Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hot, Hot, Hot!

There's an old adage that you never know what you've had until it's gone. Ah! How true it is! With the water heater being on the fritz, I have not been able to take a dependable, hot shower that lasts as long as I care to stand there with the hot water pouring over me. It had only been a few days since I could take a shower but, oh! How I missed it!

The experience has led me to think of the other things, the simple things, that I have perhaps taken for granted...

I'm resolved to enjoy the things around me that make life good; things like my friends, my family, the little things I enjoy. It's better to appreciate them than to miss them. So to all of you who may read this: Thanks for making life a pleasure! You guys know who you are! The time we spend together is great. Thank you! Let's get together again real soon!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will take a moment to appreciate the things around you!

Don Bergquist - April 30, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, April 28, 2008

Manic Monday

It's just shy of 06:30 and already it has been a busy Monday morning!

My water heater (which has been acting strangely, going out for no reason then working fine for days) has given-up the ghost. I am now certain that the problem is with the thermocouple. The pilot goes out, I can restart it, but the burner goes out after about five minutes and the pilot goes out with the burner.

When this started happening (the pilot was going out ever few days), I had a guy out to look at it and he suggested that somehow drafts in the utility room were blowing-out the pilot. As odd as it sounds, it satisfied me and I didn't give it a second thought. This weekend... it became obvious what the problem probably was.

I called for service but as I had the problem on the weekend, the plumber could not come out until today. (I'm using my usual plumbing contractor this time, not the one who came-up with the "drafty utility room" theory.

So, my day has been so busy because, not being able to take a shower this morning (the water coming into my home is at about 40-degrees fahrenheit) I've decided to work from home. So Saga and I took our walk really early, before five, and then I headed into the office, arriving around 05:30; I grabbed some paperwork and my laptop and headed back home. Traffic is surprisingly heavy this morning for some reason. Ah, well! I am home now and need to get to work... Who knows when the plumber will get here. I'm so looking forward to a long, hot shower after the plumber leaves today!

Wherever you are, I hope you're looking forward to something enjoyable today!

Don Bergquist - April 28, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Birthday Party

It is great reconnecting with old friends. Last night, I got together with my friends here in Colorado. My friend, Scott, turns 40 this week and our mutual friends Chris and Amy threw him a birthday party.

What a riot! I got to see some old friends that I haven't seen in years... Many people told me how great it was that I was back from the UK and that I would be around for these things. I have to agree! I have missed these friends very much!

Which is not to say that I do not miss the UK and my friends there... but what can I say. When I get attached to friends, I really become attached. It was a great party (which is to be expected when Chris and Amy throw a party... they are from New Orleans, after all.)

The party lasted until well after midnight. It was after two when I got home. Today is going to be a day of rest and recuperation. It is lovely out and after doing some gardening, getting the car washed and vacuumed, it is time for me to take a walk with Saga in her park. After that, I will probably hang-out with a book or with a movie and just sort-of chill.

Wherever you are today, I hope that your day is a restful one!

Don Bergquist - April 27, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin, Steve

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Invention Alert!

Editor's Note:

For anyone with the time, money or connections, today's entry is an idea that I hope you will run with... If you do, all I ask for is that you send me one once you have built it and start making your millions!

Have you ever seen an invention and thought: "I could have come-up with that!" or "What a great idea! Why hasn't anyone come up with this before?" or "Hey! That was my idea!"

That is exactly the reaction that I had the first time that I saw the On-Demand Video offerings that my cable company offers with their digital video recorder option. The exactly response was: "Hey! That was my idea!" Now, granted, I could hardly believe that I was the first to think of it, but the fact remains that a friend of mine and I came-up with the ideas of On-Demand Video and DVRs long before they were being publicly discussed. It's just that neither Larry nor I were sufficiently motivated to follow-it up.

In 1986 my friend, Larry had just bought a new house. (Technically, Larry was my boss, but we hung-out together and were pretty good friends too.) One weekend, he was laying tile and marble in the living room and dining room floors. On a break for beer as we sat looking out over the bay we were shooting the breeze and I said that after I left I was going down to the video store to rent a movie and was probably going to have dinner and crash early.

This was when we discussed the idea of somehow inventing a box that would sit above the TV with computer circuits and memory that could download movies as a subscription service and let people watch them without having to go get the actual video tapes (DVDs were still off in the future...) we even tossed-out the idea that perhaps the TV station we worked for could be recorded off-air and played back like a VCR but with the computer controlling the recording, the programming could be made as far into the future as the user liked.

The problems of course were that in the mid-eighties, the cost of computer components and memory was still pretty high. The cost of the machine would be too high for it to be workable. Besides that, you have to remember what modem bandwidth was like back then. It would have taken a week to download a single movie... It wasn't viable at the time.

So now, I have another idea... it is viable, practicable and I think it would be really popular. It is similar to the DVR but it would be built into your Radio. The thought came to me the other day as I was driving to work. The news program I was listening to was talking about a pretty interesting story... just as they were about to mention a topic I was really interested in, some idiot cut me off... my attention was diverted as I watched him weave in and out of the traffic ahead.

