Old Friends, New Friends

A couple of weeks ago I got a couple of early birthday presents, but as I figured, they turned out to be presents for everyone.

Not too long ago we lost our three adopted cats to old age and the problems that arise from it. Unlike the fine shelter we have here in Longmont, where animals could stay months before adopted, where we adopted from they stayed maybe weeks before being euthanized. So the timing of what we got and how lucky we were was really something else. Those cats, with their unique personalities, turned a lot of non-cat people into cat people and in turn saved several pound kittens from sure destruction. The three were fairly close in age, and lived long and happy lives.

A couple of years had passed, and we never thought we’d ever start all over again with a new cat. We figured we’d stick with one pet, our basset hound, and by the time she got up there in years the kids would be out on their own and we’d be done with pets, mainly for travel reasons. But the unspoken truth was that we missed having a cat or cats. Well, to make a long story a short, a dream (literally, not figuratively) turned into a visit to the shelter, which turned into a new addition to our family, another adopted cat. As I’d hoped, he’s been a de-stressor for my wife, and a lot of fun for everyone.

That same day I also bought a videogame system, a Nintendo Wii. I’m sure I’m not as much of a gamer as some, but with the purchase of this system I’ve now owned at least one system from all seven generations of video game systems, starting with Pong. I’ve always been a fan of this company, even to the point where I penned a song (“I Didn’t Intend To Nintendo”) back in ’89 using nothing but the words from the backs of game boxes for lyrics. But as Nintendo‘s market share started going south, as well as Sega and Atari, so did my interest in video games in general.

I just couldn’t get in to the big company boxes by Sony and Microsoft, regardless if they’re superior or not. When I heard that the Wii was taking on these boxes and taking it to them, I went and took a look at it, and shortly thereafter got one. I was more than happy to add to Nintendo‘s market share, but the added bonus is that it’s quality stuff. It kills several birds with one stone: I’m not interested in being a couch potato, many of these games force you to get up and move around, in some cases a lot. It’s something we can all do together, and often do, whether its tennis matches or dueling guitars.

Of course, these new things are taking up a lot of my time, but at least it’s time well spent. We now just have to figure out how to keep the cat from chasing the little hand on the screen from the Wiimote (which now he won’t pose a picture for) before he knocks the TV over.

Fan Seniority

There have been a couple of exchanges in the paper lately between callers and the editorial staff about the Colorado Rockies on a subject that always cracks me up: the concept of “I’m a better fan than you!” Usually going hand in hand with this statement is how long someone’s been a fan, as if there is some sort of seniority for spectators. Please.

First it started with someone calling in basically complaining about people jumping on the Rockies bandwagon. I’d quote it but I can’t find that day’s paper, but it was laughable, and sort of pathetic. Definition of a “fan” or “spectator”: a person who looks on or watches; onlooker; observer. Well, I guess those are verbs, but they describe ” watchers“, not ” doers“. Now there are some bragging rights, “I watched real good”. (Intentional bad grammar).

The editorial staff then wrote a piece apologizing for underestimating the Rockies, apparently they predicted they wouldn’t make the playoffs. It was an understandable prediction and only a monumental winning streak proved them wrong. Then, most likely the same caller, thanked the editors for the apology which really wasn’t related to their ridiculous point! It was a missed prediction, not a call of “all aboard the Rockies bandwagon!”

I’ve seen this mentality in hockey as well. Oh the grief we got from those long suffering Canadian hockey fans when the Avalanche plopped down here in Colorado and instantly won a championship. “You aren’t real fans, you can’t be”, stuff like that. Then they’d argue about how long they’d been fans of this team or that, then how many games they’ve watched, or what memorabilia they owned.

I’ve also seen it in the hero worship of some bands or artists. Stand in line long enough for tickets or at a concert and this stuff is unavoidable. You know the type, were with them before they “made it”, or were cool. Now the rest of you are all wannabes and posers. What’s next, fan clubs for politicians? Yikes.

People (of this type), please get over yourselves. Usually we are pulling for the same team, or like the same band or whatever. It’s not a bad thing to pull in more, be they fair-weather, occasional, or just trend followers. If you want who you follow to succeed, the more fans they attract the better players they can afford or the better production for their next recording. Unfortunately there are fans that don’t want that, they just want them for themselves or how they used to be before they “sold out” to the man.

Will I offend if I say ” Let’s Go Rockies!“? Too late.

Must See Action News!

A recent news helicopter collision in Phoenix reminded me how much television news has sunk. I first started noticing it when the CBS affiliate in LA came on with their ” Action News“, and it was a car chase a day. I think it was Jim Lampley, or some other compelling personality (not), who’d make the non-news news. Sooner or later I figured they (broadcasters) would make themselves the news. Unfortunately, some helicopter pilots paid with their lives, and it wasn’t the first time.

