Thursday, January 29, 2009

Energy policy at work

"Energy Policy at work," in Witchwell, Arizona.
By Paul Pennington.

Social Networking via the web

The phenom known as Facebook has reared its ugly-ass addicting head to just about everyone. And as great as it is to have a place where you can post pictures of yourself, your children, and your various activities/hobbies/vacation/drunken passed out photos, its really taking the mystery out of wondering what happened to your old friends, and worse yet, informing you how little in common you now have with some of your closest high school friends.
Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled to have tracked down the girl I lost my virginity too. But less thrilled to see that she looks way better than she did when we were 16, and is now a lesbian. Did I cause that?
Then there is that other girl, who was unbelievably hot in high school. Guess what, she's hotter now. But does her facebook page really say she is "Christian Conservative?" And a member of "One Thousand Moms Against Barak?" Eesh. I guess she won't be asking me for pot anytime soon.
This guys fat, this guys lost all his hair. Mike still only listens to heavy metal (at age 40), and this person is now a cop.
These two got married, this persons divorced, this person finally came out of the closet (guess what? we knew in 1985.)
The internet is directly responsible for the world getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller.

The power of pictures

Here's another great example of the power of pictures -- and how the internet provides a valuable forum that traditional mass media could not have for distributing and making those pictures even more effective.

This photo study, titled "The Places We Live," captures images of slums in four cities around the world -- in Venezuela, India, Indonesia, and Kenya -- in an interactive slide-show format, and set against quotes from residents and even with background "street sounds."

Once you've picked a city, you can then "enter" an individual's house, "walk" around their house, and listen to the householder talk about their life.

There is also a photo book based on the project, and a gallery exhibition touring the world.

Now ... how about posting some images of The Places We Live -- Four Corners-style ... ?

The Places We Live.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

snowdown follies

The Herald did not give me the assignment of covering the 2009 Snowdown Follies. I really think this would have been the year that I wrote such a scathing review that next year I would have been the butt of many of the Follies jokes. That's what I'm aspiring for actually.
The dedication of the performers is quite respectable. But borrowed audio and stolen Saturday Night Live skits are awful. I think there were like, 2 good acts. But for the most part, I just don't get it. The lady laughing like a loon across from Holteen and myself was having a good time. I wish I had drank her electric-kool-aid. Tim Maher as Moses was good too.

As the show went on I could only think of the two word review of Spinal Tap's "Shark Sandwich."


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First Issue of WilderPress! scheduled for 2nd Week in Feb.

   The final details with the herald have been hammered out and the first issues of WilderPress! is scheduled to be out the second Friday of February. Thanks to some much appreciated local support the publication will be stocked at Maria's Bookstore, and Durango Natural Foods. I have to also thank those who kindly contributed their thoughts and feelings about the environment. We received some great submissions and look forward to the next issue already. In addition to the publication we have also set up a blog site to follow up on articles and keep track of environmental issues across the globe including stories of direct action, and pressing articles that don't make their way into the publication. Feel free to check the site out at  Be sure to check out the link to Capitol Climate Action scheduled for March 2009. This is a collaboration of many organizations, and individuals who are descending upon the Capitol to protest the large coal fired power plant in Washington D.C. that powers Congress with the very energy system we must not let become the new crutch of industrial civilization. A push for a more sustainable future must continue, and we must ensure that Congress is continually pressured to act on global climate change, as well as pressing national environmental issues. A great place to begin would be a sustainable Capitol.

    Please continue to contribute to WilderPress! and the greater environmental struggle in general. Times are changing, and the hour is upon us. We must make the changes necessary to ensure a future livable world for ourselves, future generations, and the natural world itself. Part of this change must surely come from rebuilding our sense of community, and coming together to stand up against a system that is failing people and the environment. Thank you again to those wild folks who have contributed their time to our efforts.


Stay Wild. Stay Free.


Friday, January 23, 2009

woe be the trees

This causes perhaps a bit of unease, but according to this L.A. Times article, trees out West are fading fast.

Methinks we need more trees, not less. Those pesky bark beetles, among other factors, are partially to blame.

