Monday, October 31, 2005

Referenda C & D are no-brainers

Election day is upon us and I find myself baffled. The incredible blitz of political ad campaigns against C and D rages endlessly and op-ed pieces pour misinformation on the fire. Right now, of all times, one would think that C and D are no-brainers for Fort Collins residents. Company closures and worker attrition continue to increase the important of the university as a job provider noth directly and indirectly through student-associated business throughout town, and redistricting challenges have risen to fever pitch. Yet the futures of C and D remain murky with polls suggesting a dead heat.

Ads, financed in large part by non-Colorado funds, feature teens claiming they won't be able to go to college if C and D pass. Earnest looking actors claim they will lose thousands of dollars in refunds that would otherwise keep them afloat.

The reality is that CSU tuition is anticipated to rise 30-50% if C and D fail, and services will also have to be cut. The number of kids in the state that will not longer be able to afford a college education is astounding and the quality of that education will doubtlessly suffer. That girl who would 'otherwise be able to attend college' was apparently planning on leaving the state for a more affordable or more elite education elsewhere and needed the alleged two thousand bucks for moving expenses. Residents of Fort Collins can anticipate a drop in enrollment while those students still attending will have less expendable income. This will translate to a drop in rentors, diners and shoppers-not my idea of a healthy economy.

And what of that two-three thousand dollar 'loss'? Economists are very clear that there is NO WAY that is even possible. To achieve that, most individuals would have to qualify for every potential line-iten refund-many of which are mutually exclusive. The impact is much more likely to be to the tune of a couple hundred bucks. A couple hundred dollar investment that will maintain the local economy, the local schools and the state's infrastructure. As Jana Ley noted at the School Board Candidate Forum, there is no remaining 'low-hanging' fruit. It is your children's educations, your small businesses and your safety on the road that will pay the price if special-interest groups from Washington succeed in defeating Referendums C and D. Don't let strangers decide our future, a future they don't have to live in. Read the independent assessments and then vote for C and D.

the time has come

to be afraid, be very afraid. Alito's rulings do not support separation of Church and State, will work to overturn Roe v Wade, and will further erode civil liberties and the protection from unauthorized searches (including strip searches). the move is predictable given Bush's many problems right now and his lack of success coercing government officials to help sell the American public on his last 'credible threat' of terrorism. for a humorous synopsis of the issues, click here.

it will be essential for critics of the Shrub to oppose this nomination with vigor without losing vigilance and drive over Plamegate and the misjustification of the Iraq war. it will also be absolutely essential that this battle be fought in a bipartisan and mature manner to avoid use of the filibuster and total system failure in the Senate.

for more information on Alito-so conservative he has been nicknamed Scalito-i recommend watching DefCon, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights, Think Progress, and The Times UK (less biased than mainstream US news companies on US matters) for updates. for action don't forget traditional advocacy groups like NARAL, NOW, and Planned Parenthood.

finally, don't forget the obvious: write your senator.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Fitzmas is here

i am a very happy girl today. Fitzmas has been lean so far but the ongoing nature of the investigation and Rove's continued status as a party under investigation casts a greater pall in some ways on the WH than an actual indictment might. Fitzgerald's press conference was absolutely fascinating- cogent, congenial and circumspect.*

Bush's response was pathetic and inconsistent with his position on detainees at GBay ("each person in our system is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial" versus detainees at GBay who are not afforded the protection of due process.)

the commentary and analysis is already intense and can be anticipated to only further deepen.

given profound political scrutiny and abysmal favorability and confidence ratings, the WH is under pressure to name a replacement for Miers post-haste. this selection, fascinating in its own right, is likely to provide great insight into how weak the WH perceives itself. buckle your seats folks- the next week or so is liable to get downright wacky! in the meantime, the wells are erupting with ponies.

*NOTE: the transcript is possibly incomplete as i remember Fitzgerald answering several more questions after the one on Harriet Miers.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

last weekend

me & Dave
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
this past weekend, i was lucky enough to 'escape' to Estes Park for a visit with two of my favorite people in the world.

i drove up Sunday after recuperated from the previous day's trauma of chores. we visited for several hours; Nancy and i took etra time to refine a couple plans we have for world domination and early admission to the Fortune 500. i must point out how well Dave tolerated us. eventually we headed into town to eat at a local Mexican joint that makes quite excellent BBQ ribs. yes, i know that doesn't make sense. what really does in Estes Park? it is a town that is best enjoyed with sturdy suspension of disbelief. next time, i think i will try the artichoke dip-ride the paradox, i say, all the way to the wall. a little tour of the local galleries and organic coffee shop and then back to the house. Dave and Nancy had arranged for me to stay at the neighbor's; it is a second home and quite a blend of antique and contemporaneous bric-a-brac.

it was still dark Monday when i woke. we had plans to head into the Park early for a nice hike and miss the traffic. the stars were spectacular, Orion's Belt heavy with tools. i must confess to some trepidation as i made my way between the houses. Dave and Nancy have regular visits from at least one somewhat pugnacious bear, a fact i remembered most clearly as i rounded the corner of the house. lucky for me, the bears were either sleeping or 'shopping' at another house.

the drive to the trailhead was peaceful, the gawpish tourists still tucked in their beds. it was brisk (~45F) when we reached the trailhead but the sun hadn't quite finished rising. we decided to brave the potential cold and quite evident winds for a chance to see Mills Lake together before the snows close it. as you can tell by my huge grin, the hike was an absolute delight.

we enjoyed a few photo ops at Alberta Falls and curved along many spectacular vistas on the way up. snow occasionally dotted the landscape and winds cut with unexpected vigor into the shadows. happily, we encountered little ice on the way. actually, the trip seemed almost no work at all in spite of being steep in spots. this i attribute to the excellent company.