By the time I could divert a fraction of my attention back to the radio, the story was underway and I had missed some salient point that made the story make no sense to me at all. It was at this instant that I, by habit reached for the back-up button.

You see, one of the cool things about my DVR is the back-up button. If you miss something that someone says on live (or recorded) TV, you simply hit this button and it sets you back thirty-seconds in the feed... you can then hear what you just missed.

I can see it as being a great boon to radio listeners everywhere! I would consider buying a radio with this feature! (But as you're probably going to send me one for free when you use my idea to make millions, I probably won't need to.)

Wherever you are today, I hope you're having a lovely day!

Don Bergquist - April 26, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy anniversary to my step-brother Paul and his wife, Suzette

Friday, April 25, 2008

Storms (?)

The prediction was for storms, but other than a bit of virga, there was no precipitation that I could note last night.

It was so pleasant when I got home that Saga and I sat out on the Hammock Chair on my deck and watched the clouds form and the streaks of virga shift across the sky above my neighbor's house. It was a lovely way to spend an hour or so, just to sit there and unwind after a hard day of work.

It's not as if my job were physically challenging, other than the occasional need to do some light construction of office equipment and furniture, the most demanding thing I do at the office, physically, is to get cartons of paper out to reload the printer. But what I do is mentally demanding. I have to interpret software design specs, then try and extrapolate how it will work once it is implemented so that I can write test scripts for it.

At least that is what I have been doing for the last six weeks-or-so… It is demanding, but I enjoy it! Not as much as I enjoy a quiet evening sitting in the cool night air of my deck watching the weather, though! I can't wait until it is camping season and Saga and I can get away from the city entirely for the evening.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you have something you can do to help you unwind and relax!

Don Bergquist – April 25, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Don't EVER Do Business With Qwest!

If anyone ever hears me say that I am planning on doing business with Qwest again, please have me committed!

The saga continues!

In my diatribe against Qwest back in January, (See: Lesson In Customer Service, Dated January 24, 2008) I shared my tales of woe at having to deal with Qwest. Qwest, who was referred to as [NAME REDACTED] in that article, is a company that is so out-of-it that even when they are far from the cheapest player in town, they cannot get their billing correct. I was willing to deal with them because it was easier than changing to someone else. Even with that in mind, they could't get their act together!

Well, the problems continue. Last evening, when I returned from work, there was a message on my machine from a collections agency. Of course, they didn't say that they were a collections agency, they hemmed and hawed around what they wanted until I was about to hang-up. asking questions about who I was and not clearly identifying themselves. Apparently, Qwest had sent my account to collections!

When I asked what was going on, I was told that Qwest thought that I owed them money. This is odd! I have received one bill from Qwest this year and that one was dated April 01, 2008 and it showed that I had a credit on the account! According to their billing they owe me money! WHAT THE ****!

I called Qwest and spoke with a very nice man who, at first showed that my bill was paid in full, then showed that I owed money, and then showed the credit that was on my bill. When I explained that this bill (showing the credit balance and clearly marked "Do Not Pay") was the only piece of paper that I had received he said he needed assistance… he then started talking to one of his colleagues without putting me on hold, and then hung-up on me.

When I called back, I dealt with someone to whom I had to explain the whole story again… what a crock! She could also see that I had a bill and a credit she didn't see the payment that I had sent and had to bring a second person on the line this person could see the payment but not the credit bill!

And THIS is the company that is going to be running the IT at the Democratic Convention this summer, folks! Get ready for a fun convention! I will never again do business with this company!

Wherever you are today, I hope that your service suppliers are all a bit more together than mine are!

Don Bergquist – April 24, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy anniversary to my Uncle Dick and Aunt Diane

Happy anniversary to my cousins Stan and Christine

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Morning Reports

My mom used to say that I made her go to the hospital early one winter morning to give birth to me and never let her sleep late again. When I have houseguests, I am usually up and about the house and have breakfast ready when they finally roll downstairs for coffee. Heck, even my Weekend lie-in usually is characterized by my sleeping until nearly seven!

So, I guess it is no wonder that I love watching the early morning news. The first thing I do on waking up, after reaching over the side of the bed and giving Saga a pat on the head, is to turn on one of the morning reports. This morning's report was about what I have come to expect. Along with the usual blather: what the president said or did yesterday, coverage of the war, and the obligatory "human-interest" story – this morning it concerned a mail carrier who carried the day by catching a baby that fell out of a window.

This morning there was also, what is called in the industry, a "Man-Bites-Dog" story. This is usually a news or human-interest story that has some odd twist. This morning's news included the story of a woman who had encountered an intruder in her kitchen. She walked it and surprised the intruder standing right there by the sink. But not as much as the intruder surprised her! The intruder was an eight-foot alligator.

Reports vary (I've now seen this story from a few sources) as to what the alligator was doing in the woman's kitchen (it probably came in searching for a meal – possibly stalking the woman's pet cat), but they all agree on one thing: the animal control authorities will probably destroy the creature. The usual reason that they give for destroying an animal under these circumstances is that they (the animals) have "lost their fear of humans."