Of course, if you're dodging those lovely tall green things on the slopes, there might not seem to be any tree trouble. Haven't really noticed fewer trees out here in Utah...but what's the tree situation in Colorado these days, as far as y'all can see?

a great zappa quote

“the more mediocre your music is, the more accessible it is to a larger number of people in the U.S. That’s where the market is, you’re not selling to a bunch of jazz aesthetes in Europe, you’re selling to Americans, who really hate music, but love entertainment.” -Frank Zappa, 1969.

somewhat of a blanket statement, but also super true. I listen to KDUR all the time and have surrounded myself with musicians and other people that hold more than a remote interest in music. Then I travel, to large, urban areas with suburbs, and realize that a lot of people listen to junk. Can 6 billion American Idol viewers be wrong? YES THEY CAN.

Author Derrick Jensen tearing it up:

2 videos of kick-ass enviromentalist writer Derrick Jensen riffing on social responsibility, the real Star Wars, etc. This guy has an incredibly keen eye on how the system works.

Author of:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Newspapers and blogs merge in new newspaper vision

While most newspapers are shrinking, and many are folding up all together, an entrepreneur in Chicago is launching his vision of a new kind of newspaper -- one that combines the values of a hard-copy paper with the content style of on-line publications.

The Printed Blog will be a print publication, but will employ a new business model different from traditional newspapers. According to the New York Times, publisher Joshua Karp's newspaper will cull the best of blogs from particular regions, combine that with reader-generated material, and publish may "hyper-local" versions of The Printed Blog.

The first editions are due to appear in Chicago and San Francisco tomorrow (Jan. 23, '09).

To make the paper financially viable, Karp is employing some very non-traditional newspaper-publishing practices:
  • The newspapers will be free;
  • volunteers are trolling and selecting blogs for content;
  • user-generated content such as comments and letters will be placed alongside ads and articles;
  • bloggers are letting Karp excerpt posts for free (in exchange for promotion);
  • rather than using large centralized printing presses with a wide distribution system, Karp in putting individual small presses in the homes of individual distributors, then paying the costs -- that way each edition can be shaped for each specific region, and there are no costs in shipping the papers to each distributor;
  • ads will also be taylored to each micro-local edition.
Karp predicts as many as 50 distinct versions could one day be found in a city the size of Chicago.

The first editions will be weekly, but Karp hopes to go daily -- or even twice daily -- once ad revenues allow.

Check out the New York Times article here.

Visit The Printed Blog here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Great Event at Maria's Saturday:

Joseph M. Marshall III will be reading/signing at Maria's Saturday evening at 6:30.

This guy is one of the most impressive speakers I've ever seen, and I've seen plenty my friends.  Ha.  Anyway, he's great, his books are great, and I'm very excited he's coming down.

My Telegraph review:


Michael Franti and Spearhead's Obama song

Michael Franti and Spearhead released this video and song about Obama in December. It's worth revisiting one more time. At least.

You can also download the song for free at Spearhead Vibrations.

Colorado bill would make sportsmen liable for land damage

This from Matt Kenna, the Colorado chair for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers:
A particularly damaging bill to the Division of Wildlife (DOW) and sportsmen, SB 24, has been introduced in the state Legislature, and will be taken up by the Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday at 1:30 p.m.. This legislation would make Colorado sportsmen and women more liable for game damage to private landowners, potentially to the tune of $3.2 million more liable. And Colorado already has the most liberal game damage program in the country. SB24 would drain money away from important habitat protection and game management programs and put it into the hands of a few landowners.

Last year, sportsmen paid nearly $1 million for game damage claims, and an additional $600,000 for game damage prevention materials. Colorado’s sportsmen and women spend more money on game damage than any of the 10 state wildlife agencies that have similar programs, and 40 state wildlife agencies don’t pay anything for wildlife damages.

Daily Sentinel outdoors columnist Dave Buchanan says: “Senate Bill 024 would rewrite the rules on game damage payments, allowing a landowner to charge up to $2,500 trespass fees (it’s currently topped at $100) before becoming ineligible for game damage payments. I can’t think of many residents willing or able to pony up a couple Grover Clevelands for stepping across a fence to shoot an elk that ostensibly belongs to the public. It’s just another move toward making hunting a sport for the wealthy.” It doesn’t make sense that landowners should be able to “double dip” by both charging exorbitant access fees and receiving high damage claim payments from the state.