Mills Lake was quite stunning and only partially frozen. impressively, as we neared the lake, the temperature plummeted from the 40s right into the 20s. there was little wind at the lake and silence settled around us as often happens in the cold. even the Keyboard of the Winds was silent. as usual, Dave and Nancy had everything under control. coffee, nuts, chocolate and camaraderie- the perfect mix to fight off a chill.

still, all things must bow before Mother Nature and eventually we were forced back down the mountain. not long before we were driven from the lake, we were joined by several endearing ragamuffins, angling for bits of our snack. good hikers that we are, we hardened our hearts and turned away. not that it hurt them any-this guy looked chubby enough to have trouble with take-off and landing!

after that, it was back to town for our reward- a delicious breakfast and thick hot coffee. then home for me in time to really put in some work on my grant. the thing is finally taking shape-perhaps i may yet end the 'perpetual student' phase of my life.

downy mildew?

the Shrub is starting to drop leaves.

indictments loom on the horizon and Miers withdrew her nomination. apparently, even cronyism isn't enough to outweigh blatant incapability for a position sometimes. it is likely there will soon be a new 'credible' terrorist threat to distract us from these issues but, like WellMuerte's latest ad campaign, the truth is getting harder and harder to hide.

Delay's lawyer was stupid enough to blatantly lie in court. although mainstream press agencies continue to present biased and misleading information in the case, it is unlikely to sway the 'court of public opinion'. in other news, the Shrub's own father sides against him in a recent New Yorker piece.

possible termination looms for Judith Miller from the new conservative mouthpiece and propaganda machine The NYT. granted, these last few years, its "all Shrub's agenda that is fit to print" unless one is reading the Op-Ed pieces. perhaps this move marks a shift back to less-biased reporting? nah, now i am just talking crazy!

finally, last night there were thousands of candlelit vigils across the US to mourn the death of the 2,000th American soldier in Iraq. mind this leaves aside the many dead contractors and mercenaries working for the US as well as the many more thousands of innocent dead Iraqis. also, lest one forget, most military experts agree that the number of persons permanently disabled or maimed is usually 10 times the number of dead. for obvious reasons, the government does not keep tallies on this subject. in this case, that would be 20,000 brave servicepersons. this probably underestimates the number of maimed and disabled given the remarkable decrease in total mortality secondary to changes in battlefield medicine protocols.

Monday, October 24, 2005

since the house is on fire, let us warm ourselves*

lucky for me, i am almost finished with classes:

"The future of student tuition hinges on what happens Nov. 1. Student tuition has increased by 15 percent this year. If C and D fail, CSU president Larry Penley estimated a 30- to 50-percent increase in tuition. College officials have said this extra student money won't even be enough to offset the reduction in funding caused by the measures' failure."

too bad we aren't 'finished' edumacating peoples yet. better pray C&D pass. offensively, the No ads imply that C&D will hurt the ability of people to go to college and lie about the costs.

well, the US media slant is no longer successfully selling many Americans on the war. i guess the armed forces are hoping that the people out there dying are less discerning and won't question the source of their news. it is a new and more horrific spin on Y2K.

the White House may continue to hope that the impending indictments may be offset by a decreased ability of the disenfrachised to vote and a decreased likelihood that our votes will actually be counted honestly. this seems unlikely to hold true, especially as the Administration has taken to diverting energies from pressing matters like Plamegate, Iraq, our violation of NAFTA and Canada's mounting interest in sanctioning us in order to try and silence one squeaky voice of satirical dissent. they have apparently forgetten that doing so is similar to cutting up starfish in the ocean; every part grows back as a separate predator to pry once more at the clam's shell. eventually the whole system will collapse...

finally, here is an easy way to help fight the invasion of ID into the science classroom. click here to write your governor. remember- the question isn't whether you believe in God, the question is whether such belief should be taught as a scientific alternative to evolution.

oh. i almost forgot. Michelle Malkin distinguishes herself and her stupidity by claiming that candlelit vigils to mark the death of the 2000th soldier in Iraq are parties. damn those evil unconcerned pacifist Quakers for their callous indifference and debauched nightlife.

gack. how does such stupidity and hate-mongering continue to thrive in this age? it seems the only thing that can't evolve is humankind's collective bloodthirst.

*Italian proverb

Sunday, October 23, 2005


today has been an epically unkarmic day.

it started unpossessing enough. woke late, the first saturday in two months where i didn't have engagements by eight, and lazed about. lazing about, for those naive and unskilled, is a wonderful state that delicately balances the basic needs like primo lattes against the risk of 'industry'. quite delicious but definitely acquired skill.

slowly, carefully, inkled my way into actual action. cleaning. lots and lots of cleaning. the last time i really cleaned was when i reclaimed my apartment 4 months ago from the gnomes of neglect. there was great sneezing, mild cursing, and confused darting of cats. a delightful trip to the basement to reclaim the humidier almost resulted in death as the 'not before marriage' neighbor's cat tried to dart into the basement. the humidifier went flying, i narrowly missed the cat's neck and the cat sought higher ground. this was followed by the enviable joy of public laundry. upside: i have learned a lot today about the latino version of WWF.

