Bomb hoax extortions

A hoax alert for local businesses:

FBI Says Dillons Case Connected to Others

The Kansas City branch of the FBI is warning businesses in light of the Dillons attempted robbery Tuesday.

The FBI says it is similar to threatening phone calls received by banks in
Missouri and Rhode Island. In Newport, Rhode Island, a man called a Wal-Mart location at 7am. He gave a bomb threat and demanded that the bank there wire money to an account. The bank sent $10,000. Police were able to trace the account, and say the phone call came from out of state.

No one was injured, no money was paid and police found no bomb.

KAKE News has learned that the following cities had bomb threats at grocery
stores and Wal-Marts recently:

Phoenix, AZ
Detroit, MI
Orem, UT (Suburb of Salt Lake City)
Philadelphia, PA
Newport, RI
Savannah, MO
Millinocket, ME
Salem, VA
Unnamed Cities in New York and California

The FBI says the Hutchinson calls are likely linked to the other cases.

The FBI says that during the calls, the caller has demanded multiple overseas wire transfers to him or else has threatened to detonate a bomb that has been placed in the bank.

Police say the Hutchinson caller appeared to have visual access to the store. Police are trying to find whether the caller was out of state and may have hacked into the store's security system.

The Dillons in Hutch is also home to a bank location.

Agents say there has been no indication that the threat is real and under no circumstances should a bank or other business transfer funds to the caller.

On The Money Trail

There is another article in The Chieftain today, about Brother Ken and Pinon Canyon.

Salazar wants Pinon compromise

An excerpt:

"City officials and retired military officers made it clear Wednesday that they want U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., to support the expansion of Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, and Salazar gave them vague assurances that he was attempting to "fashion a way forward" that would somehow satisfy the Army's training needs as well as the ranchers opposed to the expansion."

Did you catch that 'retired military officers'? Remember the Money Trail articles in the fishwrapper? All those companies that are doing business with Fort Carson, the Army, and the Department of Defense?

If you look at the boards of directors of those companies, you will almost certainly find at least a couple of retired colonels or generals.

That's what they do, you see. They retire, and then they cash in all the contacts they made as senior officers, and grab themselves a fatcat position that pays well. What do they do in return? They work their own network, pressure politicians, and generally feather their own nests.

In other words, "Screw you Hicks from the Sticks."

Ken objects to the Pinon Canyon thing being portrayed as 'win or lose'.


Well, Ken, what else is it?

Are you going to have GMH toss us a bone? Build a bunch of houses down in Trinidad using local labor, and then work a contract using local labor for maintenance?

Are you going to have Wackenhut hire a bunch of security cops to drive aimlessly around the maneuver area?

Are you going to have the Army plant a bunch of trees along US 350? Maybe toss that contract Vanhook Market's way?

Do you really think that is going to make up for destroying the economy and ecology of southeastern Colorado?

I ask again, Senator...if this was happening over in the San Luis Valley, would you be so willing to 'compromise'?



We were down at The Barista. Leece had her laptop out and was doing her WiFi thing with her cohort.

I was feeling peevish. She was jousting with them over some of their more self-serving group re-validation exercises. She wouldn't let me make a few comments by proxy.

I was feeling peevish. On the other hand, she was doing a pretty good job of skewering them and the Prof was letting her have free rein.

Billy came in.

"Hey. Hey. S'up?"

He was much more subdued than he had been this morning. Obviously the caffeine and sugar had worn off and he was on the downslide.

"Leece won't let me play with the kids over Liberation Theology," I explained.

"Ah. Well, here's one for them. Apply Liberation Theology to the Christian Right in this country."

"Say what?" I asked.

"Consider the Christian Right the oppressors. Think Nehemiah Scudder. Some of those clowns aren't that far removed from Scudder. All they need is enough of an opening to shred the Constitution and we're there."

"Huh. You know, I have to agree with most of that. Historically, in this country the greatest threat to religious freedoms, to all freedoms, has come from Christians, not atheists. And people fled Europe to get away from one kind of Christian or another, not to get away from atheists."

"Yup," he said, "and the Scudder sagas point that out very well. How would you like to have a boss who claims to be a Christian, taking reprisal against employees who are either not Christians or not his type of Christians."

"Oh...I've seen that, in USAF and right here in The Smile Hi City," I told him, "but I was thinking more along the lines of these Repub congresscritters that are getting caught hanging out around the glory holes, or these megachurch pastors that are getting bagged with dope and gay sex, or getting caught screwing the choirmistress or whoever. There's a lot of 'do as I say but not as I do' in modern American Christianity."

"It's one of the reasons the churches are declining," he said, "You don't have to worry about the devil so long as you have some of these self-styled Christians on a righteous rampage. You know I hang out in Pebbler a lot, right?"


"Well, my 12 Step is right across the street from that big likker store on Elizabeth?"


"You wouldn't believe the number of people from here, from those churches that gasp in shock and dismay over the mere thought of booze, who shop there."

I thought about it a moment. "Yeah, I would," I said.

"You wouldn't believe the number of cars parked at night where they shouldn't oughta be," he said.

"Oh, sure I would. Any cop who's been on the street a week has that one figured out."

"Yet those same people will point fingers, castigate, and reprise against others in self-righteous indignation," he said.

He was right.

"So you're saying we can, we should, apply a form of Liberation Theology in dealings with those people?"

"Yes," he agreed, "Certainly. They are after all, the real threat."

Leece's laptop chimed its shutdown song. She closed the lid. "You two rocket scientists about done?" she asked.

"Uh...yeah. Hey. What do you think about Scudder?"

"I agree with you. The biggest threat is not atheists, but the self-righteous and self-proclaimed 'Christian' who will bludgeon the rest of us into his belief system. Atheists are not the threat. Some of our 'Christian brethren' are far worse."

"Hey. Hey. You wanna chocolate mint frappie?"

Leece hesitated.

"Resistance is few-tile..." I intoned, in my best Borg mecho-voice. She was hooked and she knew it. Leece cannot resist a chocolate mint frappie.

She threw up her hands in surrender.

The frappies were most excellent.

A Liberating Experience

We were sitting again at Quickee's in The Holy Land, having a cappie...well...Leece was having a cappie, it's still too hot out for me. I was knocking back a diet Dr. Pepper on the rocks.

Leece was reading her next essay assignments.

"Hey! Hey! Wutcha reedin', Leece!" Billy hollered as he skidded up to the table.

"Some very interesting essays on Liberation Theology," she replied, sipping a bit of cappie.

"Liberation Theology! My kinda stuff!" Billy was very exuberant this morning. "Them Jesuits really get the papal knickers in a twist with that stuff. I love them Jesuits!"

"Benedict seems to have loosened up a bit over the issue," I said, "Not much, but a little."

"Nah. You gotta remember the Pope is part of the power structure. The power structure is never gonna support somethin' like liberation theology. They'll always find some biblical twist to get around it."

"So you also see Christ not only as The Redeemer but also as The Liberator of the Oppressed?" Leece asked.

"You betcha. C'mon. 'Do unto others' and 'Love yer neighbor' is at the heart of it. Every totalitarian regime from the Pharaoic Dynasties to Manuel Noriega and Fee-dell have trampled 'do unto others' and 'Love yer neighbor' into the mud. It's yer Christian duty to resist! If not with a Bible, then with an AK if that's what it takes!"

He did have a point.

"Hey. Hey. I hear ya did good on your feminista paper for Perfesser Oord. Ya gonna post it? I think ya should post it to Yabut!"

Leece buried her nose in her papers.

"Hey! Hey! Is she blushing? Is she? Huh? Huh?"