The Legislature’s Senate Agricultural Committee needs to hear from sportsmen and women on this issue (see email addresses and phone numbers for committee members below). Just write a short note explaining that you’re a hunter/angler and you oppose this legislation, then copy and paste it into an email and send to all of the Agricultural Committee members in one fell swoop. Or pick up the phone and make some calls.
Contact the Ag Committee members to voice your point of view:
Chair – Jim Isgar / / 303- 866-4884

Vice Chair- Gail Schwartz / / 303-866-4871

Dan Gibbs / dan.gibbs.senate@State.CO.US / 303-866-4873

Mary Hodge / / 303-866-4855

Ken Kester / / 303-866-4877

Greg Brophy / / 303-866-6360

Ted Harvey / / 303-866-4881
For more information and membership info on the Colorado Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, see here.

Obama at Tattered Cover...3 years ago.

Podcast of Obama speaking at the Tattered Cover in '06 during his Audacity of Hope book tour.

Pretty incredible.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Everybody's doing it!

With the new administration comes a new move into the modern era:

The new White House website now also features a first-ever White House Blog.

You can subscribe to it at the White House Blog feed.

Extra! Global-warming defying glacier discovered!

That's right: This is a photo of what is perhaps the world's only advancing glacier. And it's right on here in the Southern Rockies.

Right on our doorstep, actually, demanding the state intervene and close the area for the good of the public.

Scientists are uncertain as to whether this is evidence of Global Cooling, or just a product of classic southwestern Colorado climate: Big dumps of snow interspersed with periods of warm days and frigid nights.

Lest we forget...


Monday, January 19, 2009

Utah oil and gas leases halted

On Saturday night, a district judge in Denver put a stop to the sale of oil and gas leases in Utah that had been auctioned off on Dec. 19, arguing that the effects of the leases on Utah's wildlands needed further study.

The decision will likely place the fate of the 110,000 acres of leased lands in hands of the soon-to-be Obama Administration. So far, Obama staffers have been critical of the leases.

Read the LA Times story here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bush by the numbers

Well, with President Bush's grand goodbye over -- in his farewell speech Thursday night, he asserted he always had the nation's best interests in mind -- history can now begin debating and framing the quality and qualities of the Bush Presidency.

But what about the quantities of the Bush Years?

Can't argue much about numbers. So Harper's Magazine generated one of its famous Harper's Indexes, and lined up the stats and counts that puts a solid framing around the last eight years in our country -- numbers all fascinating, some funny, many scary, others just weird.

Some of my favorites from the Bush Years Harper's Index:

Year in which a political candidate first sued Palm Beach County over problems with hanging chads: 1984

Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98

Hours after the 9/11 attacks that an Alaska congressman speculated they may have been committed by “eco-terrorists”: 9

Minimum number of calls the FBI received in fall 2001 from Utah residents claiming to have seen Osama bin Laden: 20

Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50

Portion of Baghdad residents in 2007 who had a family member or friend wounded or killed since 2003: 3/4

Number of all U.S. war veterans who have been denied Veterans Administration health care since 2003: 452,677

Seconds it took a Maryland consultant in 2004 to pick a Diebold voting machine’s lock and remove its memory card: 10

Percentage change since 2002 in the number of U.S. teens using illegal drugs: –9

Percentage change in the number of adults in their fifties doing so: +121

Number of words in the first sentence of Bill Clinton’s memoir and in that of George W. Bush’s, respectively: 49, 5

Rank of Bush among U.S. presidents with the highest disapproval rating: 1

And my all-time most favoritist:
Minimum number of times that Frederick Douglass was beaten in what is now Donald Rumsfeld’s vacation home: 25
Hard to argue with numbers. But I guarantee this list will generate lots of debates over everybody's most favoritist.

Read the list here.

Subscribe to Harper's here.

Watch Bush's speech in two parts -- part 1 here, and part 2 here. Or listen to it here. Or read it here.

* * *

As a side note (or, perhaps, actually, a pointedly relevant note), yesterday NPR's All Things Considered aired an illuminating and wee-bit chilling piece quantifying Dick Cheney's influence in the Bush Administration. Listen here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More Covers

Awesome for all the right reasons...

and awesome for all the wrong reasons:

Speaking of awesome cover art...