home after 8 hours chores to rest. deep breath. quiet house. out to rent movie and pick up bottle of wine. home, happy, ready to relax and enjoy my cozy abode. assembled the humidifier while previews ran. enjoyed the first ten minutes of movie (Fever Pitch- fine, i have a weakness for Drew Barrymore. who, that isn't blind, doesn't?). pop into the bedroom to put up my sweater and---

i have no ark so the cats will likely drown... a pool of water encircles the humidifier, soaks the area rug, reaches toward the intake vent for the heat. cats scatter, parts fly, i schlepp humidifer to shower and towels to floor. ugh. area rug onto chairs to dry, towels mop floor then into sinks to drain, cats on backs of furniture-they are just like that...

frenzied activity. can i get no breaks? well, the turn with the neighbor's cat apparently cracked the humidifier reservoir so no vacuum can be maintained. water will flow. and flow. and flow.

fuck. but hey, i caught it and mopped it, and at least the floor was clean when i started so i should be able to stall a repeat trip to the laundromat. all is in the shower so now i can settle back down with a glass of wine and enjoy the movie.

glass from cabinet- arcing shatter through the air, in my arm, on the sink, to the floor. WTF?!? glass exploded. must have touched something but still.

o. k.

new glass. ancient glass. hardy 60s alcoholic testament to liquor glass. rock on. ain't nuthin short of WW to break this baby.

mopped up shards- no interest in hemorrhaging cats. now settled down with wine and high-water cats for the movie. first scene fine. second scene fine. third scene, funny with the psycho bit. fourth scene suddenly close-captioned. can't escape. now spanish. now french. now german. the germans watch romantic comedy?! i thought that is what they held special elections for?

eventually eject the disk and start over. but i have a PS2. so again with "The Parental Level of the Player has been set" or something. so again with the code. watch scenes 1-3 again b/c why not. and four now seizes for reasons previously unrevealed due to funding sources... so eject the disk and clean and crabby and clean and back in and scan scenes 1-3 and now fine on four. but who really needed to see a spin class AGAIN?

the movie was fine. plenty funny. plenty both sides. in spite of all previous expectations, done with time to waste. my two channels: Cheaters and the local news as revised by Fox. hmm. so pop in a disk of MBFGW.

here is where the lessons come in. lesson 1: there are few few movies that stand repeated viewing. most fail for the same reason relationships fail if they last long enough-- the things that attracted you become kitsch and annoying and drive you away. Exceptions: The Linguini Incident ("they're in the white group."), Dave ("Was it that day in the shower?"), Princess Bride (pick your own quote- its like fish in a barrel) and My Big Fat Greek Wedding ("I came alive when I met you."). other honorable mentions: Elf, Sleepless in Seattle, Happy Texas, Raising Arizona.

"what do all these movies share?" i hear you ask.


nothing at all except they have all survived repeated viewings under challenging circumstances. all i would buy again in a heartbeat.

lesson 1b: there is no good, fiscally prudent way to predict which movies will successfully weather life to fit in this category. unfortunately, you just have to take a chance.

after the movie, i brushed my teeth and stumbled onto lesson 2- the reason i am writing now. i have a 'jack-n-jill' bathroom which spills into my bedroom. Sonicare buzzing, i glanced into my clean clean bedroom and was struck by the lack of rug. (rug still drying in the main room over dining chairs) suddenly i remembered the way my bedroom had looked before my mother had her way with it. the comfortmeter needle lodged permanently between aesthetic and Spartan. it was all fine and was probably a decent representation of what i needed in a place to sleep.

but Mom came. saw and was displeased. there was great reconnaissance after which large sums of money, both hers and mine, were spent to civilize the space. now the curtains have color, the comforter is down and purple, throw pillows frolic with the teddy bear and a great rug fills the void of the floor.

this is my life.

a representation of my whole life.

i live it and carefully but my mother, mon amie, comes along and adds a peculiar joie de vivre. i settle into the civilized space she has created, the sanctuary she makes of my cave.

so what exactly is lesson 2?

lesson 2: life alone is fine, at least sometimes. life with my mother is Technicolor all the time and i would give an organ to have that always. easily more than one.

the take home: life without my mother is flat and insipid and Spartan and null. every day i am so unbelievably grateful for the privilege of living within her radiant circle. how cool is that?

with love,

Jackie Chris

Thursday, October 20, 2005

quibbley and cool

truth in mainstream news at last. also, think i forgot to share the ponies.

oh it is getting better and better!!

UPDATE: blech. my representatives disgust me. see this and this.

Dear Senator Salazar,

I was appalled to see you voted against the Coburn amendments. You are sending a message of fiscal irresponsibility and devotion to pork barrel over decency that is appalling. Even Senator Allard voted for the second amendment.

Continuing to be disappointed in your representation of Colorado and the Democratic party, I remain your constituent,

Jacqueline Whittemore, DVM DACVIM

for the final vote, see here:
Update II: It was easier to keep tally of the meager few "yes" votes than write in the tons of senators which put the politics of personal pork above the national interest. A $223 million bridge serving 50 people was more important to these people than rebuilding storm-battered New Orleans.

Simply unconscionable. Those who voted against these amendments have zero credibility on issues of fiscal responsibility. Zero.

alright already

so i have been back from Jen's for over 24 hours and have yet to update the world. i guess i am trying to figure where to start given the number of things that have changed!

as there is not enough time to splain, i will sum up:
Supreme Court do-over: i cannot tell you how excellent and humorous i find this given the complete audacity of selecting Miers as Supreme Court justice candidate.