"Billy. Dude. Calm down, man. How come you're so...up...this morning?" I asked.

"I bin over in Pebbler. I had some 'spresso. Then I had a cuppla Mountain Dews along the way! And one of Christine's cinnamon rolls in Rocky Vegas!"

That explained a lot.

"Actually, Leece, you really should think about posting some of your stuff. I rather liked that Feminista Paper," I added to the mix.

Leece just rolled her eyes - most delightfully, I might add - as she got up and gathered her stuff.

"OK, hotshots, let's hit the road. We have things to do today," she said, uncompromisingly.

"Man. Whatever happened to keepin' 'em in the kitchen or the laundry room?" Billy asked, grinning somewhat maniacally.

"Keep it up and you may find out about Liberation Theology first hand, Billy," Leece told him, as she snugged up her backpack and hopped on her Tassie.

I just kind of shrugged at Billy as I followed along.

A fight to the death along The Money Trail

There is another Pinon Canyon article in the Chieftain:

Ranchers thank Salazar for Pinon Canyon stand, urge his brother to follow

Here is an excerpt:

"But ultimately, the Army's answer has been that it is too expensive to ship Fort Carson soldiers elsewhere for training and the Army's decision to base an additional 10,000 troops at Fort Carson is linked to the future expansion of Pinon Canyon. The Army has said that expanding Fort Carson and Pinon Canyon will mean an additional $500 million in economic activity to the Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Canon City areas.

"Those dollars have been thrown in our face," rancher Steve Wooten said derisively, "and we know exactly which communities they would help."

"And which they would destroy," Salazar replied, adding that the Army has been completely unresponsive to his requests for information about alternatives to expanding Pinon Canyon."

There ya go. It is about the money. It's about the high-paying jobs up in El Paso County, and in Pueblo County, and over in Canon City. It's the Front Range communities saying to southeastern Colorado, "Screw you buddy, I got mine!"

And it's about the votes that go with the money. 350,000 votes in El Paso County alone, compared to little more than 40,000 in the six southeastern counties most affected.

What's really needed is for some rare lizard or frog or fish to be discovered down in the canyons. Nothing stops an Abrams like a High Plains Guppy or whatever.

Then we have this:

""I can assure you that as long as I am in Congress, that I will fight to the death to make sure you keep your land," Salazar, a San Luis Valley potato farmer, told the crowd of about 60 ranchers and family members. They gave him a loud ovation."

Ooooookay...I can understand the strong emotion all this generates, and forgive Brother John a little rhetoric...but hey...if he chains himself to a rock in front of an Abrams or a Bradley, can I take the pictures?


The Creation

Toots and I were sitting there at The Barista, waiting for Leece to come over for lunch. While we were perusing the menu, Billy wandered in. He has a nose for lunch, does our Billy.

"Hey! Hey!" he hollered, "wutcha reedin?" That last was directed at Tookie, who was also reading the essays from Leece's last assignment.

"More of that feminista stuff," she said.

"What? Are you being corrupted too?" Billy was righteously upset.

"Actually, no. I'm just applying common sense to it all," she said, "like, the version of man's creation in Genesis is clearly a product of cultural bias. Man was formed not out of the dust, but out of the patriarchal prejudices of ancient middle-Eastern tribal society."

"Yeah, Billy," I chimed in, "woman was formed as a Biblical afterthought, a secondary being no matter how anyone tries to smooth it out in today's 'feel good' and politically correct world. This not only reflects those patriarchal prejudices, but reinforces their existence."

Billy grinned. No literalist, he loved to joust with those who are. He doesn't view them as having been at the head of the line when brains were handed out.

"Oh, I agree with that," he said, "we talked about that in some detail during my semesters at Asbury, just before I went to Oxford. The creation of man in Genesis flies against hard biological and genetic fact. In his chapter on Masculinity in "The Church Impotent", Leon J. Podles talks about 'the female being the norm from which the male must be differentiated'. This is not some New Age drivel; it is biological and genetic fact. Podles goes on to note that it is typical of any mammalian species. It is easily observable in the fetal development. All embryos will develop into a female if not stimulated to do otherwise."

I agreed: "I particularly like Podles' statement that 'the male is expendable'. In the sense of survival of the species, that is certainly true. In the grand scheme of carrying the species forward, the male's role is to engage in a bit of well-lubricated friction and the spasmodic release of a bit of fluid. After that, he can hang around, or not. With some species, he is killed and eaten by his erstwhile spouse. In fact, ask any human male who has gone through a divorce what it was like, and that's the story you'll get, albeit in a figurative sense."

Tookie snickered at that. Sometimes her obnoxious precociousness is particularly...obnoxious.

"One might argue that in more primitive societies, the male was necessary to provide continued protection for the impregnated female. That is without merit. Other females are fully capable of protecting and nurturing gravid females. The view of Woman as defenseless and unsuited for combat is a cultural myth, and I would go so far as to state that is insulting as well," she added to the conversation.

We paused to order. I put in for one of those Perfect Chicken sandwiches for Leece.

Tookie went on, "Genetically, maternal mitochondrial DNA drives the species. Paternal mtDNA is discarded by the egg cell. Only one case of paternal mtDNA being passed on to offspring has been documented, and that was in a case having to do with infertility issues. We can trace individuals back through hundreds of generations by mtDNA, maternally. Of course, this drives the Biblical literalists nuts. One of my favorite cartoons is of three pastors sitting in a pew, in a parody of the three monkeys (an apt twist on Darwin) playing "see no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil". I often wonder...in order to be a pastor, or a 'Christian', must one check one's brain at the church door?"

Billy picked up the thread: "So there we are. Once one can shed one's Sunday School-driven biases and ignorances, it's very clear that the Biblical description of man's creation is metaphoric at best. It doesn't fit the biology. So who created the biology? Who created that wonder that is the human genome? God? That works for me. It works a lot better for me than the Biblical version. Why doesn't God's creation match the biology? Because the story is a product of cultural bias, told by an ancient patriarchal tribe with absolutely no knowledge of biology or genetics."

Leece had come in and had been listening. "So are the translations of the original texts," she said, "in their original languages, a product not only of cultural bias, but political bias as well. The Italians have stated it correctly with that little gem, "Traduttore, Traditore"...'The translator is a traitor'. So let's again stipulate, this time, that the translations are corrupt. One of the men in my cohort, a young pastor seems willing to accept that, but at the same time, he seems to have the wind up over 'the words of Christ' in the same biblical versions. Can't mess with those, he says."

"Like...dude!" Billy exclaimed, "In the NIV? In the KJV? The rest of the translation is doubtful but let's not mess with some English translation of the Words of Christ? Hah. Traduttore, Traditore..."

"Christ was the master of the allegory, the metaphor, and the sardonic," I tossed out, "he had a wonderfully sardonic sense of humor, especially when dealing with Pharisees. That's part of the revealing human factor of Jesus the Man."

Our sandwiches arrived. We sorted things out, got everything arranged, and dug in. After a few moments of thoughtful mastication, Tookie said, " "Some people don't like a sense of humor. Early churchmen seemed a notoriously humorless lot. Most of 'em weren't overly bright, either, though there are some notable exceptions to that. Kind of like today."

Billy nodded agreement, and added, "Ah well. The bottom line is this. Women are secondary to man. They play second fiddle, and get the scraps that men leave. That's not God's will. I do not believe that this is what God intended. It is a man-made societal artifact. Men's roles and women's roles evolved based on the non-technologically enhanced environment in which they lived. If wimmin didn't like it, slap some sense into 'em and kick 'em back into the kitchen where they belong. That's a man-made societal artifact, and that's the way it is in spite of all the politically correct platitudes mumbled to the contrary. It isn't God's will. It's a crock, is what it is."

