Health Reform's Human Stories

Thankfully I'm not sick now, but when I am I'll be seeking out a free clinic in my area: Free Clinics

(embedded video)

"Yet, I am left with one overwhelming question. What does it say about us as a nation of people who can live in a country so rich and yet can allow this to continue?"


Recall Mayor Lionel Rivera

I have not lived in Colorado Springs long enough to know the full extent of this situation nor did I have the opportunity to vote for this Mayor. However, from the little I do know the Mayor and Vice Mayor seem like they don't have the city's best interest at heart. The letter below was forwarded to me from a friend of a friend and I am reprinting it in full (with permission):

Dear Friends,

Of course everyone who knows me understands that my mission is and has been the homeless and our city’s poor. I realize many persons in the community find the presence of so many homeless and mentally ill on our streets to be offensive and they believe dangerous. But the amount of money granted to the City of Colorado Springs in the last decade by private grants, the Federal government and the State should have at least done more than it has. In Denver this kind of money has brought about extraordinary change. This year alone the amounts dedicated for the homeless in Colorado Springs are in the millions and the city’s program Homeward Pikes Peak has housed only 18 persons.

But this is just my example of one wasteful spending program because we are all aware of others. Almost every city resident can name at least one or two foolhardy or mismanaged programs thought up behind closed doors by our City Council. The public discussion in any City Council meeting has never changed one vote. How each member will vote is always decided before each meeting. This is not open government and it violates Colorado’s laws. I have actually seen the entire City Council vote to award over a million dollars to a program before the actual proposal was published. In other words they had no idea what they were voting for.

I came to Colorado Springs the first time in 1979. When I came out the front door of the old airport and saw the mountains my mouth fell open. At this point in my life I had skied and climbed mountains in the Alps and Northeast. I had traveled extensively in Europe, some in Africa and Asia but I was floored by what I saw. We are more than fortunate to live where we do than I think we know and I can say I have not always appreciated the growth. But I understand if I love Colorado Springs so will others. I understand growth requires innovative management and taxes, but I expect a prudent and smart use of my neighbors’ and my money. I do not expect my elected representatives to think they have unlimited permission to spend as they desire on anything they want or to come up with schemes that may or may not work without voter approval.

So in light of all this I will announce Friday at 12 noon on the steps of the Old City Hall my intention to begin a citywide recall of Mayor Lionel Rivera and Vice Mayor Larry Small. If Mr. Heimlicher were still holding the District 3 seat he would have been included here in this recall as this is my home District. But as it is Mr. Paige has not been in office the required 6 months to be recalled and his performance is not yet been sufficient to judge. I believe both Mr. Rivera and Mr. Small have been and are unable to do what this City requires to become financially stable and provide what it citizens need. They along with other members of the council bear much of the major responsibility for our current state of affairs.

I am asking others to pitch in and lets get this job done. Let’s find individuals who can do what we need. I further want all my friends and fellow citizens to understand I do not endorse anyone for replacements from any political party. What we need are responsible, hardworking persons who care and are willing to come up with out-of-the-box solutions. We need strong individual who are willing to communicate with our public servants, business owners and all our citizens regardless of their station in this community. We all want individuals who do more than talk about values, we want those who demonstrate them. We need good people who realize they must read and understand what the consequences of their decisions will be.

Additionally, I am asking that my fellow citizens do the same in their districts and recall the rest of the City Council and help us put Colorado Springs back on the right path.

Patrick Ayers
If you are interested in helping collect signatures, please contact Patrick by phone at 719.389.0848.

(**update** A lot has happened since I first received this email on November 4th: Patrick Ayers made this announcement of his intentions to recall Mayor Rivera and Vice Mayor Small on Friday, November 6, 2009. Last Friday, November 13, 2009, Ayers filed affidavit to start the recall process. Once he receives the signature sheets he will have 60 days to collect 14,300 signatures.)

This has already started a flurry of letters in the local papers:

Mayor's last chance
"The leadership of our great city needs to get a grip! The mayor needs to realize he is not Michael Bloomberg, and this big-city path he wishes upon us looks kind of hopeless for the near future. It is time to get a little dirty with some real work.

Start simple, Mr. Mayor, maybe porta-johns in the parks? Encourage volunteers to help. Stop having secret meetings. Twist some arms to get some sponsorships. Understand that we have the potential to be the top small city in the nation, and this will be achieved through clean industry: the arts, education and outdoor recreation, not big-box stores and taxes.

