Thursday, April 30, 2009

Have You Been Helped?

Do you remember when salespeople used to be helpful?

Why is it that these days, there seems to be nobody around when you need help but the moment you hunt-down what you're looking for yourself they ooze out of the shelving units, the merchandise stands, and spring forth out of nowhere. They practically fall over each other to be "helpful."

"You finding everything you need?" I heard for the third time in the five minutes since I had actually found what I was looking for.

"Yeah. Fine, thanks." I replied.

Why is it that nobody is around until after you find what you want and then everyone wants to help you? Is there some conspiracy that prevents shop assistants from assisting you? Or is it, perhaps, that they are trying to empower you to do things for yourself? No... it was probably that first thing.

Wherever you are today, I hope you have a wonderful day!

Don Bergquist - April 30, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rebel Without A Clue

This weekend I had a meeting which put me in town for a couple hours. It was the first time I have been in town in months and it brought home how much I miss working in town.

Working in the tech center is good. It is a relatively easy drive and the parking is plentiful, free, and conveniently located so close to the building. But there is no bus service (wanting as it may be) that takes me directly there. There were two buses a day from here to within two blocks of my office. Sure, they were twenty minutes apart and later than I would have liked to arrive, but they were here. It would take two transfers and a mile walk at the end to get to the office in the tech center - total transit time: 2 hours.

But it is the being downtown that I miss. I rarely ever leave the building in the tech center. There is no reason to; I would have to drive to get anywhere and there is nothing all that interesting to get to. In downtown, there is always something going on.

Take this weekend; there was a protest going on that I walked through after my meeting. It was sparsely attended and spread-out, but it was spirited. The leader of the (what? perhaps a dozen people?) group had a bullhorn and was trying to engage the largely blasé passers-by in the debate.

The scattered minions trying to hand me leaflets, the huge incongruous tea cup (I know what the symbolism is, but there was no reference to the tea parties held last week...), it all came together to give the protest a bit of legitimacy – even if the stuff the guy was shouting had no basis in reality.

His diatribe was a long and rambling assault on the administration cobbled together from right-wing demagoguery, amusing non-sequiturs, and outright fallacious comments. In the time it took me to walk the three blocks that I could hear the invective, I learned that the administration wants to invade and control our personal lives. That the president (personally) is a huge fan of (and presumably therefore wants to emulate) foreign dictators. And (my personal favorite) that the Federal Reserve Bank should be audited by us since we are audited by them.

The first two examples that I have stated (like much of the blathering tirade) are clearly opinion and as such there is no proof sufficient to persuade those who don't believe it and none will dissuade those who do. This last one, however, is so clearly based on ignorance that it is the reason for today's screed.

Okay, as we all should have learned in our civics classes, the Federal Reserve Bank (the Fed) has been around since it was created in 1913. Its sole purpose as to serve as the mechanism though which the US banking system can be maintained. The Fed came into being as a result of the Federal Reserve act of 1913 and is an independent agency which, through its board of governors, sets US Monitory Policy.

Through a series of twelve Federal Banks located in major cities around the country, The Fed facilitates the lending of money between banks, sets the Interbank Loan Rate, regulates and oversees the practices of banks, supervises the banking institutions to make sure banks remain sound, maintain the stability of the financial system, act as a provider to the US government in foreign transactions, and generally assure that money keeps flowing around the system.

The fed does not "audit" the public. On the whole, it has no dealings with the general public at all. Which, if the leader of the protest had bothered to walk a block over to the Denver Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank (located at 16th and Curtis) he might have noticed that there is no public entrance to the building. The one entrance that I have seen to the building is a secured (keycard) entrance for Fed employees.

The Fed is Audited. In accordance with the terms of the Federal Banking Agency Audit Act (enacted in 1978 as Public Law 95-320) the Fed is subject to regular audits by the Comptroller General of the US and the General Accounting Office. Since the GAO is an arm of the Congress of the US, and Congress is you (well, you represented by your elected officials) you do audit the fed, well… you do in the person of The Comptroller General and the General Accounting Office.

It is this "convenient" ignorance of the facts being spouted so verbosely on the street corners (and on certain news outlets which will remain nameless) along with the clearly centralized message, the repetition of the talking points of one side or the other, and the coordination of symbolism (which may or may not be apropos) that reveals this as what is it: the people who lost the election attempting to phrase their loss as your lack of input.

It is not as if the left didn't do the same thing eight years ago when they lost power… it is ugly no matter who does it. At least if you are going to become active, think about what you're saying before you go shouting slogans in the streets!

Wherever you are today, I hope you will take a moment to participate in the discussion of the issues important to you!

Don Bergquist – April 27, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin Steve

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Irony

How ironic that the day I take my hybrid in for service at the dealership is Earth Day. No, the irony isn't that I drive a Honda Hybrid vehicle, or that I was getting it serviced, or any of that... the irony is in what they gave me as a replacement.

Let's put it this way: This thing is HUGE!

