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2015 — Year in Photos

Friends and relatives have sent me year-end messages extending well-wishes and relating all their goings-on over the past year.  Thank you all.  Allow me to reciprocate with a collection of photos describing my past 12 months.

January 13th — Post-snowstorm Colorado Springs.  Pikes Peak is in the background of the first photo; the second photo is an evergreen coated with ice crystals.

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  •  January 27th — Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre on a very warm January day.  The skyscrapers of downtown Denver are visible in the background of the first photo.  In the Rockies we get a balmy day two weeks after a blizzard, and never an “average” day.

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  • March 15th — a business opportunity brings me to Austin, Texas for 3 days.  I toured the Texas Capitol on a Sunday.

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  • March 29th — On a quiet Sunday drive I came upon and old Orthodox Church standing isolated on a hilltop in Colorado’s Eastern Plains. Named St. Mary’s Holy Dormition and still in use today, it was built in 1905 near Calhan to serve Slovak immigrants who had left employment in the steel mills of Pennsylvania for the farming/ranching life of Colorado.  The church has an interesting history (full story here), having been nearly destroyed by the ripples of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.  The second photo below looks west from the church, over the high plains toward the Front Range.

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  • April 5th — An early spring view of Pikes Peak and Cottonwood Creek in Colorado Springs.

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  • April 6th — A snack on my coffee table as I prepare to watch Opening Day of the 2015 baseball season (the real New Year’s Day).

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  • April 13th — A business opportunity (a conference) brings me to San Diego for 3 days.  The first photo is the old Santa Fe railroad station downtown, the second shows sailboats in nearby Mission Bay.

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  • April 30th — Illinois claims two American icons:  Abraham Lincoln and Route 66.  The two themes meet in the touristy town of Pontiac. Lincoln practiced law here, participated in that county’s first jury trial, and in 1840 — as a precursor to destiny — Lincoln and Stephen Douglas held an impromptu debate in the streets of Pontiac. A life-size statue of Lincoln stands in front of the historic Livingston County Courthouse so that you can check your height against his.  Various murals and fixtures ornament Pontiac’s place on old Route 66.
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Livingston County Courthouse, Pontiac Illinois

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  •  June 22nd — The Northwest is a fine place to be when summer reaches its solstice.  This year’s longest day was my year’s longest drive as shown in the next 4 photos.  The day started just after sun-up in Hamilton, Montana — an old western town nestled snugly between two high mountain ranges.

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67 miles west at Lolo Pass, I crossed the Continental Divide, the Idaho State Line, and the Pacific Time Zone and headed downstream along the Lochsa River, paralleling the route taken by Lewis and Clark to the Pacific in 1805.  I rode through 76 miles of scenery just like this below Lolo Pass before I ever saw a town.  It’s mid-morning in the photo.

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Travelling further west, I left the mountains near what the Nez Perce call the Camas Plains. Here are some canola fields in those plains, near Grangeville, Idaho in mid-afternoon.

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The Wallowa Mountains near Enterprise, Oregon, 150 miles west of the Camas Plains of Idaho.  I reached them near sunset on the longest day of the year.

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  • July 11th — Back to Pittsburgh to see family and old friends.  Included was a trip to the Heinz History Center downtown.  This was one of the exhibits.  Remember it from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood?

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  • July 22nd — Clear Lake, Iowa.  Iowa in the summertime lives up to all its clichés.  I won’t add any more. Buddy Holly’s plane crashed in a field near town in February of 1959; the farmer who owns the field allows fans to maintain a memorial for the rock star amid his soybean crop.  A signpost made of horn-rimmed glasses marks the entrance to the memorial.  The third photo below is of Clear Lake at the exact moment of sunset.  It’s my favorite.

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  • August 17th — The Badlands of North Dakota within Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Teddy owned a ranch here before becoming President; he deserves the credit for creating our National Park system.

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  • September 14th — South Bend, Indiana. I’d never been to Notre Dame before though I’d seen them play football on tv a thousand times.  Here’s the Golden Dome, and then a statue of Knute Rockne found in a plaza in downtown South Bend.

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  • October 22 — Jonesboro, Illinois.  This little southern Illinois town was the site of the third Lincoln-Douglas debate, held September 15th 1858.  The debate was held in the county fairgrounds, a few blocks away from the main crossroads.  Of the several Lincoln-Douglas memorials I’ve seen, most include life-size statues of the two men, and the height disparity between the two always gives me a chuckle.  I’m sure many in the audience had the same reaction at the time.

