Monthly Archives: December 2014

Riding in Cars

Bad Drivers

Bad Drivers

The holidays are always stressful, and we find ourselves going places with family members we don’t often ride with.  I have to confess that I am a terrible passenger.  They aren’t doing it right, going too fast, and not paying attention.  I am, of course, without peer as a driver.

I have been in several accidents but there were always extenuating circumstances.  The people I ride with have had less accidents, but they are lucky.   I just do not understand why they won’t follow my lead and drive properly.  My gentle, caring suggestions go unheeded and are often received with hostility.

Oh, the injustice, the way they treat me when I have the best of intentions.  I only wish to share my vast experience and expertise.  Unfortunately, I have to resort to cowering in my seat as they recklessly endanger me with their driving.  They especially resent it when I stomp on my imaginary brake pedal when they aren’t stopping when they should.

This is bad for my mental health, forced to live with the fear and anxiety they create in my delicate psyche.  The worst part is not being allowed to express my panic at being put in one life-threatening situation after another.

Christmas Eve we went to see Theory of Everything, one of the best movies I have seen in some time.  On the way home, Steve drove us around the University Park area to look at all the wonderful Holiday light displays.  It was difficult to enjoy the lights knowing my life was in danger with the reckless 10mph driving I was forced to endure.

DrivingI do prefer to drive, but my family members, usually loving and caring, are united in disliking my driving.  I always resolve to be especially careful when I have passengers, not honking or giving the finger to other drivers, but no one seems to appreciate my selfless generosity.

Is there no justice?  Am I doomed so suffer at the hands of my loved ones?  I only want to do what is right and good.  (That sentence seems familiar.  Oh yes, George III.)  I find myself driving alone, meaning I am always searching for ways to help other drivers improve their skills.  They seem unwilling to learn.

Oh, well, I guess I will just have to take other’s driving as a test of my equanimity.  It is strange that the tests come so often.

A Trip to Hell

Hell Frozen Over

Hell Frozen Over

Tuesday I went to Hell.  The other name for Hell in Denver is Park Meadows Mall.  Nothing Dante imagined can compare to the real thing.  Every year I resolve to do all my shopping early and every year I find myself among the throngs.

I had two goals, go to The Tattered Cover Bookstore in Highlands Ranch (Purgatory) and then on to Hell.  I am experiencing something of a seasonal depression and my new meds haven’t kicked in yet.  When I am depressed I am also irritable, which interferes with rational thinking and civilized driving.  I am able to control one, but not both.

I concentrated on my driving behavior and got lost.  It was snowing, and I couldn’t see the mountains.  I have been to the bookstore down there several times, but not Tuesday.  Consult the map or the GPS?  Who, me?

So I wandered through the suburban desert to where I thought Park Meadows should be.  Behold, I was on the wrong side of C-470.  I was able to find Quebec Street and struggle through the traffic to Park Meadows.  If you have never been there, the streets were laid out by Satan.  There is no rational pattern to the traffic flow, especially when every car in the Metro Area was there.   People were pretty nice to one another in their cars, so the Season’s spirit was operating to some degree.

I got lucky and found a good parking place which turned out to be on the opposite side of



my destination.  I had the opportunity of traversing the entire place.  Full of people, packed, glutted, overloaded, crammed, and crowded.  Some shopping, many just getting out of the house.  There were lots of young Marines just out of boot camp.  There were probably G.I.’s as well, but with enough sense to be in civilian clothes.

The general mood was festive and happy.  My experience of Cherry Creek Mall is more negative.  People seem more hurried and unfriendly.  I was able to do my shopping and make my way back to my car.  I took secondary streets home to avoid the traffic.  I was even able to calm down a bit.  Still could not find the Tattered Cover.  Look at the map or consult the GPS?  No.

Next day I was able to finish my shopping on Colorado Boulevard, Denver’s busiest street, but less frantic than Hell.  Will I be able to do my shopping earlier next Christmas?  Probably not, but I will do my best to avoid Hell.

Holiday Decorations


?????????? Carol and I have always been ambivalent about elaborate holiday decorations.  We have had natural trees, artificial trees (boo), and now a little painted plywood tree made by a former coworker.  Decorations go on the mantel; there are colorful magnetic ornaments on the refrigerator door, a Santa on the stand in the foyer, and a Menorah in the front window.