Gotta get my two cents in here, but on book covers rather than albums:

The publisher's (Dream Garden Press) description:

The prelude to Abbey's final novel, Hayduke Lives!, this new hardcover edition of Edward Abbey's classic includes the previously deleted chapter "Seldom Seen at Home" and features the extraordinary artistic vision of Robert Crumb. With this book, Abbey's reputation as social gadfly and maverick was indelibly forged. The characters are loose again, and the defenders of the faith better get ready! Complete with photos of Abbey and Crumb in Arches National Park and more than fifty illustrations by legendary sixties underground comix illustrator and Americon icon, R. Crumb. The Monkey Wrench Gang is a "must" for Abbey afficionados! With 12 full page illustrations and over 30 chapter head illustrations by R. Crumb.

This book was basically unavailable for the last few years but is back in circulation. Crumb's illustrations are an outstanding counterpart to the novel.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One more on album covers

Well, you know it's deep winter in the mountains when we have a Blogging Battle of the Band-album-covers. It'll be hard to top Telly Savalas -- I bow to Bryant Liggett and his deep (physically, if not psychologically) vinyl collection.

And I offer one more Salvo -- and video. The video is painful, in a rather luridly delightful way. And, I pray to all that is sacred and sane, it is tongue and cheek as well -- although I'm not sure the audience at the 1978 Science Fiction awards, where this appeared, were quite so sure ... But it's worth getting through, as the performance takes a somewhat bizarre and funny -- in a peculiar and ha-ha way -- in the middle.

Enjoy my friends. Spring is coming!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Vinyl Art

In response to Ken, I give you The Blasters s/t debut, and IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING by King Crimson. 2 great album covers. My daughter has chosen ALL NIGHT LOCUST PARTY by the Volcano Suns, and the soundtrack to YOU'RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN. She's a good kid.

ABCC's (Ash, Backyards, 'Clean' Coal), the river, me 'n' you ...

Video of area affected by a Tennessee Valley Authority pond breach.
(by Chloe White/

Ash is an inevitable waste product of coal combustion. If not dispersed onto the landscape through the smokestacks, then it must be kept, somewhere. According to figures obtained by the Associated Press, 461,700 tons of coal ash is currently stored in New Mexico.

Much of this is near the Four Corners Power Plant...

...and the San Juan Generating Station.
The San Juan River flows between them.

Some area residents have waged a multi-year battle to monitor and control any leaching of toxins into their groundwater. Just over a year ago, High Country News had a primer on coal combustion waste (CCW) in the Four Corners area, written by Jonathon Thompson. Check it out, while contemplating a kayak float on Morgan Lake, with Four Corners Power Plant as landscape.

Oh dear, a deer mouse under 'dere

A bit of a seasonal reminder:

Yesterday I trapped a deer mouse in the cabinet under our kitchen sink. Once I saw what it was, I went into full Andromeda Strain mode: I cleaned myself up, put on a mask and gloves, scrubbed under the sink, and sprayed it with a chlorine solution. I also located and plugged the hole in the back of the cabinet where I suspect the intruder entered.

Before that, though, I had already reached under and grabbed the mouse trap barehanded. And the day before, my wife had cleaned under there unprotected when she noticed mouse droppings.

We never suspected deer mice might be in our house. I had seen a mouse -- a regular gray house mouse -- scurry across our kitchen floor in December, but never found droppings under the sink and relied on the cat to keep the inside of our house generally guarded. In past winters, as well, I had trapped mice in our kitchen, but always your standard grey variety.

Deer mice generally live outdoors, and so in rural areas. So I shhhheeeerrrr was su-prised when I caught me a deer mouse, right in our house, right in downtown Durango.

Deer mice, as everyone in these here parts knows by now, carry hantavirus, and the Four Corners is one of the major places where hantavirus is found. The virus is spread through the air around infected deer mouse urine, saliva, and feces. An area where mice have been can be infectious for up to three days.

Science Daily offers this nutshell history of hantavirus:
In May 1993, an outbreak of a mysterious lung disease appeared in the Four Corners region where the boundaries of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado meet. After two deaths among young Navajos were linked, other cases soon were discovered, and the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other agencies found the disease was caused by a previously unknown type of hantavirus, carried primarily by the deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus.

The new hantavirus was named the Sin Nombre virus, and the disease it caused was named hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Experts showed the disease wasn't spread among people, but from mice to people, often when mouse droppings were inhaled.