Bush ratings so low that only Nixon did worse in his second term: this has led to a quite humorous run on ponies and some excellent 'gate' comparisons.

rumors mill of possible Cheney step-down: the downside is that they anticipate Condoleezza Rice as a replacement. the humorous part of this story is that conservatives are concerned because Condoleezza may be pro-choice, not because it indicates the scandal and intrigue reaches to the highest recesses of their 'moral' White House.

anti C&D ads have started running on TV. what are these people on and how do they have such a steady supply? do they not realize how catastrophically fu**ed we will be if C&D fail? higher ed, lower ed, roads, other public works--all gone or out-sourced according to the overwhelming majority of governmental, independent watchdog and outsider analyses. here at CSU VMC we have already been hit so hard and exhausted so many creative options in response to tax cuts and the recession, another cut would almost guarantee our inability to continue as a veterinary leader and center of excellence. i shudder to consider the result.

HSR is releasing a Lil Brudder t-shirt: this is of course based on a most excellent SB email.

5th publication out: yup. you read right. my 5th first author peer-reviewed scientific publication (Canine and Feline Pancreatitis) just came out Friday, continuing my tradition as an achieving machine. :)

there is more i know, but that is what comes to mind as i rush to bed. still haven't had time to expand on the flamethrowing torch, the importance of property, the socialist in the coffee shop, or the true value of a donut shop. i'll try. remind me. so, signing off from a tiny blue island in a frighteningly red state, i remain as ever,


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

local politics are fun

about a week ago, i received in the mail my absentee ballot for the November election. i had requested it when i previously thought there might be reason to be out of town and, though circumstances have changed, the ballot came anyway. anyone who knows me knows i hate having things undone so i immediately set about completing it for submission. halfway through i was stopped when i came to the section for Poudre School District Board positions and discovered there was no centralized source of information on the beliefs of these individuals. heck, there was no information at all on most of them. a little digging led me to an impending forum hosted by the League of Women Voters. that forum was Tuesday.

i missed the first 10 minutes as several doors were locked and it took a bit to find the right way into the building. i admit that i do not have a photographic memory, didn't care about all the waffle and filler, and so my notes only take one so far but here are the questions they were asked and is what i learned about each of the candidates from their responses. the actual forum is being rebroadcast several times for those who care. at the end of each candidate, i have listed my impressions and a subjective score.


1. what are the 3 main issues you see as most pressing should you be elected?
2. what can you bring to the challenges of 'boundary' issues, school closures and redistricting?
3. how will you address any necessary budget cuts and what areas will you target?
4. would you support teaching of intelligent design and/or creationism in the science classroom?
5. how would you handle board conflict, as it is inevitable?
6. using a scale of 1-10 with 1 being abstinence only and 10 being teaching about birth control, STDs etc, where do you believe the health education curriculum should be on the level of sexual education provided in our schools?
7. are you for or against 'school of choice'?
8. if you could start one new program, what would it be?
9. are you for or against referenda C & D?

Director District C:

Jim Hayes: running unopposed.
1. boundary/redistricting, dirth of new teachers and poor teacher retention, the achievement gap.
2. recognized we can't please everyone. opposed to anti-'tree' options, any decision needs to be framed for the long-term
3. no real answer.
4. NO, not in science, can consider in religion.
5. team-building in advance; once decision made, all should stand behind.
6. a 5 on the scale. teach abstinence but open about options.
7. pro-school of choice.
8. program to help eliminate the phenomenon of 'turn off to school in junior high.'
9. pro. discussed high bipartisan support; refuted assertions by opponents of C&D.
overall: an upfront guy, stressed he is a 'layperson' on a number of the above issues but would work to get to the right answers. showed up even though uncontested in his district. my score 8.5/10.

Director District D: 2 candidates.

a shame one cannot be moved to District F as both were very strong and good choices (see below for problem with District F).

Jana Ley
1. building teamwork between members of the PSD board; supporting Dr. Wilson, the new superintendent of schools; improving communication between the PSD board and the community.
2. will keep listening.
3. talked about the committee that has handled trimming things so far. talked about the lack of 'low-hanging' fruit. was honest that, at this point, any cuts will affect the kids, regardless of where they are initially aimed. if less janitors, poorer working environment, etc.
4. NO, no in science. specifically stated ID isn't a science, is faith-based.
5. building teamwork; discussed that disparity and conflict are reflections of having a broad board that reflects the disparate needs of the community.
6. an 8-9 on the scale. spoke knowledgably about the approved curriculum and the importance of appropriately training teachers so the 10 lessons have appropriate impact.
7. pro-school of choice but pointed out there are concerns/issues with accessibility to all.
8. had difficulty because felt like a 'beggar at a feast.' if had to start with one, would go with grid busing for all community members and students to balance rising fuel costs and help level some of the inequity created by socioeconomic status on 'school of choice' participation.
9. absolutely supports. addressed the misleading assumption that Amendment 23 protects school funding and that it stipulates percentage increase or decrease but does not stipulate base. base is set by independent statistical formulas and would most certainly fall prey to the fiscal crisis created should C&D not pass.
overall: experienced but not pushy or preachy. very honest and level. a good egg. my score 9/10.

Bob Long
1. closing the achievement gap of the at-risk population, decreasing high school drop-out rates, improving communication between the PSD board and the community.
2. listen to community, get them involved. also suggested trying to form partnerships with the city board and board of realtors to find alternative solutions.
3. improve partnerships, try to leverage committee use of buildings to generate additional revenue, work more aggressively to correct the imbalance between state funding (1%) for cost of living increases and true cost (~4%) of living increases.
4. very hedgey about ID overall but firm that doesn't belong in science classroom.
5. emphasized importance of good of team over personal ego.
6. a 5-8 on the scale. we need to teach sex education issues because of the variety of personal situations and home life issues, would be 'disrespectful' of students to go to abstinence only education. also brought up the importance, now that the 10th grade curriculum has been decided, of developing junior high curriculum, quoted stats on percentages of teens that are sexual active while in junior high.
7. pro-school of choice, but stressed the need to find solutions for the inequities causes for families where the parents are financially disadvantaged.
8. increased methodology for PSD board to community interaction- email, website, increased forums etc.
9. supports both.
overall: a good guy, has obviously given this a lot of thought. proposed some new ideas and seemed like a good team player. my score 8.5/10.