Holiday Lights

Holiday Lights

The big one is the 20 foot tall tree in front of the house.   A few years ago something inspired me to light the tree.  This entailed quite a project.  The tree is between the street and the sidewalk, so I had to tunnel under the sidewalk to install a two inch pipe for the electric cord.  We didn’t want a cord tripping people on the sidewalk.  I dug, I pounded, tried a water jet,and dug some more.


The pipe is in, is capped and doesn’t show most of the year.  After Thanksgiving I run a long extension cord from the tree, throughout the pipe, and up to the outlet on the side of the house. We decided to be old fashioned and use large colored bulbs rather than the mini lights popular today.  Seven strings of lights for that big tree.


Next comes the hard part, getting those lights up.  We have a big lighted star on top.  Several seasons of trying methods have come up with the solution of putting the star on a stick and bungeeing it to the trunk.  The problem is getting it up there without killing myself.  That tree is TALL.  I have wobbled on the top step of my eight foot stepladder, tried to place it with the long hooked pole I use for hanging the light strings, and prayed, while Carol is on the ground crying and wailing.


This year I drug out the 20 foot extension ladder after deciding my life was worth breaking a few branches on the tree.  It turns out there is a sturdy side branch in just the right place to support the ladder.  I firmly believe I have a guardian angel.  Without that angel I would be dead many times over.


Menorah and TreeWith the star up, is is just the matter of winding those strings of lights around the tree.  Carol holds the string, and I put a kink in my neck placing the wires around the tree.  The whole process took three hours this year, and I am still alive.  The timer lights the tree from 4:00 PM to about 10:30 PM.


More neighbors on our block have lights, and it is festive out there in the evening.


Happy Holidays!  Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All!

Nuking Western Colorado


In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Project Plowshare, a U.S. government program was created to develop peaceful uses for nuclear detonations. The program led to three trials in rural Western Colorado designed to release natural gas from tight geologic formations that contained large amounts of natural gas.  The gas was there, but was difficult to recover because it would not readily flow to wells.  Nuclear fracking, in other words.

The idea was to fracture large amounts of rock releasing the gas for use. Fracking was in use in that era, but the area fractured around a well hole was fairly small, limiting the amount of gas freed.  This would remain the case until horizontal well drilling was developed, resulting in a boom in natural gas production.

The use of atomic explosions somewhat larger than the one that destroyed Hiroshima would fracture a large amount of rock, liberating huge amounts of gas.  There were three experiments.  All three were somewhat successful, yielding gas in recoverable amounts.  Big surprise, the gas was radioactive and remains so.  A study indicated that the level of radioactivity released in a California home, when blended with gas from other sources, would be well below the dose we receive from background radiation. People would have none of it.  No one wanted radioactive natural gas coming into their home at any level.

Western Colorado, source of much of the uranium used in nuclear bombs, had three detonations in a doomed experiment.  The most casual of examinations of the proposal to liberate gas from tight strata would raise the radioactivity question.  It took millions of dollars to prove the obvious: radioactive natural gas.

Some shots were done at the Nevada test site to explore using bombs to excavate.  Huge amounts of radionuclides were released, affecting generations of downwinders, especially in St. George, Utah.  Our nuclear tragedy started in New Mexico with the first Trinity detonation that led to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  It continues today, with all the radioactive spots around the planet and the people sickened and killed by fallout.

Most historians assert that President Truman’s decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki ultimately saved lives.  What they did do was trigger the nuclear arms race with its terrible consequences.  Chernobyl and Three Mile Island have shown that nuclear power is risky as well.

My first literary effort was a story I wrote while a student at Mesa College in Grand Junction, Colorado in 1966.  Project Rulison was in the works, and my story depicted an even greater failure.  The blast sent radioactive oil into a previously unknown aquifer that opened into the irrigation canals that provide water to Grand Valley farms.  Radioactive oil in Palisade, Grand Junction, Fruita, and the rest of the valley, rendering it uninhabitable.  Pure fiction, but a fun story.

FrackingSite_1415936638313_9585695_ver1_0_640_480Come up to today, and fracking is still controversial. I think the legacy of Project Rulison is stalking the oil and gas industry to this day.  Somehow the industry did not get it that bad practices will catch up with them, despite the API’s slick commercials.