Tookie giggled, and observed, "Relieve Moses of his 'staff' (in a manner of speaking) and all you have is another cranky old fart wandering around in the desert, too stupid to ask directions. Any one of the women in the company would have asked God straight up, rather than engaging in all that wandering aimlessly about...literally, and spiritually. Those Hebrews really exasperated God, I think. I also think I'd like some ice cream after this most excellent wrap."

"Don't talk with your mouth full, young lady, " Leece cautioned, "and I think I'll have some of that blueberry cheesecake ice cream if they have it."

The Latest Federal Government Village Idiot

From the Washington Times:

Border Patrol chief rejects mission against aliens, drugs

An excerpt:

"I've said it before and I'll say it again," Carlos X. Carrillo, Border Patrol chief of Laredo, Texas, told guests at a town-hall meeting Thursday. "The Border Patrol's job is not to stop illegal immigrants. The Border Patrol's job is not to stop narcotics. ... The Border Patrol's mission is not to stop criminals.

Political winds...

"Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'."

Bob Dylan was on down at The Barista. Tookie was snuffling Blue Bunny chocolate with a 'spresso syrup drenching it. Leece was reading her next class assignment. Billy was reading the latest reports from The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission.

"Hey. Hey. So wuzzup with the southern bypass route?" he asked. "Has the city changed its position on that?"

"It depends on what meeting you're attending and who's there," Tookie explained, "Some people just can't seem to get their minds around the fact that the current system of running a major four lane highway though Podunks with 35 mile per hour and slower bottle necks is not doing much for economic development."

"Yeah. Yeah. All that happens is that traffic diverts to other surface routes," Billy observed.

"Yes. And The Smile Hi City then continues to become one of those "Less Traveled Roads".

"But summa them guys on the Planning Council seemed to have their wits about 'em?" Billy asked.

"Sure," Toots continued,"They seem to realize that just can't sit there and whine. All this stuff - tourism, downtown development, all of it, is going to play on how much traffic comes into town from the highway. If we all just sit on our butts and wish for the impossible - running four lanes of high speed traffic through Podunk - we'll become the subject of another Rascal Flatts' song."

Bob Dylan was into his "...blowin' in the wind" routine.

'I thought we talked about this once before," Leece said, "Something about the US Highway 70 project back in the late '60's."

"Yep," I said, "That's the one that bypassed everything between Raleigh and Morehead City. Beach traffic was so bad, so bottlenecked, that the tourists were starting to head for every other beach from Virginia to South Carolina."

"So tell me again," Tookie demanded.

"Well, they did bypass the towns. But those towns that saw the handwriting on the wall started working their attractions, building up that which would bring in some of that traffic off 70. In the 40 years since the highway was reconstructed, those towns have done remarkably well, much more so than they had been."


"It turned out to be, in the final analysis, quite simple. Say you have a thousand cars per hour driving through town. They have to slow from 65 to 35 or slower. And they back up. They get so aggravated at the brainlessness of Podunk's city government they promise they'll never come this way again. But even then you'll have some cars stop, just to use the bathroom and maybe get a soda. Let's arbitrarily, for the sake of argument, say 10 percent stop. That's a hundred cars."

"Yeah? Yeah? And then what?" Billy asked.

"But then you open up the highway, and now you have five thousand cars per hour going by just outside the town," Leece chipped in, "but the Podunk city government has pulled its collective head out of wherever they had it stuck, and local business, usually through the Chamber of Commerce - you two stop laughing - has built up attractions...say you still only have ten percent come into town, but now, you have five hundred cars stopping. And doing more."

"Yeah, but all those little old blue-hairs that didn't want that are not happy, right?"

"Right. Politics. Do you pander to them, or do you do what needs to be done. The answer, my friends, is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind..." Leece grinned at us.

"It's more complicated than that, of course,"chipped in Tookie, who closed her "Federal Highway Administration Consumer Handbook", "so it would be nice if we had people in office who could understand such things.

Rascal Flatts came on with "Fast Cars and Freedom".



Most of us have been following with considerable interest the recent thievery case.

It's a perfect example of betrayal of trust.

It's a perfect example of greed and stupidity.

It's a perfect example of how some people try to cover things up in the hopes that the public will be too stupid to notice what's happening.

It's a perfect example of how some people try to save themselves public embarrassment, while in fact they are too stupid themselves to understand that all they are doing is further undermining trust in the organization.

I am speaking, of course, of the recent doings of Mike Zaremba and his thievery ...alleged thievery...of public funds at the Walking Stick golf course.

According to this morning's Chieftain, "...court records of the indictment that resulted in felony charges of theft, forgery of checks or commercial instruments and criminal impersonation against Mike Zaremba, 53, remain sealed...".


Here is a glimmer as to why: In yesterday's Chieftain the Pueblo DA was taken to task by a reader who feels that by making a public arrest, the DA was 'grandstanding'. The writer of the letter feels that Mr. Zaremba should have been given the opportunity to 'surrender' rather than be taken in cuffs.

Why? 'To save the city embarrassment'.

What horsecrap. The reason is to save the morons who should have been conducting oversight of the Walking Stick operation. It goes back to that old military adage, 'for the good of the unit.' Any time I ever heard that you could bet that one of the biggies, some colonel or a favorite of the colonel had been caught with his zipper down or his finger in the till or just generally screwing the pooch, and it was all being 'handled' to spare the colonel and his stooges embarrassment.

How can the public be expected to trust an organization that sweeps under the rug? That is more concerned about 'embarrassment' rather than demonstrating to the public, to the membership of the organization - Walking Stick in this case - that they can be trusted to handle their funds again in the future? Would you trust such an organization with your tax dollars? I would not.

Only a Pollyanna-ish idiot would...or someone with a stake in the operation, and that, given the lack of openness, lack of honesty, and lack of trust implicit in the letter writer's view, is really the problem.

The writer of that letter is dead wrong. If the writer of the letter is on the Walking Stick board of directors, or an elected official, all he has done with his letter is demonstrate that he is unfit to hold the public trust, and that he should be removed forthwith from that office, either by dismissal or recall.


Brother John

There's another good article in this morning's Chieftain:

Rep. Salazar seeks support on Pinon Canyon

An excerpt:

"Rep. John Salazar remains "hopeful" that his brother, Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, will ultimately decide to support a yearlong moratorium on the Army's plans to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site when Congress resumes work in September.

"He hasn't told me 'no' and I am hopeful that he will ultimately support our legislation," John Salazar, the 3rd District Democrat, said Monday. "Believe me, I intend to keep working on him. Ken is still hoping there is a middle ground, but I don't think there is." "

There ya go. No middle ground. How can there be? The Army can be a meat grinder, in more ways than one. Despite some significant changes instituted within the Army concurrently with the end of the war and the beginnings of the all-volunteer force, there are still some sleazebag careerists who will do anything and go along with anything to get that eagle or get that star...or get another star.

There is no middle ground on Pinon Canyon. The sooner Brother Ken realizes that, the better off we will all be. The sooner some of our local politicans realize that there is no middle ground, and re-think climbing into the sack with the Army over this, the better off we will all be.

It has nothing to do with national defense. It has nothing to do with the 'crown jewels'. It has nothing to do with selling out and running before the Army moves in. It has nothing to do with scarfing up on real estate or other financial jockeying.

It has to do with what is right for the people; it has to do with resisting the government when the government is flat wrong.