District E: 3 candidates.

Ernest Cienfuegos-Baca
1. better securement of resources, redistricting, at-risk achievement gap.
2. increased community involvement, sell to charter school
3. no attempt to answer. 'should increase resources' not cut things.
4. very hedgey but would put ID in history not science.
5. my notes for his response to this were one word long: babble.
6. a 5. was familiar with the current curriculum. felt it is very diverse and comprehensive.
7. pro-school of choice. 'parents know best' the right choices for their kids; didn't address the challenges at all.
8. school of arts/magnet school.
9. supports both.
overall: talked a lot without ever saying much except that he has always been involved in the community and that his wife could vouch for that. didn't seem to have any substantive plan to help or address any issue raised. my score 5/10.

Bruce Smith
1. health issues (obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus), increasing parental involvement, boundary issues.
2. 'school of choice' fine but maintain local neighborhood schools by enriching local resources.
3. "I don't know frankly" where to start cuts. would try and work with the city to form partnership to decrease transportation costs by leveraging Transfort buses, which are underutilized, and decreasing actual school bus usage.
4. not in science. period. next question.
5. partnership, debate all they want but then, once the vote is cast, the board stands as one board.
6. a 10. next question. no wait. i mean it should be age appropriate but a 10. referenced articles and concerns re STDs, the importance of teaching intimacy and self-respect so that teens don't turn to sex for self-validation but a 10. definitely.
7. school of choice is positive because it involves parents and anything that increases parental involvement will be successful. but as gas prices rise, there is a risk of only the rich being able to transport their kids to the 'better' schools. "if we are not careful, Jim Crow will slip into town, and this town will lose its soul."
8. get all the kids public bus passes and get them in public transit. work to increase bike path usage. this decreased dependence on private transportation will: 1. aid the fight against medical issues as it will be harder for kids to leave at lunch and gorge on unhealthy foods, 2. decrease the negative impact of gas prices/income disparity on exposure to good school choice.
9. pro. passing C&D is "more important than voting for me."
overall: my favorite candidate. sure, he generated good soundbites, but he was also funny, unapologetic about his views, open to other people's input. his closing: i will speak up when i feel i have something to contribute and, when i don't, i won't. my score 10/10.

Larry Neal:
1. decreasing enrollment, achievement gap, community partnerships
2. as a rule, ' don't favor public schools but' need to balance niche needs against costs. [if he doesn't believe in public schools, what the heck is he doing here?]
3. no real answer. talked about business partnerships.
4. NOT in science class.
5. conflict is inevitable, try to shift the argument from opinion to data to defuse and refocus.
6. 'personally, i am a 1' but i recognize blah blah blah. not familiar with the current curriculum. thinks parents should be able to opt their kids out of sex ed.
7. pro-school of choice. posed the question- can we find a way to generalize the innovations of successful choice schools to all schools?
8. interchange of 'best practices' between schools, principals and teachers.
9. supports C&D but 'struggled with it'. stated that he believes TABOR is the best thing that ever happened to Colorado.
overall: started most of his answers with 'in my business experience.' doesn't believe in public schools, doesn't believe in any sex ed, doesn't see the harm that has been caused by TABOR. believes in bringing corporate into schools. scary. i guess he could have been worse and his answer to 7 was very insightful. my score 3/10.

District F:

Nancy Tellez running unopposed.
1. enrollment, diverse student needs, parent/community involvement.
2. we are 'early in fact finding,' need to remember it is about people not numbers.
3. no answer.
4. tried very hard to not answer. it isn't about my opinion, we should do whatever the community wants, dither dither dither. when pushed, YES.
5. talked about the importance of 'transparency' in the discussion process.
6. wouldn't give an answer.
7. pro-school of choice but concerned about equal access issues, also concerned about the lack of a standardized curriculum as students may go from school to school.
8. "professional learning communities"
9. strongly supports.
overall: for someone who stressed the importance of 'transparency' in her answer to almost every question, she did a very good job of not sharing anything or answering any of the questions. it was somewhere between offensive and comical that she was so 'transparent' in her intransigence. leaving aside the fact that ID is a dealbreaker for me--my score 4/10. including the ID issue, 0/10.

finally, for those who would like a more official report on the forum, click here.

overall, local politics are curious and attract a curious group of folks. i felt that, no matter what else, all of the candidates (except maybe one) were there to 'give back' to the community, not there for personal gain or agenda.

other upside: got to learn about health. my favorite 'learning issue' from the Health Curriculum, repeated almost verbatim at least once in the Purpose Section of every lesson: "Students will recognize that a decision of abstinence is an acceptable personal choice and why it is the best personal choice."

so take that, all you skanks, and take that Bill Maher.

