

The way it worked this weekend is the way it's supposed to work. You don't call in the government until there is no other choice.

Comfort levels

There is an interesting article in the Chieftain this morning, about making what I can only presume are the Generation NeXt students 'comfortable'. It seems that if they are 'comfortable', then they might hang around and actually complete something. You know, like a degree program.

Here is an excerpt:

"Lopez recently opened a first-year student center, located on the second floor of the university library.

The center is a place for new students to socialize, study, meet with advisors or tutors and to find out about other services, said Lopez.

There are plans, he said, to offer a first-year experience course for freshmen students. The course would focus on teaching the students study skills, time management and how to seek services for issues or problems that may arise."

Lopez is Derek Lopez, the newly hired director of first year programs over yonder at CSU-Pueblo. They're using Title V funds for all this stuff. 2.8 million bux worth of Title V funding. Lopez used to be the director of Title V funds at PCC.

Title V is actually part of the No Child Left Behind Act. It's really "Title V Innovative Strategies". See:

http://www.ed.gov/programs/innovative/index.html

for more on this.

Or maybe its Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions, more of which you can read here:

http://www.ed.gov/programs/idueshsi/index.html

The Chieftain isn't clear on which Title V it is. Do NCLBA funds apply to colleges? Probably not. We're probably looking at that Hispanic-serving institutions thingie.

Back when I was going to school, we didn't have a first year student center in which to meet with tutors and advisors and professors. Tutors taught in study halls or commons or some other such place. Maybe even in libraries. Advisors and professors had these things called "offices". To find out about 'other services, we all went to the same place, called "student services". And then we are using Title V funds to teach these students...college students...things like "study skills" and "time management".

Huh.

What did they learn in high school?

There I am, being a naysayer. Here's a guy thinking outside the box, and here I am pooh-poohing his effort.

But is he thinking outside the box?

Nah. He isn't. He's handing us the same garbage that has gotten these kids as far as their first year of college without being able to read, unable to study effectively, and too dumb to figure out where to go for information and other assistance. What he's doing is reinforcing all the garbage that has been handed out as "modern educational theory", and making a pretty good living at it. Well...you gotta hand it to him, he's displaying some rather innovative entrepreneurship, don't you think?

Maybe he and Dr. Mark Taylor can get together and compare notes on Generation NeXt.

Here is the article:

http://www.chieftain.com/metro/1172501968/1

I wonder. Do they have grant programs for white guys? You know..."Developing Caucasian-serving Institutions"?

Here's an interesting thing...when you fingerprint someone as part of the booking process, you have to indicate race. Hispanic persons are, in that process, classified as "White". This has caused some uproar on the part of some fingerprintees who take exception to being classified as "White". "Caucasian" seems to be out of vogue.

So should we have a "Developing White-serving Institutions"?

But then what would happen if a Caucasian kid showed up looking for some of that "comfort"?

Que?

Seems downright discriminatory to me.

Si? No?

2/25/07

Wierd Science

So we're sitting there at Loaf West, snuffling a couple of Christine's cinnamon rolls and swilling crappaccino from the machine. Not bad crappaccino, either, but certainly not 'real' cappaccino.

Leece rather daintily sliced off a chunk of cinnamon roll. You have to cut the things like a cake. They're too big to pick up and eat like a reg'lar type cinnamon roll.

In walked Billy.

"Does he follow us around?" Leece asked, sotto voce.

"I don't think so. We just hang out at the same digs as does he," I answered, "besides, he likes you. He told me you're one of the few people smart enough to make talking to worthwhile."

"Oh." That's all she said.

"Hey. Hey. Wussup?" Billy asked, sliding in on the bench next to Leece. She slid way over the other way. Billy is very informal about some aspects of personal hygiene, you see.

"Froggy took 3rd place in the science fair," I informed him, "with her project on behavorial science."

"That the one where she went to school as Plain Jane a cuppla days, then got all gussied up the next cuppla days, and kept a journal of how people reacted to her?" Billy asked.

"Yep. Sure was," I replied, "and her observations proved that appearances mean a lot. More people talked to her when she was dressed up, and they took her more seriously."

"Huh. I dunno about that," Billy said, shaking out his dreadlocks, causing Leece to really hug the wall, "I ain't never noticed no difference."

"Perhaps personality also figures into it, Billy," Leece observed.

"Huh?"

"Never mind."

"Hey! Hey! I hear the science fair was kinda a clusterfu...uh...lashup..." said Billy, glancing over at Lisa to see if she had picked up on his near slip of the tongue. If she had, she was ignoring it.

"Well, first, the school didn't tell any of the kids that they needed eight bux each to enter. And then they didn't tell any of the kids that none of their projects had a chance of going to Fort Collins for the next stage, since that applies only to 6th graders and up. Intermediate school kids need not apply. And then even if they could go to Fort Collins, none of the kids were registered. The school was supposed to do that, but didn't."

"How'd you find out about all that?" Billy asked.

"I took Michael and Froggy over with their projects Friday evening. They needed the cash then, and of course, I didn't have any, intending to hit the ATM on the way out of town. Fortunately there's an ATM in the Student Center, and even more fortunately, it worked," I explained, "then Saturday morning, when Dee showed up for the parents briefing, the parents were told the briefing had been cancelled because there was no point to it, given none of the intermediate kids could go anyway."

"Huh. That kinda sux." Billy was, as usual, straightforward.

"Yep. But in any case...."...

"...Froggy won 3rd place in this fair, and 2nd place in the previous fair, so it was a good practice run for her, and she learned something from it," Lisa interrupted.

I looked at her in shock and dismay. Billy looked at her in shock and dismay. Then he glanced over at me with raised eyebrows.

We were both speechless. Lisa never interrupts. Till now.

She smiled sweetly at us both.

"Let that be a lesson to you both," she said, somewhat smugly, I thought.

"Hey. Hey. I bin thinkin'," Billy said, "if Froggy's right, and I think she is, do you think I should cut my dreads before announcing my run for mayor of The Smile Hi City?"

We sat there considering the profound ramifications.

2/23/07

Bonus Deal

DinkyDau Billy's use of the term caused one of those little flashbacks we all have, now and again. You know, like in "12 O'Clock High", when Harry Stovall, who was Major Stovall during the war (played by Dean Jagger) goes back to England after the war, and finds that cookie jar or whatever it was that was in the squadron mess. He then wanders out to the old airfield, now abandoned, and soon flashes back to B17's taking off and the rest of the movie flows from there.

So that's where I was when Billy mentioned "Bonus Deal". Sometimes a phrase will cause it. Sometimes just the smell of diesel exhaust or burned JP at the airport can cause it. Remembrances coming floating to the top...

By 1971, the war had been grinding on for at least eight years, that part of it that the Vietnamese came to call "The American War".

By early 1971, the American involvement was well on its way to winding down, though quite a few caskets were still to come home before it was over.

At the end of January 1971 a grand experiment in the Vietnamization program, turning the military mission over to the South Vietnamese, was launched. Operation Lam Son 719 was a major incursion into Laos near the Laotian town of Tchepone. The objective was to interdict and destroy a major North Vietnamese army buildup near that town.

Almost all of the ground troops were ARVN, the South Vietnamese army. But, they were heavily supported by US Army helicopters, slick troop carriers and gunships, and we lost a lot of them in this operation.

By this time in 1971, Lam Son 719 had turned into a bloodbath, a slaughter, a military debacle for the books. ARVN was beaten back mercilessly. Some of us might remember the images of ARVN troops trying to escape by hanging off the skids of the Hueys. It was a scene that would be repeated during the fall of Saigon. It was a stark warning that everything the politicians and the military brass was telling us about how well things were going with Vietnamization was so much bovine excrement.

We ran a lot of B52 strikes in that operation. Many of them were in support of desperate ARVN troopers in immediate danger of being overrun.

The B52's did not use their on-board bombing systems, for most of the mission during the war. Their systems could not find discrete targets in that triple-canopied jungle. They relied on a radar ground-directed bombing program called COMBAT SKYSPOT. Still, they would use their on-board systems for station-keeping, that is, maintaining proper position relative to each other. The bombers would fly in groups...cells...of three, trailing one behind the other by a mile or two, depending on the mission profile. The radar crew would track the first bomber and tell it when to release, and the other two would time off the first. Keeping in position was critical for that timing.

Sometimes a bomber's on-board system would go belly up. Then, the gunner in a B52 in front of the one with the bad system would safe his guns and lock on to the problem bomber with his own little gunnery radar, and he would give that bomber range and azimuth calls during the bomb run. That way, the problem bomber could maintain an accurate place in the cell.

That tactic was called a BONUS DEAL.

Late one afternoon, we at the CSS site at Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, were listening to the tactical channels, listening to the helicopter crews trying to get people out, and getting shot to pieces in the process. Our radio call sign was BROMO. Tchepone was maybe fifty miles away. We could bomb almost out to two hundred nautical miles, so Tchepone was well within range.

There was a Cobra gunship down, surrounded by the North Vietnamese Army. We were crisscrossing the area around them with tactical air strikes to keep them off the Cobra crew while some Hueys tried to do a rescue. Things were getting overwhelming.

We had some B52's divert from another target, coming inbound. This was a cell, a formation, of three B52's, call sign Copper. They had called the IP, the Initial Point, inbound on the bomb run, and just as they did, Copper 3, the last B52 in the cell reported his BNS, his Bombing/Navigation System, was out.

We wanted all those bombs on the ground. The aircrew wanted 'em on the ground. God knows the Cobra and Huey crews wanted them on the ground. The only people who didn't want them on the ground were the North Vietnamese.