Poor thing! It was just hungry and who would have really missed a cat? Besides, I have the same problem with this story that I did with most of the stories that are set in The Everglades – Remember the plane that crashed into the everglades a while back? The reports kept referring to the everglades as an "alligator infested swamp."

For one thing, the everglades is a river, not a swamp! There is a definite and discernable flow from Lake Okeechobee (or there was until the Army Corps of Engineers got their hands on it!) to the straights of Florida. In its original configuration, the river was about half-as-wide as the state for much of its path, spreading out into a delta that formed most of the south coast of the the state down by The Keys. 

For another there is that word "infestation!" Do they (the reporters) even know what this word means? It is defined as a "harassing or troublesome invasion." There is the implication of some pest that doesn’t belong. The Everglades is not an "alligator infested swamp," it is an "alligator inhabited river!"

In the case of the alligators and South Florida, we are the infestation! It is not possible for alligators to infest the everglades… they live there! We encroached on their territory. I may no longer live in South Florida, but I grew-up there and still love the area. It is really annoying to see people move into an area they do not understand and destroy the local ecosystem.

It is one day after earth day! Have you already decided to turn your back on Mother Nature? Darn! That was quick!

Wherever you are this morning, I hope that you'll respect your mother.

Don Bergquist – April 23, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

St. George's Day

Tax Freedom Day!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Living Abroad

Looking back over my blog last evening (which I do periodically) it struck me how many times I have waxed poetically about the fun and the benefits of living abroad. I highly recommend it to everyone. If you can contrive to live abroad for a while, anywhere, do so! You'll learn so much about the world, your country, and yourself.

But take a precaution before you do: Learn ALL the tax ramifications before you go!

I am still trying to suss-out exactly what taxes I owe and to whom for the two years I was abroad… it's not easy. I have two offices of a large, international tax firm working on my taxes for me and even though they are working for the same company, they cannot agree on what taxes I have paid, let alone what the actual liability is. (Or was…)

I have a feeling this is going to go on for a while now. I do miss the old days when I could file my taxes as soon as I got my W-2 and have my return back in time to buy myself a small birthday gift, but I would not have traded the time I spent in the UK, the friends I made, and the adventures I had for all the frustration sussing-out my taxes has become!

Wherever you are today, I hope you'll have an adventure, experience life, travel! (Or at least make plans to do so!)

Don Bergquist – April 22, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy Earth Day

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sloth Mode

Like the Slug Mode that many of my weekends tend to slip into unbidden, this weekend slipped into full-blown sloth mode. With the exception of some long walks with Saga in her park and a bit of time wandering distractedly around the neighborhood looking at the spring plants coming out, I did absolutely nothing this weekend.

Well, that's not exactly true… Saturday morning started with some spring cleaning and general straightening-up around the house. I watched a few movies, I caught-up on the programs that I record on my DVR but am usually too busy to watch on the weekdays and played a bit with Saga. Later, I sat on my deck and read for a while.

My neighbor came over to chat for a while (and bask in the glorious weather out on my deck) both afternoons. She expressed pleasant surprise at seeing me at home so often. (That's what happens when you used to travel a lot and then start staying home.)

Sunday I did some Laundry and some more spring cleaning. I also organized my shopping list, but by the time I got around to going to the store it was packed (are we expecting a snow storm?) so I decided I would shop Monday after work. Oh! I also called my friend, Bob and helped him suss-out a problem he was having with his computer. (Sunday was Bob's Birthday so I decided to call and wish him a happy birthday. a couple hours later he had a working computer with internet and email again... Happy Birthday, Poppy!)

See, nothing really. It was a relaxing and thoroughly chilled-out weekend. Ah, well… It's Monday again and back to work. I have a pile of scripts to write. I had best get into the office.

Wherever you are today, I hope you had a thoroughly relaxing weekend!

Don Bergquist – April 21, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to Her Majesty, The Queen

That is to say the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, Her Majesty Elizabeth II.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stop Your Whining!

I cannot hear a newscast these days without a story about the high cost of gas! It is about time! Our gas prices have been artificially low for years. Now, I hear that it is something that is going to be causing people to change their driving habits. (One person interviewed said he was turning in his Cadillac for a Toyota.)

Good! We need to drive less. We need to develop fuel-efficient cars. We need to both conserve energy and find less harmful ways of expending energy.

Living in London for a while I can tell you that in Europe, they pay a lot more for gas than we do. The total garage near The Villa in Thames Ditton had petrol for just over a pound a litre.

So... Let's see… There are 1.9974 US Dollars to the UK Pound. So a Litre of Petrol that costs £1.029 would run $2.06. But that's for a Litre… we gas by the gallon. There are 3.785412 Litres to the Gallon, so that's $7.78 per gallon!

