A Trip to Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, and Minnesota

I enjoyed a 3 week driving vacation in 4 states in June and July and here are some things I saw.





Pedestrian bridge across the Missouri River connecting Omaha, Nebraska to Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Pedestrian bridge across the Missouri River connecting Omaha, Nebraska to Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Pedestrian and biker view of bridge named after the politician who got the federal earmark money used for its construction.

Pedestrian and biker view of bridge named after the politician who got the federal earmark money used for its construction.

Sculpture in downtown Omaha, a spiffy place worth visiting.

Sculpture in downtown Omaha, a spiffy place worth visiting.

Bench at Lake Mac, western Nebraska, halfway between Omaha and Denver. It is congested in summer but clears out after Labor Day.

Bench at Lake Mac, western Nebraska, halfway between Omaha and Denver. It is congested in summer but clears out after Labor Day.

Sculpture at a new park in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Sculpture at a new park in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Pyramid house in Clear Lake, Iowa, the last town Buddy Holly played in before he died. The ballroom is still there and still plays live music.

Pyramid house in Clear Lake, Iowa, the last town Buddy Holly played in before he died. The ballroom is still there and still plays live music.

The Iowa Capital building where Mary worked as a teenager.

The Iowa Capital building where Mary worked as a teenager.

Chet and his new dog.

Chet and his new dog.

Share
Posted in Travel, United States, Video | Leave a comment

National Geographic Discusses Dead Chilean Fish

National Geographic wrote about the Chilean seafood industry, excerpted below.

Images of death have been arriving from southern Chile for weeks, each one seemingly more apocalyptic than the last. First there were thousands of dead salmon in aquaculture cages. Then there were rafts of dead sardines floating along the coast. Next, beached clams covered miles of shoreline. Then there were die-offs of jellyfish, birds, and even mammals.

So much death has sown panic among the public. Worried that their livelihoods are at risk, fishermen have taken to the streets, blocking roads and sowing unrest.

“People don’t dare to eat our fish because they’re afraid it is contaminated, so we are all affected on the island,” says Marcos Salas, president of the Fishermen’s Union of Quellón, one of the main towns on the Chilean island of Chiloé….

Globally, microalgae blooms have been more prevalent this year, with scientists pointing to warmer waters from El Niño as a likely culprit. In fact, this year’s cycle has been so powerful that some have dubbed it Niño Godzilla….

From February to March this year, one of these blooms killed 25 million salmon in 45 farming centers in Chile. What happened next would prove to be controversial.

About thirty percent of the dead fish were taken to landfills. But the rest were thrown into the sea, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) from Chiloé island. That operation was authorized by the Chilean Navy and the fisheries managers.

A few weeks later, a wave of more dead sealife washed up on Chiloé. While the government has blamed El Niño, many on the island suspect the dumping of the dead salmon might have had something to do with it. It’s one more example of the lax regulations of the country’s aquaculture industry, they say, which has exploded since the 1970s, making Chile the world’s second largest exporter of salmon.

Environmentalists have complained for years that Chile’s aquaculture industry has polluted the water through feces and unfinished food, which may build up on the seafloor.

Share
Posted in Business, Chile | Leave a comment

Why Are Governments Regulating Bathrooms?

I thought Donald Trump was the silliest man in politics but I was wrong as Roy Cordato explains in We Need Separation of Bathroom and State:

In late February the Charlotte, North Carolina, city council passed an “antidiscrimination” law, scheduled to go into effect on April 1. It was aimed at protecting what, in the view of the city council, are the rights of those in the gay, lesbian, and transgender community. The centerpiece of this law was a provision that prohibits businesses providing bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers from segregating usage of those facilities by gender, biologically defined. Biological males or females must be allowed to use the facilities of the opposite sex if they claim that that is the sex they identify with psychologically….

While religious liberty is an important concern, the issue is much broader. This ordinance was an assault on the rights of private property owners and economic freedom, regardless of one’s religious beliefs.