Copper Cell went for a BONUS DEAL. Copper 2's gunner safed his guns and locked on to Copper 3. We're about 120 seconds out now.

"Copper cell 120 seconds." Our controller to the aircrews.

"Copper cell doors." Copper 1 advising Copper cell to open the bomb bay doors.

"2."

"3." Copper 2 and Copper 3 acknowledging.

"Copper 3's 4000 yards 3 degrees left." That's Copper 2's gunner giving position info to Copper 3. Copper 3 is 4000 yards (2 nautical miles) behind Copper 2 and 3 degrees left of his track. That puts him offset the right amount. He's in position, confirmed by the gunner in 2.
.

"Copper 3 roger."

"Copper 1 half a degree left, 60 seconds." That was our controller, telling Copper 1, Copper Lead, to make a minor course correction. The other bombers follow Copper Lead.

"Copper 3's 3800 yards 3 and a half degrees left." Copper 2's gunner again. 2's creeping up a bit.

"Copper 3 roger."

"Copper 1's on center line, 30 seconds." Our controller again, advising no course correction, the cell was on the track.

"Copper 3's 3900 yards 3 degrees left."

"Copper 3 roger." Slightly off, not enough to make any difference now.

"Copper 1 stand by final countdown 5...4...3...2...1...Hack!"

"Copper 1 bombs away....".

A few seconds later..."Copper 1's complete....Copper 2's complete...Copper 3's complete...."

And that was it. Fairly mundane stuff, though a bit tense, in a radar van fifty miles from Tchepone...but on the ground, it beat back the North Vietnamese long enough for a Huey to get in and get the Cobra crew out, though not without a lot of pain and suffering in the process.

On the ground, with three loads of 108 five hundred pounders and seven hundred fifty pounders going off right in front of them, and a hail of 23mm cannon and 14.5mm machine gun fire slamming through the air around them and through them, the Huey crew bounced down hard next to the Cobra. A gunner and a medic scrambled out of the Huey and dashed over to the Cobra, and dragged both of the Cobra crewmen back. The Huey was shedding bits and pieces. The copilot's door looked like a seive and the plexiglass was almost gone, just a few shards left. There was more blood leaking out of the Huey than either the gunner or the medic had ever seen before. The Huey lifted off as mortars started dropping around them and hied off to the east, sounding like a cement mixer gone mad with a load of gravel, trailing minor bits and pieces and leaking hydraulic fluid, fuel, and blood, all mixed together in a hellish cocktail.

They made it back.

BONUS DEALs.

There's all kinds of 'em in this life.

http://combat-skyspot.tripod.com/LamSon719.htm

http://www.angelfire.com/ga2/vnhistory/D94lam.html

and here is another Copper cell, bound for Skyline Ridge and Long Tieng, also in Laos:

http://combat-skyspot.tripod.com/UTapao.htm

The Best Writing Teacher...

Michael's telling me about his school day this evening:

"Poppy? We had to write paragraphs today."

"Yes?"

"We had a choice of a persuasive paragraph or a descriptive paragraph."

"Yes?"

"One of the topics for a persuasive paragraph was to write about someone who should be on a postage stamp."

"Yes?"

"My friend wrote about Mr. Bauserman. He wrote a paragraph about how Mr. B should be on a postage stamp because he's the best writing teacher ever."

"Ah. And is he?"

"Is he what?"

"The best writing teacher ever."

"Oh yeah. Yeah, he is. He makes it a lot of fun and we always learn something new."

Well done, Mr. B.

We can take exception to school administrations and the politics involved, but we should never lose track of the fact that we have a lot of really good teachers out there, busting their butts in a work of love and committment, teaching our kids and grandkids all those survival skills.

Well done, Mr. B.

Economic Development

Leece and I were snuffling down some fried zuccini over at Carl's Jr when Billy came bouncing in, dreadlocks flying every which way. He had his MP3 plugged in and was listening to some Rastafarians going on, mon.

"Hey! Hey! Wuddya think about this Ron Davis dude?" he asked.

"Well..." I started to say.

"I mean, like, dude, what's he know about economic development?" Billy went on.

"Well..." I started to say.

"Dint he used to be a school teacher or sumthin?" Billy continued.

"Well..." I started to say.

Leece held her finger to her lips and shushed Billy.

"He used to be, among other things, the principal over at the Junior High, back when it was a junior high and not a Middle School," I explained, "and I had the opportunity to work with him back in the early nineties when the gangster thugs were starting up here in The Smile Hi City. The junior high was then, like today, a festeringly fertile ground for thuggery."

"Gangsters? Here? In La Junta? Buncha wannabees," expounded Billy.

"Uh huh. Except our local bangers were tied in with the thugs in Pueblo, the Springs, Denver, California, up in Detroit, and a bunch of other places. They were real enough if you got to see the blood and the booze and the dope and the assaults, and the gangbangs and the rest of it. Ron was the only school administrator who took it seriously and in large part because of his help, we were able to keep a lid on things," I explained further.

"Huh. So he ain't one a these nambypamby paper pushers?" Billy was curious.

"Nope. I don't think so. He ran a tight ship at the junior high and I liked it a lot better when he was principal there," I told Our Stalwart.

"So what's that do for qualifying him for economic development?" Billy was still curious.

"Good question. For one thing, he's not what you would call a conventional thinker. I wouldn't classify him as one of the avante garde cutting edge types, but he's quite capable of thinking outside the box," I went on, "and he's been around a long time. He's one of the main characters in the Wakeup Breakfasts, too. Everyone knows him and I can't recall anyone speaking ill of him."

"Huh. So he's one of the Old Guard? Where's that leave us when they pick him?" Billy queried.

"Another good question. Yeah, I'd say that you could put him in the Old Guard category. The question is, whether he can introduce some of that new thinking, that unconventional thinking, into the economic development equation. I noticed you said, 'when' they pick him. You think it's a done deal?"

"Oh yeah," Billy said, "it's a real good example of a local political play. The Old Guard brings in a very popular candidate, and so when council picks him, no one is going to accuse them of screwing Snider. Very basic, and very transparent."

"Yep, I think you're right. However, I think in this case, he'd work out pretty good. A matter of luck rather than planning. We'll have to see, won't we?"

"Yep. I still think the idea is to slamdunk Snider. Bringing in a guy that can actually do the job is a bonus deal."

Bonus deal. That brought about a flashback or two...

2/22/07

Notice of Special Meeting

There is a special meeting of City Council at 7:00 PM on 26 Feb 2007, in the Power Board Room at 601 Colorado. This will be an executive session. The official notice is linked from here:

http://www.ci.la-junta.co.us/notices.htm

2/21/07

Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce

In this morning's fishwrapper, it's reported that the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce is backing a coaltion in support of the Pinon Canyon expansion.

That's not surprising. Right now, the gummint is spending 2 billion of our tax bux to overhaul Fort Carson. That's OK with me. I remember how bad Fort Carson looked a few years back. The barracks were terrible and the housing was just as bad. When Leece and I went up to Fort Carson a few weeks ago, new construction was visible everywhere. It's about time the facilities in which our military people live and work were brought up to decent standards. So it isn't the 2 billion bux that's the big deal, presuming the money is really used for those purposes and doesn't end up padding the pockets of the favored few.

But the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce is not concerned with a balance. They don't care about we Hicks from the Sticks. They're going for the whole pot o' gold, and they don't care how badly we get screwed down these parts.

And they had the unmitigated gall to try to squeeze the county commissioners into supporting the expansion as well. Since the fishwrapper didn't bother to report any details of the deal, one can only wonder at what they were offering as enticement. Was it only their good will and good looks? Was there something in the offer that would seemingly sweeten the deal? Did they come up with some economic alternatives to raping southeastern Colorado?

Are the commishes to be complimented on telling the Springs Chamber to go fish? Or is there something else, something fishily political, in the wings?

Veterans

"Hey Billy!"

I hollered at Our Stalwart as he scooted by on the Fat Possum.

"Hey! Hey! I gotta go to Quickee's! I'll be back in a minnit!"

I went about scraping the windshield, thinking that the frost was taking on a different quality now; it's a lot easier to scrape. It's what I call that Spring frost. It isn't that hard winter frost.

A few minutes later, he came on back, his dreadlocks slightly askew under his tinfoil helmet. "I hadda pee," he confided.

"Billy. When you gonna quit wearing that thing?" I asked him.

"Dunno. Maybe this summer. I don't feel like the gummint is trying to fry my brains anymore. Maybe I should be workin' on fryin' theirs. Maybe I should run for office. Whaddya think? Should I run for mayor of Swink?"

I thought about that.

"Why not? Or, you could move back to La Junta and run for mayor over there."

"Huh. Now there's a thought. Do you think I'd get many votes?" he asked.

"You might. You just might. You might have to get rid of the dreads, though. We still have a lot of people who put more on appearances than they do on substance. Human nature, you know."

"Yeah. Yeah. Ain't dat da troot," he agreed.

"Hey. Hey. You bin readin' about the VA and how they's treatin' the vets comin' back from the war?" He seemed to have the wind up a bit.

"Yes, I have, Billy. It's shameful, isn't it? But it isn't the VA. It's We the People of these United States. We slap up those yellow magnetic stickers on the backs of our SUV's, and that somehow is our contribution to the war effort. And we keep on electing the same people who are supposed to be overseeing the likes of the VA. Right now, we should be ripping strips off their backsides over this. I sent out copies of all of it to Wayne and Ken this morning. The rest of 'em will get it this evening."

