jump to navigation

Live Near Mountains 29 June 2010

Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Wheeee!

One of the things to like about Denver is its proximity to the mountains. In fact, absent the mountains, this city would have wasted away long ago like another Leadville (which, of course had the mountains and still failed, but whatever). Poor Leadville. It deserved so much more. Denver continues to grow, drawing more and more of the “active lifestyle” crowd that bikes to work and drives Subarus filled with Labrador Retrievers and climbing gear and PBR on weekends.

This, I gather, is how the state’s population maintains its 19.1% obesity rate (cool interactive map if you follow the link), not only the lowest figure in the nation, but the only one to edge in under the 20% mark. Relatively speaking, Coloradans are a thin lot, although this being America and not Malawi, it’s I-eat-bunches-and-work-out-bunches thin, not I-can’t-find-food thin. This is best considered when buying a calorie-free cola for $1.53, about the cost of killing ring worm in an African child. But then again, African children are very far away.

At any rate, I came to Colorado so that I too could burn excess calories for pleasure, flouting all evolutionary expectations in favor of sledding down a snow-packed slope on a Therm-A-Rest on June 27th. Although it’s possible that women desire an expert Therm-A-Rest sledder, in which case I’m still shackled by all that genetic propagation stuff. You are, too, you know. Think about that next time you stand up straighter when an attractive woman wanders into the room. Except, of course, you aren’t quite as cool as the bird of paradise in Planet Earth and Richard Attenborough doesn’t narrate your life.

At any rate, I’d been meaning to talk about the Indian Peaks Wilderness, possibly the closest federally-designated wildness to the Denver area. Struck by a desire to wander around in the woods and stand on top of very tall things, we went there this weekend. So did a homeless man who tied up two hikers at gunpoint and set the Nederland police on red alert. But we missed him. Maybe next time. From the news reports, the offender tied the couple to two trees and wandered away. And evidently he did a bad job it of since the man managed to free himself and run back to town as the assailant did who-knows-what. Total injuries for the event amounted to a couple rope burns and a minor laceration–the fleeing man tripped over a log.

This is why people come to Colorado. Even our criminals would rather wander around in the woods than inflict any real pain. By contrast, folks in Chicago kill each other at a rate that would reel us in from Iraq and Afghanistan right quick. But now that handguns are legal… less death?

So it’s become clear that I don’t really have anything new to say about the Indian Peaks Wilderness, and if you were looking for information about it, I’d try SummitPost.org instead, a much better resource than I’ll ever be. If you noticed, though, I’ve changed the name of this blog to Colorado:Wandered to better reflect the new content. I’ve decided to focus on the things that make Colorado an interesting place to live, with particular relevance to twenty-somethings who enjoy the possibility of moving here. The mountains hold an obvious appeal but there remains more to discuss. My 9-5 job only permits so much leisure, but it’s possible to take in enough to write twice a week.

I’ll try to avoid the humdrum. Check back for novelty.

Photos!

Advertisements

Is “You’re Welcome” Dead? 25 June 2010

Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Whatever happened to “You’re welcome”? Where did it vanish? When did it vanish? At what point, did saying “you’re welcome” start to feel like self-gratification. I first noticed it  a few years ago, back when I was working for my home town’s county government. Calling up to the to administrative assistant, I’d make a typical request: “Make a few copies of this please?” or “Will you route the package downstairs?” And after she’d said she would, I’d thank her for her help. “Thanks, D–.” But then she’d thank me right back. “Thanks, Andy.”

“Um… You’re welcome?” I’m happy to give you something to do?

It grew into a more commonplace phenomenon. Thanks. Thanks. No, really, thanks–as if we were playing the professional version of “No, you hang up first… I can hear you breathing.” Awkward. Anymore, you’re welcome now feels like it comes with some, very unwelcome, postscript. “You’re welcome: suck it.” Or maybe it seems smug. “You’re welcome: you owe me.” I can’t exactly pick out the feeling that accompanies saying it, but it borders  on the unpleasant.

“No problem,” on the other hand, occasionally fills the void, but it conveys a different meaning: “I was not inconvenienced by your request.” At face value, that more problematic, yet it rolls off the tongue so much more casually. Maybe you’re welcome is just stilted language, then– a dying phrase.

Wish I had something else to add on the subject, a possible explanation, perhaps, but I don’t. Instead, any support from the crowd?

Many thanks in advance. Of course.

Sentences to Ponder 25 June 2010

Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

It’s not usual to run into one in your house

Colorado Division of Wildlife district wildlife manager Shannon Schwab on bears in Summit County.

More about the bear break-in here.