“We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately."

When he said that in response to John Hancock's "There must be no pulling different ways: we must all hang together." Ben Franklin had something different in mind, but in the context of the economics of the region, it certainly applies to our situation here in southeast Colorado. The Army is wrong. Ken is wrong. The sooner they realize it, and the sooner they realize that, the better off we will all be.


H.I.S Puppets

La Junta's First Church of the Nazarene at 10th and Topeka is hosting the H.I.S Puppet Team this Saturday evening. The show begins in the church's Family Life Center at 7:00 PM, Saturday, August 25. There is no charge for the show.

There will be another show at Church in the Park at 10:00, Sunday, August 26.

For more info:

Church in the Park

More on the Puppeteers:

H.I.S. Puppeteers


The MSM Strikes Again

Proof that US forces are shooting up Shi'ite homes in Iraq:

An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her house following an early coalition forces raid in the predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City. At least 175 people were slaughtered on Tuesday and more than 200 wounded when four suicide truck bombs targeted people from an ancient religious sect in northern Iraq, officials said.

The photo is taken from this series from Reuters, AP, and other MainStream Media sources:

Iraq Photos

What's wrong with the picture? What did US Forces do? Throw the cartridges at her house? They are unfired cartridges, not 'bullets'.


"Get over it..."

Leece and I were sitting there at Quickee's, taking a quiet moment before starting another day in the simmering, steamy cauldron of emotion and intrigue that is...The Smile Hi City...

Billy came buzzing up on his Ghisallo. He fetched himself a cappie and plunked his somewhat odiferous butt down at the table, across from us.

"Wutcha reedin'?" he asked Leece.

"An introductory essay to my next course. It starts Monday," she replied.

"Wutzit?" he asked.


"What...is...the...name...of...the...course?" he enunciated, rather slowly.

"Readings in Western Spirituality," Leece told him, "the professor is Thomas J. Oord."

"Young feller? Writes a lot for 'Science and Theology News?"

"Yes. That's him."

"You gotcher hands full, Leece."

"Yes, Billy, I know." There was a slight tinge of exasperation to her tone, "Don't tell me you had him for some of your classes way back when."

"Nope. He's a kid. I remember him as a snot-nosed kid. He ast lotsa questions. Innerestin' feller. Wutcha reedin'?"

"An Evangelical Feminist Confronts the Goddess," she said, with the air of one who had just popped a high fly to center field, going far, far back toward the fence.

Billy got a little goggle-eyed and kind of ducked down while snuffling his cappie.

"So, Billy, how 'bout them Broncos?" I asked.

"I don't watch the Broncos. Wuts she doin', reedin' stuff by...feminists?"

"All part of the program, dude, all part of the program."

"Sounds, like, you know, summa that touchie-feelie New Age stuff," he sniffed, somewhat disdainfully.

"You'll have to read the essay, Billy. You've jumped to a wrong conclusion," Leece interjected.

"So basically you're telling me, 'Get over it'?" he asked.


"That's a bad attitude you know," he observed.

Leece put her paper down and we gave him our undivided attention.

"That's part of what's killin' The Smile Hi City," he went on, "that 'Get over it' thing. It's the most selfish, self-absorbed, most brainless comment I've heard in years."

"Really." This from Leece.

"Sure. You always hear it when some twit is screwin' over someone else, one way or another, and that someone else objects. Like, 'Hey, neighbor, you know, that dog of yours kept us up all night again. Would you do something about it?' and the reply from the neighbor is usually a couple of expletive deleteds and 'Get over it!'."

He had a point.

"It's become a hallmark of life in The Smile Hi City. You know, that Ron Davis feller mentioned Doyle Davidson the other day, and some of the things ol' Doyle had done back in the old days?"


"Yeah. Where would we all be if guys like ol' Doyle had that 'blow it out yer butt and git over it' attitude about quality of life things here in the La Junta-Swink metroplex?"

"I see where you are going with this," Leece said, "like, if Doyle and his contemporaries had been more interested in special watering restriction exemptions, for example, and telling the people to shove it where the moon don't shine over stuff like nonsensical pit bull ordinances rather than moving the city forward, why, we'd just be another dried up municipal tumbleweed on the Highway of Life."

We both sat there looking at her. That 'shove it where the moon don't shine' was certainly something different. Leece deliberately mangling grammar? Making political statements? What was going on?

"Ummm...how's things at work, Leece?" Billy asked.

"Going well. Busier'n a one-armed paper-hanger decoratin' the halls for the Democratic National Convention," she tossed back.

Billy and I gave each other puzzled glances.

"We're short of reporters," she said, "and the guys who do the layouts and such work are pretty much living at the office, and getting every issue out is like charging up a hill with fixed bayonets. But it's fun."

"Hah. I think maybe your proofreader went back down the hill," Billy snickered.

"Want a job, Billy?" Leece challenged.

Billy thought about it.

"You gots any a them stringer contracts in yer bag there with the leftie-liberal feminist stuff?" he challenged back.

"Come by the office, homedog, come by the office," she told him.

Homedog? I was staying out of this one.

Billy glanced at his Rolex. The one he got on that long-ago R and R to Hong Kong. From the highly reputable Rolex dealer on the street corner in Kowloon. "I gots ta go," he said, "I got an appointment with my broker in Pebbler at 11."

So with the usual parting shots, we went our separate ways.


"It doesn't take a rocket scientist..."

So says John Singletary, Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District chairman, about driving along US 50 and seeing the stark effects of the water 'deals' cut over the last couple of decades.

Here is the story from the Chieftain: Lower Ark set to sue over Aurora deal

and here is Singletary's comment:

“We’re on the edge,” Singletary said. “Drive down U.S. 50 through Rocky Ford and look what’s happened. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why it’s happened.”

He is, of course, talking about the weed-filled real estate...some of it is being irrigated rather heavily so as to force some kind of grain/grass growth, but our local range consultant tells us that if irrigation ceases, it will go back to weeds quickly.

Sell the water, cut and run, and leave the Valley twisting in the wind.

Get over it, I guess.


Wake Up Call

The Tigers have been taken to task for jogging through the residential areas of the city, early in the morning, shouting "Mighty Mighty Tigers!" and so on, apparently waking people up.

There has been a complaint about this.

So...is the complainant being unreasonable? Steeped in the juice of sour grapes? Lacking school and community spirit?

Perhaps. Most people seem to think so.

However, there are those who do not think the complainant is being unreasonable.

You see, there is more to it than just a lack of school spirit. It seems rather rude and thoughtless to just blow off the complaint like that. A person who has been up all night working at one of The Smile Hi City's many high paying jobs probably has a different view. A mother who has been up all night with a croupie baby told me "...whoever wakes up my baby after I've been up all night is due a serious whuppin'..." and for those standing watch over a terminally ill family member...well...'school spirit' is not real high on the 'happy faces' list, and none of those people are terribly concerned that the Oblivious are upset with them. It seems that the complainant certainly has the right to the same attitude of indifference that the noisemakers and their supporters have about the complainant.

Those who blow off such complaints are really missing something. Perhaps the kids might be made aware of this? Would it do any good? Does it even matter to anyone? Or is waking people up in the morning in thoughtless exuberance the more important consideration?


What's in a name?

I was standing on a corner, but not in Winslow, Arizona. I was right here in The Smile Hi City. I was eagle-watching.

Billy came huffing and puffing up on his new Ghisallo. It gleamed in the sun.

"Hey! Hey! Howsitdoon?" he asked, as he discreetly adjusted his Speedo, which drew a snicker from a couple of passing young ladies.