So with gasoline at $3.30 per gallon and everyone is whining, I wonder what will happen when it gets up where it is everywhere else in the world! If the high price of gasoline causes you to give up your obscenely large vehicles (does one person driving to work really need a Hummer?) in favor of something more realistic (which is not to say more earth-friendly) then I say great! Let's tighten our belts and push up the price a bit more!

I know I will feel safer on the roads with a few less of the idiot brigade in their California Godmobiles acting as if they are the only person on the road. Maybe if you drove a more sensible car you'd remember that there are others of us out there on the road with you!

Wherever you are today, I hope you have a great (whine-free) day!

Don Bergquist – April 20, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend, Bob

(Happy Birthday, Poppy!)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Plea For Help

For my readers in South Florida, Please keep your eyes open for a big white trailer marked Boy Scout Troop 599. The troop has had it stolen and is looking for it!

I care about this because my dad and two of his friends started troop 599 in 1971. Some of my fondest memories of growing up in South Florida are centered on the great times I had in the Scouts. There were some great camping trips, and hikes, and trips to Summer Camp!

The troop trailer was stolen from the Kendall Area of Miami Dade County some time last week and as the trailer contained all their camping equipment, they would like the trailer and the contents returned. The trailer itself had sentimental value to the troop as it had the names of all the Eagle Scouts (since the trailer came along) painted on it and so, it is a source of pride and nostalgia to the troop.

If you'd care to make a donation to the troop to help replace their stolen equipment (which may/or may not – consult your tax preparer – be tax deductible) please contact their Scout Master. My dad and a couple of his friends chartered the troop in 1971 and it has been going strong ever since. If you can help, it would be appreciated. Tell them Denny Bergquist's son asked you to help.

When my sister called yesterday morning to tell me about the theft of the trailer, I was shocked, but I was also nostalgic… The first image that came to mind was the trailer we had when I was a kid. Someone had taken an old van that was no longer running and cut the front-end off it. They then added a tongue and trailer hitch to it and we used it for years to carry the camping equipment to all the troop campouts.

That is to all the troop campouts that were not in inaccessible places. The camping trips we took in the middle of the Everglades, at the edge of the Big Cypress Swamp just south of Alligator Alley, being one of the notable exceptions that spring to mind.

We had the trailer with us when we went to the Seminole District Camp-O-Ree only one of two troops from the Hurricane District that were invited to the event. We were invited because of our nature expertise; we had been survival camping in the Everglades for years and practically everyone in the troop had received all the nature-based merit badges that could be earned in South Florida. Troop 220, our rival from the northern end of our neighborhood, was also invited to the event because they had a (admittedly pretty good) native dance troop. They learned and performed Native American dances and were invited lots of places.

As I recall it, Seminole District never again invited Hurricane District troops to their Camp-O-Ree; what troop 599 didn't win, troop 220 did. Or at least, that is how I remember it.

Oh! And one of the founding scoutmasters of the troop was a member of the Miami Police Department Bomb Squad. He had the most interesting way of starting camp fire ceremonies!

Wherever you are today, I hope you'll either make or enjoy some wonderful memories.

Don Bergquist – April 19, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, April 18, 2008

Passover Begins

If At First You Don't Succeed…

…Change the expectations!

This morning, as I was watching the news, I heard an interesting story about the war in Iraq. Apparently, it is now the opinion of just over fifty percent of those polled that we can "win the war against terror" (whatever that means) without "winning the war" in Iraq. Furthermore, just over half of the respondents believe that we should withdraw from Iraq.

Excuse me for remembering, but would that be the same just over fifty percent of us who never thought we should have allowed the president and his cronies to unilaterally declare war on Iraq in the first place? I know that the VP cares not one whit what anyone else thinks, but this war has never had popular support. It has always been seen as a bad move by about half the country.

How the clowns in power stayed in power is a mystery. (To some, if not to me…) They've so horribly mismanaging the economy, lied to the American public repeatedly about why they wanted to unilaterally attack Iraq, cavalierly broke the law by spying on the American public, and glibly asserted that huge swathes of the constitution do not apply to them. Either the American public is not paying attention, or they somehow stole the election. (Probably both!)

They're great at misdirection. When they think actual issues may confuse the voters (by which, I mean: Get them to come to their senses and vote for someone else…), they start playing the shell game. "Terrorists are attacking!" they cry until the frenzied public is seeing boogie men under every rock. That or they pander to some special interest block to get them to mobilize. "The Liberals want to make the practice of your religion illegal," they say and their sheep baa it from every pew.

They've used fear and confusion to hold onto power as long as they can and been smug and glib about how they don't really care what the public thinks. By confusing the issue, spewing vitriol at anyone who disagrees with them, and constantly trying to convince us that the next terrorist attach is one vote away, they've hogtied a gullible plurality who then were hit by the fallout of the economy that they allowed to implode.

Perhaps the next administration will be better at listening to the facts, the American public, and the constitution. I doubt it, but one can always dream.

Wherever you are this morning, I hope you'll hold fast to your dream.