Worthwhile Quotations 22 June 2010

Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

I’m not usually one for quotes, but this one fits for twenty-somethings.

Some writers, the young and the dim ones, think being near something important makes them important so they should act and sound important which will, somehow, make their audience important, too. Then, as soon as everybody is filled with a sufficient sense of importance, Something Will Be Done. It’s not the truth. Thirty years of acting and sounding important about the Holocaust did nothing to prevent Cambodia.

From P. J. O’Rourke’s Holidays in Hell

City Life 20 June 2010

Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

Sunday Night: Jazz in the Park

It’s been three weeks since arriving in Denver and already it seems like so much more time has elapsed. I’ve read that change and novelty tend to deepen memories, making tumultuous days, months or years so much longer. Like childhood: every year took forever—and then they speed up, a sprint to the finish line.

For now, though, the change is in the adjustment to city life and new, more challenging employment. Capitol Hill‘s not a sardine-tin neighborhood where folks pay $1300 a month for a closet, of course, but for Denver this constitutes the most “urban” spot around: the highest population densities, the greatest income diversity, the shops and restaurants right around the corner from my apartment, and–this being Denver–a Whole Foods as well.

Anecdotal or actual, the most recent population trend on the tips of demographers’ tongues has been a return to urban living among middle class and affluent whites. White flight had a certain ring to it, but I’ve yet to hear anything remotely quotable about white… return. An urban renaissance perhaps? Generation X and the millenials are coming back to cities regardless of what you call their move, and it takes little effort to surmise that the suburban boom reached its peak just a couple years back, right before reality pricked the housing bubble. Half completed subdivisions sit empty along the Denver fringe. This city’s not alone in that phenomenon.

But why should they return? What is it about city living that’s fueling an urban renaissance? Why should the 19th century mansion next door have remained vacant for years, unable to attract tenants, while developers built house after house in Highlands Ranch and Broomfield? Three years back, convinced that I’d someday become an urban planner, I studied the growth of metropolitan areas, trying to understand the rationale behind what environmentalists and big-city advocates denounced as “sprawl.”

Myriad reasons emerged: the interstate highway system that carved up central cities and shortened commutes; the mortgage interest tax deduction that made home ownership more attractive than renting, albeit at a cost (in lost tax dollars) more than twice that of welfare; low gas prices that bred a “drive everywhere” culture; a failure to internalize all the costs of new development that instead shared the expense of new water mains and new schools with existing residents. Good explanations all, but they painted suburban Americans as the victims of policy choices, herded into the suburbs without a clue as to why. Rarely does the anti-sprawl crowd admit that suburbanites enjoy(ed) large homes at low cost, big yards, and the safety of their securely upper-middle class enclaves.

At the same time, suburbia lost its sense of place. Who could tell the difference between Shimmering Oaks on the Knoll and Windsor Manor at Babbling Brook? For instance, tell where this is without looking at the location stamp. Subdivisions and neighborhoods ceased to hold any meaning in an ever-rising tide of gabled roofs and two-car garages. It was all suburbia. But a city is not all a city. (Same game: guess this location. Or, harder, this one.) Washington Park differs from Capitol Hill not only in its architecture but in its demographics. Back in St. Louis, you’d be hard pressed to describe meaningful distinctions among St. Peters, O’Fallon and Chesterfield. Point being, big city cores develop at different times and under different circumstances, but the suburban boom took place more or less at once, and a highway exit strip looks essentially the same everywhere. So does vinyl siding.

The role models of generation, the characters in our sit-coms and movies, made urban life look more glamorous. The cast of Friends met at the same coffee shop and dropped by each others’ apartments. Sex and the City made New York its sixth character. The baby boomers, on the other hand saw a sanguine picture of suburban life exemplified by the Cleavers, the Flintstones and the Jetsons. The car commute remained much the same from the stone age to the distant future. Only the 60s could support a show called My Mother the Car.

Living here, I anecdotally point to a vitality missing in the suburbs, a feeling my cul-de-sac lacked. Here I interact with folks on the porches of my street. There’s a street culture, a movement, a buzz. And if airy language isn’t enough, there’s the practicality: I can bike to work in 10 minutes, my grocery store is across the street, and I never drive to a bar. If suburbanites worry about safety, they should check their own streets for drunk drivers coming home from a night out.

The other day, in the middle of making a pasta, I realized I’d forgotten to get mushrooms. Leaving the stove on and the door unlocked, I walked over to Whole Foods—a five minute round trip.

City life is good.

Without Internet 8 June 2010

Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
add a comment

No internet at home for more than a week now, and no ability to goof off at work mean no blogging for the time being. Check back later.