Thursday, September 5, 2013

The World's Top Thirteen

With all of those websites getting popular these days with their top 10 click thru lists to drive traffic and viewership, I figured it was time to jump on board since everyone (myself included) loves lists. What better way to do so than a top 13 list (for a nice round number) of the most beautiful things and places I have ever laid eyes on? (This of course excludes obvious things such as my wife and a perfectly cooked bone-in rib-eye.) As is the case with any Kodak…. err…. Fuji Film…  moment in one’s memory, I cannot separate these from the personal experience I have had with the vision: laughs, stomach grumblings, exhaustion and the like. Enjoying a baguette atop the Eiffel Tower at sunrise with my middle school ex-girlfriend and a bad case of the runs, albeit a beautiful setting perhaps, would not likely make the cut. These are in no particular order, as I think it may be bad practice to force rank things of this nature which are near the top of God and/or humankind’s most amazing creations. Best part about this list is, because I am not tech savvy, there will be no clicking through multiple screens as is traditional with articles like these. It’s all right below you! Yay!

1. Mount Fitz Roy Mountain Range, Patagonia


Yvon Chouinard picked this very group of mountains to be the logo of his small alpine climbing company “Patagonia” in 1973. The man was obsessed with these mountains…. and rightly so. These peaks of solid granite jut up from the earth in a way that instills a fear of God in you. They are almost other-worldly in the way that they completely break out of the Patagonian plains to the east and seem to protrude straight up at 90 degrees from the earth for miles. Drinking the melted glacier water from the lake at its base was a memory I will not soon forget. 

2. Caracol, Belize


Caracol is overshadowed by its better excavated and frequented cousins Tikkal and Chichen Itza in nearby Guatemala and Mexico. The Belizean jungle has swallowed most of this ancient Mayan city of over 100,000 people for most of the last several hundred years, and archeologists have only begun to bring some of its beauty to light. Atop a massive pyramid rising from the jungle you can see for miles over a land which is still completely untouched by humans. Our guide pointed out several huge tree covered hills in the jungle around the area, indicating that they were themselves temples which have yet to be uncovered. What has managed to escape the choking vines of the jungle truly shows that this is nothing less than wonder of the New World. 
3. Saint Peters at Sunset, Rome


On my first and only trip to Rome a group of friends and I were acclimated by participating in an all-day scavenger hunt around the city. The Coliseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain: this city does not lack sites which reek of postcard worthy-ness. But by some strike of fortune, our last stop was this one, and we arrived at sunset. We crossed the Tiber River and began down the Villa della Concilatzione into the colonnade designed by Bernini to give the impression of walking into the outstretched arms of God… the view before us: St Peter’s Cathedral. The stones of plaza shone of pink and red with the reflection of the sunset and the usual daytime crowd had for the most part dispersed for the evening. I am not sure if it was God’s arms that were around us that night, but we were certainly in the presence of something amazing.   

4. The Grand Canyon, Arizona

I last saw the Grand Canyon in the summer of 2001, but I doubt it has changed much since then. I will leave in that caveat in case they have got a new chef or the offerings are different. This is one of those places shrouded in myth and almost fairy tale status since my childhood: my mom always spoke of it as a place that she and my father had one of their grandest adventures: a trek to the bottom and back. It was, more than any other place, the ultimate “bucket list” sight to see in my life – and I was lucky enough to see it at the grand old age of 14. Standing at the edge of Grand Canyon is like being born - as if all your underdeveloped fetus eyes had seen before this was a muck of amniotic fluid and the inside of a placenta, and now you finally can see what the world is like in all of its glory…. Okay, maybe I took that too far, but I am not sure that the beauty of this place is matched anywhere else on Earth. Maybe that makes this my number one… but I’m not numbering, remember?