You have two years, Mr. Mayor. Win, lose or recall, it is your move!"

Douglas Bruce for mayor (this one's hilarious--right after this letter was a letter titled "Doug Bruce for governor" Gotta love Colorado Springs...
"Support the effort to recall our mayor. In an effort to save both time and money, we should then elect Douglas Bruce as mayor. Therefore, we eliminate all the controversy involved in the time and money by the city council to bring Bruce to his knees."

You can learn more from Ayers' announcement speech: (embedded video)


YES on 2C

If you haven't voted yet, you're not too late. You still have until 7 PM to drop off your ballot at the County Clerk and Recorder's Office (or at one of the satellite offices at Chapel Hills Mall near JCPenny's or at 5650 Industrial Place, at the southeast corner of Powers and Airport) Please let me know if you have any questions regarding voting!

Ballot Measure 2C is a measure to increase property tax to help the city with its $25 Million budget shortfall. Currently Colorado Springs has the lowest taxes per capita of similarly sized cities along the front range and even with this increase, we will still have one of the lowest. I think this is the most telling graph for this campaign:

Text of 2C
"Shall City taxes be increased (final year $46,000,000) annually by increasing 2009 general property tax 6.00 mills, 1.00 additional mill per year for four years, constituting voter approved revenue change."

Without this initiative, Colorado Springs will see a significant decline in our quality of life. Strong police and fire departments and well-maintained parks and streets protect our property values and ensure Colorado Springs remains a great city for families. (See Projected Budget Cuts)

Please join me in voting YES for 2C! (and vote no on 300--it's just Mr. TABOR Doug Bruce again)

You can learn more at A City Worth Fighting For


International Day of Climate Action

I just found out about this--I'm a bit behind the 8-ball, but still on the correct date! (barely)

"Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Blog Action Day 2009 will be one of the largest-ever social change events on the web."

So for my bit of blogging action, I want to put a plug in for 350.org. 350.org is website that seeks to inspire the world to take action for climate change. The magic number, 350, is for the parts per million (ppm) of CO2 that is safe for the atmosphere. Currently we are at 387 ppm.
(If you are interested in the real-deal, no-nonsense science, then have fun reading "Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim?")

350.org encourages each of us to take action on the International Day of Climate Action (next Saturday, October 24). I'm going to help on a Garden of the Gods cleanup project with a meetup group.

Oh! and I first found out about this website through The Colbert Report:
(As a reminder to any INVSTers--Bill Mckibben, founder of 350.org, is the author of Deep Economy)

Insure People, Not Profits

Sick of hearing about health insurance? Me too. I wish that I didn't have to hear anything more about health-care, insurance companies, PPOs, HMOs, co-pays, premiums, deductibles, and prescription drugs. I wish we could be done with this and move on to other important topics like Afghanistan, Global Climate Change, or **gasp** Letterman's Affair! (j/k about that last one)

But, before you tune out completely, I want to share my health insurance story. Back in the day (when I was 22) I had cheap, excellent health insurance. I had Tricare insurance (government-run health insurance) as a military dependent. For my appointments I paid a $12 co-pay (even for specialists) When I had surgery, I paid a $25 co-pay and perscriptions always cost $3/drug. About two years ago I woke up with terrible and mysterious pain in my right elbow. I saw many, many doctors, was in and out of physical therapy for years, and had two different surgeries. My doctors never did figure out what the problem was with my elbow.

Then I turned 23...

23 is when you age out of the tricare system. Since I didn't have health insurance through my employer, I had to purchase an individual plan. Before I turned 23, I applied for health insurance and found out weeks later that I had been denied due to "undiagnosed elbow pain." I applied to another company and again I was denied. I am one of the "young invincibles", but not by choice. I want health insurance and I am willing to pay, but can't get covered. For now, I have a short-term, emergency care only plan that will only last for a few more months and then I am back to square one. Something needs to change. Like the World Health Organization, I believe that "the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition."

That is why on Tuesday I attended the "Rally Against Greed" during my lunch break on the front steps of city hall in Colorado Springs. About 50 people attended which was super impressive considering how rainy and cold it was. This was my first rally for an issue rather than a candidate and it was super fun. Coincidentally, my friend Pete from the PP Justice and Peace Commission happened to run into me at the County Clerk and Recorder's Office and I got a ride to the rally! How fun! To keep things interesting, one guy with an "I survived Obama's death camps" jacket on hung around for awhile. I really am curious about where he got that jacket though. It was pretty fancy.