Monday, October 10, 2005

why i backpack

i know you have all been waiting anxiously for news of the epic weekend backpack; i apologize for the delay. it has been a busy couple days since i returned. better late than never though.

as the weekend approached, i spent more and more time double-checking the weather forecast. by the time we left town, the forecast had remained essentially unchanged for three days. Friday night was to be cold, roughly 25F, but not terrible. Saturday, clear skies with a high of about 60F and a low in the night of 32F. Sunday looked a little less fun with a high of 55F and 60% chance of rain. knowing this, raingear and associated cold weather gear figured heavily in packweight. for a variety of reasons, most of which are uninteresting, Aaron and i took my car for the weekend. the destination was Sarvis Creek Wildneress, in Routt National Forest, over by Steamboat Springs. our goal was to hike 11.5 miles from the west to east trailheads, camp overnight and then hike the entire distance back on Sunday.

Friday night was gorgeous but, as ever, it was slow-going getting out of town. [this of course was the reason for leaving Friday. we could sleep at the trailhead and get an early start on Saturday.] the night was clear and gorgeous as we wound up the Poudre. continuing a trend from previous trips, we spotted most of our wildlife on the drive in. after crossing Cameron Pass around 9pm and starting through Walden valley, we were startled by an elk buck mere feet from the right side of the road. the startling thing was not his proximity but his sheer magnificience. before we passed him, i counted at least six points. less than a quarter mile later, we sighted another buck, this one notably shorter but also with beautiful antlers on the left side of the road. rounding out the sightings, another mile into the valley we almost hit an owl as it struggled and heaved a heavy kill over the road.

on we went through the valley, eventually reaching and crossing Rabbit Ears pass. the final 40 miles of the trip were ill-lit, poorly marked winding roads; Esther braved potholes equivalent in size to her, bringing us eventually out to the trailhead. by this time it was plenty late and cold so we decided to sleep in the car and start fresh in the morning.

why i backpack
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
morning dawned early and chilly but with sparkling clear skies. the first couple miles in from the trailhead were a trial--a high winding grade on poorly managed trail and my lungs were acting up. the scenery was spectacular, as evidenced by this pic about 1 1/2 miles in. we also had a humorous encounter with a very chubby, very lazy ground bird. it looked like an enormous engorged chicken and the drab coloring suggested it was a hen. after reviewing birds in my field guide, i have to concede it must have been a grouse, probably a blue grouse, though she appeared several inches larger than reported sizes. however, as Holmes would say, 'when you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left...'

aspen turning
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
just about the time we hit mile 3, the terrain changed and opened onto sweeping vistas with wide swathes of changing aspen, barren rock outcroppings and alpine marsh. about this time, Sarvis Creek initiated a game of peekaboo, tripping in and out of view, burrowing beneath snowy remnants and popping playfully out to burble through prime moose feeding territory. fresh elk, deer and moose sign were thick around us.

we continued on several miles, lunching at mile 6 on a large rock balanced in the creek. somewhere around mile 8, the trail disappeared into the creek and under the snow. to continue on, we cozied up to the lower lorder of this large rock face and wiggled along the ledge, careful not to be thrown in the waters errant branch attacks on our packs. as we made the curve, we could again identify the path and parted ways with Sarvis Creek, beginning the trek up into the hills. terrain along this stretch was very similar to that in Rawah Wilderness except for the increased grade of the trail.

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.

by this time, we had gained over 2300 feet elevation, 1000 of which we lost and regained twice as we rambled over steep slopes. the hike was stunning but we were starting to feel the pain. mile 9, we crested the top of the world (or so it felt) and stood surround by flat to mildly sloping terrain with widely spaced firs in all directions. the stillness was deafening.

initially Aaron voted to camp here, the memory of our slanting campsite last time fresh in his mind. as he is such a good sport and i really wanted to try and reach the other trailhead, we continued up and down further endless sloping terrain. by mile 10, there was a distinct change in the air quality and i was realizing we still had one last [insane] uphill climb to reach the east trailhead (400 ft lost then 430 ft regained in ~0.4 miles). the next we stopped, i caved and suggested we scrap the stupidity and be happy with what we had accomplished. unfortunately for me, Aaron was now revitalized and felt it wouldn't be 'that bad'. after all, we had come 10.2 miles. did i really want to give up now?

so on we trudged, quickening our pace to ensure enough light would remain for finding a campsite and pitching camp. at 10.7 miles, we came around a bend in the trail to a stunning vision of thick sloping conifers rising vertically from a stream. this was the last climb.

a moment of silence.

we turned, our eyes meeting.

neither of us wanted anything to do with this trek that late.

so around we turned and began walking back the way we came, scouting around for potential level areas an appropriate distance from the trail and ideally sheltered in the trees. eventually we found a suitable spot, the groundcover already beaten into submission by a previous sleepover by meese as determined from the characteristic pattern of flattened vegetation and hoofmarks. t seemed a good day to practice strategy for pitching camp in a torrential downpour so, for kicks, we set up camp from 'below'-pitching the rainfly and tent from underneath the fly with our packs beside us.

snow in the meadow
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
after another incredibly entertaining excursion to bag the food, we tucked in early. the tent was level and my sleep spectacular. i remember waking once in the night to a light patter, noting the rain had come early, rolling over and back to sleep. in the morning, we woke slowly but curious about strange noises the tent was making, above and beyond the pitter patter on the fly. cautious opening the rainfly to investigate, we were struck by stunning beauty as the entire meadow lay in snow. this photo is at lower elevation on the hike out but demonstrates how thick the flakes were falling as the snow speckles the entire image.

we cooked a quick breakfast in the vestibule, more for practice than need, we broke camp from below, limiting the water on our gear. the hike out was still and magical, reminiscient of Shenandoah in sleep. of the 10.7 miles, six were hiked in snow and the remainder in constant drizzle and patter. the last three miles were horrendous as we descended the poorly managed trail of steep grade, now accentuated by three inches of pudding-consistency mud.