5. Night Time on Central Park

Have you ever had a time in your life that you felt just truly didn’t belong to you? Like you were living the life of royalty or a celebrity or Justin Beiber? That is what I had in the spring of 2009 in New York City. The director of the singing group I was in at college at the time was selling his 15 bagillion dollar flat (I think that number’s right, and it may be more now) on Central Park and hosted a small soiree with us to celebrate. The condo, occupying the top two floors of an apartment building on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park, was a place I felt was just too luxurious for a piddly mid-western guy like me to 
be… and if I ever could afford a place such as this I would hope I would spend it on eradicating cancer or world hunger or something like that instead. But the view. Oh my goodness the view. I love mother nature… from the mountains to the valleys and all… but damn can humans create some magnificent things. Looking at New York City from a rooftop near Central Park is nothing short of spectacular. It is oddly serene being dozens of stories above the always busy New York streets, but watching it all go by as a spectator and just taking it all in.

6. Playa de la Concha, San Sebastian Spain

My allure with San Sebastian is at least partly due to it being very much of a “stumbled upon” find which turned out incredible. I circled a few places on a Spain map not knowing anything about any of them and had my step-brother pick which one to visit. One trans-Atlantic flight and Eurail night-train pass later and we woke up in San Sebastian. This old Spanish fishing town lies on a small inlet where the Pyrenees meet the Bay of Biscay and seems to be in a world all on its own. Picture the most popular and beautiful beach you know, but only you and a few friends are there and it has not been touched by commercialism or the outside world since 1850… ok, minus a McDonald’s, but what would any city be without just one McDonald's? Yes, San Sebastian is quite popular among Spaniards, but it’s far enough from an airport that most western travelers find it too difficult to make the trip. The result: brush up on your Spanish, or spend a few days in confused bliss away from your traditional European tourist crowd. Oh, there was also an international beach volleyball tournament going on during our stay… that didn’t hurt either. Go Canada! (America wasn’t playing).

7. Night Sky, Patagonia


The extent of my astronomy knowledge is being able to pick out the Big Dipper on a clear night. Other than that, I am pretty much lost without my star app. Even so, knowing that the sky in the southern hemisphere is completely different than what I have seen for my whole life is mysterious and fascinating. Luckily a friend on this trip was an astronomy nut, and was able to guide my eyes to some of the wonders the Patagonian sky has to offer. When this far away from civilization, you can see entire GALAXIES with your naked eye. I am not kidding. The Magellanic Clouds. GTS. Notwithstanding the freezing Patagonian wind biting at my face, the closest experience I’ve ever had to the brilliance of this night sky was a planetarium, and something about being in a small dome surrounded by whiney kids doesn’t quite live up to this.

  8. Cape May Point State Park, New Jersey

OK, this one gets a few extra points because of my childhood being so wrapped up here. I think by the age 2 I had already been on these boardwalks a dozen times. There’s no brilliant natural phenomena going on or any modern made marvel to see… it is just a large swamp hidden behind the dunes of the South Jersey shore. The Boardwalks allow you to walk amongst all of the birds and creatures that call this place home, of which you are certain to see plenty while you’re here. The salty air, abundance of life, and white-washed Cape May point lighthouse on the horizon make this place indescribably beautiful to me. Well, indescribable beyond what I just described.

 9. Sunrise in Berchtesgaden, Germany.

So, if you were the person in the world with the most absolute and unchecked power in your hands than perhaps any other man or woman in all of history, and you could at the drop of a hat pick anywhere to move into and build your dream house, you would think that would be a pretty awesome place, right? Unfortunately this person was Hitler, but man, did he know where to build a stinkin’ house. In Berchtesgaden, you find yourself at the eastern most extend of the Bavarian Alps, and in a town that is quaint, picturesque, and full of good sausage and beer. Yes, please. Maybe it was divine intervention that I woke up at  5:30 AM in spite of having a stein or two of strong German beer the previous night in time to watch the sun rise on the mountains of Berchtesgaden National Park from the balcony of our hotel room. It was as if God said, “Hey dude, wake up, I need to show you something cool” and then drug me out to the balcony and just completely showed off. (Keep in mind God is cool, so that’s why he talks like that). Then I went back to bed.
 
10. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

This one falls in a category all of its own because is completely different than anything I’ve ever seen. In fact, GSDNP reminds me more of Africa than… Africa to me. At the risk of sounding clichĂ©, I can only imagine that the gigantic rolling dunes of the Sahara look something like this park in Southern Colorado. I’ve never been there, but perhaps one day Lord willing I will be able to test this theory. Arriving here at night, I was able to have one of the jaw dropping moments of getting out of my tent and having my first sight of the day being these incredible mountains of sand. The only thing more difficult than leaving this place was trying to climb them with 12 pounds of sand in my boots.  

11. Machu Picchu – Santa Teresa River Valley


Fair warning: I’m going sentimental on this one. My trip to Machu Picchu was just as much for me as it was for my dad, who passed away in 1993 and always wanted to make it here but never did. I’d like to think that the dirt from the Inca Trail that I brought back to his grave means that he in some small way accomplished this goal through me. Beyond the mushy gushy-ness of this story though, Machu Picchu and the Santa Teresa Valley are incredible in their own right. The hike in and remoteness of the area adds to the awe you experience when you arrive, and watching the sun rise at the Intiwatana or “hitching post of the sun” single-handedly makes the entire trip to Peru worth it. Apparently, archaeologists and historians cannot agree on why exactly Machu Picchu is here other than the big wigs of the Incan Empire made it their home…. I think the views speak for themselves... come on archaeologists.  

12. Dubrovnik, Croatia

I look back on this place as if it were a dream – watching sailboats go by on the Adriatic sea with a glass of chardonnay in a cafĂ© that clings to the wall of this old Medieval City (and to end this like a Jack Handey deep thought: “…and also, you’re drunk”). White buildings, red tile roofs, grumpy old fisherman; this is all I had ever hoped an old Mediterranean town would be. Subtract the daily dose of 2,000 cruise ship day-trippers, and I would even say it was serene. We were sure glad to have discovered this town which is known as “the Pearl of the Adriatic”… all’s I can say is, watch out Venice, there’s a new kid in town. A very old, curmudgeony, yet beautiful new kid.

13. Bretzville, Indiana

Despite every place I’ve been or seen around the world, to me the 40 acres of cornfield on the family farm in Bretzville, Indiana are more beautiful than the remaining 36,794,239,960 acres of solid ground on planet Earth (thanks Wikipedia). As I warned in the introduction of this post, my list is tied with experiences, memories, people and many other intangible things – and Bretzville more than any other place is where all of these intersect for me. Life always seems a little more simple here. Coffee, conversation, and a hike in the woods make for a vacation that is both cheap and better than any other I know. But it’s not just the memories - and this is something that maybe only a mid-westerner would understand or admit to – but there is beauty in a freshly plowed field, in an overgrown barn yard, and in an old farmhouse. ‘Merica! 






In the interest of maintaining complete journalistic integrity, the following are links to the photos above which are not mine. Thanks for these super photos, unknown photographers!

2. http://www.grand-canyon-lodging.net/
4. http://travel.usnews.com/Belize/Pictures/Caracol_5297/ 
5. http://www.flickr.com/photos/trini11413/4369147761/
7. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikefrom/4436078248/

