Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Spring snow....and a rant

 Spring snow is no stranger to Colorado: we almost always get snows in March (often our snowiest month: nearly 45" have fallen the last six weeks I read). April is often just as snowy. I recall several feet of snow falling in May in 2003. And many other years as well...

We joke about "white rain" and how it doesn't really do damage--except of course when trees are leafed out: We locals have seen enormous mountains of tree branches pile on the streets in front of every house on especially bad years.  Some trees are so disfigured they have to be removed.

A week or so after a bad snow, once things have been cleaned up, it is miraculous to see how gardens can rejuvenate. Except for a bent stem over here or over there you'd hardly even know...

Honestly, many of us wish the snows were gentle rains as you get in Maritime climates...but if we really wanted that, shouldn't we just pick up and move to a Maritime location?

Mass murders really don't have a lot to do with untimely snow--the snow after all brings moisture and a fresh snowfall can be simply gorgeoua: I remember a few days ago seeing a sparkling vista in my garden--the sun came out and the fresh snow on my garden shimmered and twinkled like diamonds!

Time for another picture to distract you from the distressing subject: taken last week--the Adonis amurensis colony in my back yard under the  Chinese fringe tree came up mid January: they've been snowed upon eight or more times, last week over 27 inches and bounced back (the sow was exactly like styrofoam  one frosty morning). A month ago it dropped to -15F several nights, with a high one day of -3 and they had barely an inch of snow on them and they survived (the Christmas rose flowers were crisped by that same cold snap by the way). 

I posted this picture on Facebook and a friend said that I was like these Adonis--tough.

I don't feel tough today. Yesterday afternoon a gunner shot and killed ten people in my home town of Boulder.

Boulder isn't just any old town: it's "special" in every precious and pretentious connotation of that word. It's a place that if you grow up there you feel a tad superior to people who grow up in less picturesque and idyllic places. It attracts tourists in droves. Coloradoans in other parts of the state heap scorn on "a few square miles surrounded by reality", on Boulder's ultra-liberality, its airs.

Growing up in the 1950's and 1960's the town had not yet become so dominated by the many Scientific Institutes, the counter-cultural boutiques and scores of professional hippies. Tibetan Buddhism had not yet put its stamp on the town (the Naropa Institute has buildings all over town: a University, and large mysterious buildings--one catty corner from the house I grew up in: temples? dormitories? Half a dozen of my closest friends were part of that community--why have I never asked them to explain what all those buildings with Tibetan paintings and signage on them were?

And yes, the University of Colorado--where I graduated a long time ago. What really makes Boulder unique are the Flatirons--enormous cliffs that jut thousands of feet into the air at the northwest part of town. Boulder city mountain parks and open space constitute thousands of acres surrounding the city on most sides, creating a donut of nature buffering Boulder from the cancerous urbanization that's smothered so much of the Front Range. 

I grew up a few blocks from the start of that open space at Chatauqua park--one of the countless benisons I was granted by this enchanted spot.

There is no place in America where one would expect the brutal murder of a child beauty queen in a stately home's basement, or the shooting of ten citizens in a grocery store.

My father was a hunter and we grew up eating venison and elk. Once when we'd gone camping I woke up at dawn to see the shadow silhouette of a bear on its hind legs--pawing our tent from the outside. I looked next to me and my father had a pistol drawn and pointed in case the bear tried to get into the tent--I had no idea he even owned a pistol!

My dad was born in the 19th century and came to Colorado in 1910 when it was basically the wild West. He had a first cousin who shot someone and escaped to Mexico. I probably have second cousins in Tampico. My dad's brother-in-law shot my Uncle Steve in the leg because (Steve accused him of killing my aunt Katina). In February of 1957 a bitter Italian-American broke into my father's hotel and pool hall building in Oak Creek and shot George Kourkounis and two others to death before going home and committing suicide. Kourkounis was my father's partner and the man closest to my family.

In 1993 not long after we'd moved to our present home in southeast Denver, at a Chuck-e-Cheese's restaurant exactly 2.6 miles southeast of that home a "disgruntled" worker gunned and killed four people in the first such murder that permeated my consciousness in the Denver area. 

Seven years later Columbine High in the Southeast metro inaugurated the holocaust of school shootings with 15 deaths by gunfire and 24 wounded. Two nieces of my partner and two dear friends of mine were in the school at the time, and one sustained a wound.

In 2012 another "troubled white male" gunman killed 12 people and wounded 70 at the "Aurora theatre" incident that made going to the cinema a scary act. That took place 6.2 miles east of where I live.

And yesterday afternoon another "troubled" white guy shot and killed ten people in a King Soopers in Boulder.

I have been in the physical and psychological proximity of five horrendous mass killing atrocities in my lifetime. People I love have been killed and wounded in these "events".

I would be thrilled and delighted if every gun on the planet were to rust and disappear. I would like to see the most stringent restrictions placed on gun manufacture and sale. Sure I know there are sportsmen who love their rifles--but I'm at the point that I would LOVE to see all guns banned forever...screw the "sportsmen" who don't bother to put a kibosh on the wackos.

I believe gun violence (to give it its genteel name) is a cancer on America's soul That and racism, and egregious predatory capitalism are destroying the fabric of this once great country...

You really wanna make "Amerika Grate Again" you moronic red state bock-heads*? Pass decent gun control legislation. Defeat every shill who's funded by the N.R.A.  Encourage those who've suffered "gun violence" to sue gun manufacturers. Quit glorifying guns in video games, movies and the media.

I've vented enough for now...

Oh yeah. I'm not too hot on these spring snows right now either.