Don Bergquist – April 18, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another Frosted Morning

There is a scene in one of the Monty Python Films (I am pretty sure it was Monty Python and the Holy Grail) where the film switches to one of their bizarre animations and the announcer says:

"Winter changed into spring. Spring changed into summer. Summer changed back into winter. And winter gave spring and summer a miss and went straight on into autumn. Until one day..."
I gotta tell you, that is what it is feeling like these days in Lakewood! The weather here in Colorado has never been the most stable thing in our lives, but it is… shall we say… interesting!

We started the week in a lovely spring mode; the trees and grass all greening, the spring bulbs putting on a show, the burrowing animals coming out of their long sleep. Tuesday was a lovely summer day; the light long-sleeve shirt I wore while walking the dog really more than I needed. I broke a sweat as the temperatures reached almost eighty degrees. Yesterday, summer changed into winter.

A front came through here yesterday. The winds were nice to blow away the dead leaves that are strewn everywhere, and the snow was great to help put out the early fire-season wildfires that were already burning in the south of the state. I think I can probably do without the five inches of new snow on the park paths and the slush on the roads. Ah well, that's fine. It's only for a day.

Temperatures today are supposed to be in the low fifties. All this snow should be gone by sunset. This is why we don't plant here until Mother's Day!

Wherever you are today, I hope that your day is lovely, whatever the weather!

Don Bergquist – April 17, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my step-brother, Paul

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What A Lovely Evening!

Saga and I sat out last evening after I finished with work and enjoyed the cool, clear evening air. All day it had been lovely. I occasionally turned to look out the window of my home office to see that Saga had take-up her post on the bench by the fence.

She stood sentry; making sure that no nefarious persons came by and did any ill deeds. She was bent on keeping the yard safe for Saga!

When time came for me to call it a day, we went for a nice, long walk and then came home to enjoy the calm of the evening. My neighbor came out as the dusk was setting in and we chatted for a while. It is a shame that this is the last nice evening we are going to have this week… it is predicted to snow by some time tomorrow afternoon. At least I had last evening.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will never pass-up the opportunity to enjoy a pleasant evening with your friends and loved ones. (Or, indeed, alone.)

Don Bergquist – April 16, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend, Fritz

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mixed Emotions

Well, it's a mixed-emotion kind of morning.

For the last twelve weeks, I have been spending my Monday evenings at the South Metro Fire Department in the Denver Tech Center, coaching a Dale Carnegie class. I took the class myself about eight years ago when my boss suggested that it would be a good thing to take.

If you ever have any interest in taking a class that will change the way you look at your interpersonal relationships, that will help you feel more comfortable speaking in front of groups, and will give you some tools for helping you organize your thoughts when dealing with tough situations, I highly recommend a Dale Carnegie Class.

I enjoyed the class thoroughly and was asked later that year if I would like to be a graduate assistant. I'd been a GA for four or five classes since then. It is always a lot of work and a big commitment of time, but seeing people develop over a dozen weeks, is incredibly fulfilling.

But last evening was graduation; the class is over. Great! Now what am I to do with my Mondays? (Well, I guess Saga will be glad to have me home for our evening walks on Monday...) What ever I do with my time, I wish the people I have gotten to know over the past twelve weeks all the best. And, if anyone from the class is reading this post, please, do stay in touch!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're doing well!

Don Bergquist - April 15, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tax Day (United States)

Happy birthday to my friend, Sara

(Happy Birthday, Ma!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

My God! It's Full of Stars!

Looking up this morning, as Saga and I were inspecting her domain, I was immediately struck by how lovely the sky was this morning. The clear skies of the past day-or-so have really been nice, a lovely change from the days-upon-days of overcast and oppressive clouds that have dumped rain, snow, and gloom on us.

But the weekend was lovely! I got to spend time outside and got my first sunburn of the spring. I even had an opportunity to get the outside ready for my spring planting… not that I did any actual planting, though! It's not mother's day yet. I've been burned by a deceptively clement early spring before… I'll wait. In the words of our illustrious president:

"Fool me once, uh, shame on you. Fool me twice, uh… well, you won’t fool me twice!"
I'm holding off on planting until I get back from Dad's birthday party at the end of the month. We'll see what it looks like then. But right now, it is so tempting. It is going to be such a lovely day!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having a lovely morning!

Don Bergquist – April 14, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunny Sunday

It is a lovely day in Colorado!

We are expecting to have temperatures in the upper sixties and clear skies. But even this late in the year, with the crocuses coloring the gardens, it is not too late for the last snow.

The weather forecasters are warning that we may have another springtime blizzard later-on next week. Ah! But isn't this what we love about living in Colorado?

After a walk with Saga, I am going to spend the day doing some yard work. There are the landscaping rocks that have been pushed into the lawn by the snowplows that I want to move off the grass before they start mowing in a few weeks, and cleaning last year's vines from the dead morning glories to be cleared from inside my fence.

I also want to go and price aspens. I want to expand the stand of quaking aspen that I have started along the walk up to my unit. (They make a lovely shade and privacy screen between my patio and the next building and I love how they look in the fall!)