"I remember when they shipped me back after that last go around after Tchepone," he said.

At Tchepone, Billy caught a bunch of fragments of Chicom heavy machine gun bullets in the face. He was lucky. The bullets fragmented on the gun mount in his Huey. He also got some fragments of the Huey in his chops. He was lucky he didn't lose his left eye, and he still has some metal in his sinuses from that affair. That was his fourth and last Purple Heart, and his second and last Bronze Star. His Huey crew pulled a downed Cobra crew out of the clutches of the North Vietnamese Army. If you read between the lines, it was a real John Wayne/Audie Murphy affair. Billy's co-pilot died in his arms on the way back.

When Billy showed up later at the VA hospitals, he had to go through all that paper shuffling, and then he was warehoused in a place worse than that described in the Washington Post articles. The shabbily indifferent treatment he and his comrades-in-arms received had a lot to do with him hitting the bottle and the dope later on. Head games. There he was at Oxford while Slick Clinton was there, too, not inhaling. The injustice of it was more than he could stand.

So what are we going to do? Let it continue? Let another generation of DinkyDau Billy's blossom?

How about taking the time to write to Wayne and Ken and John and let them know that you are truly angered by all this. Send them your magnetic yellow ribbon. Tell them where to shove it. Tell 'em to get off their useless backsides and do something constructive.

It's not only your absolute right, it's your absolute responsibility.

http://salazar.senate.gov/

http://allard.senate.gov/public/

http://www.house.gov/salazar/

Our Useless Twits in Washington

While our useless elected twits are posturing in Washington, this is what's going on in the Real World. Go here:

http://www.mullings.com/ and look at the posting for 21 Feb 2007.

It's here, too:

* While Members of the House and the Senate spent the last week bobbing up and down in the political waters, moving neither forward nor backward, on a heading to nowhere, pretending to be doing the nation's business while debating (or not debating) a meaningless resolution about Iraq, two reporters from the Washington Post were doing what journalists are supposed to do: Finding real news and making a real difference.

* In a two-part article, reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull describe the way our most vulnerable heroes - those who have been seriously wounded in combat - are treated in the aftermath of their acute care at the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC.

* Describing a dilapidated former half-star hotel now named "Building 18" where soldiers are sent for long-term rehab:

Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold.

When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole.

The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

# How can this be? How can we throw these young men and women, who were armed to the teeth while in Iraq, into a broken down tenement at the exact moment when they are most defenseless in trying to deal with the vast military bureaucracy? It is not just the physical layout which presents intractable problems. According to the reporting of Priest and Hull:

The typical soldier is required to file 22 documents with eight different commands -- most of them off-post -- to enter and exit the medical processing world, according to government investigators. Sixteen different information systems are used to process the forms, but few of them can communicate with one another.

The Army's three personnel databases cannot read each other's files and can't interact with the separate pay system or the medical recordkeeping databases.

* Anyone who has had to fill out forms at a doctors office knows how frustrating it can be to answer the same questions over and over. Now, think about doing it with an amputated arm and a head injury while on heavy doses of pain medication.

# Where is the Chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa)? That's where the money should come from to fix the walls and ceiling for all the Specialist Duncans who are under the care of the US Army and in physical and psychological pain.

# It appears that Murtha is more interested in making headlines for himself, than in making headway for wounded soldiers.

# How about one of the very first candidates to announce for President, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Ca) who was Chairman of the House Armed Service Committee when the GOP ruled the House and is still the senior Republican?

# Hunter has as much chance of becoming President as I do. Next time he sends out a copy of his campaign schedule, it would be nice if it included a stop at Building 18 on Georgia Avenue in Washington, DC.

# After the two-part series ran in the WashPost on Sunday and Monday, someone at the Pentagon got a boot placed squarely where it belongs which lead to the headline in Tuesday's paper:

# This is not a Republican failure, nor a Democratic failure. Maybe it is not even a Congressional failure. It is a failure of all of us for not caring.

# This is what always happens after the flags have stopped waving and the bands have stopped playing: Someone's mother or wife, someone's husband or dad, someone's brother or sister is left to pick up the broken pieces of what had been a healthy young man or woman who had marched off to war.

# It is time for the Congress to stop posturing and for us to start caring. It is time to find out how many Building 18s there are in the Army medical system and fix them all.

Here are the three parts to the series:

http://tinyurl.com/32sfbd
http://tinyurl.com/yw73ch
http://tinyurl.com/2wy6m9

These are the Washington Post articles. You may have to register with the Post to view the articles. Registration is free. I always use a hotmail or yahoo address for such registrations. This helps cut down on future spam.

Our elected representatives, local, state, or Federal, can't keep the US Army from going after their own constituents. Why should we expect them to be able to do anything about this?

2/20/07

Comment on City Council Agenda

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Agenda for Tonight's City Council Meeting":

Interesting.

So nothing in the open session about ED. How many months will this take? What strategy is at work behind certain people's closed doors?

Can anyone explain what is actually being said about the Executive Session?

IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THIS MEETING THERE WILL BE AN EXECUTIVE SESSION FOR DISCUSSION OF
A PERSONNEL MATTER UNDER C.R.S. 24-6-402 (4) (f) AND NOT INVOLVING: ANY SPECIFIC EMPLOYEES
WHO HAVE REQUESTED DISCUSSION OF THE MATTER IN OPEN SESSION; ANY MEMBER OF THIS BODY
OR ANY ELECTED OFFICIAL; THE APPOINTMENT OF ANY PERSON TO FILL AN OFFICE OF THIS BODY OR
OF AN ELECTED OFFICIAL; OR PERSONNEL POLICIES THAT DO NOT REQUIRE THE DISCUSSION OF MATTERS
PERSONAL TO PARTICULAR EMPLOYEES.

Who is supposed to be there? Who cannot be there? This 'legalese' is confusing.

Why "Peaceful Majority" of Muslims are Irrelevant

Here is a very lucid explanation of why the peaceful majority of Muslims are irrelevent:

http://canadiancoalition.com/forum/messages/14557.shtml

I used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War Two. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.

“Very few people were true Nazis” he said, “but, many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”

We are told again and again by “experts” and “talking heads” that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unquantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is, that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars world wide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard quantifiable fact is, that the “peaceful majority” is the “silent majority” and it is cowed and extraneous.

Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. China’s huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people. The Average Japanese individual prior to World War 2 was not a war mongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic killing of 12 million Chinese civilians;most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet. And, who can forget Rwanda,which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were “peace loving”.

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics.

Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.

Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awake one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Bosnians, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others, have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay
attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

Agenda for Tonight's City Council Meeting

Click on this link for the agenda in PDF format:

Agenda for City Council Meeting of 20 February 2007

"Giving terrorists hope is not in the interest of this nation..."

So says the editorial in the Pueblo Chieftain:

http://www.chieftain.com/editorial/1171984227/2

An excerpt:

"IT WAS a bad week in Washington, D.C., last week. The House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution that purports to support our troops in Iraq while it disapproves of the plan to increase troop levels to carry out their mission there.

The Senate voted on the resolution the next day, but that effort fell four votes short of the 60 needed to advance it.

It’s a ploy to have your cake and eat it, too. The text of this shameful document:..."

See the link above for the rest of the editorial.

We rarely see editorials, especially local editorials about local 'issues', in the fishwrapper.

Curiosity compels me to ask: Why is that?

2/19/07

OJC to host expert on Generation NeXt on March 9

A tip of the hat to Jeanne Fenter for this tidbit:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : February 19, 2007

OJC to host expert on Generation NeXt on March 9



PHOTO CAPTION: Dr. Mark Taylor, from Little Rock, Arkansas, will present two seminars at Otero Junior College on March 9 for OJC faculty, staff, and community members. The topic of his seminars revolve around Generation NeXt, the age group of young people who are entering college today, and the unique challenges this generation presents to educators and employers.

LA JUNTA — Otero Junior College will be hosting nationally acclaimed Generation NeXt expert, Dr. Mark Taylor, on March 9 for two seminars. Dr. Taylor has traveled throughout the country speaking about Generation NeXt, the age group of young people who are entering college today. The foundation of Dr. Taylor’s seminars will be to explore the characteristics and expectations that present unique challenges to adults who are charged with shepherding Generation NeXt through their education process and supervising them in the workforce.

According to Dr. Taylor, Generation NeXt is the first truly post-modern generation. They were raised in a different social environment and have had very different formative experiences than any previous generation. “To effectively retain and teach this generation, it is incumbent on us to understand who they are and how they got to be the way they are. They have unique challenges and as educators and supervisors, we need to look at what the best methods are to teach and serve this generation,” said Taylor.

Dr. Taylor will be presenting two seminars on March 9 in the OJC Student Center Banquet Room. Those seminars will be held at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Session I starts at 10 a.m. and is open to all OJC staff and faculty as well as anyone interested from businesses and the community. The title of the seminar is: Managing for Success in the Multigenerational Workplace: Today’s workplace can be an exciting mixture of the four current generational cohorts: Traditionals, Boomers, Xers, and the youngsters from Generation NeXt. The seminar will help those attending understand the typical generational values and traits to facilitate more effective goal directed behavior and a more collegial environment, especially as mixed generational groups are required to work closely together to reach organizational goals. This session will address the generational issues and dynamics in the workplace with suggestions for developing the most positive and effective work setting.