The primary targets of the Charlotte ordinance were privately owned businesses that offer bathrooms, changing rooms, showers, etc., for their customer’s convenience. The decision of how to structure access to these facilities may, for some, be based on their religious beliefs but for many others it is a secular business decision. Their goal is customer satisfaction driven by the desire to make a profit and earn a living. The property that they use is privately owned, the investments that they make come from private funds, and those who reap the rewards or suffer the losses are private entrepreneurs. The bathrooms in their establishments are part of the product that they provide.

In a free society based on property rights and free markets, as all free societies must be, a privately owned business would have the right to decide whether or not it wants separate bathrooms strictly for men and women biologically defined, bathrooms for men and women subjectively or psychologically defined, completely gender neutral bathrooms with no labels on the doors, or no bathrooms at all.

Share
Posted in Government and Law, United States | Leave a comment

The History of Food, 1850-present

One of the best business books Mary and I have read in the past few years is, The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America. There have been huge improvements in food production and distribution during the last 150 years, chronicled well in this book. A&P was a much larger company than Wal-Mart 50 years ago. I excerpted two passages.

Canned goods, like cardboard boxes, were an old idea that became economical only in the 1880s. Canned goods were first used to feed Napoleon’s army in 1795, and the first U.S. canning plant was established in 1819. But cans were expensive: each was made of tin pieces individually cut with shears and then soldered together, with a skilled can maker turning out a hundred cans per day. The industry got a boost from military orders during the Civil War and the start of salmon canning on the Pacific coast in 1864, and by 1870 the United States had over a hundred plants canning fruits, vegetables, fish, and oysters. The key inventions came in 1874, when two Baltimore men, A. K. Shriver and John Fisher, found alternative ways of controlling temperature to avoid explosions during the canning process. A new machine to cap cans was introduced in the mid-1880s, reducing the need for skilled cappers, and the first successful labeling machine was invented in 1893. Automation made canning cheap: one man could cook five thousand cans of tomatoes a day in 1865 but four times that many in 1894, at a lower daily wage. More than a thousand canneries were operating in 1890, and expansion was so rapid that by 1900 food processing accounted for one-fifth of all manufacturing in the United States. Cheap canning provided grocers a wide assortment of branded merchandise to sell.

Like many successful companies, A&P was constantly harassed by the government.

The cold financial details revealed in days of such testimony presented a compelling yet simple story. Firm orders from a retailer with the size and national scale of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company enabled grocery manufacturers to lower their production costs and promote their products in ways that would otherwise have been impossible, and in return the chain expected a share of the manufacturers’ gains. But while business school professors saw such testimony as evidence of economic rationality, the anti-chain forces read it precisely the opposite way. A&P’s prices were “close to 10 percent” below his own, testified the grocer Harry Wadsworth of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, “and if I had their discounts and allowances, I could meet them easily.”

In any event, evidence about efficiency would never address the underlying concerns of Wright Patman and millions of others, who feared the demise of a society in which personal relationships were all-important and hardworking men had the opportunity to rise through their own efforts. Where experts pointed to scientific management and consumer benefits, Patman saw “the huge chain stores sapping the civic life of local communities with an absentee overlordship, draining off their earnings to his coffers, and reducing their independent business men to employees or to idleness.” The disagreement concerned worldview far more than economics, and it could not be bridged with explanations about the cost of advertising yeast.

Share
Posted in Books, Business, United States | Leave a comment

Gerry Spence on Freedom

One of my favorite writers is Wyoming trial lawyer Gerry Spence, best known for his work on the Karen Silkwood case that was made into the film, Silkwood. I enjoyed Seven Simple Steps to Personal Freedom: An Owner’s Manual for Life, excerpted below.