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Paint

I often wish that I painted more. I am not very good at it, but since I have some semblance of an idea as to how, I believe I should at least try. Through my recently completed painting, I have learned that I am a person who likes to take his time: I began the piece in the summer of 2011 and just finished last week. You would think that this implies that I have a masterpiece of sorts on my hands… unfortunately what I've really got is a hodgepodge of sloppy brush strokes which was a process of both learning and relearning the basic fundamentals of how to paint the entire time. Several whiskies, Johnny Cash albums, and hours passed in the basement later, I finally finished this beast of a project. By my math, at this rate Ive got about 30 more in me until I kick it, and I am shooting for perhaps my 15th or 20th to begin to resemble something like a work of a person who truly knows what they are doing.
A gold plated ornate frame makes all the difference.
I stole a Renoir to get this one.
Churchill (whose book I have also been reading for 2 years) reflected once that he wished he could have been a painter, if only to have left the world something tangible upon his passing - I think we are all better off that Churchill did not choose painting as his vocation and that others whose place he may have taken (Dali perhaps?) were not at the helm of the British Empire's war machine during WWII, but I can’t help but admit I share the same thoughts sometimes as Winnie. My dad was a painter, and left behind dozens of paintings which I feel to this day serve as one of the most meaningful links we have. I feel like I can glimpse his personality in them. I feel like in some small way I know how he was feeling when he was working on them. 

Should I feel the same way? Will I one day have a son that only knows me through the paint that I have smeared on a canvas? It is doubtful, but nonetheless, makes me feel a bit of an underachiever at having made so little of an effort.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Should We Tax the Rich?

The central tenet of Obama's economic platform is to raise marginal rates on the wealthiest 2% of Americans. There are many reasons why this may or may not be a good idea, or a "fair" one.... but let's just assume that it is, and it was implemented. Below is a thought experiment that examines whether this idea even holds water as a plan to reduce the national debt under current spending levels.
 


The exercise is a basic one... and relies on easily provable demographic facts about our country, as well as well documented phenomena about tax avoidance under given tax regimes. The conclusion: this is not enough. Even if we could somehow take every single penny from the top 2% (while preventing them from moving to the Barbados) we would not have even covered half of the deficit.

Americans deserve a better plan than this - they deserve to be offered a plan which actually presents a solution to our debt crisis. It stands to reason why the Obama camp has offered this plan, though. Why? This is an easy sell. 312 million people in this country would see no tax change if this plan were implemented. In the meantime, we've provided an incentive for the most innovative and resourceful men and women of our country to be less so, as they will not be rewarded as much for the efforts. It is debatable whether this is a reasonable price to pay if this in fact fixed our problems..... but it clearly doesn't. As a recent article in the Wall Street Journal pointed out, which gave similar estimates as to its implications, the $72 billion that this plan proposes to save is "a rounding error" in the grand scheme of the deficits that we are currently facing.

It's not the class warfare or the populism that bothers me when I hear in every Obama campaign commercial or stump speech that "we just want the wealthiest to pay a little more," it's the undeniable fact that the "arithmetic," as Bill Clinton would like to say, just proves that it doesn't come close to addressing the issue.

Friday, August 31, 2012

How I Know Benjamin Harrison From A Fellow Miami Alum.

 How I Know Benjamin Harrison From A Fellow Miami Alum.
 
It was a fall morning in Oxford, and as I strode along the Slant Walk the Beta Bells rang out nine times in the chilly November air, indicating I was going to be a few minutes late to my morning class. Just a few short years before, my fellow alum Benny no doubt strode down the same iconic pathway past the Phi Delt gates and the Poli-Sci building which bears his name to this day. You see, Benny and I have a certain affinity for one another, given we went to the same university... all of the pundits, authors, and commentators can say what they want about him, but you really have to have studied in the same general area of him sometime after he did to really grasp his true beliefs and character. Yes, Benjamin Harrison and I both went to Miami University - thus my credibility for all that follows here is established (thanks COM 131).
 
OK, now some may say that our 158 years of separation implies that Miami was a different place back in the Gilded Age than it was during the time following my matriculation as an undergraduate student, but these people are no doubt unaware of our alma mater's opening lyrics: "Old Miami, New Miami" - you know what that means, right??? Miami never changes. Old Miami IS new Miami. Benny Harrison knows this, Wally Szczerbiak knows this, and of course, the most famous of all Miami Alums who is making a splash in current day politics, Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, knows this. Now that I have silenced all of my nay-sayers, I'll get on with my point.
 