"Pretty good. Did you see the eagles yesterday? There were three young ones hanging around over the area between City Park and the library."

"Nope. I wuz busy writin' letters to that pastor down in Texas. The one in that High Life church."

"High Point. 'High Life' is the Miller beer. You want that guy to vapor lock, maybe even have some sort of theological crisis and start babbling in tongues, you just link him to Demon Beer."

Billy guffawed at the thought. "I think I'll do it. Just cuz I can."

"But seriously," he continued, "wutzup with these so-called 'Christians'. They act more like Pharisees than the Pharisees. Remember that preacher here in Antelope Central wut was aghast over the thought of a real Christian pastor joinin' hands with 'non-Christians'? Now they gots that Joel Osteen brother or cousin or whatever is ree-jectin' vets cuz they ain't got the right connections and are probably sinners. Like there ain't no sinners in that church?"

"But Billy, there are certain sins, like adultery, drug use, murder, rape, child molesting, theft, wife-beating, and probably more that are acceptable to Christians. All you have to do is get caught at them, then tearfully repent once you've been caught, and everyone will pray for you and all will be well and then when the time comes they'll give you one of those 'Christian' burials. But if a gay person, even one who has served in wartime to defend the freedoms those so-called 'Christians' enjoy, has the poor taste to die and even poorer taste to ask for a memorial service, why, those 'Christians' are going to recoil in righteous horror and turn that person away."

"Would Jesus do that"? Billy asked.

"Interesting question. How many times have we seen that on church signs, 'What would Jesus do?"

"Huh. Huh. Well I know what Jesus would do. It's right there in the story of Jesus and the woman at the well, and a lot of other places, too. My question is, why won't Christians?"

"It kind of explains why Christian churches are having such a hard time getting people to attend, doesn't it? Who in his right mind would buy into such self-serving and self-righteous hypocrisy? And then there is Mary Magdalene...betcha she's thanking her lucky stars she doesn't have to rely on 'Christians'."

"Pharisees. Nothin' but modern day Pharisees. Hey. Hey. Speakin' a sins, you don't even have ta repent!"


"No. If you have enough clout, you can get away with it. No one will say anything. A variation on 'Don't ask, don't tell'. How many times have you seen some slimebag planted with all the whistles, bells, exhortations, blessings, bible-thumpin', and even a passle a weepin' an no one dares bring up the scumbaggery?"

"Good point. Hey, there's a better word than 'Pharisees', you know. More up to date and modern."


"Yeah. 'Pricks'."

Billy snorted like a love-struck whitetail. "You ain't gonna change no minds, ya know."

"Yup. However, I'd highly recommend they take a read of C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce" before they get too secure in the knowledge they are all goin' to heaven."

"Hey. Hey. That's a good story. Hey. I gots ta go. I gots ta be in my 12 Step in Pebbler in a couple of hours." And with that, he took off down towards First Street.

I went back to looking for eagles.


Eagles over La Junta

During the lunch hour I was looking at some Mississippi kites. The kites are pretty thick this year.

I was looking at what I thought was a kite till I noticed the shape of its wings was off, and then I noticed that it was much higher than the kites, meaning that it was actually a much larger bird. With no reference points and the brightness of the sun, it was hard to pick up on this at first. This one was over 7th and Colorado:

Yup. It's a juvenile Bald Eagle. This one has the white head of an adult but has not yet fully transitioned to adult colors in the body.

From American Bald Eagle Information

"Eagles molt in patches, taking almost half a year to replace feathers, starting with the head and working downward. Not all feathers are replaced in a given molt. Until the bald eagle is mature, the replacement feathers are of different colors. As adults, the belly and back are dark, while the head is pure white. The distinct juvenile pattern, signaling that a bird is not ready to breed, may reduce aggression from territorial adults.

As bald eagles age, their eyes and beak gradually turn yellow. The white hood and tail feathers grow in sometime in their fourth year."

"Jesus wept..."

The self-styled "Christians" are at it again.

Texas Megachurch Cancels Memorial for Gay Navy Vet

This time, the Highpoint megachurch down in Arlington, Texas, had agreed to do a memorial service for Cecil Sinclair, a Navy vet. While there is some dispute as to whether the church knew that Sinclair was also gay in addition to having served the nation, protecting the Highpoint church's rights and freedoms, the pastor there insists that they were unaware of Sinclair's 'gayness'.

And so they refused to hold the service:

"Simons said the church believes homosexuality is a sin, and it would have appeared to endorse that lifestyle if the service had been held there."

Homosexuality, according to the Bible, is considered a sin. So are a lot of other things, none of which have ever stopped a church from holding a memorial service.

Is this what Christianity is about?

Perhaps Pastor Simons can give us a list of church-sanctioned and otherwise approved sins for which Christ died.

What a self-righteous horse's ass. Perhaps the Highpoint church should form an alliance with that other paragon of Christian virtue, the Westboro Baptist Church:

God Hates Fags


"Vast distances..."

There is a good editorial in the Chieftain this morning:
Pinon Canyon

An excerpt:

"The Base Realignment and Closure Commission, or BRAC, recommended closing Fort Hood, Texas, and moving its five brigades, each with about 3,500 troops, to Fort Carson. Last week, Maj. Gen. Robert Mixon, outgoing commander of the Mountain Post, demonstrated to a Pueblo audience why the Army thinks it can justify expansion of Pinon Canyon.

He overlaid a to-scale map of Fort Carson and Pinon Canyon over a map of Iraq to show the vast distance soldiers are covering in that country. The Army also has said it will use Fort Carson and Pinon Canyon to train all Army Reserves and Army National Guard troops based west of the Mississippi."

Vast distances? C'mon, Gen'rul Bob. "Vast distances" is the Pacfic War back during World War II. "Vast distances" is fighting the Red Army on the other side of the Urals. Or on the plains of Kursk.

Iraq is about the size of California. I'll grant you that the 405 can seem like a "vast distance", but let's get a grip, how about it.

Fort Hood is in Texas. Central Texas with west Texas just to the...uh...west. Now there's some "vast distances" for you. And the Army wants to close Fort Hood. Why? Did the congresscritter from that district upset the Bush administration and this is payback, kind of like the US attorney firings? What's the real story here?

And the article goes on:

"So, like Sen. Salazar, we are mindful of the economic consequences that need to be addressed by the Pentagon. The Department of Defense must be willing to guarantee it can enhance the economy of the region if it is going to take large swaths of land out of production."

Uh huh. "Guarantee?" The only thing DoD can "guarantee" is that the higher ups won't be prosecuted with the same fervor as the lower ranks when things go belly up in the press.

But it's OK. Susan Pieper is "at peace" following her "spiritual" experience with the Army down at Pinon Canyon. After that nice bit of editorial work I'm sure we can all rest easier. And Ken Salazar continues his Political Polka while local Democrats gush and schmooze.

I wonder who's buying up real estate down around Trinidad. You know, the kind that can be rented to soldiers.


God's Warriors

CNN is having a special series entitled "God's Warriors":

God's Warriors

hosted by Christiane Amanpour.

Colorado Senators Flout Democracy...

Well, it looks like not everyone shares Jake's view of all the 'super things' that Ken Salazar has done for southeastern Colorado:

PCEOC / Not 1 More Acre!
Colorado Senators Flout Democracy on Piñon Canyon Plan

Allard Proposal Offers False Protection to SE Colorado

Army Issues EIS Decision Confirming Transformation Project

For immediate release
August 10, 2007
For more information or to arrange
interviews, contact: Jean Aguerre, 719-252-5145
Hugh Lamberton, 303-748-9099

KIM, Colorado (Friday, August 10)-New compromises proposed by Senators Wayne Allard and Ken Salazar over Pentagon efforts to triple the size of the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeastern Colorado offer no protection to local communities or the region's agricultural economy, opponents of the expansion plan said today.