I have no idea what the vehicle even is... it's transportation that I need to get home and to run a couple errands I have at lunchtime. But it is so big I cannot even get it into my garage. There is enough room back there to park my hybrid! Saga could get lost in the back of this thing. We could hold a party in it!

You can almost hear all those dead dinosaurs rolling over in their graves when you start the engine. I haven't driven anything this big in years. The bus I drove in Minnesota years ago when I worked for that summer camp near Brainerd was the thing this big that I can remember driving.

I may (in honor of Earth Day) delay my errands until after I get my car back this afternoon. It is easier on my conscience than seeing that gas gauge visibly move as I sit at the traffic lights!

Wherever you are today, do something green!

Don Bergquist - April 22, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Earth Day

Monday, April 20, 2009

Green And Gray


In the aftermath of the snowstorm last week, the lawns and gardens all over Lakewood have turned green. Well, green punctuated with gray, actually.

Scattered in the verges you see the snow boulders cast there by the plows racing by. This one is actually in my lawn, it was thrown there by our community's groundskeeper. It caught my eye because it reminds me of those stone arches you see in places like Moab.

This is one of the things I love about this area of the country. Yeah, we get snow storms... we get some real doozies! But the snow never really hangs around that long. A day or two later and you have pleasant temps and the snow starts to melt away. Some times, it melts in really cool ways.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having an excellent day!

Don Bergquist - April 20, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Col. Bob

(Happy Birthday, Poppy!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An Amazing Performance!

I rarely ever comment on entertainment, but I felt I had to... If you haven't seen this, you should!

I heard about it on the US network news this evening. It was well worth it! Susan Boyle from a small village in Scotland showed-up to audition for the 2009 Britain's Got Talent contest. When she walked out, Simon Cowell smirked. The audience obviously didn't have much hope for her either.

When asked who she wanted to be and she immediately responded that she wanted to be a professional singer, as famous as Elaine Paige (the first lady of British Theatre)at which point Simon actually rolled his eyes heavenward. The music started and the theatre was a-hush.

Then she opened her mouth to sing... I still have goosebumps. She was FANTASTIC! You have got to watch this! If for no other reason to see Simon Cowell have the smug smacked out of him! I swear, he is visibly gobsmacked! The audience stood and cheered!

At the end of her song, she drew standing ovations from everyone but Simon. Then, this sweet, unassuming lady walked off the stage. They had to call her back to judge her! She completely forgot to wait to hear the judges comments. I am so glad that she got on the show... I only wish that I were still over there. I would watch the entire show to hear her sing again.

I can only hope that they will put her other show performances onto you-tube! I want to she her again.

Wherever you are today, don't let anyone tell you that you aren't good enough to follow your dreams!

Don Bergquist - April 15, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

I Dreamed A Dream
From Les Miserables
[Fantine is alone, desperate, unemployed and destitute.]

Fantine:
There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong
I dreamed a dream in times gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung
No wine untasted
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame
He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he'll come to me
That we'll live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
I had a dream my life would be
So much different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed.

Happy birthday to my friend Sara

Tax Day (US)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Weirdness In Weld County

Okay, this is a weird case...

In Weld County (northeast) Colorado, the sheriff's department took action after being alerted by a man in Texas that his identity had been stolen. The theft was traced to a translation service and tax preparer in Greeley which, the sheriff alleges was source of the identity theft.

According to the allegations, the proprietor was filing taxes for people knowing that the taxes were being filed using stolen identities. So, last fall, the Weld County District Attorney, with a warrant issued by the court, had the sheriff seize the tax records from the office of the preparer. The estimates of the DA are that about 1,300 of the tax returns filed for the previous tax year were filed on faked identification. More than sixty people charged with filing taxes on faked identification have already plead guilty to the charges.

This is more-or-less the point at which the American Civil Liberties Union has stepped in. Arguing that the information given to the tax preparer was privileged, they have sued to make the Weld County DA return the tax files and toss-out all the cases against the people who are alleged to have filed fraudulent tax returns.

Now, I am sure that those of you who are out there may be scratching your head about now... Since when did conversations between a person and their accountant or translator become privilege information? Granted, the tax preparer may have no reason (or right) to tell me or you, dear readers, anything about her clients, but a warrant bearing member of law enforcement? If they cannot seize records, where does this leave all the criminal cases that deal with things like Ponzi schemes and embezzlement? If I cannot seize the records of the accountants who supported the financial malfeasance, how do I build the case?

The DA went after the tax preparer once they received the complaint that a man in Texas had had his identity stolen and had traced it back to the tax preparer. The records seized proved to support the allegations. The people who had broken the law (or at least some of them) have admitted to their crime and have entered guilty pleas.

Granted, all people (regardless of their immigration status) who earn a salary in the US are required to submit a tax return, granted the IRS is forbidden to surrender their records, but the Weld County DA didn't go to the IRS.