A bigger joke was the “Storm Center” or whatever other name the different stations came up with. This was Southern California we’re talking about here, not exactly the interesting weather capital of the world. Rain! Wow. Bigger shock – the flood control channels are filling up with…rain runoff! “Get a van or helicopter out there, now!” Unfortunately, some moron would get in a raft in these dangerous cement lined rivers and make himself the news. Probably because he knew he’d get on TV. Sad.

Then the riots. “Get those helicopters up, now! What’s that? They’re being shot at?” A friend pulled that duty while the city burned, he verified they were taking shots. Once again, the news reporters becoming the news. Meanwhile, lives are put at risk in the air and on the ground. For what? To get the scoop first? Beat the other channel by a few minutes?

Then OJ’s escapade on the freeways of LA, complete with buffoons lining the route cheering him on and waving at the cameras. Why not, they knew they’d get on TV. Then out here in Colorado, I’m watching TV and see a helicopter taking footage of a huge storm, and it’s near my house! I go out and see this brain surgeon getting way too close to funnel clouds with hail in the area. Of course I immediately got my camcorder to document this pending disaster (if you can’t beat em, join em!), but they wised up and hightailed it out of there.

I feel for the underlings, especially the pilots, being one, that have to go out and cover this nonsense. It ain’t news, it’s this infotainment crap. It’s not usually biased, except towards people who need to be told what is news, and what you must see to be informed, in their opinion. I lump nearly every reality show in this group, more so the kind that follow someone around with a camera than the “Survivor” type. You know the kind, making a nobody somebody. Just like making the non-news, news.

Please, stop watching! Maybe it will go away.

Blinded By The Light, Pt 1

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to save energy. You have a menu of reasons to pick from to suit your belief system. It can be energy independence, either on a large scale as independence from foreign oil, or on a smaller scale, sometimes referred to as “off the grid”. It can be a way to save money on your utility bills. It might be a way to avoid energy delivery companies from having to build new facilities. If you think you are adding to global warming, energy conservation might slow that down. The question becomes what is a realistic way of doing it in a meaningful way.

With that in mind, let’s talk about compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFL’s. They’ve become much more popular recently, but like a lot of you, I’ve been using them on and off for years. The lure of the packaging promising longer life and less energy are enticing. Wal-mart has an aggressive sales campaign on CFL’s and other large retailers like Home Depot, Lowes, and Costco are offering them in 10-packs or more at pretty attractive prices. How could they, and many environmentalists be wrong? Right? Wrong.

Anyone who’s used them enough knows their shortcomings. The light they put off isn’t anywhere on par with incandescent or halogen. The vast majority, in other words the cheap ones, are not dimmable. They’re not “instant-on”, and they take a while to reach full brightness. GE’s own website states that the bulb must be left on at least 3 minutes to reach the point of most efficient operation and they don’t recommend you leave it on for less than 15 minutes. They also don’t recommend you use them in items that vibrate, like ceiling fans or garage door openers. They’re alluding to the grim possibility of breakage. Grim? Read on.

Straight from GE’s website: What should I do if I break a CFL bulb?Fluorescent lamps contain mercury. Mercury at atmospheric pressure is a silver colored liquid that tends to form balls. Mercury is a hazardous substance. When one lamp is broken, the best thing to do is to wear chemical resistant glove to clean it up. The gloves can be vinyl, rubber, PVC, or neoprene. The gloves you buy in the supermarket for household cleaning are sufficient. The gloves protect your skin from absorbing mercury and from getting cut by the glass. The remains of one lamp can be disposed as normal waste since the amount of mercury is small. However, for future reference, when large quantities of lamps are being disposed you must follow your state and the federal regulation for disposing of mercury-containing lamps.”

Now, back to the meaningful and realistic part I was talking about earlier. Great, you saved some money at the store and on your electric bill and shaved off a few kilowatts. Any environmental advantage has been wiped out by a couple of broken CFL’s (probably in a landfill by now), and who knows on what magnitude. Net environmental loss, and it’s possibly happening in households all over the world, especially in countries that are or are near mandating their citizens use these CFL’s. The best of intentions blinded by ignorance.

So there’s the dilemma. You want to do the right thing, but don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot in the process. In Part 2, some solutions.

This is only a test, or is it?

It’s springtime in Longmont, time when a mans fancy turns to…nevermind. It’s time for the Outdoor Warning System testing. Yes, that time honored tradition of scaring the bejeezus out of you as you oversleep from a hectic weekend. The first test will be Monday April 2nd at 10:00am, and every first Monday of each month through August.

That’s right, emergencies take the winter off. They’re migratory that way. Continue reading

Tampering with Kids’ Nite Out

<<CLICK HERE for a related story>> Like many of you Longmont parents (and probably other communities), we take advantage of “Kids’ Nite Out” at our local recreation center. We felt comfortable leaving our kids there for a few hours with their counselors, and how it would be tough for our kids to just wander out, or worse, be taken out by the wrong person. That has now all changed. We received this letter…

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