Other than that, if the temperatures are nice enough, I'll probably take a ride and then sit outside, read a book for a while and just bask in the glory of such a wonderful day!

Wherever you are, I hope that you have a wonderful day to end your weekend!

Don Bergquist - April 13, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Story Of A Prurient Nature

Warning to those of a puerile nature, this discussion may make you blush. I will be discussing subjects of a mature nature. Read on if you wish, but you have been warned.

- Editor

Apparently, the tabloid press of the United Kingdom have an axe to grind (or an axle) with Max Mosley. The president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, was (eh-hem) "caught with his pants down" shall we say? The papers report of his being spotted in flagrante dilecto in a London "dungeon" with a number of "professional women." Furthermore, apparently, the proceedings were being secretly videotaped by The News of the World.

There are calls for him to resign his post over the indiscretion. But it was not the fact of the indiscretion that seemed to have been the problem. It was the nature of its execution that caused the raising of a collective eyebrow. Mr. Mosley, who is the former head of the British Union of Fascists and who was a friend to the late Adolf Hitler (yes, THAT Adolf Hitler) was indulging in fantasies that many have found to be objectionable. It is the nature of those fantasies that have wrought the wrath of his critics.

Not that I condone (nor condemn for that matter) the offensive behavior (How could I? It does not involve me in any way!), but I have to say, if you're going to call for one's resignation, you may as well do it for valid reasons. Since what he was doing was neither crime nor offense in that particular Chelsea locale, and since it could be argued, that he did have some reasonable expectation of privacy in the establishment within which the act took place, I see no grounds for such a demand.

Surely, you knew that he had Nazi beliefs and leanings before he was selected the head of the FIA, so it cannot be that you are shocked by his inclinations. Surely you cannot be espousing the right to police someone's private fantasies. Surely, you cannot be wishing to squelch the rights of two (or more, as in this case) consenting adults!

Once again, those who would steal our freedoms step up to try! If you have an objection to the type of club that he was patronizing, then work to convince a majority that it, in some legal way, should justifiably be closed. Short of that, live with the fact that you (the fans of the FIA) have an aging (ex) Nazi with a passion for professionals and a fantasy life that leans toward the distasteful. He was expressing himself in an entirely legal way; even if it was one that you, personally, find to be distasteful.

But society cannot grant a right to do something then act scandalized when someone actually does it! What these people were doing was legal. You cannot legislate morality or good taste. If you disagree with their lawful expression of their rights, then you really have only one recourse.

Vote with your feet! Quit supporting the person you disagree with by not buying what he is selling… You have that right. (Yes, even in the UK you have the right to watch or not watch whatever you want!) As I say to so many of the vocal protestors of what we have on the media over here: "Change the channel; Don't buy the papers! If you disagree with it, don't do it!"

Live your life and let everyone else get on with living theirs!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you have something that you can get worked-up over!

Don Bergquist – April 12, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

(Thanks for bearing with me on this… I was trying to be as tasteful as I could when discussing this topic.)

- Editor

Friday, April 11, 2008

04:21 – Morning Thoughts

I was up before the alarm this morning. Saga stirred and looked at me as I entered the office to turn on the computer. She lay comfortably snoozing on the couch in the office and only lifted her head by the slightest amount when I walked in. Apparently then having decided that Daddy is a nut, she put her head back onto her paws and resumed her beauty sleep.

The computer started, I moved some of my backups to my laptop and started a bank download. I then headed back to bed to watch the morning news for a while as the download processed. Saga came to join me; snuggled up under my arm, she collected the strokes and petting that she feels (rightly) that she is due.

One of the stories that caught my attention was about the opening of the new Newseum. A story about it was also on NPR when the radio alarm came on. The thing about the story which caught my attention was the critic of the Newseum who could only attack it on the fact that he thought it was a bit self-serving.

What!? The entertainment industry being self-aggrandizing? Say it ain't so!

C'mon. The news hasn't been independent of the corporate owners in years. Anyone who doesn’t believe this, watch a news cast! Is anyone fooled by those "home economics," "lifestyle," and "health" pieces that are nothing but product placement? They are advertising to you right there! In the news!

You want proof? Think back to the last of these stories that you saw… for me, it was a couple days ago. The local station was doing a piece about stretching the family budget and the "Home Economist" was giving some money-saving recipes that could be used to feed a family of five for ten dollars. You can tell that this kind of story is one that has been scripted, inserted, and paid for by an advertiser. The give away is when instead of saying something to the affect of: "top the casserole with crushed tortilla or corn chips" the script has the speaker say something like: "crush some Fritos® brand corn chips and sprinkle them (generously) over the top of the casserole."

But even with the sound off, you can spot it! If you ever watch a cooking show, you'll notice that the chef on the show has always measured out the ingredients into either piles on a plate (or platter or cutting board) on into individual containers like small bowls or ramekins. In one of these insidious deceptions (commercials loosely disguised as news) not only do they name a brand, they also prominently show the packaging… often, the package is there only to be seen as they ingredient in question is already measured-out or (as was true yesterday) the final recipe has already been cooked.