The latest, but outdated figures on the CDC Web site show that from the 1993 outbreak through March 26, 2007, there were 465 cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in the United States, and 35 percent of the patients died.

And in the winter, they like to move indoors, just like everyone else. Even in town, it seems.

Hence I'd like to urge everyone to be aware of the season when you might take on some unplanned -- and worrisome -- tenants. The CDC's hantavirus website urges and offers pointers for a few simple maintenance measures:
They also advise folks to keep bird feeders and woodpiles set well back from the house.

Now that we're all cleaned up, though, we're in the next phase: Seeing what happens. There is, of course, only a small chance the mouse we caught (or his cohorts) are infected -- but it's far from impossible. The only thing we can do, though, once exposed to the droppings and space where deer mice have been, is watch for symptoms: fever, deep muscle aches, and severe shortness of breath.

And tell all our friends to keep an eye out for unexpected houseguests ...

Read more about hantavirus symptoms here.

There's also an interesting article this month in Science Daily explaining some of the latest research on deer mice carrying hantavirus in the Four Corners.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fear and philosophizing on the Kalalau Trail

So there I was, standing on a foot-wide section of gravelly trail etched into the side of crumbling cliffside that fell several hundred feet below my muddy shoes to the pounding Pacific surf. To fall would be to die. And I couldn't help but question if this was such a good idea after all.

It wasn't me -- it was the kids I was wondering about. My wife and I were there with our own two teens, and two of our friends and their two kids. We were headed out for five days on the Kalalau Trail, along the Na Pali Coast, on the north shore of Kauai. The 11-mile hike is rated by Backpacker Magazine as one of the best hikes in the world – and one of the ten most dangerous in the U.S. The Sierra Club rates it a 10 on it's 1-10 hiking difficulty scale.

And now I understood why.

The Kalalau Trail is every bit as amazing as advertised. The ancient footpath runs along the verdant and sheer curtain-like north coast of the island of Kauai – now protected as Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park. It climbs (well, you climb) up and down around sharp-edged ridgelines, and down into and out of narrow stream-carved and waterfall-fed gorges – where the frequent rains can make the stream crossings sometimes an adventure, and sometimes downright dangerous. Even though the trail begins and ends, of course, at sea level, you gain (and lose) more than 5,000 feet over the trail's length.

The views and landscape, though, are truly staggering : Long looks along the vertical and wave-battered coastline; broad backdrops of waterfall-draped cliff faces; cave-like passages through rainforest interspersed with those butt-puckering exposures over the bouldery surf. Carved through all that is an often narrow, sometimes fragile trail across steep, wet clay soils and along stretches of active mass-wasting – where the loose volcanic soils are working hard to return home to the sea – and you have a trail every bit as nerve-wracking as warned.

So why put our kids – never mind ourselves – into such situations?

Well, one main reason: The trail ends at the Kalalau Valley, where millennia-old terraced landscapes are still employed by secretive, interesting (and sometimes creepy) back-to-the-landers (think: these could well be the folks who inspired "The Others" on the TV show Lost), and the valley opening is lined by a beautiful, broad swath of idyllic beach. (See the slideshow below for more.) And all that was there just for those willing to do the work, and take the risks, required to walk there – less than a dozen others when we were there.

So there's a lesson here we want to pass on to our kids, one I might steal from the backcountry skiers' mantra: Earn your turns. Because places (and things) that are hard to get to (or do) can offer great rewards – and those great rewards are greatly magnified by the labor and risk involved in getting there. And, importantly, that the getting there itself, the doing itself, the challenges and risks themselves, are also great rewards.

And, really, isn't that one of the reasons – or the reason -- we live where we do, here in the San Juan Country? Think: Avalanches just this winter, even at ski areas, that have caught and killed people. Think: Rafting. Backpacking. Biking. Hunting. Even just driving a car around here. Hell, my son was on this trip with a full arm cast, the product of his skateboarding addiction. (Which, in all fairness – or karma -- he has passed on to me. Read about that here.)

Risk. Danger. Hard work. Earn your turns. That, in my mind, is why we live the way we do. Why we live where we do.

And in my mind is perhaps the best lesson we can pass on to our kids. One that's worth the risk.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


There's not much better than vinyl art, except maybe, the vinyl.