Archive for October, 2014

SAVING DAYLIGHT

October 31, 2014

Sunday, we go off of “daylight savings” time. I’ve never been totally sure what that means, since saving daylight seems like an oxymoron. The sun seems to just keep on rolling no matter what politicians and the media seem to think.

I often wonder how the folks in Alaska feel about “daylight savings” time. I suspect there are more than a few laughs since it is pretty hard to decide when to save the twenty-three hours of “daylight” in their summer, during the one hour of semi-darkness?

“Daylight savings time” was the brain child of office stranded workers who wanted to get out of work earlier in the summer so they could get in a round of golf before the sun went down, but give us a break. Why not just negotiate with the boss to come in an hour earlier and leave earlier. Must we all submit to the needs of the non-creative folks who can’t figure that out?

A few years ago, my rancher/farmer neighbor observed “my cows don’t have a clock. I can’t make them come in an hour earlier to get milked.” My cows don’t observe “daylight savings time” either. For heaven’s sake, we aren’t saving that much energy and it’s the end of October. Summer is over. And saving summer daylight is a distant memory. Time to cut this foolishness out and get on with life.

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ALL RESEARCH IS NOT CREATED EQUAL

October 24, 2014

Unlike the premise that all men are created equal; all research is not created equal. Much like the old story of witnesses at a robbery all describing the bandit as tall, short, thin, fat, blond, and with dark hair finding facts is a problem. Much like the 1920’s bank robbery in my hometown sometimes it takes decades for the whole story to be revealed. The story went like this: The robbers practiced for a week sitting across from the bank with their car idling and then racing east out of town at top speed, (You’d think someone would have wondered, huh?) On the dirt road the robbers held onto the sides of the car around the corners to prevent it from tipping over. Eventually, disappearing with money and criminals never to be heard from again. That’s where the story goes wrong.

Several years ago when I was researching for my first book on Parker, I came upon the newspaper account of the robbery that said the robbers had been caught and were awaiting trial. The decades old story had a conclusion! The moral: sometimes it takes some digging to get to the truth.

I’ve found conflicting stories on just about everything from the ownership of a hotel to the bank story. When I encounter the conflict, I always try to find two sources that agree. Then I go for it and declare the two sources the accurate ones. When you can’t find any other sources you may have to rely on the only source you have and hope like crazy that they had good eyesight. Nothing is infallible.

I’ll add here that recently a “expert” sent me a photo of a rather elusive local figure requesting that I identify a third person in the photo. I’m chuckling because I’ve studied the photo several times over the last week and I’m sure the “elusive” woman is not who the expert thinks it is. It’s really my aunt. I’m tempted to let the expert dream on.

TELLING A PROJECT GOOD-BYE

October 17, 2014

No, I’m not saying good-bye to blogging. I’m finishing a nonfiction book on Parker, CO and I’m feeling blessed. I can’t explain why some books are easier to write and finish and some are like getting a wisdom tooth extracted. If you are one of those rare folks whose wisdom teeth came out with no pain, ignore that analogy, mine were impacted. This has been an “impacted” book. I’m not sure why.

From the beginning, my family didn’t want me to do it. I ignored their urgings to “take it easy” and forged ahead. A month into the project, I became a walking EKG, and two months in I was recovering from Pacemaker surgery. To be honest, I didn’t feel like writing; I wanted to sleep. I kept pushing myself because deadlines loomed.

If you think this blog is one long gripe session, I’ll jump in here and say I’ve met some wonderful people along the way. A man named James at the Denver Public Library Western History desk and his equally wonderful counterpart in the Photographic Reproductions department whose name is Coi. My local library ladies Robin and Naoma were as always super helpful and I could never have finished without my wonderful friend Marilyn who kept feeding me photos and tidbits. They are the shining stars in my project.

The point here is: I’ve been writing for about thirty-seven years. I’ve written thousands of articles on deadline. I’ve written five nonfiction books and four novels, which have been published. I know I have two more novels to go, including one I have yet to write.
I have NEVER had so much trouble getting a book written. So if you are a writer, don’t get discouraged; don’t throw your writing in the trash. There will always be a book that will be more difficult than the others (an impacted one)—just slog your way through it and keep going.

DIGRESSING AGAIN

October 10, 2014

Sorry, I missed last week I was busy escorting 40+ seven and eight-year-olds around their hometown. Fall is my busiest time of the year for this frivolity and this year is no exception. I have a couple of faithful followers who call me each fall and request a field trip for their students. I don’t mind it. I get to enjoy a day in the sun and the students learn a bit (I hope) about the history of where they live.

The most enjoyable part of this is the after effect for me. At some point two to three weeks later, I receive letters from the boys and girls on the field trip. Most of them tell me which part of the trip they enjoyed. Surprisingly a large majority enjoyed the cemetery the most. I don’t think this is some macabre fascination; I think they actually enjoy seeing (as one boy put it) “where those old guys are buried.” Maybe, that’s relief that they’re not running around in some zombie state scaring the life out of second graders, I’m not sure.

The trips have a somewhat symbiotic effect—the students learn something and I learn about the students. It seems to me that students have changed in the last few years, maybe that just means I’m getting older. Most of the second graders are interested and attentive to the historic information I’m dishing out, but occasionally there’s one or two that are the equivalent of a miniature prison break. The prison break group run around climbing on things seeing how much property they can destroy before anyone says stop. Usually the person saying stop is me which puts me in the position of being a corrections officer rather than the person trying to keep the remaining group interested and learning. Alas, vigilantly justice is against the law.