I do not begrudge the right of a company to advertise, or the right of the television company to sell advertising. I do miss the days, though, when journalists had ethics and advertisements (or promotions) in the news were clearly demarcated. Product placement is movies is bad enough but when the shamelessly hawk goods and services at us and attempting to pass it off as news.

Perhaps that is the reason for the Newseum – to remind us of a day when journalists had ethics. I suspect, however, it is just another way for the corporate owners to yet again, dilute what the news is supposed to be and degrade the expectations of the American public.

Wherever you are, I hope that you're having a great day!

Don Bergquist – April 11, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, April 10, 2008

It Never Rains…

…Then it pours!

In what is apparently a move of solidarity for the printer, my PC has chosen to also go on strike… Luckily, I have back-ups of all my important files, it is now just a matter of time to get my PC down to someone to look at it and try to determine what the problem is.

What happened was when I turned-on my PC this morning, There was no activity. The power light blinked at me once, and then nothing. Damn and blast! I hope this will not be too expensive to fix!

Ah! Well, at least I have my Laptop that I bought for my trip to London as an emergency back-up system…

Wherever you are today, I hope all system are operating within the manufacturer's specified ranges!

Don Bergquist – April 10, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Who Knew?

Who knew it would be so much work to move my photo sharing from one service to another? I guess I should have known… I have a couple thousand pictures that I want to share… (and that doesn't count the couple hundred old photo archives!)

I hope that you've had a chance to pop over to my frost lake galleries on SmugMug… it's some work but definitely worth it… I think it is a much more user-friendly interface; both from the point of view of the visitor and from the point-of-view of the host.

Plus, with the ability for me to customize the look-and-feel, I can more closely integrate it with my blog and my website. So, I'm continuing to work on it a few hours a week until I have all the pictures uploaded. Keep checking back, there should be updates often.

Wherever you are today, I hope you have a chance to work on one of your hobbies today!

Don Bergquist – April 09, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Friggin Printer!

Well, it is time for me to start looking for a new printer. I have been trying to print off my monthly post card for three days and I have utterly failed. The problem is that the sheet feeder is no longer feeding sheets.

Try as I might, I cannot get the machine to grab a sheet…

I’m going to try trouble shooting the problem on the web and fixing it myself, but if I am unable to, I have post cards to print and a number of birthdays this month so I really need to get the cards I have designed printed so that I can send them on time.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will have not problems with your hardware!

Don Bergquist – April 08, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, April 07, 2008

Monday Morning

According to the weather casts we have a bunch of weather coming our way. The front that stated spitting rain at us last night is supposed to be dropping snow on us today. The weather forecast calls for a high of forty degrees (Fahrenheit) some time around lunchtime. The weathercaster also contains references to thunderstorms, rain, sleet, and cloud cover all day long.

If only all this moisture could help break the drought we are in!

But I guess I have no space to complain, I see on the morning news that London is getting pounded by snow. It is a shame that London does not get enough snow to actually know what to do when it snows. I remember last year when I was there and we got an inch of snow in February, the tubes and trains stopped running. A brilliant spokesperson for London Transit (in a quote that will probably haunt the rest of his career) gave a quote to the papers that the reason the transit system came to a halt was that the snow was the "wrong kind of snow" for the trains to be able to deal with…

A friend of mine back in London emailed me this morning (or rather, some time last night) saying that when he looked out at his back garden, there was nothing to see but a lumpy white mass… Everything is blanketed in snow. It must be lovely!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having a lovely morning!

Don Bergquist – April 07, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, April 06, 2008

It Isn’t The Thames…

…heck, it isn’t even the South Platte!

But, it is what I have. So I ride along Bear Creek. It is pleasant. For most of the distance from Fox Hollow (a few miles west of here) to the confluence with the South Platte (about ten miles to the east of here) the bike path in the greenbelt runs along the bluff to either the north or the south of Bear Creek.

For one thing, except in the springtime, the average depth of Bear Creek is about three feet. The widest place I know of on the entire creek is only about ten feet across… the average width is more like four feet. You’ll definitely not be seeing rowing crews, sailors, or Turk’s Launches along Bear Creek… as if there was anything that exciting to get to along the Bear Creek.

But still, I love riding the greenbelt for three reasons:

It is a lovely ride… Granted, it has no pub to stop at on my ride, but…

It is protected from traffic… Though there are fewer wanker drivers here, there still are some…

At no time of the year, is the Bear Creek Trail infested with old ladies, arms laden with plants, who have just exited the Hampton Court Flower show. Granted, there are people in the Bear Creek Park that don’t seem to get the idea that that strip of concrete is a bike path and not a place to pile all the picnic paraphernalia…

It is a lovely day to ride; I think I may ride up to the base of the dam at Fox Hollow today before heading toward the confluence… It is a nice day, but I will have to get going. They are predicting rain or snow by some time this afternoon. So, although Bear Creek isn’t the Thames, it is still a lovely ride.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you appreciate your surroundings!