Rabbit Ears pass
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
the drive out was quite a challenge for poor Esther as we balanced the risk of getting her stuck against the low low frame of the Neon. into Steamboat for venison chili and then on the road fairly early to get home. snow in Sarvis meant snow on the passes and it was truly nerve-wracking getting over Cameron which remained unplowed and treacherous.

as we pulled into the Fort, i turned to Aaron. 'well, we have learned two important lessons this trip.'

'we are never taking your car again?'

'right. and?'

'you are never driving again.'


still, the hike was spectacular and left me hungry for more. Aaron, in case you were wondering, is still speaking to me. he apparently also is a glutton for solitude and beauty and physical despair...

Friday, October 07, 2005

wolf, sheep, bah.

i recently emailed my senator, (Dem) Salazar, with concern over his resolution to overrule the courts on continued use of the phrase 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance. here is his response:

"As Colorado's Attorney General, I determined the Pledge of Allegiance does not constitute a breach of the Establishment Clause. In fact, all 100 of the nation's state attorneys general so determined in supporting a brief submitted by them to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004. I stand by that determination today. The Pledge neither advocates a specific religious doctrine by the government, nor does its recitation advance such doctrine by requiring government funding. I do not believe it is inappropriate for our Nation to embrace this general public and time honored expression.

In response to the latest ruling by a California federal court regarding the Pledge of Allegiance, I introduced Senate Resolution 244, which was adopted by unanimous consent September 15, 2005. This resolution expresses the Senate's support for the Pledge of Allegiance and opposition to that court ruling. I invite you to view a copy of S. Res. 244 at "

now that Democrats are working so steadfastly to eliminate the separation of Church and State, i guess this does support the suspicion that ours is a one party nation. one party, run by one Church and one corporate ethic. oh, and in case you were wondering, the mere phrase 'under God' advances the religious belief that there is one and only one god. thus infringing on the beliefs of atheists, agnostics, and Hindus (who belief in the existance of multiple gods)-just to name a few.

given how 'time-honored' 1954 is, perhaps we should bring back McCarthyism. oh wait. that's already happening...


in the fun column, google 'failure' and click "I'm feeling lucky"

if you did as Simon says, you went here.

here is the explanation.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Robin Williams, pfft.

in case any of you haven't received this spam, i am attaching it to better frame my reply (listed further below):
"To bad we don't know Pres. Bushes email address to send him these ideas.....

You gotta love Robin Williams...... even if he's nuts! Leave it to Robin Williams to come up with the perfect plan. What we need now is for our UN Ambassador to stand up and repeat this message. Robin Williams' plan (Hard to argue with this logic!): "I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard of a plan for peace. So, here's one plan.

1..) The US will apologize to the world for our "interference" in their affairs, past & present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin,Tojo, Noriega, Milosevic, Hussein, and the rest of those 'good ole boys,'We will never "interfere" again.
2..) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with Germany, South Korea, the Middle East, and the Philippines. They don't want us there. We would station troops at our borders. No one allowed sneaking through holes in the fence.
3..) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and leave. We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or where they are...They're illegal!!! France will welcome them.
4..) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 days unless given a special permit!!! No one from a terrorist nation will be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself and don't hide here. Asylum would never be available to anyone. We don't need any more cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers.
5..) No foreign "students" over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If they don't attend classes, or they get a "D" and it's back home baby.
6..) The US will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient energy wise. This will include developing non-polluting sources of energy but will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The caribou will have to cope for a while.
7..) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a barrel for their oil. If they don't like it, we go some place else. They can go somewhere else to sell their production. (About a week of the wells filling up the storage sites would be enough.)
8..) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we will not "interfere." They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds, rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides most of what we give them is stolen or given to the army. The people who need it most get very little, if anything.
9..) Ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island some place. We don't need the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, the building would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.
10.) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can call us "Ugly Americans" any longer. The Language we speak is ENGLISH.....learn it...or LEAVE.

Now, isn't that a winner of a plan? The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying, 'Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses.' She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling, 'You want a piece of me?'"


i took the liberty of removing all the FWD symbols from the above so that the content would be the only source of annoyance. also, i would point out that this has been proven to not have originated from Williams. my reply:

it is hard to know where to start with the email you forwarded.

first off, we had the CIA corrupt several of the governments listed in 1 and we placed those corrupt leaders in power. now they have ideas of our own and we don't like it. if we hadn't interfered in a number of those places (Cuba, Iraq, Iran, and Bolivia, just to name a few), they wouldn't be the disasters they now are.

it is amazing to me that people, especially women, think we have done something good in Iraq when they have more rape and murder of women than before we got there- from their own countrymen as well as our people. the Constitution now makes women subject to Sharia law which says that a girl can be married off by her father at age 9, that rape only counts if witnessed by 4 Muslim men, and that infidelity (by a woman) is punishable by stoning to death. non-partisan women's advocates estimate US interference to have caused the loss of 50 years of forward progress in protection of women's rights in Iraq.

in addition, the 'corruption' that existed before we got there cannot compete against the 5 billion dollars that has been embezzled from US funds at least partially by US companies and contractors since the war has started. prisoners at G-Bay can be tried by military tribunal without representation and be subjected to the death penalty without any independent evaluation of evidence. inmates in multiple military prisons in Iraq have been subject to repeated humiliation, sodomy and tortured to death--many of whom on review committed NO CRIME. evidence suggests this was at least known about and probably condoned by high level officials. regardless of whether a crime was committed, raping men with broomsticks is not appropriate for any POW.*

also, there is a large amount of data supporting the fact that Bush's current stance of 'tougher' borders has led to increased retirement of aliens in the US as they cannot get out and has also resulted in increased trafficking of humans in the country. in addition, in this 'great democracy' of ours, Bush can now surveil my library card without probable cause or a warrant if his people decide my dissidence is a threat to his PR campaign. it is great to return to McCarthyism.