*To be fair, block-heads are not by any means restricted to the red states--they're just a majority there. And I preferred a different term to characterize them.


  1. These mass shootings of innocent people are so tragic and yet common enough that they don't produce the same 'shock value' as they used to. I am in total agreement re: guns. They should not be available to the general public. There are far too many mentally unstable people who use them. My sympathies to the community of Boulder and the victim's families.

  2. My condolences for the affects you have experienced due to gun violence.

    I know people from red states. Their reason for owning guns has been rationalized by utilizing the following Thomas Jefferson quote.

    “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

    Given the recent experience of a President refusing to accept the results of an election and what followed, the above argument appears to still have merit in the modern era.

    I personally do not have guns. I have come to terms that if someone wants to kill me then I will be dead. However, I do not expect others to relinquish what gives them a sense of security so I may feel more secure.

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  5. Panayoti, it is below your intelligence to resort to name calling. It is uncharacteristic of you to remove dissenting comments. This is a pattern of behavior common to the very dictators that you despise.

    1. My blog has been inundated with phishing commentary, James: I spend fifteen minutes every day removing stupid posts selling all manner of goods. I have never removed a post with serious content--whether I agree with it or not. But I'm ruthless with spammers: I wish Blogger had a gatekeeping mechanism like most Blogging apps that keep the riff-raff out! James watt's post before yours is about to disappear (He's advertising whores).

    2. My apologies. I've had many of my comments deleted by people doing ecological restoration in the Chicago Area. Consequently, I had the thought in my mind that people delete comments because they disagree with them.

      My biggest concerns about ecological restoration in the Chicago area are the bonfires they create, killing soil and plants; ineffective use of herbicide, which makes many times more work; or improper herbicide application techniques, which damage adjacent vegetation.

      Whores, huh? Maybe Mr. Watt was just trying to take your mind off of COVID and mass shootings. If Mr. Watt knew us better, he'd spam us with alpine nursery advertisements.

      "Honey, I'm not ready to come to bed yet. I'm still finishing up my NARGS order for the seed exchange."

  6. Apology accepted: I have friends across the spectrum, and I believe in self-expression, even if I don't agree at all with what people say: I suspect it's my Greek background (Greeks love to argue). I had no idea there was contention in the ecological restoration world: what a pity that they'd silence you with your history of commitment. I have a hunch what they're silencing is their own qualms about what they do: If they were certain they were right, they'd take criticism in stride. Paranoia (I am convinced) is a root cause of much of our society's ills. And fear of "the other"--the one who doesn't agree--is toxic. Give 'em hell!

    1. Since conferences have gone virtual, and everyone who attends can read the chat, I recently made full use out of the unintended soap box provided to me. When asked if the buckthorn could be treated and left standing by a lead volunteer the response from a founding organizer was “It’s complicated.” The untold-underlying reason is it is political.

      Yes, there is a lot of contention with ecological restoration. Ecological restoration in the Chicago region requires prescribed fire, herbicide application, and tree removal. Certain people don’t like these things either individually or in combination.

      Removing the invasive shrubs and trees and immediately burning them gives a before and after scene that people find pleasing. There is immediate gratification in the park-like view that results. However, this removal takes many times the time and effort of leaving the wood standing to decay or burn up in a subsequent prescribed fire. Resources are very limited and because of the requirement to immediately cut, pile, and burn wood much less gets accomplished.

      If dead trees and shrubs are left standing, smoldering wood creates more smoke during prescribed burns. In urban and suburban areas, smoke is people’s main objection to prescribed burning.

      If the shrubs and trees are cut, piled, and burned then the people who disagree with killing trees don’t have to look at dead shrubs and trees for years as they decompose or until they burn up completely.

      Many of the volunteers enjoy having a fire.

      My suggestion was to treat the trees and leave them standing. Then during a winter with deep snow cut, pile, and burn the wood on top of a snow pile. Preferably with the aid of heavy equipment to make the task easier. Afterwards, spread around the ashes and coals. This eliminates burn scars which destroy about two percent of an area. Also, these burn scars are often colonized by invasive species, which is something that would be helpful to avoid.

      I have taken my opportunity to present my opinion broadly. Badgering people tends not to change minds. The community had now heard my ideas. Either they will embrace them or reject them and continue with business as usual.
      In the meanwhile, I drive an hour and a half (one way) to a place that lets me leave the dead wood standing. Even with the drive, I accomplish much more control work than I would complete if I had to cut, pile, and burn everything.

  7. Another day in the United States. Another mass shooting.

    1. I posted the above comment at 9:22 am and a shooting happened around 2:30 pm in Texas. Am I omniscient? No, I am not.

      It is a rare day that a mass shooting does not happen in this country.

  8. I have been stalked. I have been violently attacked more than once. When I was a kid, I once rode my bike to the police station and asked to file a report. The officer on duty told me I needed my parents. My parents did not want to make waves in a new community. What does this kind of thing teach a kid? If you speak up, the guy will beat on you worse.

    The superintendent of the forest preserves in the county where I live told volunteers to call the police when they saw people breaking the law. Once when I did what was asked of me, the officer never ventured past the parking lot. I complained. The officer showed up and wanted to arrest me for frivolously calling 911. The only reason I did not get arrested was because his supervisor disagreed.

    If people give up their guns, then they are putting their faith in people who don't always do their jobs. A good example is the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

    Benjamin Franklin once said: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    Yes, we need common sense gun laws. No, not everybody should have a gun. However, I am glad that some of the people I know have guns. I feel safer because of it.


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