In the time that big Benny has left Miami, many who did not really know him have pontificated on his accomplishments, they have written books about him, they have even attempted to paint pictures of him - well let me just say this: all you "historians," "accomplished portrait artists" and "experts in your field" really know nothing about my fellow alum, Benny Harrison. I'll bet you did not know that we call him Benny. I'd even bet you guys don't even know the name of Miami's football stadium. You probably think it's "Miami Florida Hurricanes Field" or something, don't you? No. Miami was a University before Florida was a state, Buck-o!! Well, Benny and I know what the stadium is called. In fact, I can still see him there, cheering in the bleachers for the 'ol Redskins as they drive down the gridiron in hopes for their next Go-Daddy.com bowl title - not literally "see him" in the sense of using my eyes... I mean see him in that we shared such a common experience that I may as well have seen him... it's called "imagery", folks.
 
The thing about Ben is that he so exemplifies typical Miami students across the ages that you really need to have spent four years at his alma mater to know what makes him tick.  Some may remember him as a typical tariff hiking, big spending, protectionist, Gilded Age Republican, but those people probably never took Zora Thurston's history class at Miami. Credible academics the world over can't stop writing about how right I am about this. It's all about thinking critically and understanding context. Most if not all historians who have published books about Harrison just don't know the context, that's all. They have never spent those long nights partying uptown into the wee hours of the morning on "Misogyny Monday", "Tipsy Tuesday", "Wild Wednesday", "Thirsty Thursday", and "Find Yourself Waking up in McCollough Hyde Friday" (Just to ensure that I have not just ruined my credibility as an intellect by appearing like a binge drinking, womanizing college student, I'd like to remind you I have two degrees, and darn near graduated with honors). Thorough examinations of the Harrison administration, in fact, reveal that he had these nicknames which have been in the Miami vernacular for years embroidered on a set of Oval Office couch pillows. That's right, Benny was just like the rest of us Miamians: He worked hard, and he played hard - if you think that his protectionism and tariff hiking only prolonged America's rise to global prominence in an ever increasingly globalized society, you are forgetting that Benny was a product of his time. He wasn't going to be the first bearded old white man in history to tell middle-class Americans working in the auto-factories of Detroit that their jobs were in jeopardy because we can get cheaper tires by importing them from Shanghai... no, that's not the Benny I know; 'ol Ben knew how to play the game.
 
So for all of you historians out there who think you know Ben, all I have to say is please refer to the following YouTube video which he has dedicated just for you. That's right: you don't know him at all. But I do. I spent TIME at Miami and know the likes of the man who became our "Michael Jordan" president. Before you write some blog, publish some book, or paint some "official White House portrait," consider the fact that you don't know him at all, because you did not go to Miami. I did. He and I are kindred spirits, and although I truly know nothing about his administration or policies, I can envision myself alive during his time, standing in the Oval Office while he receives Otto von Bismark of Prussia, who looks down at the embroidered pillows on the couch and in his broken English with a skeptical lifted brow asks, "What's up with that, man?" Benny looks at me and with a wink and slight grin just says, "Nothing Otto, nothing..." Ben and I know. And that's all that matters.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Game Changer

No metaphors are perfect when attempting to describe or clarify a situation, but they often help. Jesus used metaphors to explain things His disciples, and often even with His clarity and Godly talents of speaking, they just confused the heck out of them, causing the Savior to have to just lay in out in good ol' plain Aramaic. Somtimes they do help us grasp the heart of an issue which may otherwise just be a little to abstract to understand. Well dog-gonnit, I've got one that's darn good, and it involves our recently named presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, and the Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Cheifs of Staff.
 