Don Bergquist – April 06, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Laid Back Weekend

Well, that’s a nice start! Last evening, I went out to see some friends at a local bar. (God! I wish we had pubs here.) We had a few beers, chatted and caught-up. These are some friends that I have not seen yet since returning from the UK. It was nice. I got back around midnight and Saga and I took a walk. She actually wanted to walk around the lake, so it was well after one by the time we got back.

This morning, I decided we deserved a bit of a lie-in, so I didn’t even try and get out of bed before eight. Once roused, Saga and I took a nice, long walk. I think this afternoon I am going to get in a bike ride, but there is one thing that has to happen first… Saga and I are going to that evil place where she will be subjected to the humiliation of getting a B-A-T-H!

I know she is going to hate me by this afternoon so I’ll let her cool off as I ride my bike!

Wherever you are today, I hope you have a pleasant day to look forward to!

Don Bergquist – April 05, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday, Friday, Friday!

Yes! It is Friday again! It seems to have come so quickly! Not only is the week over, the month is a new one… how the heck did that happen!?

There is no big plan for the weekend; I know what happens when I make plans! (So does anyone who is a regular reader of my blog! No, there is no reason for me to jinx it by making a plan! We’ll just take it as it comes, but first, we’ll have to get through the Friday workload.

Wherever you are, I hope you’ll have a great day! (Friday!!!)

Don Bergquist – April 04, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin, Chris

Happy anniversary to my cousins Chris and Rebecca

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Snowy Morning

Isn’t it amazing how the weather in Colorado yo-yos in the springtime? Yesterday was overcast and cold… the weather has been deteriorating for the past couple days and then this morning, as Saga and I left for our morning stroll in the park, it was spitting heavy, thick, wet flakes. The snow was mixed with ice pellets and rain.

It was a miserable walk; the paths were wet and slushy. I was glad to get back into the house and get into some dry clothing. I now have a nice, hot cup of coffee and am about to start my PC and get to work. I’ve brought some writing assignments home with me to work on today and tomorrow so I had best get to it.

Wherever you are this morning, I hope your day starts-out well!

Don Bergquist – April 03, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

C'mon, Really!?

With the US economy being what it is I cannot say that I am surprised by what is going on in the congress these days. Yesterday I heard a report that there is a bill going through that would cause the Fed to become a sort-of super-auditor. It would entrust them with the onus of making sure that companies who trade on the open market. They would look into things that smell fishy.

The pundits have complained about this being a bad idea for basically two reasons:

1) The Fed didn’t have the foresight to prevent the current mortgage melt-down…
2) The Fed auditors would not have the ability to understand the balance sheets that much higher paid CEOs have problems understanding themselves…

The mind boggles. As to the mortgage meltdown, the Fed didn't have the authority to do anything about it. Many people foresaw the impending problem and complained, but as it was not within their purview to do anything about it, they cannot be blamed for not having prevented the carnage caused by the collapse of that house-of-cards that was the mortgage industry for the past few years.

The second argument is just strange. What are they arguing? That the size of your paycheck is directly related to your ability to understand a topic? What a crock! Unless you personally work very closely with the CEO of your organization, or you have an extremely high-profile position, it is highly that the CEO of your organization knows more about what you do than you do… That's not the talent they (presumably) possess which justifies their salary. The mark of a good boss (and by extension, a good CEO), I feel, is the ability to employ people who are the best at what they have been hired to do. A good boss knows (and expects) that his employees are far better at doing their jobs than he (or she) would be.

Sunday, the pundits were discussing another bill that is moving through the system that would tie the promise of Fed bail-outs for companies to a requirement that their CEOs not earn more than a G15 salary grade salary. (That's about $150,000 US.) C'mon, really?

While I applaud the sentiment – don't pay obscene rewards to the person who drove the company to need a bail-out in the first place, why stop there? If you plan to stick your nose into the internal running of a company why stop at a pay cut? Why not make the CEOs of failed companies face the same tragic end that the employees of that company would have faced had they brought the company to the brink of disaster: Termination; A fall without a golden parachute!

I'll tell you why… because the CEO is an important person in the US Economy. Why? I'm not really sure why, but then, I probably just don't make enough money to understand it all.

Wherever you are today, I hope all your news is good!

Don Bergquist – April 02, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin, Catarina

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Lovely Morning

So here I am, up early, reading my email, getting ready to go to the office and wondering what verbal prank I can pull today. It's April Fool's Day and there has to be a joke I can pull on my readers. The problem is that I can’t think of a thing.

I had thought of writing about the avalanche that had buried Saga while we were walking this morning, or the flood created by the sudden melting of the massive snow pack. I had considered talking about the UFO that landed on the greenbelt and started a string of cow mutilations, but nothing was subtle enough. Nothing that subtle panache that I am so known for.

So, I have decided to just play it straight, and tell you about the lovely sliver moon, the wispy clouds that are clinging-on after yesterday's snow left the area and the chill in the air. Yes. It is a lovely day.

Wherever you are today, I hope you're having a lovely morning.

Don Bergquist – March 32, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend, Pieter

April Fool's Day