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  • October 22 (later that same day) — I drove north along the Mississippi River to the small town of Chester, which is the hometown of E.C. Segar — creator of the comic strip character Popeye.  Statues of Popeye and his gang can be found all over the small river town, which holds a “Popeye Picnic” each year on the weekend following Labor Day.  More info here if you’d like to visit.

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  • October 23rd — Alton, Illinois.  The final debate of the Lincoln-Douglas was held in Alton.  Again, life-size statues.

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  • December 8th — Llano, Texas.  Texans decorate for Christmas extravagantly, which should come as no surprise in a state that brags that “everything is bigger here.”  Many towns assemble light shows and displays in their town parks, calling them “Christmas Parks”.  See the way the Llano County Courthouse is decked out for the holiday season in this Hill Country town.  The second photo is the Llano River and dam in daylight, followed by the courthouse in daylight, and then the town mascot (Llano is the deer capital of Texas), decorated for the season.

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And on to 2016! Happy New Year!!

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A short epigram for BlogCon11

“While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, another is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.” -Henry C. Link.

That is all.

RIP Joe Frazier…and Joe Paterno too?

I came across another great post from the Sage of Mount Airy. RIP boxer Joe Frazier. He’ll be remembered as a tough fighter with fans who appreciated toughness.

Hat tip to the Sage for finding this quote from Sports Illustrated’s Richard Hoffer:

That fight [the “Thrilla in Manilla”] was pretty much the end of their careers (Frazier lost once more to  Foreman then gave it up; Ali stuck it out several more years, though never again as brilliant or determined), and Frazier was left to a life of resentment. He  never got over the losses, the insults, the legacy that was left him. Ali became  a world hero, lighting Olympic flames, an example of political courage the rest  of his mute life. Frazier, a bitter, old warrior, instead had to consider the  inadequacies of grit in a time that was more inclined to reward glamour. (my emphasis)

Indeed we live in a time inclined to reward glamor and not grit.  Our time rewards style more than substance, emotional outbursts more than rational conclusions.   (Perhaps it’s unfair for me to criticize “The View” because I’ve never seen a full show, but even the clips are enough to sicken me.) It’s a tough environment for those of us who were philosophy majors in college only to become computer programmers in our adult lives.

Today I heard an audio clip from James Carville explaining that (quoted from memory) “people appreciated the political skills of Bill Clinton. He may be the most popular political figure on Earth today. I haven’t seen such political skills from Herman Cain.”  Perversely, our time not only values ‘political skill’ over Cain’s honest bumbling, our time dismisses the most egregious actions so that we may worship fully at the pagan altar of style.  Anyone wanna bet that Clinton and Carville, at bottom, believe that truth is relative?

Today the arch-goodguy Joe Paterno has come under severe criticism for his handling of a sex crime at Penn State.  The actual details of Paterno’s responses to the allegations are unavailable to me at this time.  All the police say is that Paterno has not violated any laws. As far as I can tell Paterno’s actions fall somewhere within the bounds of these two extremes:

a) Paterno was told of the criminal actions of his assistant and tried to hide them as best as he legally could, or

b) Paterno was told of some ‘possible’ incident, without particulars or certainties, and relayed the information since he was legally required to relate his knowledge of rumors and hearsay ‘just in case’.

I don’t know the facts. No one does, yet.  But as my old college professor Dr. de Alvaraz told us, “What matters is the gross impression.”  The gross impression will impel the public to condemn Joe Paterno, Penn State, a Penn State degree, the “Nittany Lion” as an animal and perhaps the color blue as well, if not the game of football too.  (Remember how the sport of lacrosse was vilified in the wake of the Duke lacrosse ‘scandal’ — which wasn’t a scandal after all?)

This morning on ESPN’s Mike and Mike Show they played a call from a woman who started her rant with “Joe Paterno runs Penn State” then went on to condemn him and everything associated with Penn State down to the color blue.

People please!  Joe Paterno does not “run” Penn State. He does not make its laws. He does not judge its residents jailing those he finds culpable and releasing those he deems innocent. He does not arrest people. Like everyone else in Happy Valley Joe Paterno is a citizen subject to the laws of the State of Pennsylvania.

Society has done a very poor job of separating style from substance here; Paterno is a celebrity but state law is the substance.

Can anyone, anyone, tell me why a witness to a violent sexual act with a child did not do either of these two things:

a) intervene physically to stop the assault

b) call the police

If you witnessed a felony occuring in the restroom of Microsoft’s corporate office would you run and call Bill Gates first? Of course not.

These are our times. Like it or not. But times change. They always do. They just don’t change as often for the good as I’d prefer.

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