President of the Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition Lon Robertson said that attempts by Senators Allard and Salazar to restrict the use of eminent domain but to allow the expansion to proceed would guarantee generational family ranchlands are eventually swallowed up by the military.

"The senators' proposals seem designed to allow the expansion plan to generate so much momentum that it will be impossible to stop," Mr. Robertson said. "Yet there is no case for the expansion and many compelling arguments against it - economic, environmental, scientific, social and cultural. The time to end this thing is now."

According to Malcolm Murray, an attorney with 30 years' experience in the condemnation field, including the acquisitions that created the existing PCMS in 1983, moving ahead with the expansion now will make condemnation in the future inevitable.

"While Allard and Salazar may write a policy, or even legislation, that says no condemnation now, the Army will eventually have to use condemnation if it is going to make effective use of the land it does buy voluntarily," Mr. Murray said.

"Voluntary acquisition will result in some owners selling and others holding on to their land. The Army needs a large block of contiguous land for training purposes."

"So what is most likely is that the Army will buy as much land as it can voluntarily, and then condemn those intervening ownerships as necessary to fit its training needs. The only realistic way to prevent condemnation is to halt funding for all aspects of the expansion."

The Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition received confirmation today that Sen. Allard is planning to introduce legislation in the Senate that would affect the use of eminent domain in the expansion plan. Sen. Salazar made a similar suggestion during a visit to Trinidad this week.

Also today, the Army issued its Record of Decision regarding the Piñon Canyon Transformation Environmental Impact Statement process, confirming its single-minded determination to go ahead with the massive upgrade and "transformation" of the existing 238,000-acre maneuver site.

"Opposition to the Pentagon's plan has been overwhelming and bipartisan at every level - community, county, state and national," Mr. Robertson said. "What Colorado's senators should be doing is heeding the will of the people by ending any and all funding for any and all aspects of the expansion."

"And what achieves that is the language authored by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-4th CD), supported by Rep. John Salazar (D-3rd CD) and adopted overwhelmingly by both Republicans and Democrats in the US House of Representatives in June. "

"The senators don't need to waste time creating new language when the two House members who represent the area at the epicenter of the Pentagon plan - and who sit on the House Agricultural Committee - have already delivered a bill that protects the integrity of the regional and state agricultural economy."

"Senators Allard and Salazar have been backing this expansion for years, even introducing legislation last year designed to short-circuit the EIS process and jumpstart the acquisition of land. Instead of ignoring the strong democratic opposition to expansion, it's time that Colorado's senators fell into line."

Mr. Robertson said the Musgrave-Salazar language also protects the important cultural history and archaeological and ancient paleontological treasures preserved in the region's unspoiled grasslands, rivers and canyons. In addition, the grasslands bioregion, a system functioning in equilibrium, is recognized as an important form of carbon storage.

Opposition to the expansion plan has support from across the nation - wildlife advocates, school children and school boards, historical groups, conservationists, Indian Nations, archaeological societies, cattlemen's groups, private property rights groups, labor unions, religious groups, counties, cities, towns, museums, climate scientists and farmers.

"A majority of state lawmakers and Congressional representatives, all 14 southern Colorado county commissions, and the people of Colorado agree there should be no expansion and no money spent on the expansion of the Piñon Canyon site," Mr. Robertson said.

Not 1 More Acre!
PO Box 137
Kim, Colorado 81049

Sister organizations working for the people, wildlife and places of southeastern Colorado.



Spirtuality and Crown Jewels

"Hey.Hey. Didja see the latest by that Peeper woman over in Rocky Vegas?" asked Billy, as we sat in front of Quickee's watching the world go by.

"It's 'Pieper', Billy, and yes, we did see it," Leece replied.

"The one where she had a spiritual experience down in Pinon Canyon and is now 'at peace'?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. And how she gushed about her fellow spiritual travelers were talking about how the Army lets the land 'rest' after training cycles?" he went on.

"I thought that was a pile of...well, I thought it was a bit over the top on an emotional level," I tossed in.

"Yeah. Yeah. When I was in the Army we was really good at givin' people 'spiritual' experiences, but they was permanent," Billy observed, "and I expect there's any number of Jihadists who will agree that the Army has just gotten better at it since then."

"The Army giving the land a 'rest' between training cycles was also a bit over the top," I continued,"considering this is an ecosystem that still shows wagon tracks a century and a half after the wagons passed through here."

"Not only did she miss the boat, I think she fell off the dock," Billy snickered.

"She does that a lot."

"Hey. Hey. So Brother Ken thinks Colorado is a 'crown jewel' in national defense?" Billy changed the subject.

"I think it's more like he wants to make Colorado a 'crown jewel'," I replied.

"Yeah. Yeah. You wanna see crown jewels, take a look at North Carolina, Texas, and California," Billy said, "shoot, eastern North Carolina alone keeps the Marines going, and that's not even lookin' at Fort Bragg and Pope."

"So while he goes on about 'walkin a typeroad'he's really playing us for ijits while he's in the sack with the Army?"

"'Tightrope', Billy. That's my read on it. Did you hear Jake Klein's gush about Brother Ken? First the commissioners dragged their feet on NBAF, and we got screwed out of the running on that one. Now they seem to be in the sack with Ken and the Army. Maybe they're going for civil service jobs down at Pinon Canyon? There sure won't be enough tax base to pay their commish salaries once the expansion goes in."

"I think by then they'll have taken the money and run," Billy said, "but Jake would look good in one of those contract security guard uniforms there at the gate, wavin' people in and wavin' people out." He chuckled at the image.

"Did you guys see the article in the Chieftain this morning? The one about Aurora and water?" This from Leece, who was just finishing her cappie. We had a sticky bun lying on the table in front of us. We put it there so we could sneer at it, not eat it. We were on diets, except for SCORE Center donuts and Barista blueberry cheesecake ice cream. By not eating the sticky bun, we were demonstrating our resolve.

"The one about Pure Cycle getting its hooks into Fort Lyon water for that Arapahoe County housing development?" Billy asked.

"Yeah, I saw that. A leftover Republican money grab. Huh. But down here, we're red...or is it blue... Whatever. We let the Democrats do the money grabs," I said.

"I think there's enough in Pinon Canyon for both to rip off the people," Leece commented.

"And they undoubtedly will. But it's OK. Peeper is 'at peace' with her 'spiritual experience' and Jake Klein is playing huggie bears with Ken Salazar. We the People are being 'taken care of'," Billy somewhat sourly observed.

"Pieper," interjected Leece.

"Like, whatever. They're all the same."

And with that, we hopped on our bikes and got on with the business of the day.


The Salazar Two-step?

Ken Salazar now insists that he didn't say that he 'couldn't say no to the Army's expansion plans':

"Salazar, D-Colo., was quoted from his Tuesday meeting in Trinidad saying he couldn't say no to the Army's expansion plans.

"I did not say that," he said Wednesday. He said he went to Trinidad to meet with county commissioners from four affected counties in the expansion area, as well as ranchers and young people, to ask several questions in order to get the answers from local people into the discussion in the Senate."

The full article in the Chieftain:

Salazar: Not Abandoning Ranchers

Huh. So, did all those reporters get it wrong? Did the Chieftain 'mis-report'? As we have seen over some of the MainStream Media fiascos over the last couple of years, traditional media has really been screwing the pooch (so to speak). Look at the Scott Beauchamps dustup for a prime example.