As I look back, the most fortunate events in my life, although deeply painful, were the rejections I suffered. They proved to be immensely liberating gifts. I shudder to think what would have been my fate had I become a congressman or a professor or a judge. Had any taken me—the voters, the dean, the governor—I would surely have been irretrievably enslaved. Had I been elected to Congress, I would have become enslaved to backroom politicians, to corporate money, and to the fear that one day my decisions might not be pleasing to the voters, without regard to whether or not they might be pleasing to me. One can only imagine the stultifying environment of a law professor in a small Wyoming law school. And imagine the likes of me sitting on the bench as a judge enslaved to the structured life and mentality of the sitting jurist. All along what I failed to recognize were the forces that had always been at work within. Though I had been born into slavery and taught to follow the rules of a good slave, I had an irresistible longing to be free. Certainly it would be expected that one who had suffered so much rejection during his lifetime might have learned along the way to conform, to make himself more agreeable, to become less offensive, less intimidating, less outspoken, less spontaneous, more predictable, and more structured. I had not yet understood that freedom finally meant I must take myself, accept myself, own myself, be myself, value myself, discover myself, nurture myself, and reject all that violates, imprisons, diminishes, or tends to capture the self. I had not yet learned that, in the end, we are our own slave masters.

***

On the underside of freedom lurks the sense that we are as puny as a particle of dust at sea. We stay imprisoned in bad marriages because we are afraid to be alone. We endure every manner of indignity and outrage, every agony and tedium, because we are afraid—afraid to throw off the traces and experience the naked terror that so dominates the idea of freedom. We kiss our shackles. We stay at home with the old folks, or never leave the farm or the neighborhood. We linger on in daddy’s business or hang on to the old job until we have worn a track around it like the knee-deep trail of the old gristmill horse, because we are too frightened to march out into the wilderness alone.

***

I remember when one simply bought one’s ticket and hopped on the airplane. Today we have constructed new cages in old zoos. Today we are terrorized by terrorists. Yet there are probably no more than a few score people in the entire nation whose madness would cause them to plot the willful destruction of hundreds of innocent passengers. As a consequence, these few, whoever they might be, control 260 million people. Today we take it as an unquestioned part of travel, as the way of things, that we must identify ourselves with an official picture identification—the precursor of tattoos on our wrists. Today we accept as the way of things that our bodies must be searched mechanically, that our luggage must be inspected, that once aboard, we must behave in numerous purposeless ways that have little or nothing to do with our safety but control us perfectly like cattle run through the chutes. We know that if someone wants to manufacture a bomb and blow up the plane and its passengers, all of the endless procedures we have endured will have proven to be only the known landscape over which any terrorist can travel with ease.

***

Slavery provides a special kind of security—security from making one’s own decisions, security from thinking for one’s self, security from being responsible for one’s acts, and security from experiencing one’s life. A strange security persists—the security against being free. Only the dead are utterly secure. The struggle between freedom and security is eternal. The American colonists, by wresting their liberty from the king, gave up the security of his protection, of his armies and his powerful navy. They gave up the security of his laws, and of his exchequer. Yet there is no security under the yoke. The chicken in the chicken house is not secure. Saved from the coyote, the chicken will be eaten by the farmer.

***

It’s especially telling how young people, today, deal with their debts. So many debtors just seem okay about it. No one, of course, likes his or her debt, and everyone, of course, wants it gone, but among many debtors there is a curious lack of urgency. They exhibit an almost brazen indifference about owing tens of thousands of dollars, or going into forbearance, or having hundreds of dollars taken from their monthly incomes. Most are fine with going on the twenty-year repayment plan, as if nothing was at stake. They thought of their debt as some annoying, inevitable bill like car insurance, not the steel bars that kept them confined to lives of everlasting obligation.

***

The worker who seeks security cannot exhibit the free mind necessary to spring ahead on his own. He requires an overseer, a time clock, rules of work, rules of vacations, rules of sick leave, rules about having babies, rules about rules. He requires laws to protect him, and commissions to hear his complaints and representatives to represent him. It takes endless paper and energy, and the ugly wrestling deadens the spirit of both master and slave and leaves them both weary and both full of hate.

Share
Posted in Books, Society and Culture, United States | Leave a comment

Biking in Pueblo, Colorado

I rode my bike yesterday in Pueblo, Colorado, the second largest city in Colorado in 1960, and saw some interesting buildings and houses.

James Poole

New Courthouse

Old House

Rosemount Museum

Semicircle House

Treed Stone House

Union far

Union close

Courthouse

WW Memorial

Big Stone House

Bike rack

Carriage House

Hill House

Share
Posted in Travel, United States | 1 Comment

Venus Climbs Texas Cliffs

One of our most memorable days with Venus was when Dave and Gina Edrich took us to Pedernales Falls State Park near Austin, Texas in May 2004. Venus was 3 years old and could ascend a vertical rock face as fast and easily as a goat!