Session II will begin at 1 p.m. The seminar is titled Postmodern Pedagogy and is specifically for faculty and teachers to help them better understand and teach Generation NeXt. The workshop will focus on practical skills for facilitating meaningful student learning in and out of the classroom. This active session describes, illustrates and allows participants to experience and make plans to apply concrete and immediately useful methods to increase student engagement, activity, responsibility for their own learning, and personal ownership of class goals and desired outcomes. Outcome numbers on this session indicate that 84 percent of attending faculty report that they intend to use more active learning techniques!

Community members who would like to attend Session I at 10 a.m. are asked to contact Jim Herrell, OJC Associate Vice President of Instruction at 719-384-6885 to reserve a seat.

Dr. Mark Taylor has over 25 years of experience in higher education, management and the helping professions. He holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Biology, a Master’s degree in Social Work and a Doctorate in Counseling, all from the University of Arkansas. Dr. Taylor has been licensed as a psychotherapist in Arkansas since 1981.

Until January 2006, Dr. Taylor served as the Director of Guidance Services at Arkansas State University at Beebe. He resigned that position to continue his research and programs on generational issues, including those of Generation NeXt in an effort to improve educational services, workforce readiness and help facilitate this generation’s integration into the workplace.

Dr. Taylor’s resume reflects over 150 professional publications and presentations at state, regional, and national events, including consultations in 38 states. Clients in 2006 included Purdue, Sacramento State University and 20th Century Fox. His most recent article “Helicopters, Snowplows, and Bulldozers: Managing Student’s Parents” was published in the November/ December 2006 issue of the Journal of the Association of College Union’s International. Some of Dr. Taylor’s other articles on Generation NeXt have recently been reprinted in the Russian journal Otechestvennie zapiski and McGraw Hill’s 2006 Annual Edition Computers in Education. His pragmatic information and suggestions, grounded in data, has made Dr. Taylor a popular speaker, workshop leader and training consultant with numerous schools, colleges, businesses and professional organizations across the country.

For more information about the seminars contact Jim Herrell, OJC Associate Vice President of Instruction at 719-384-6885.

2/18/07

Who are these people...

The question has been asked...who are these people, this "Tookie" and this "Leece" and this "DinkyDau Billy".


Tookie is a genius. Few people recognize this because they cannot conceive of a six year old who discusses Descartes and Anselm with slighty batty Viet vets and who wants to go to either Stanford or Wharton, and eventually become secretary of state or run Halliburton while voting a straight Republican ticket. She likes chocolate-covered espresso beans and almost any flavor of Blue Bunny ice cream. Ethnically, she is Siamese, and loves to eat hot peppers with her Blue Bunny:




Leece is in the criminal justice system (on the right side of the bars) and is working on her master's in Spiritual Formation at NNU. This leads to some interesting discussions about the Whichness of What and the Thisness of That. She is also a terrible coffee snob and is the owner of one of the few Valerios outside museum collections:



DinkyDau Billy is a disabled Viet vet who used to drink, smoke dope, and ride Harleys, till one day he started riding relatively high end bicycles all over the western US. He is currently on a Gary Fisher Fat Possum. Billy often wears an AFDB (tinfoil hat) to prevent the gummint from stealing his thoughts. Our Viet vet readers will recall that "DinkyDau" is an Americanization of 'dien cai dau', literally, 'sick in the head'. Billy is very smart and has made piles of money by stashing his disability checks in various Vanguard funds. He no longer drinks or smokes dope. He has a Master's in Political Science from Berkeley, spent a tour as a gunner on a Huey in Vietnam, which he did after Berkeley, and has received a couple of Bronze Stars with V device and three or maybe four Purple Hearts. He also spent a year at Oxford Divinity before having an undefined crisis of faith and dropping out to ride his Harley. He likes to vote Libertarian just to be cantankerous, though he is a Democrat at heart. However, he views the modern Democratic Party as a collection of misguided moonbats with absolutely no connection to FDR, Truman, or LBJ. Billy describes himself as 'an Old Testament kinda guy' and deeply admires people like Stonewall Jackson. Billy is white meat, but this photo was taken after he rode his bike across the Mojave Desert two summers ago:

Customer Service

So. We spent some time last week up in Pagosa Springs.

One thing that we really noticed was the customer service.

In every place we visited, the clerks - that's right, the 'little people' - were exceptionally friendly and very talkative about all the things to see and do in their little part of paradise.

We only found one person who seemed a bit off; one of the staff in the bakery who seemed like maybe she had a personal conflict with everyone in the world. Everyone else there in the bakery was quite friendly.

Remember the CAP, that program that was supposed to help us get a grip on what we need to be doing to bring The Smile Hi City forward into The New Millennium? That was supposed to give us some direction on how we could best exploit the tourism market, among other things?

Yep. The CAP, that entire program that was flushed down the toilet.

One of the things that came up several times was the attitudes of the workers in the stores in La Junta:

"Hi. We're passing through your fair city. Seems a like a nice little place, once you get past the trash on the west side ingress and the same on the east side ingress, and the really nasty looking dumps on First Street."

"Nah. The place sucks. There ain't nuthin' to do here. We ain't even got no theater."

When that was all discussed in the CAP, another thing that came up was some kind of education program for the clerks. You know, something basic: "Hey. Dimwit. You keep on bad-mouthing La Junta and you won't have a job anymore when we go out of business."

As we see from the preceding post on Sunoco Snippets, PS is not without its 'issues'. You should have heard those wimmin go on about their city council once they finished shredding the school supe. But that doesn't seem to be stopping them from keeping things up for the tourists.

Over yonder in PS, we couldn't get the store clerks to shut up about what a great place PS is to live and work. I think the clerk in the Pagosa Candy Factory probably should get an award from the Chamber of Commerce. She almost had us convinced that we really need to move there next week; how could we continue to suffer anywhere else when Pagosa Springs awaits us? But she was typical of the store workers there. I don't know if the businesses train their workers to do that or if that's just the way they are. It might just be all that fresh air.

One might argue that PS has a lot of attractions that we don't, and one might be right.

But PS would be just another hick town with some bubbly holes in the ground if the people who live and work there didn't try hard to sell the place.

Don't we have anything here worth selling?

From the number of "For Sale" signs in front of houses these days, apparently not.

Badda bing.

Sunoco Snippets

Last week I was sitting in the Pagosa Springs Sunoco, having a cappaccino and reading the Pagosa Springs Sun.

It's not a bad little paper, not at all. A weekly for Archuleta County.

One of the big news articles had to do with the demise of the local school superintendent. No real reason was given for his demise. It was the usual summation of mutual admiration and respect, with the comment by the supe, "The future promises even greater challenges for the District; but I believe new leadership is needed to effectively address the needs of the students and the community."

Uh huh.

The supe's resignation takes effect on 30 June, but he isn't going to be acting as supe in the meanwhile. Rather, he is going to be using up sick and vacation, and 'personal' leave he has accrued, and sometime on or after 30 June the taxpayers of that school district are going to dish out $78,000 to the supe.

Yep. Say. What's the difference between vacation and 'personal' leave? How many of those taxpayers who are going to fund the time that the supe is sitting on his butt and the additional $78,000 (yes, that is seventy-eight thousand dollars) have four or five months worth of 'sick, vacation, and personal leave' on the books?

What's going on over there? What's up with our school districts? What are we paying for?

While I was there, the clerk in the store was gabbing with a couple of her friends who had come in. Three wimmin working themselves into a lather over...the school district.

One of 'em says..."Hey, I'm on minimum wage here and I drive that piece of crap parked out in front of the store. My kid rides a school bus that's falling apart. That idiot superintendent drives a car that cost more than my house. My kid comes home and I have to show him how to do his homework, the stuff that he did in class but didn't get right. What the *%^@ is this?" she asked.

Her friends had no answers but had a lot more of the same type of commentary.

In the same issue of the paper, there was a photo survey of locals who were asked what they thought about the property tax hike.

Property tax hike? Where does school district funding come from?

A property tax hike and they're paying the departing school superintendent to sit on his butt and at the end of the butt-sitting, collect $78,000?

Huh. How about that.

You can find the article here:

http://www.pagosasun.com/frontpage.htm

under articles published in the February 15 edition.

2/16/07

Rods and Poles; High Fiber; Sumatra Decaff

We were wandering down the street, having stopped in the fly-tying emporium where Lisa kind of vapor-locked over the prices of the fly rods. We were talking about the differences between Walmart's Berkeley rods and the really good stuff. She could see the difference, but was having some difficulty in understanding why someone would shell out 800 bux for a fishing pole.

"Well, first you have to understand the difference between a fishing rod and a fishing pole," I said, somewhat pedantically.

She doesn't like it when I get pedantic.

"Spit it out," she said, "don't be going all pedantic on me."

I can take a hint. Sometimes.

"God makes a fishing pole. Skilled craftsmen make a fishing rod."

"What does that mean," she asked.

"Well, a fishing pole is one of those cane things that kids use in ponds. A fishing rod, on the other hand, especially a really good one, is a work of art by a skilled artisan. Unless, of course, it's a Walmart special, in which case it's mass produced and has no artistic value at all," I explained.

"Does the skilled artisan's product catch fish any better than the Walmart special, or the cane pole for that matter?" she asked, ever practical.

"Well...no. But that's not the point. Would you replace the Valerio with a cheap Walmart print? And if not, ask yourself why not. And there is your answer," I explained.

"But there's a difference between a Valerio painting and a fishing pole...rod..." she said.

"Not in the eye of the beholder, or who be holdin' the rod," I countered.

We were interrupted by a bell ringing behind us and the sound of bike tires sliding on the sandy sidewalk. Not much snow in town, mostly mud, but there's still a lot of sand left over.

"Hi Billy," Lisa cheerfully said, "How are you doing?"