But was Salazar unfairly treated? Brother John has been fairly straightforward and pretty much unequivocal in his opposition to the expansion, at least recently and out in the open. Brother Ken has been waffling all along.

I tend to think the reportage about Our Senator was on the money.

I also remember that Our Senator was big on exploiting his rural roots in the San Luis Valley when he was going for the Senatorial brass ring.

Has he forgotten those roots?

Suppose the Army was looking to expand into the San Luis Valley rather than way out here in the hinterlands? Would Brother Ken be quite so lukewarm about that?

Perhaps Our Senator needs to go out onto some ranchland and kick a few cowpies around, maybe stop by a feedlot and sniff the poop, go by a sale barn and take a sniff of live beef and cowboy sweat.

It might help him get things back in perspective.

And maybe some of our local politicians might want to reassess their positions about the expansion being a 'done deal', and look to the community's survival rather than their own.


Machiavelli and Sun Tzu: Pastoral Advisors

Leece and I were snuffling a couple of panninis at The Barista. We were grabbing a quick lunch on what was fast becoming a really busy day.

Billy came in and ordered a Chicken Sedona salad. He loves their chipotle sauce and the technicolor tortilla chips that come with it. He plunked his butt down in the one remaining chair.

He saw Leece's books piled on the table and picked them up.

"Machiavelli's 'The Prince'? Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War'? That's some strange stuff for you to be reading," he opined.

"Not really," she replied, "I'd highly recommend both to pastors new and old. Helps in dealing with church boards and church members who have agendas not entirely in keeping with the Lord's."

"Also for anyone working in corporate America," I added.

"Huh. Huh. Yeah. I kin see that," he agreed,"it's just that this is not the stuff you usually find in Leece's backpack."

"True enough," she agreed,"but I felt it was in my best interests to broaden my world view."

"So you go to a heathen Chinee and an Eye-talian of dubious moral background. Huh. That's innerestin'."

"Well, think about it, Billy," I explained, "One of the big problems with the church today...that apostolic church, as in the Apostles' Creed...is that they make little or no effort to get beyond their own walls. If you want to reach out, you have to become a Man of the People."

"Uh huh. And that lack of effort is why so many churches are dying out. Do you know I heard a pastor the other day at lunch going on about how his congregation numbers are going down? He said that he figgered people were just getting old and weren't coming to church any more." Billy was astounded at the attitude this revealed, "But yer talkin' about Protestant churches? They ain't got no apostolic succession. How's that fit in with yer apostolic church? Besides, the Creed mentions 'catholic' church, not 'apostolic' church.'"

"John Wesley might take you to task over that one, Billy," said Leece, "at least the part about apostolic succession."

"You mean, why didn't he get up and start doing things that would start getting younger people interested?" I asked, getting back to the discussion at hand while Billy sat there mulling over Leece's comment about Wesley.

"One thing I found very interesting at Music at the Junction was that not one church had a booth there," Leece said.

"Eggzackly. There was beer served there. No right-thinking 'real' church-goin' Christian is going to go anywhere near something like that. It might rub off," Billy snickered.

"That's nonsense and you know it. Music at the Junction was very nicely done family event for a great cause. It wasn't anywhere near being an evil drunkfest," Leece said, "and the churches really missed a bet by snubbing it. I think we should have a booth there next year."

"Yeah. Yeah. We could sell water for a buck a bottle, and maybe some stuff like hot dogs," Billy said, getting a bit excited at the idea.

"And we could donate whatever we made to the church's compassionate ministries," Leece added, "or to Hospice, since that's why they have the event in the first place."

"Let's do it!" Billy shouted, "an' show ever one that jist cuz you call yerself a 'Christian' you don't have to have a stick up yer self-righteous butt!"

The ladies over behind the counter were highly amused by Billy's exuberant outburst.

But it was a great idea.

Billy got up and fastened his helmet, grabbing his cookie as he did so. As he went to the door he said, over his shoulder, "Wesley was wrong, you know."

Now there was a discussion waiting for a time and place.

Wut up wit dat?

Leece and I were having a cappie at Quickee's in The Holy Land. It was a fine late summer morning, not yet hot, but with a promise of steaming humidity after last evening's rain.

Billy came zooming in on his new Ghisallo.

"My word, Billy, how fast can you go on that thing?" Leece asked.

"One a them cops over in Fowler says he clocked me goin' through town at 42," he replied, "I was slamming them pedals. I felt like Lance Armstrong."

"You can get a ticket for speeding on a bike," I pointed out.

"They wouldn't scratch Lance Armstrong," he said.

"But you aren't Lance Armstrong," Leece pointed out, "You're DinkyDau Billy, local hairball and loose cannon."

Billy was crushed.

"I meant that in the most endearing way possible, Billy. You know we love ya," Leece took pity on him, grinning.

He perked up.

"Hey. Hey. Wassup with the Chamber these days?" he asked.

"The Chamber?" This from Leece.

"Yeah. Yeah. I wuz over to the Santa Fe Plaza a coupla days ago an' I was sittin' on the wall an' I was eatin' a pannini from The Barista an' there was a buncha people in and out an' wutsername ain't nowheres to be found. Wassup wit dat?"

"Perhaps they finally took seriously the complaints about the absolutely crappy service that office manager or whatever she is/was, was providing, and are moving ahead?" This from Leece.

"Or perhaps they're just getting ready to move into a new building to be funded by a lodging tax?" This from me, while Leece choked on some cappuccino that somehow found its way up her snoot.

"Huh. Huh. Ya think? Maybe I should take out a Chamber membership?"

"Don't get carried away, Billy."

We gathered up our various items and hopped on our bikes and went our respective ways.

"Just say no..."

Ain't gonna happen.

Senator Ken Salazar has it right out on the table now:

Salazar: I can't stop Army expansion in Pinon Canyon

an excerpt:

""The Senate is a much more deliberative body and will listen more closely to what the Department of Defense needs," he said.

However, while Salazar said he might not have the power to say no to expansion in general, he did say that if a moratorium on land acquisition by way of condemnation could be put into law it might bring an end to the story.

"If we can take condemnation off the table, is that something you would support?" he asked. "That’s something we could probably do in our legislative efforts." "

You can read between the lines.

Money talks. So do votes. There's a lot of both up in El Paso County and in DC.

As for us down these parts, we're just Hicks from the Sticks. A fly in the ointment. Turds in the political punchbowl.

Time for a new senator, I think.


High times in The Holy Land

This evening's storm in Swink:

Life is just a bowl of cherries

I was over on the east side of town working on a computer and had finished up. I was on the way back when Vanhook's Market leaped out in front of me. There was nothing for it but to stop and pinch the peaches.

So I was standing there putting some into a bag when Steve asked me if I liked cherries. He had some in a baggie and offered me a handful.

They were outstanding.

They are Rainiers, and they are, like, dude, to die for.

Good peaches, too. And nectarines. And Peaches and Cream corn. And Rocky Ford watermelons.

Steve Vanhook, owner of Vanhook's Market. Steve also does professional landscaping and is very knowledgeable about xerescaping.

These are the Rainier cherries, against a backdrop of peppers.

Tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, plums, bags of onions, and watermelons line the covered area in front of the store.

Peaches. Most excellent peaches. Juicy. Tender. Really juicy. Very 'peachy'.

Rocky Ford watermelons, ready and waiting.

Peaches and Cream sweet corn. This is very good even eaten raw. When out cycling this time of the year, I like to stop at the vegetable stands and snuffle a couple of ears of this stuff. Washed down with cold water, it's a great pick-me-up and energy builder.