Had the alleged illegal immigrants who are accused of identity theft prepared their own taxes, rather than using a tax accountant, the Weld County sheriff would have had no way of discovering their crime. Once again, as with the Ward Churchill case, the argument isn't that the law wasn't broken, but that if I hadn't broken this law you would never have known that I broke that law... where is the logic in that? I think I may have to quit watching the news. Ignorance is bliss; perhaps I just need to be rendered insensate.

Wherever you are today, I wish you a blissful day!

Don Bergquist - April 13, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Credibility

Dad's stories had been gaining credibility with me of late... that is until I actually came to actually consider what he was talking about!

"You don't know how easy you have it, growing up here in Miami!" Dad used to admonish us. "There were years that we had to climb out the second floor window of the farm house to go to Easter services."

Sitting here watching the snow fall for the second day in a row, the third day in April that we've had snow, I called Dad yesterday to tell him that his stories (at least that one) had become slightly more credible in my mind.

"Dad," I began "watching the snow I can begin to believe one of your stories about growing up in Minnesota might be true."

"Which one? The one about digging a tunnel between the house and the barn to milk the cows?"

"No, the one about leaving for Church on Easter Sunday by climbing-out of the second floor window." It was about this time that it occurred to me. If only it had occurred to me a split-second sooner I would have been fine; I was about to retract my statement when dad pointed-out the obvious...

"How do you think we were meant to actually get to church?"

"Ah!" I replied. "Yes... If the snow was that bad, how would you get the five miles into town to get to church? Right..."

Once more, Dad's stories have been relegated to the realm of incredulity.

Wherever you are, I hope that you're having a wonderful weekend!

Don Bergquist - April 05, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, April 03, 2009

Oh Give Me A Break!

I've just heard the news. Ward Churchill has been awarded a dollar for wrongful termination! What on earth could they have been thinking! They bought his argument?

The defense never argued that Churchill is not guilty of academic misconduct (for which he was terminated) but that the academic misconduct was an excuse to fire him. Their argument essential boils down to they looked for a reason to fire him and found one because he wrote an essay which some found offensive.

The fact that he was guilty of academic misconduct was not the issue that they argued, but that the university would never have found-out about it had they not looked for it… and that they only looked for it because he wrote an offensive essay.

What kind of logic is this? He has been rewarded for being stupid! If you were guilty of a firing offense, do you think you would write an essay that gave your boss an excuse to look for an offense you had committed worthy your termination? I know I wouldn’t.

But somehow, the jury decided that the fact that he had committed these offenses was less important than he claims that he would have never known that he had done this had he not written the offensive essay.

What is this world coming to? I think I am going out to write a scathing screed calculated to offend everyone who reads it… But first, I think I might just steal office equipment or something! Later, I'll argue that my boss would never have noticed the missing copier had I not written the story!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you are smart enough not to draw attention to yourself if you have skeletons in your closet!

Don Bergquist – April 03, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Aftermath - Redeux

In like a lion…

This morning's walk with Saga was lovely. The storm having passed through, there was about four inches of frosting on all the surfaces. Sitting in my office at home, this morning, I looked out over a complex that had been dipped in marshmallow cream.

The day was lovely, however, and as is its wont, Colorado had a lovely warm day with lots of sun and temps in the fifties. The snow by sunset had shoveled itself off all the walks. You gotta love it!

Of course, the weather casters are now saying that we are likey to get another one tomorrow… and by sunset Friday we may have experienced another blizzard. Yeah!

I guess Saturday will be a day to do things around the house.

(Oh! Yeah!)

Whever you are today, I hope you had a lovely day!

Don Bergquist – April 02, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Out Like A Lamb?

I think March was running backward this year. It came in like a lamb and has certainly ended less clemently than it began!

Last night, with some of this week's snow still melting off my deck, we had a thunder blizzard. I was sitting in my home office working and suddenly thunder crashed outside the window. A few moments later there was a flash and another huge crack.

The storm that was (originally) scheduled to come in earlier in the day hit with a vengeance when it finally got here. There was lightning, thunder, hail, sleet, and finally a good heavy snow. By the time saga and I took our evening walk, there were already six inches of fresh snow on the walks.

Out like a lamb? Pffft! Lambs aren’t this rough!

Wherever you are today, I hope that your day is going well and your weather is pleasant!

Don Bergquist – April 02, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin Catarina

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Strange Morning

Hmmm...

That's odd!

It's 05:25, I'm well into my second cycle of the fifteen minutes of original programming they have every hour in the morning newscast and I have yet to hear anything about the Broncos!

There has already been coverage of the city council meeting that was held last night. A bill going through the state sentate that will make hands-free cell phones mandatory for drivers, and news of a storm that is blowing in. Usually by this time there would have been at least two stories about the Broncos. Three if it were actually in the football season. Something is amiss!

Have I fallen into some alternate reality? Is there something wrong with the world today? Or is it perhaps...


















April Fool's Day!

Don Bergquist - April 01, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

April Fool's Day

Happy birthday to my friend Pieter