"Hey. Hey. I jus' found out they gots a Pagosa Fiber Festival here in the summer time, "he announced.

"Fiber Festival?"

"Yeah. Yeah. A big deal tourist thing. Hooda thunk they'd get a buncha tourists in over lentils and beans, huh?" Billy was astounded by the thinking outside the box this represented.

"Lentils?"

"Yeah. Yeah. High fiber, dude. Think on it. We could do the same in The Smile Hi City! The Smile Hi High Fiber Festival! We could do it just before Tarantula Days!". Billy was quite excited.

"Well...if you plug up all the tourists with high fiber content, they might not be smiling so much," Lisa observed, ever practical.

"Huh. Huh. Hey. Hey. I could get my new friend over at the hydrotherapy place to come over and you know, do cleanouts." Billy was on an entrepreneurial roll. "OJC could even add a new course! Colon Hydrotherapy! They could hold it in the same hall as they do that cosmetical thingie!"

Lisa was staring at Billy. She does that a lot these days. What worried me is that she was giving me the same look.

"What?" I asked,"I think it's a great idea. The Democrats would love all that New Age stuff, and the farmers could start raising all kinds of new grains. Like that Spelt we had the other day at the Bakery Company."

"You two. They aren't talking about fiber as in cooking."

"No?" Billy was looking pretty downcast over this announcement.

"No. It has to do with weaving and spinning and knitting and felting and making things from different fibers. More of that 'artisan' stuff you guys are so into," she explained.

"So my pal wouldn't have much of a customer base?" he asked.

"I didn't say that. I suspect that we still have a pretty good target group for that kind of clean out, " she confided, "though don't be quoting me on that. You two are doing enough as it is."

"Huh. Huh. Well. That's a real kick in the butt. Hey. You wanna cuppa dat Sumatra decaff? That place up the street, that bookstore next to the bike shop, has some pretty good Sumatra. I'll even buy!"

And so we wandered back up the street in the direction of the bike shop, conspiring over ways to generate some entrepreneurial excitement and enthusiasm.

http://www.pagosafiberfestival.com/

2/15/07

Colonic Hydrotherapy

We were having a cuppa there by the river, overlooking the hot springs, when we saw Billy come tooling up from out of the swirling mists.

He saw us. Too late to duck inside.

"Hey! Hey!" he shouted, sliding to a stop, "Hey! I'll take one a them there crapperchinos!" he hollered at the waitress. She raised both eyebrows at the sight of Billy straddling his Fat Possum, his dreadlocks peeking out from under his AFDB which was stuck under his helmet. That he was dressed in his Goretex Speedo biking suit didn't help matters.

He bounced into an empty chair at our table.

"Hey! Hey! You know what?" he asked.

"We know many things, Billy, but we may not know 'what', " Lisa told him. I snickered.

"She a little off her oats today?" Billy asked.

"Nope. So far, so good," I advised.

"Well then. OK. Hey. Tell me. What's 'colon hydrotherapy'? There's a joint downtown there that does that. Right next to that 'pastoral psychologist', whatever that is," Billy went on.

We both stared at him.

"Well, Billy, 'colon hydrotherapy'..." Lisa started to explain.

I interrupted, earning myself a real glare. Some people are just sticklers for manners.

"It's a New Age thing drawn from ancient practices, Billy. They stick a tube up your poop chute and pump stuff into it. Like organic coffee grounds," I explained, "and then you...well...you kind of flush yourself out."

Billy went wide-eyed. So did the waitress as she delivered his ...cappaccino.

"What? What?" he spluttered.

"Yeah. It's supposed to clean you out and keep you healthy. I first read about it as a practice of the Croatan Indians back in eastern North Carolina. They used an extract or a tea of yaupon berries. This was first documented about the time of Virginia Dare."

"You're kiddin' me!" he exclaimed.

"Nope. Maybe you should try it. I hear the Green Tea and French Roast dip is particularly effective, maybe with a bit of French vanilla creamer added," I told him, doing a very good job at keeping a straight face.

"Huh. Huh. Hey. Hey. I can thinka some people who could use that, ya know?"

"Yup. And then follow up with a visit to Sophia the Pastoral Psychologist," I added to the mix.

"Yeah. Yeah. It might clarify some thinkin' about economic development, doncher think?"

"I think it's time to go find some lunch," Lisa announced. Some people have no sense of humor that they are aware of.

"Hey. Leece. How come you ain't got no sensa humah you's aware of?" Billy asked. He is a braver fellow than am I.

She skewered him with a look that would wither poison ivy at thirty paces. He was unaffected.

"Billy. Are you going to lunch with us or not?" she asked him.

"Uh. Yeah. Yeah. Let's go," he returned, somewhat surprised.

"Good. You're buying. If I have to listen to stuff like this, you've got the tab."

And so we all wandered on down the street to find lunch.

2/14/07

Economic development and Wolf Creek

So there we were, sitting at a table by the window in the Pagosa Baking Company, snuffling a bowl of posole, and a rather delicious chicken sandwich made on a rather delicious focaccia, and with a bit of quinoa salad on the side.

Leece looked up and said, "I don't believe this."

DinkyDau Billy was chaining his Fat Possum to the lamp post next to our Jeep.

"Hey! Hey!" he shouted, quite cheerfully, "I saw that Jeep and thought it had to be you! So I stopped in!"

"Lots of people have Jeeps, Billy," Lisa observed.

"Yes, but not with that nutcake bumper sticker," he retorted.

He's probably right.

"What are you doing here, Billy?" Leece asked.

"My arthritis was bugging me so I rode over to take the hot springs, " he told us.

"You rode over Wolf Creek Pass? In the winter? On your Fat Possum? With arthritis?" She was a bit incredulous.

"Nah. I'm gettin' too baggy in the shorts for that. I hitched a ride over the pass. Some guy in a pickup. We put the Possum in the bed of the pickup."

"Huh. Hey! Was there a meeting Monday evening? Do we have a new leader that will lead us into the new millenium? Is Wayne Snider still with us? " I had to ask.

"Beats me. I ain't seen nuthin' in the fishwrapper," he replied.

"We didn't either. We were over at the library this morning and the online fishwrapper has some really crucial stuff about the fairgrounds stables making the historical list, but nothing about economic development. So I figure, you know, what with the fishwrapper being so on top of things and having a completely unbiased view of local politics...."...

"Billy! Billy! Are you OK?" Lisa was very concerned. Billy had been helping himself to her quinoa salad and had suddenly choked. She was whacking him mightily on the back.

"I ain't heered nuttin'," he repeated, wheezing most piteously, "Hey, I don't wanna eat a lot before I go tubbin' at the springs, an' pedallin' over from Swink helped loosen me up and I don' wanna lose that," he said, "I'll catch youse gice more laters...".

And with that, after helping himself to one more spoonful of Lisa's salad, he left.

Lisa went over to the counter and got herself a new spoon.

2/12/07

Economic Development Comment

In our previous post, we asked essentially why we are trying to reinvent the wheel. We have the naysayers, the Old Guard, the LJDI supporters, who want to go back to the old way of doing business.

From what I have been able to determine, a lot of this has to do with the fact that these people do not like Wayne Snider. It's a personal thing.

Here we have Wayne thinking outside the box, something that we have heard our politicians spew out like they really believe in doing that. By thinking outside the box, I mean that we have Wayne Snider looking for some non-traditional type industries and businesses. He has brought in two such businesses, both of which have potentially far-reaching economic consequences if our local leadership has the vision to pick up that particular ball and run with it.

One of those businesses went to Rocky Ford after looking at La Junta. The naysayers, the Old Guard, have pooh-poohed this accomplishment, saying that Wayne doesn't work for Rocky Ford.

No, he doesn't. But then neither do the Old Guard 'work for' La Junta. They work for themselves and their own pathetic, self-serving agenda, which has more to do with them keeping the economic and political power than what is good for La Junta.

Back when we were going through the Community Assessments - the ones that the Old Guard managed to ignore, avoid, and push into the background - the general viewpoint was that we have to operate on a more regional basis. We have to do away with the old parochial viewpoints.

The mayor himself so stated and that was reported in the fishwrapper. So that new business going to Rocky Ford rather than La Junta is hardly a failure.

The question the movers and shakers should be asking is why the new business chose Rocky Ford over La Junta. They won't do that, because the reasons for that will be found in the attitudes of those movers and shakers. Quite frankly, it's those self-servers, not Wayne, who pushed ATT over to Rocky Ford. Wayne kept them in this area in spite of the so-called 'leadership', be that leadership economic or political.

Here is a comment posted to the preceding post on economic development:

"I understand the review of the bids is tomorrow night. Why this position was put up for bid in the first place baffles me.Which brings up the point, wouldn't the City want to do everything in their power to retain him considering his leadership and action abilities. I am sure other communities are watching this progress in the hopes of snatching him up.What an insult and lack of recognition our City leaders have handed him with their ignorance and arrogance.Why would Mr. Snider accept after this obvious statement "we really don't want you, there are local people who will do better". Do you think he will even want to be continually stifled? How can he work in such a situation. The City's loss will be others gain. Again the City leads in a manner that hurts the community. "

"The City" encompasses a variety of entities. There is the governing body, City Council, which is what many people mean when they speak of "The City". Then there is the city administration, which is another thing that people mean when they speak of "The City".

Within those two general groups, we have people who are struggling to take us forward, and then we have those who have their own agendas and reasons for keeping us knocked down. It's very helpful to find out who those people are...who the players are, and what are their agendas. It isn't constructive to paint them all with the same brush.