Rooted in our country's constitution is the principle of civilian leadership of the armed forces. Our founders knew that if generals controlled foreign policy, their esoteric views may distort the true national interest. History would indeed be very different if this check were not in place. World War III, for example, may have started in the winter of 1950 with MacArthur's nuking of China. Operation Iraqi Freedom may have been rendered moot with Stormin' Normin Schwarzkopf's victorious march into Baghdad in 1991 to topple the Hussein regime once and for all. But alas, for better or for worse, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces during both of these times was not a seasoned General of the Army, he was a polititian, with a much broader view of the situation than the men calling the shots on the ground. There have been several occasions when these brilliant military men of great accomplishment saw their successes sweep them into the role of commander-in-chief through their popular election as president: Washington, Taylor, Grant, Eisenhower -  to name a few. With the glaring exception of the first man in this list, these men did not make extrordinary presidents, as tacticians don't often make great polititians. I suppose all of the B.S. in politics tends to not jive well with a man who is accustommed to his success being evaluated by how many of his enemies he was able to have killed. 
 
Take a look at the picture of this man. General Martin E Dempsey. West Point grad, served in Desert Storm and went on to command all of CENTCOM, overseeing Baghdad during the time in which insurgency was reaching its peak. He then went on to be nominated as as Chief of Staff of the Army, before assuming the role as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Dempsey is decorated with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with “V” Device and Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge. Translation: this guy is a badass. See all the color on his chest? That means he's been around... and I dont mean in the Jersey Shore sense, I mean in the sense that you could probably count on one hand the people in the active military that have seen more or accomplished more than him. So what does this all mean? All of this knowledge, experience and ability, while it has given him the ability to think globally about all of our armed forces (hence his appointment as Charman of the Joint Chiefs), still wouldn't necessarly make him an effective commander-in-chief, let alone a great civilian leader. His views of the world are still esoteric -  framed by a lifetime of leading men to battle, planning and executing military operations, and ensuring that a mission is accomplished with speed, efficiency and effectiveness. There have been dire times throughout history, however,  in which men with military backgrounds have been effective national leaders: Winston Churchill many times outright overruled his top admirals and generals in the field on matters of tactics. Having gained a discerning military perception through his backgound in the Royal Navy, Chuchill had a global yet incredibly specific way of thinking about things . If we somehow had plunged into a new global war in the late fifties which required moving masses of armies around the world for battle, I could think of no better commander-in-chief than Dwight Eisenhower or Winston Churchill (granted, a war during that time would have probably involved wholesale nuclear exchanges, for this no general or leader would have been prepared). They could have stepped into a job for which their specific knowledge of war would have been incredibly useful - if you're going to have two world wars in as many decades, you may as well have the guy that won the first one for you take care of the second one, right? Unfortunately when Ike did step into office, it was duing a time in which knowing more than any man alive about amphibious operations and commanding mulltinational forces across mulitiple continents didn't do him much good. Hence as a president, he'll have to settle for a legacy as a highway-builder, not a world-saver.
 
Enter Paul Ryan. Political Science and Economics Major at Miami University - he received the best formal training in economics and politics that money can buy. That's right, chew on that Univeristy of Chicago and Harvard. Mr. Ryan is the Chairman of the House Budget Committee and easily the most outspoken congressman on the Hill when it comes to the budget.  He's advanced ideas that could bring spending to levels that would be sustainable over the long term, allowing us to get out of our current "throw money at anything that moves" strategy of economic stimulus. His plan (perhaps to his own detriment) also addresses the "third rail" of American politics: entitlement spending. Any responsible budget must address how the current exponential spending growth for entitlment programs is unsustainable in the long run. Like his ideas or not, he's talking about it. Anyone who isn't talking about it (almsot everyone else), isn't capable of proposing a credible budget for the next decade.
 
Our country has big, big problems right now - the consequences of our problems lie a decade or two down the road, which is why no one is doing anything about it now. Just look at these trends. Notice the change in slope of the line every eight years. That's no accident folks -  and the slope has never been steeper than the last four years. If you follow that little line four more years out, it doesnt fit on the graph - were talking about moving that y-axis mark to... oh probably closer to the 25 mil mark. And no, that's not 25 million, it's 25 million million... that's right, 25 trillion dollars. Our national debt in four years under the current trend. See the problem, now? We need to change the slope of the little blue line, fast. Whether or not you think that means raising tax rates on the super rich is enough to do it is up to you, and hopefully that's a conversation we'll be having this fall.
 