sounds to me like Bush doesn't need any help creating a fascist state with 'Lady Liberty' giving the world the finger. he is doing an excellent job on his own. i am happy to provide detailed references in non-liberal sources for ALL of these points if you would like.
[*for more on this, see previous post.]

the source of this debate really disappointed me. i would have thought she would know better. ah well.

on the upside, i just got back from a Move On organizational meeting to help plan the upset one of the most corrupt congresspersons in the capital in the mid-term elections.

but Bush believes in freedom, justice and democracy. no really.

Bush today again called for the American people to stand firm and unwavering behind him regarding the Iraq war, stressing that "the war in Iraq was vital to a crucial struggle against terrorists who he said intended to build a "totalitarian empire" of global reach."

simultaneously, the White House brought full pressure to bear on (Republican) Senator McCain for his successful passage of an amendment that would "ban use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in United States government custody." this bill passed the Senate by a vote of 90 to 9, yet the Bush Administration is going to veto it if it passes the House because it might limit our 'flexibility' in fighting wars. because that is what we should be afraid of, constraints on our yogic skills of contortion. not the safety of our troops, the defilement of 'American' values of honesty and justice, the undermining of endeavours in other lands by the mixed message such behavior sends.

i am so disgusted i could vomit. i leave you with words from Senator McCain:
"Many of my comrades were subjected to very cruel, very inhumane and degrading treatment, a few of them even unto death. But every one of us - every single one of us - knew and took great strength from the belief that we were different from our enemies."

hang in there, John! don't let the bastard get you down. you are helping us remind our children that 'right' is not a sliding scale, that morality is not morality if subject to convenience, and that America can be great only if we stand by our values.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

my ill-advised weekend spree

this past weekend i just had to get away, even though i was still sick. happily, i have found in Aaron an excellent partner in crime for such adventures. after great debate, we decided on a 'gentle' backpack up in Neota Wilderness area. the trail we choose is the Trap Park Trail, starting just north of Trap Lake. the hike is along an old access road, very little road and lovely access, to the junction with Neota Wilderness. from there, the trail continues along a little brook before petering out. from there it is a mere 1.2 miles to the summit of Iron Mountain, a delightful hike up one saddle over the summit and around down another. sound a little too good to be true? well, it was. sort of.

Iron Mountain on the left
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
for various reasons, we made a late start of it, hiking in around 2pm. the first part of the hike is stunningly beautiful as we coursed along the north border of a marshy meadow, home to many happy happy meese. in the first picture, we have just come around the first curve and opened into the meadow. Iron Mountain, our destination, is the mountain in the distance on the right. the meadow courses at roughly 9,900 feet elevation although we saw no moose, we did enjoy spotting moose hunters, fresh tracks and generally not getting shot. the junction with Neota lies at the end of the main meadow, three miles in.

we continued along the trial another half mile before scouting out a campsite around 10,300 feet. we had chosen this distance as it kept us below treeline but allowed us to trek in as far as otherwise possible that day. finding a campsite 200 feet from the trail and water while still remaining below the ridge was challenging but provided us great opportunity to sight fresh elk and deer sign as well as further moose sign. eventually we settled on a site, not level of course, and went in search of an appropriate tree for bear-bagging. a showdown with a dead tree placed us securely at the crossroads of 'Leave No Trace' versus 'Leave No Trace'. i will spare the details, but state in our defense that we got the rope back and it turned out the tree was so rotten it would have fallen on its own in the first winter storm...

i spent a humorous night alternately sleeping, waking to find my ankles at painful odd angles, and wiggling back up the infinessimal incline. Aaron fared better but cooler, mainly because his Thermarest sprang a slow leak. the next day dawned glorious but intimidatingly windy. we broke camp and headed on up the trail.

for Mom
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.

leaving the trail provided much fun as the bog clutched at our boots and the ptarmigans scolded our invasion. we reached the beginning of the 'ascent' of the saddle at around 10,700 feet. from here, the hike transformed into heinous wicked as we suffered the marked elevation gain (~1 foot up for every 2 feet forward), galeforce winds, the sail effect of our heavy packs and my terrible stamina and cough. still, we were both determined to achieve the saddle and simply plodded along, switching back frequently to 'draft' on the sudden severe wind gusts. from the saddle we curved up the ridge and achieved the summit. there we found a glass jar wedged in between rocks containing the 'register' for the summit. there was no space left on the paper so i scrounged in my pack, finding a coffe receipt on which we wrote our names, the date and the weather conditions. my first register! :)

me and Aaron on the summit
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.

the view of the Never Summers from the top was spectacular and the accomplishment really affirming. my limited oxygen exchange created moderate grumpiness, but Aaron was quite tolerant and cheering. the descent down the other saddle was incredibly aggravating and steep but we emerged intact and the return hike was quite lovely. all in all, 10.5 miles, all stunning and mostly quite enjoyable. i look forward to returning when well to hike the entire ridgeline, it sounds much less punishing than ascending the saddle.

as anticipated, i paid dearly Sunday night and Monday for my indulgence as my cold rebounded with vigor. surprisingly no soreness though. today i appear to be cresting the ick and hope to be in fighting trim for the coming weekend-hopefully another epic backpack.