In the case of the political entit(y)(ies), it is also helpful because then you can vote the intellectual midgets and the unimaginative out and keep the good guys in.

2/9/07

More on economic development

It will be most interesting to see who gets the economic development contract. This is coming up on us, quickly.

Judging from the comments and attitudes we have seen previously, I'd expect a 4-3 split in favor of getting rid of Wayne Snider. It will be the same four who have voted for things they don't understand or don't know why they voted for or against a particular measure or just went along because that's the way things have always been.

When you have councilpersons sitting at the council bench clearly stating that they don't know why they voted for something, or apologizing for voting the way they did, you don't expect a whole lot.

Right now, we have a new business coming in to Rocky Ford. It could have come into La Junta, but it didn't. Wayne Snider is the fellow who brought that business in. He is not the person who convinced the owners to go to Rocky Ford instead of La Junta. But at least the business is here in the valley rather than somewhere else. We'll all benefit from it. And, given our Mayor's comments in the fishwrapper last year, we can't fault Wayne Snider for bringing a business into the lower Valley rather than right here in La Junta. That's a dog that clearly won't hunt, though I'm afraid we have more people than we need who are not influenced by fact, in decision making positions.

We have the Bay Foods building purchased by a biodiesel production outfit. That was a Wayne Snider project.

This one has the potential to be particularly important to us. Why? Because the production unit is going to need a steady supply of oilseed. Where will that come from? Quite possibly from area farmers. In other words, we're looking at a whole new cash crop completely independent from ranching, at least in the sense that it is part of the beef production circle.

How else is it important to us?

Biodiesel can help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It helps get us out from under the blood-sucking Arabs.

Biodiesel can help - by bringing in competition - bring down the price of fuels locally. We all know that local suppliers have us by the gonads and can charge whatever they want. There's no competition; the prices are pretty much fixed. Of course, they deny it, but does anyone believe it? Will a biodiesel plant help bring down local fuel prices or just become part of the consortium? Who knows. But at least it's something new, with the potential to be beneficial in yet another way.

You see that this is not just a plant in La Junta. It has the potential to greatly - and positively - affect a great number of people and how they make their living.

That's a Wayne Snider project.

Wayne has more stuff in the background, under negotiation.

I don't understand why we can't let him bring those projects to fruition. He has spent the time, the money, and the effort to network and negotiate, to meet with many different people in many different agencies and businesses. This is all starting to pay off.

Why do we want to throw it all away?

With LJDI, it was obvious why. They weren't producing. Not only were they not producing, they were becoming a fiscal tapeworm, sucking resources from We the People while coasting at the 'home office' while we funded a real office, an office that provided a resting place and a place to stash some paperwork, and not much else.

Wayne is bringing business to us.

Why do we want to throw it all away?

It makes no sense to me. Of course, the pit bull ordinance, the water restriction exemption, and the dumping of all the work of the Community Assessment Program to go with that really dumb sales tax increase made no sense to me, either. And through all of it, we saw clearly that the voice of the people is nigh on completely meaningless.

Why?

Why do we want to throw it all away?

Economic Development Continued...

"Uhmmm...." I said, something that I seemed to be saying a lot of these days..."so...Billy...how do you come to read Hebrew?"

"I wuz gonna be a rabbi when I got back from the woah," he said, "but then I had a crisis of faith and I quit, an started ridin' around on my Harley. Though that's got nuthin to do with me havin' a crisis of faith."

We all stared at him. Again.

"I didn't even know you're Jewish," I said.

"I'm not," he replied, "but I wuz gonna be, I thought. You know. Convert. I'm an Old Testament kinda guy."

"Oh. I thought you were an Old Testament kinda guy because of, well, you know, Stonewall Jackson and all that?"

"Stonewall and his rampant Presbyterianism came later," Billy explained. I guess he explained. I wasn't really getting it.

"Hey. Hey. I bin playin' ball, basketball, wit dat bald-headed preacherman down at the church on the corner."

"Yeah? And how was that?" I asked.

"He whupped my as...butt..." he admitted, looking somewhat askance at Leece to see if she had noted his near-faux pas. She hadn't, or she was doing a good job of pretending she hadn't.

"He cheats. He distracted me. He was goin' on about Anselm's a priori ontological argument in support of the Proof of God. I cain't shoot layups with that kinda stuff in my head. He was doin' that on purpose."

"Otological argument?"

"No, man, clean out your ears. Ontological." Billy was getting testy.

"Oh Poppy. Sometimes you can be sooooo slow...". This from Tookie, who, having finished her Blue Bunny, said, "you remember the argument:
  1. God is, by definition, a being than which nothing greater can be conceived (imagined).
  2. Existence in reality is greater than existence in the mind.
  3. God must exist in reality, if God did not then God would not be that which nothing greater can be conceived (imagined).
Right?"

"Oh. No. I don't buy that. It's an argument of faith, not reasoned logic. You can accept God on faith but when you try to put it forth as an argument in logic, you make a mess of it, I don't care if you've been sainted or not."

"Huh. Well, that baldheaded preacher kept goin' on about faith and reason being different but intertwined. One a them chicken and egg things. What comes first, faith or reason?" Billy explained.

I looked over at Lisa, who shrugged and sat back to enjoy the show. Then she sat up and asked, "What about Hebrews 11:1 and the following verses, Billy?"

"Good point, Leece," he said, "the preacherman said pretty much the same thing as all a chapter 11 but he dint quote no verses. He just said it hissef."

"I think, therefore I am," interjected Tookie.

"Huh?" This from Billy. Now we all stared at Tookie. This staring was getting to me but what else could we do? Yesterday she was going on about Barbies. But then...maybe it was 'Barbee'...I did remember something in her chatter about the school, too.

"Descartes' Proof of God in his Third Meditation. 'I think, therefore I am'. 'I can imagine God, therefore he exists' is the natural offshoot. That's it, more or less. He tried for more in his Fifth Meditation but the guy was like, a loser, " opined Toots.

I was getting a headache. "You guys are flushing two of the greatest philosophers of all time," I said, "You can't do that, even if they're wrong about a few things!"

"Of course we can," said Billy, looking over at his new co-conspirator with a grin. "Besides, the preacher invited me to his church. They's havin' a chili cookoff on the 24th. I hear they do great potlucks, too."

"Are you going to go?"

"Sure. I like arguing with him. I ain't argued like that since we used to sit around the cafeteria table at Oxford."

"You went to Oxford?"

"For awhile. 'Bout the same time as Slick was there."

Toots popped up: "Poppy. Descartes was a butt-smoocher. He was telling all the bosses what they wanted to hear. They burned people at the stake back then. He wasn't like, stupid, you know. He pitched what they wanted and that kept him in vin and escargot. And alive. Look what happened to Socrates. And when they tried it with Leonardo, he folded. Those guys'll mostly go to the highest bidder."

Standford. She wants to go to Standford.

So she can come back to La Junta and work for the great and the near-great for seven bux an hour.

Huh. I think council better take a real hard look at the brain drain, the kid drain, and how that is affecting La Junta, and maybe, just maybe, worry less about inconsequential nonsense like working favors for pals with things like pit bull ordinances, water restriction exemptions, and worry a lot more about screwing the tourist's pooch over lodging taxes and getting the economic show on the road.

I don't think they'll do that by flushing the guy who just brought in two companies and is working on more.

"Hey Poppy?"

"Yes Tookie?"

"Not to worry. They'll just set economic development back a few years, like they did tourism. By the time they figure it all out, I'll be in Standford anyway."

"Or surfing off Point Loma," observed Leece, "or running Halliburton."

"I think, maybe I am," responded Tookie, "or I think maybe, I am."

Billy snorted some 'spresso up his nose. It wasn't pretty.

Economic Development

So we're sitting down there at The Barista, oh, maybe about 6-ish, having just finished a couple of most excellent panninis.

Tookie was coloring and eating some Blue Bunny vanilla with some kind of sprinkle thingies; Leece was alternating from freezing her brain with a frappie and practicing Hebrew calligraphy on a napkin; I was vegging out watching the two of them. Billy was due in shortly. The rest of the urchins were off playing basketball at one school or another.

And there he was. He came in, tapping the muck off his cycling shoes.

"Hey. Hey. Howzit doon?" He seemed to be in good spirits.

"You're late, dude, we've already had dinner," I said.

He glanced over at Lisa and did a bit of a double-take.

"Hey. Leece?"

"Yes, Billy?"

"You have the second and third letters in the third word there transposed. It don't make no sense thataway," he told her.

We all stared at Billy. Tookie stopped with a dripping spoon halfway up.

"You read Hebrew, Billy? Upside down?" Lisa was dumbfounded. So was I.

Billy was somewhat non-plussed. He said, "Well...it ain't that hard, you know. Why you doon that anyway?"

"I'm teaching myself Hebrew for my studies," she explained, "I want to be able to at least read the basics in some of my reference works rather than just rely on the translators."

"Uh huh. Good idea. Hey. Hey. I see that's Ruth. You'd do better with Esther," he said.

We all stared at him some more.

"Why?" I asked.

"Cuz in all them new bibles they used mostly those Greek manuscripts, and the authors and editors often added or redacted stuff. You can really see that if you compare Esther in Hebrew to Esther in Greek and then Esther in English. Lots of political and cultural wishful thinking there. There's whole passages where the meaning is a lot different," Billy expounded.

"Hah. Bet that drives the literalists nuts," I said.

"I don't think they know or care," Billy stated, "ignorance is bliss."

"I wanna learn Greek," Tookie said, "I'm gonna go to PLNU like Leece and then I'm gonna go to Standford like Condi."