Pedernales Group

Dave Ascent

Venus Jumping

Mary Ascent

Gina Ascent

Venus Ascent

Venus Descent
Water Dogs

Dave Venus

Share
Posted in Travel, Venus | Leave a comment

Music Using Marbles

I found an interesting musical instrument using marbles via Quip.it, a video sharing platform.

Share
Posted in Music, Video | Leave a comment

I’ll See Venus in My Dreams

In dreams Venus is always near to Mary and me. My favorite funeral song is, “I’ll See you in My Dreams” by Joe Brown for George Harrison.

We bought Venus when she was 8 weeks old from breeder Linda Eklund of Windsor, Colorado.

We bought Venus when she was 8 weeks old from breeder Linda Eklund of Windsor, Colorado.

Venus was a terrible puppy, peeing everywhere for nearly a year. If we ever get another dog, it will be potty trained and at least 12 months old.

Venus at age 5 months tied to the dog run in our yard, November 2001.

Venus at age 5 months tied to the dog run in our yard, November 2001.

Venus loved people but not dogs with a few exceptions such as Asner, who she met in Vail in the summer of 2003.

Venus loved people but not dogs with a few exceptions such as Asner, who she met in Vail in the summer of 2003.

Venus and Asner often played in the yard. Asner was a mix of pit bull and Labrador Retriever and was stronger than Venus.

Venus and Asner often played in the yard. Asner was a mix of pit bull and Labrador Retriever and was stronger than Venus.

I tried to wear down the excess young energy of Venus at the Black Lakes at the summit of Vail Pass. It backfired, making her stronger.

I tried to wear down the excess young energy of Venus at the Black Lakes at the summit of Vail Pass. It backfired, making her stronger, but I gained strength, too.

We spent 3 summers in Vail, often at the Black Lakes.

We spent 3 summers in Vail, often at the Black Lakes.

Carol visited us in Vail in summer 2003 so we walked up the mountain.

Carol visited us in Vail in summer 2003 so we walked up the mountain.

Mom and Venus at the flower garden in Ford Park in Vail, summer 2003.

Mom and Venus at the flower garden in Ford Park in Vail, summer 2003.

Venus met a twin at Vail in the summer 2003.

Venus met a twin at Vail in the summer 2003.

Venus Rapids

Venus Mark River

Venus River Climb

Venus Wading

Venus River Shore

Venus Mud

We terrorized downtown Fort Collins on Halloween 2003.

We terrorized downtown Fort Collins on Halloween 2003.

I taught Venus to fetch the paper in the morning, a trick that required several months.

I taught Venus for several months to fetch the paper in the morning. Working was one of her joys.

Venus stayed with Dave and Gina Edrich for a week in Austin, April 2004.

Venus stayed with Dave and Gina Edrich for a week in Austin, April 2004.

Gina Dave Venus

Gina Venus

Mom Venus Couch

Venus and I at the opening of the Centerra Mall in Loveland, Colorado 2005.

Venus and I at the opening of the Centerra Mall in Loveland, Colorado 2005.

2008 BajaCalf_112

2008 BajaCalf_138

Venus bone chew_320

Venus was the only dog with her own boat at the Costa Baja Marina in 2007, La Paz, Baja California Sur.

Venus was the only dog with her own boat at the Costa Baja Marina in 2007, La Paz, Baja California Sur.

Venus enjoyed our Catalina 27 when it was docked but frightened easily and hated tacking and heeling.

Venus enjoyed our Catalina 27 when it was docked but frightened easily and hated tacking and heeling.

Venus Girls

Venus Girls 2

Venus with Cameron and Jordan in Austin, 2012.

Venus with Cameron and Jordan in Austin, 2012.

Brophy Edrich

Share
Posted in Venus | Leave a comment

Winter 2014

No snow has fallen lately in Colorado but we had plenty in the 2014 winter.

Share
Posted in Travel, United States, Venus | Leave a comment