Vanhook's Fruit & Vegetable Market
3rd & Prospect
La Junta, CO 81050
(719) 384-4922

Beesness as usual

While we all go about our daily tasks, out in front of the city building the sage is being visited by literally hordes of honey and bumble bees. This honeybee was quite cooperative, though the wind was bouncing him around:

Second Chance

Chris Menges gits into it on stage at Music at the Junction:

Second Chance



Leece and I were down at The Barista with Tookie. Toots was snuffling some blueberry cheesecake ice cream in a waffle cone, upside down in a cup, and drenched in chocolate syrup.

It looked pretty good. It looked like it could kill a cardiologist at twenty paces. I could feel my cholesterol going up just looking at it. I decided to pass on it.

Leece bellied up to the bar and told Meagan, "I'll have one of what she's having," pointing at Tookie.

So much for self-discipline.

"Me too," I said.

Tookie giggled.

I was licking a piece of waffle cone off my spoon when DinkyDau Billy walked in. He was wearing his Speedo cycling overalls. He was on a new bike. A roadie.

"What's that you're on today, Billy," I asked.

"I gots one a them Litespeed Ghisallos," he said.

We all sat there with our lower jaws in our ice cream. Tookie was the first to move. She dashed out the door and stood there looking at the bike.

"What color is that?" she asked.

"It's brushed titanium. No paint. Just brushed titanium," Billy explained.

Tookie picked it up. "It's beeyootiful," she gushed.

"It weighs 15 pounds," Billy went on,"the frame weighs less than two pounds. It climbs like an ape that's been goosed with a cattle prod and it accelerates like a nitro dragster. I like it."

"Pricey little beast, though." I had to toss that in.

"Yeah. 8 large as that one sits. My Vanguards have been doin' good. Don't tell the Democrats, though. Good news upsets them."

We went back inside and sat down. Megan brought Billy his usual, a triple 'spresso with a handful of chocolate covered 'spresso beans over...blueberry cheesecake ice cream.

"Whaddya think about them CAP resurrections that Davis feller is doin'?" Billy asked.

"Well...we both went to all the meetings he called up at the SCORE Center," Leece told him.

"I figgered that. I kin read the fishwrapper as well as anyone. But what's the real story?" he asked.

"Huh. The real story? The first four groups are alive and well. Some pretty good ideas floating around. Some energy and enthusiasm there. But lots of negative inertia to overcome. Oddly, most of the negativism centers directly in those twits who have been taking me to task over being negative," I told him.

"I was particularly taken aback by the lack of enthusiasm in that so-called 'leadership' group,"interjected Leece.

"Umhmmm..." I cogently commented.

"I thought Councilman Bob had some good points, though, especially about developing leadership skills through training. It was not a universal viewpoint, however," she continued.

"When I was in the Army, they had started some basic leadership and supervisor training programs. They was tryin' to counter the high turnover rate and deal with the morale and leadership prollems that came up late in the war," Billy said.

"Yeah, USAF started doing the same thing," I said, "used to be, leadership schools were just advanced basic training and more of the brown-shoe mentality. But by the mid-seventies they were offering some leadership courses that were really quite good. Downright academic, in fact. I remember dealing with Mazlo's hierarchy, small unit intrapersonal dynamics, psychology of leadership, and all kinds of stuff back then. Nowadays a troop will be exposed to leadership and supervisory training starting early on and continuing throughout his or her career."

"Take a look at Colin Powell's book, when he talks about how they rebuilt the army from the post-war mess," Tookie tossed in, "maybe that Mack Burtis guy oughta read that."

"Exactly," Billy said, "yeah, some people are natural born leaders, just like some are natural born killers, but most are not, and they pick up that to which they have been exposed. That's why all those cretins continued that 'do as I say and not as I do' stupidity from the brown-shoe days for so long. Hey, didja know the Army is offering some pretty good leadership training for civilians in their Army Family Team Building program? Most of the stuff in their Level 2 and 3 programs would even work for non-military volunteer groups."

"Yeah, last time we were up at Fort Carson we stopped by the Family Center and checked that out," Tookie commented as she delicately licked a blueberry off her spoon, "though I was more interested in the bouncy toys in the playground."

"What Billy says about reacting to what you experience is why leadership is so thin here in The Smile Hi City," Leece threw out,"it isn't that people are stupid, other than the leaders who cannot learn and who cannot adapt; it's that they have very few leadership examples from whom they can learn. It's so frustrating."

"Shouldn't city council be providing that leadership?" Tookie asked, "Isn't that one of the reasons that we have a city council?"

"That was my impression," said Leece, "but maybe I missed something. But I also agreed with Councilman Bob about some kind of briefing or training session for candidates for office, to let them know what they are getting into. In fact, I liked a lot of what Councilman Bob had to say. Too bad some of the others weren't listening."

"Frank McKenzie agreed with that," I said, "and so do I. Maybe if that happened we'd have better focus on what's important and less emphasis on using council seats to push personal agendas. Meanwhile, the Army is highly dependent on civilian volunteer groups to provide troop and family support. The Army is doing a pretty good job of training them to do that. You can't deal with civilians the same way as you do the uniformed services."

"Amen, brother," said Tookie.

"I'm your Poppy, not your 'brother'," I pointed out, somewhat heatedly. I can only take so much obnoxious precociousness.

"Like, whatever..."

Leece did a good job of restraining me.

Army Volunteer Corps

Fort Carson's AFTB Training

Litespeed Ghisallo


Part of the cost of The American Way of Life

US Highway 350 is a lonely stretch of road that runs nearly 80 miles between La Junta and Trinidad, a couple of small towns in southeastern Colorado.

Near Delhi, Colorado, about two-thirds of the way from La Junta to Trinidad, there is a marker by the side of the road, commemorating the mid-air collision of two B-24 Liberator bombers on August 21, 1944. Of nineteen men aboard the two aircraft, only one, Lieutenant Robert S. Clark of Augusta, Kansas, survived.

They were on a training flight out of the La Junta Army Air Field, a major training installation during World War II.

Fast forward more than 40 years. The La Junta Army Air Field is now in the distant past, with only a few vestiges remaining at what has become La Junta’s Airport and Industrial Park. In the early 60’s, the Air Force established a radar bomb scoring and electronic warfare training site at the La Junta airport. While many types of aircraft used the site, it was primarily established for training Strategic Air Command’s bomber aircrews.

On September 28, 1987, a B-1B Lancer from the 96th Bomb Wing out of Dyess, Texas, was making a low-level training run down the range. In addition to the normal crew of four, two instructors were aboard, sitting in jump seats rather than ejection seats. The aircraft was making about 500 knots some 600 feet above the ground when it struck a large bird, causing severe damage to hydraulic and fuel lines in the wing. The pilot climbed to about 15,000 feet but was unable to maintain control, and the bomber went down in the hills east of La Junta.

Three crewmen ejected and survived. Three were not able to get out of the aircraft and died.

There is no marker commemorating the three aircrewmen who perished in service to the nation.

Yet, those three airmen, and the eighteen who died in August of 1944, as as surely part of the cost of our freedoms as are those who died storming the beaches at Normandy or Iwo Jima...or who serve today in Anwar Province or in the high plateaus of Afghanistan.

The next time you see the flag flapping in the breeze, as you go freely about your business, perhaps you might find it in yourself to give a thought of remembrance to those who died not in mortal combat with the enemies of the nation, but routinely, almost mundanely, it might seem, while standing watch.

B-1B Crashes Near La Junta

Bird Strikes