Were in a crisis situation right now with the trajectory of our deficit spending. If that chart doesn't convince you of that, I dont know what will. We need leaders that have the capability of thinking incredibily specifically of how to solve this problem - numbers crunchers, budget gurus, Miami economics majors... dare i say. We need people capable of fundamentally changing the way our government conducts fiscal policy and revenue allocation. Someone that has sat in Laws 100 and daydreamed about how they are going to change the world one day for the better. If Paul Ryan doesn't fit this description to a tee, I don't know who does. He's the Dwight Eisenhower to your World War III beginning in 1958, no nukes invloved... the Aroldis Chapman to your bottom of the ninth, one run lead, any month but July and not in Ohio (did you know that the guy hasn't given up an earned run yet this year outside of Ohio? Whee doggy he's good... but I digress). We NEED to have this debate this fall - and I don't care if you are a Democrat, Republican, or anything in between, Paul Ryan's message is essential to getting that converstion going.
 
 
 
 


 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

La Vida Colorada

The rooftop is cold and inhospitable in the wind and stinging rain, but I grip my Titan and can't help but smile as I watch the storm front roll in off of the front range into the city.
 
"That's what I love about Colorado," Adam says, " it never forgets to remind you how wild it is."
 
Although Wash Park is now home to tens of thousands of hipsters, yuppies, and stay-at-home moms, this was once the land of the Arapaho. It was once the land of gold prospectors making the three day's journey to Central City and Black Hawk up Clear Creek Canyon - although I make this drive in 40 mintues flat every day and the mines have long since closed, ambitious (or perhaps delusional) gold "sluicers" still attempt to pull what's left of the dust from the creekbed today (one reported to me that a full day's sluicing is usually rewarded by about $50 in gold - thats about a paper clip's worth). Sure, every place in our country has it's history, but Colorado seems incapable of hiding its feral past.
 
I still find myself hesitantly looking over my shoulder when I hear a sound in the brush while fly fishing in the stream running through Lair of the Bear, pondering for a moment why it is that the place was given its name. The idea that I could be killed by a snake while walking barefoot in my mother-in-law's back yard sometimes gives me pause. A wrong move on Floyd Hill going to work in the morning could send me careening down a mountain ravine that would make Gabe Walker blush (go ahead and Google that one, don't be embarrased).
 
God did not intend for certain parts of His creation to be tamed by humans - and although we've done our best to tame Colorado, it's clear that we still haven't managed. This is a land that attracts people from all over the world - they come to live here not for the great job prospects, the vibrant city life, or the fantastic standards of living. No, they come because there is something about waking up under the Rocky Mountains that makes one feel that they are still living in the wild west.
 
Sometimes, tragic events around the world, or even right here in our city, challenge the idea that God is good, or even that He exists. Colorado is one of those places that with one look west, it's hard not to be convinced. As a great Colorado lover once said, " You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply." 
 
Yes John, I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky too.



Saturday, July 21, 2012

Remembering 12

In memory of those 12 who died in Aurora early yesterday morning. Please pray for peace and for healing of the victims' friends and family, as well as those still in nearby hospitals.


Alex Sullivan
Micayla “Cayla” Medek 
Jessica Ghawi “Redfield
John Larimer
Veronica Moser
Matt McQuinn
Gordon Cowden
Jesse Childress
Rebecca Wingo
Alexander Teves
Alexander J. Boik 
Jonathan T. Blunt


Cayla Medek
Jessica Ghawi
Alex Sullivan

John Larimer

Veronica Moser-Sullivan
Matt McQuinn

Gordon Cowden