"Stanford, sweetie," Lisa gently corrected her.

"Like, whatever," Toots replied.

"I thought you were going to be a rock star," I observed.

"Uh uh. I wanna get a good edjikashun so I can come back to La Junta and work for seven bux an hour," she said.

I stared at her. We had a lot of staring going on.

"Uh....".

"No, really, I wanna be the Secretary of State," Toots explained, "or maybe I'll go to Wharton and someday run Halliburton and drive Nancy Pelosi even nuttier."

"So, you aren't serious about staying here in La Junta or coming back?" I asked.

"Do you know any kid who is?" she retorted, "and all these moronics about economic development make it all the easier to not stay."

"So...what about being a rock star?" I asked.

"How do you think I'm going to pay for Standford," she asked.

"Stanford, sweetie," Billy corrected her.

"Like, whatever."

(to be continued...)

2/8/07

Captain Yarborough's Special Reserve

During lunch we were sitting in the office, enjoying a bit of coffee and some tasty sandwiches made up from from goods purchased at the Walmart deli.

Most people don't know it, but Leece is quite the coffee snob. And since she's been shopping up in the commissaries at Fort Carson and the Air Force Academy, she's gotten even more snobbish. Unbeknownst to the average civilian, many military people are also coffee snobs, developing some very sophisticated tastes while serving in those faraway places. And so over the years, as they -we- have returned to the States, we have lobbied the commissary service to stock those exotic brews. And they do.

So we had some of that stuff in the pot as Billy came wandering in.

"Hey. Hey. Howzitgoin?" he asked.

"Pretty good, Billy. What are you up to?" Lisa answered.

"I came down here to pay my utility bill," he said, "I have to pay cash. They won't take my checks."

"Really? You've been kiting checks?" I was curious. Billy has more money stashed in various banks and funds than most misers. He's one of those guys who lives like a monk, and when he croaks, the lawyers will gather around like sharks once they find that out. I'm not sure he has a will.

"You know me. I cain't balance a checkbook fer squat."

"Don't you have Money or Quicken on your laptop?"

"Naw. I want a peesa paper in my hand," he said.

I left it at that.

"But I smelled that coffee way down the hall," he said, "so I thunk I'd come in and see if you had any extra."

"Of course we do, Billy, there's always a cup for you," Lisa told him.

He blushed. He does that a lot lately. I think it's the psych nurse bringing it out.

"It's Captain Yarborough's Special Reserve," I told him,"It'll put some lead in your pencil."

I poured a cup for him. He sipped it, and his AFDB slipped off his head as his hair stood up.

"Hah. Hah. Hoo. Hoo. Huh..." he gasped.

"Too hot?" Lisa asked, solicitously.

"Hah. Hah. Hoo. Hoo. Huh..." he gasped, "No, Leece, that stuff is enough to bring Rip Van Winkle to his feet and have him tapdancin' on the ceiling."

"There's a story there. Would you like to hear it?" I asked.

"Sure. Sure."

And here it is:

Captain Sir Alfred Yarborough was known by his fellow officers in the Royal Navy to be somewhat eccentric . Among other things, he drank coffee, rather than tea. It was a habit that he had picked up whilst serving in HMS Battlefish with the Singapore Squadron.

Captain Yarborough had a special blend of Indonesian dark roast that he insisted on having his batman prepare daily. The batman would keep a fresh pot brewing on the bridge. The ship's engineers devised a set of gimbals that kept the brewer upright in all manner of weather.

In 1944, Captain Yarborough was charged with taking a squadron of destroyers in to the harbor at Hania and cleaning out German opposition. As the destroyers made smoke to serve as a screen, and were receiving heavy gunfire from shore-emplaced naval rifles, kind of like in The Guns of Navarrone, shrapnel, shot, and dead fish were splattering all over the warships. Two destroyers had taken some hard hits and were burning fiercely, yet were maintaining position in the line of battle and were swinging their torpedo tubes out to engage the enemy within the harbour.

At that point a 14" armor-piercing round from a German rifle ricocheted off number 1 turret and rocketed through the bridge, killing all but the helmsman, Captain Yarborough, and...the batman, who was tending to the coffee brewer.

The bridge was a slaughterhouse.

The helmsman, voice trembling, asked for orders.

Yarborough, a bit rattled but keeping a stiff upper lip, reportedly looked at the helmsman for a moment, then turned to the batman, Sedgewick.

"I say, Sedgewick, you seem to have lost an arm." Yarborough is said to have observed.

"Aye sir, I believe you are right," Sedgewick is reported to have replied, wrapping a bit of cabling around the stump as a tourniquet.

"When you've finished with that bit of first aid, do you suppose I might have a cuppa?" Yarborough asked, according to the after-action report.

"Of course, sir, I'm sorry for the delay..." responded Sedgewick.

"No matter, my good man, do take whatever time you need," Yarborough continued.

Shortly after getting the arterial spurting under control, and just before passing out, Sedgewick handed Captain Yarborough a cuppa.

Yarborough, according the citation accompanying his knighthood, is said to have sipped the brew thoughtfully, and in contemplative manner observed, "I say, this is excellent, Sedgewick, but we are going to have to do something about the dreadful effect of the humidity on the sugar, don't you agree? Sedgewick? Sedgewick?"

He then turned to the helmsman, who was anxiously awaiting orders.

"What should you do? You require orders?" he asked the helmsman.

The helmsman nodded fearfully as more heavy shells fell around the ships.

"My good fellow. Simply steer to the sound of the guns. Remember the words of Admiral Lord Nelson: "...no captain can do wrong if he places his ship alongside that of an enemy..."

And so they did.

And today, you too can enjoy a cuppa. Stop by the office if you're down this way and have some.

Backstabbing

Speaking of backstabbing...

Wayne Snider has announced that the Bay Foods building has sold to a biodiesel producer.

You all remember Wayne, I'm sure. He has been the target of backstabbing and sniping from some of the great and the near-great (and the merely self-important) of La Juntan society, over the continuing Grand Whine over the demise of LJDI. You can read previous posts on that subject to catch up if you need to.

Wayne has been researching biodiesel for a long time now. He saw the potential after seeing what was going on over in the San Luis Valley and in other places in the country. He's been working on the project for quite some time.

Now those of you who remember LJDI will also remember that LJDI never told anyone about anything - not officially, but there's always those little Breakfast Clubs - until they plunked something down on the council bench with that 'take it or leave it' attitude. Everything was always a Big Secret, whether it needed to be or not.

The same bungholes - sorry, Mr. Butcher has me on a roll this morning - have been whining about Wayne, who has been playing some of this stuff close to his chest. Some things in a business deal of necessity - legal, business strategy, competition...whatever - will be held in.

The Bungholes (we'll go with a capital 'B' on this now) have been using that same process that they shoved down council's throat so many times to take shots at Wayne.

Well.

Stuff it, Bungholes. Wayne has come through. I suspect that if he is given an honest chance, he'll come through some more.

We in La Junta and southeastern Colorado are always going on about our down-home 'cowboy up' honesty. The fact that we - or at least those of us whose great-grandaddies played poker with T.T. Woodruff, and in the societal scheme of things in La Junta, they are the only people who really matter - come from tough pioneer stock, the grass roots of that Great American Spirit.

I wonder how that tough pioneer stock would see some of the weasely backstabbing that's been going on. They might be moved to administer an 'ass wippin' of their own to some of their descendents, and it would be well-justified.

Meanwhile, waydago, Wayne. Good on yer, dude. I'm sure those who go to work at the biodiesel outfit will be grateful for the jobs. Here's hoping that this project lasts longer than most of LJDI's little fiascos.

More on "candidates for an 'ass wippin' "

This morning we had a fellow purporting to be Timothy W. Butcher post this comment to the original post on this subject:

"Who is the spineless twit that would put such a thing on public property? What, you so good that you think you don’t have to train. Yes I know what’s going on. I know all about you and your kind. Ignoramuses all of you. Cheraw is my hometown also. I’m Stan’s oldest son. Put my name on your list “Bitch”. Right next to my sister’s. Yes, you know me. Guess what, I’ve become a very hard, bitter person, and I ain’t got any problem bitch slapping ignoramuses. Cheraw has always had the potential to become quite a very peaceful place to live and raise a family, but because of people like you, people leave."

Now, this guy seems to have the wind up pretty good, and it shows in his manner of speaking...or writing...

But here's the thing. He has some very good points:

a) the people who scribbled the comments on the whiteboard at the Cheraw firehouse are in fact cowards, gutless and spineless twits. What else could they be, given their behavior?

b) firefighting in this day and age is a high tech vocation, requiring long, hard hours of training and study just to keep up with advances in firefighting equipment, much less how to deal with all the high tech dangers that arise in fighting fires.

c) a firefighter who refuses to understand that is really either too stupid to be a firefighter, or too lazy, or too arrogant. Whatever the reason, a firefighter with that kind of attitude does a great disservice, not a service, to his or her community, fellow firefighters, and the long and honorable tradition of the Fire Service overall.

d) with the cowardly backstabbing and the apparent indifference and quite possibly active support of Cheraw's governing body, Cheraw is showing itself to be a mean little place, certainly not the kind of place where one might consider buying a house and living. At the present time, Cheraw comes across like one of those inbred little hick dumps in the movie "Deliverance".

e) far from resolving the problem, the mayor and other Cheraw officials seem to be standing around with their thumbs - and their heads - up their anal orifices, unable or unwilling to display any leadership qualities at all. This points directly back to (d) above regarding the desirability of Cheraw as a place to live. My main question at this point is when are the residents of Cheraw going to say "Enough!" and issue a recall?

2/7/07

Referendum C Piggery

Remember Referendum C? That little bit of pork that the state government and all those state porkers said they so desperately needed? Remember all that crying and whining about how we needed it for 'the chirrun'? For schools and the JUCO system? For all those great programs? How opponents said it really wasn't a tax increase? Remember that? If you don't, here's a refresher:

http://www.taxincrease.org/

and from this morning's Chieftain:

http://www.chieftain.com/editorial/1170877397/1

An excerpt:

"The sordid tale of the Owens bonuses gets even worse when regular - yes, regular - payoffs for unused sick leave and vacation time are added to these platinum-plated parachutes under the Gold Dome in Denver. For the Owens Cabinet, the split was $390,000 for unused, or may we say “unclaimed,” sick leave and vacation.

The combined bonuses and lump-sum benefits came to a cool $454,000, no small sum for a government that cries poverty too often.

It came as no surprise that Marva Livingston Hammons, who was Mr. Owens’ human services director, took the largest amount - $61,099 - including $55,528 for vacation time. We have to wonder where Ms. Hammons was, if not on vacation, all those times she was unavailable for interviews on important state hospital issues, including her seeming neglect of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.

True to form, Ms. Hammons could not be reached for comment about her parting with so much of the state’s money. She won’t be missed, that’s for sure.

These revelations make us wonder if this is the kind of thing state officials had in mind when they asked voters to approve Referendum C, which they did in 2005.

That Referendum C gift - likely to top $6 billion or even $7 billion over five years - means no Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights refunds for us, but more money for the government to spend."

Creative entrepreneurialism

"Entrepreneurialism? is that really a word?" Lisa asked as she dipped a Wendy's French fry into her chocolate Frosty.

"I think so. It seems to fit. No matter. They should be here shortly," I replied.

We were sitting in Wendy's, waiting for DinkyDau Billy and Tookie to arrive. Billy was baby-sitting Toots...or maybe it was the other way around...but in any case, Tookie had called to report that they had cooked up a sure-thing money-making scheme that was well-suited to the local economic environment. Well, what she had really said was "Hey Poppy! Poppy! Me and Billy got an idea to make lots of money and it will work real good around here cuz of the way things are, cuz Billy told me so!"

Our junior Donalds walked in the door. Billy gave Tookie a handful of money and came over to sit with us while she placed their order.

"I gave her a twenty. Do you think I'll get any change?" he commented.

I just shook my head. Lisa snickered.

A few minutes later Toots struggled over with a tray containing two quadruple burgers, a couple of very large fry orders, and a couple of really huge Frosties. Plus a kid's meal and some kind of pie thingies.

"Child, there is no way you are going to eat one of those quadruple burgers. Not in a million years," I said.

"Yes I can, Poppy. Yup. I can do it. It's the American way!" Toots said cheerfully.

I looked at Lisa. Lisa said to Toots, "No,sweetie, you can't. It isn't good for you. Let Billy eat it. Perhaps he will leave all his money to you..."

Billy was aghast. "That's cold, Leece, that's real cold!" he exclaimed.

"True, though, if you keep that up," she kicked back, unabashedly, staring him right in the eye.

Tookie also stared him right in the eye, and asked, "Uncle Billy, will you really leave me all your money?"

He hung his head in typical kicked puppy fashion, and pushed the burgers away, nibbling on a fry instead.

"So what's your new idea?" I asked.

"Well, Poppy," said Tookie, taking on the role of corporate presenter, "do you remember how you used to tell us you were going to stick us by the side of the road with signs, 'We'll work for food', up in Denver when we'd go up there?"

Lisa got all squinty-eyed and stared me down.

"I was kidding...really...I was kidding..." I protested.

"You sound quite defensive for someone who was kidding," Lisa noted.

"Uhmmmm..."

"Well, Poppy, we're going to make up sign kits and sell them to kids around here. They can all stand out by Walmart!" Tookie went on, excitedly.

"Yeah! Yeah!" Billy took up the pitch, "Like, 'My daddy got laid off from pickles and I'll carry your Walmart bags for a quarter' or 'My daddy's in prison cuz he got caught stealing food after pickles laid him off' or things like that."

"We're going to call them 'Oliver Kits'!" Tookie shared, still excitedly.

"Or 'My daddy ran off with a floozy he picked up from (insert favorite local sleaze bar) and my mommy and baby sister are starving" she went on.

Lisa kind of choked on a fry. I thwacked her on the back. "You OK?" I asked. She nodded that she was.

"Oliver? What's Oliver Manufacturing to do with this?" I asked, puzzled.

"No. Not them, like, you know, from 'Oliver' the movie..." Toots continued.

"Though we might hit Oliver Manufacturing up for the packaging and kill two birds..." Billy ruminated creatively.

I looked at Lisa. Lisa looked at me.

We both went for a fry at the same time.

America. What a country. Capitalistic opportunity everywhere.

Another governmental tidbit...

Here is one sent to us by one of our spies, also relating to Our Government at Work:

++++++++++

You know they want to have a Stryker Brigade stationed at Fort Carson. Here is something Very interesting.

March 31, 2005

LEAKED REPORT: Stryker Armored Vehicle

For Immediate Release

Contact: Eric Miller at defense@pogo.org or Beth Daley at beth@pogo.org (202) 347-1122

An internal Army report, marked “For Official Use Only,” reveals that the Stryker Interim Armored Vehicle has been only 50 percent effective overall against Rocket Propelled Grenades during combat in Iraq, much less effective than what the Pentagon has publicly claimed.

According to the report: “Soldiers were briefed that slat armor would protect them against eight out of eleven strikes against Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) attacks…In the field, Soldiers say the slat armor is effective against half of the RPG attacks.”

The December, 2004 report was published by the Center for Army Lessons Learned based on a study conducted in Iraq from September 22 to October 19, 2004. Click here to view the report, Initial Impressions Report Operations In Mosul, Iraq which was obtained by POGO earlier this year.

The report said that the 5,000-pound improvised “slat” armor attached to the Stryker is failing to defend against two of the three types of RPG attacks that have been used against U.S. soldiers in Iraq -- primarily strikes by anti-personnel RPGs and anti-tank RPGs. When these two types of RPGs hit the vehicle, “the shrapnel continues to move through the slat and hits exposed personnel,” the report says.

Today’s Washington Post features a front-page story, "Study Faults Army Vehicle," on the report. In recent days, Inside the Army and CNN have reported on the document.

Some of the other conclusions of the study include:
The high-tech Stryker’s computer software is slowing and overheating in the extreme temperatures of Iraq. As a result, the Center said the vehicles need to be air-conditioned. The Army has approved adding air-conditioning to the vehicles, but funding has not yet been approved.


Stryker operators are not, but should be, trained before going to Iraq because the addition of the 5,000-pound “slat” armor to the vehicle significantly increases the circumference and weight of the Stryker, changing its performance. The slat armor also has reduced the vehicle’s off-road capabilities.


The Stryker’s primary offensive weapon system, a grenade launcher, does not hit targets when the vehicle is moving.


The slat armor’s extra weight is causing problems with the vehicle’s automatic tire pressure system, requiring crews to check tire pressure three times a day.


The Stryker brigade’s tires were designed primarily for off-road surfaces, but are often being driven on hard road surfaces. As a result, the brigade has been replacing tires at a rate of nine-per-day.
The Stryker, a $4 million-a-copy, eight-wheeled, 19-ton armored Army vehicle, was deployed in Mosul, Iraq beginning in late 2003, despite warnings by the Pentagon’s top independent tester, Thomas Christie , Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), that it was not thoroughly tested against RPGs. (click here to view the report.)

In January 2004, POGO revealed that Christie warned the Secretary of Defense that the vehicle should not be deployed in Iraq because it is vulnerable to rocket propelled grenades (Click here to view POGO's alert.) At that time, POGO also raised questions about the January 2000 hiring of former Army Lt. General David K. Heebner by General Dynamics Corp., and the subsequent award 11 months later of the $4 billion contract to General Dynamics to build the Stryker.

As a top assistant to Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, Heebner played a significant role in drumming up procurement funding and support for Shinseki's plan to transform the Army, which included the Stryker. In October 1999, only three months before Heebner retired, Shinseki's "Army Vision" statement called for an interim armored brigade: "We are prepared to move to an all-wheel formation as soon as technology permits." General Dynamics' primary competitor and an unsuccessful bidder for the Stryker contract, United Defense, primarily manufactures tracked, rather than wheeled, armored vehicles.

In meetings and conference calls with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, then Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Steve Cambone, and then Department of Defense Comptroller Dov Zackheim, attended by POGO staff, Rumsfeld and the others made it clear they were not interested in buying more than four brigades of Strykers. However, the Army and Congress were pushing twice that number – eight brigades, they said.

“The Army should not put inadequately tested equipment in the field, as it creates a false impression that the troops are properly equipped to fight in combat. The Army should speed up the process of deploying the proven M113’s armored personnel carriers that are sitting out of harm’s way while the Stryker is being showcased in Iraq,” said Senior Defense Investigator Eric Miller.

POGO investigates, exposes, and seeks to remedy systemic abuses of power, mismanagement, and subservience by the federal government to powerful special interests. Founded in 1981, POGO is a politically-independent, nonprofit watchdog that strives to promote a government that is accountable to the citizenry.

http://pogo.org/p/defense/da-050304-stryker.html

+++++++++++

Well...perhaps all those magnetic yellow ribbons showing support for the troops will help...