I learned that people that honk are really what makes the rally fun, that I should make my own sign for next time and that cute, high-heel shoes are no good for rallies.

And a few pictures from the event:

An estimate 45,000 people die annually due to lack of health insurance.
Rally with city hall in the background

"Jesus didn't charge premiums" in front of First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs

We were in the news!


Banned Books Week

We're halfway through Banned Books Week (September 26-October 3)

I found this list of commonly banned classics. I'm proud to say that I've read many off that list and found them to be enlightening and inspirational (and seriously? Most of the books I've read off that list I read in early highschool!)

To celebrate banned books week, I'm going to finish Beloved by Toni Morrison this week. I started it a few months ago, but other books got in the way of me finishing. And I think I'll request 1984 from the library. Sadly I haven't read that one yet even though many of my classes at CU referred to it.

And this is pretty nifty too: Map of Book Censorship


A Better Place

"To this day I believe we are here on earth to live, grow, and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom." --Rosa Parks


Pikes Peak EcoFestival

Guess what's happening tomorrow? Colorado Springs' first eco-festival! The festival will have exhibitors, free yoga, music, workshops and food. It is tomorrow (Saturday) from 10-3 at Rock Ledge Ranch in Garden of the Gods. I plan on attending the Composting workshop at 10:30 (I'm trying to start composting at my house) and maybe some pilates or yoga in the afternoon.
I hope to see you tomorrow!!


Personal Use of Marijuana

This old news, but I just heard about it. A few months ago Representative Barney Frank (remember dude from video about talking with a dining room table?) introduced HR 2943, The Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act which would decriminalize possessing pot. Currently this bill has bipartisan support with 9 co-sponsors (and yes, Libertarian Ron Paul is one of them) The full bill is concise and clear and I hope it passes!

I learned about this in the Our View column of the Gazette. The Gazette calls the prohibition of marijuana a freedom issue.

"Here's a news flash, folks: is you need permission from government to do something that harms no one but yourself, you're not really free. True freedom is the right to choose from any actions that don't harm the right of others, even if the majority opinion is that such action is harmful to the individual taking it. HR 2943 acknowledges that by getting the feds out of least a small part of the drub prohibition business."

Fun fact! There are at least 12 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado Springs!

(Another related bill was introduced around the same time: HR 2835)


Iraq for Sale

I just watched "Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers" last night. I was astounded to learn of even more money being wasted on the Iraq war. This documentary featured 4 major contractors (Blackwater, K.B.R.-Halliburton, CACI and Titan) who are getting contracts without even bidding first. The CEOs of the featured contractors all have significant ties with Washington to help them get the contracts. These contracts are privatizing war and lack government oversight.

Here's a few of the things that stood out to me:

The quote below is from a soldier working in Iraq that realized that he could make more money if he was honorably discharged.
"There was a little phrase that we threw around, 'Food for Freedom.' That if you wanted to get paid more you should start eating more so you'd get booted out for being overweight. And it's an honorable discharge and it would boost your pay, your net worth by about 5 times if you were to do such a thing. And it worked." -- Joshua Casteel
Enlisted soldiers have little incentive to reenlist when they could be earning 6 times as much by working for a civilian contractor.

One soldier started washing his laundry in the sink because every time his clothes came back from the laundry (that charged $99/bag) they still felt dirty. He was told the he must put his clothes through the laundry.

Check out the current Cost of War. And watch this movie to ask "Who's getting killed and who's making a killing?"

Hubby Hubby

"Combining the two, the Vermont-based company is celebrating the legalization of same-gender marriage in Vermont by renaming their "Chubby Hubby" flavor "Hubby Hubby."

The move is both subtle and direct. Subtle insofar as nobody's yelling about anything. Direct in that when a kid reaches for a container of it, or a parent pays for it, "Hubby Hubby" is what it is. Two grooms, right there on the label.

That's partly how this social justice issue is going to be resolved, once and for all. By people having everyday contact with gay doctors, gay swim coaches, gay neighbors. Gay relatives who are as boring as most relatives. And yes, gay-themed ice cream."

[via Humanist Network News]



Mary is the only person I know that can make such an awesome garment, and Joe is the only person I know that can pull it off. (except for me of course...)(kilt made for the Long's Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival)


Bible Literalists

I've always wondered how people who take the Bible literally decide which parts to take literally. It seems like they pick and choose: yes the earth was created in 7 days, yes homosexuality is an abomination, but what about the whole rest of the books of Leviticus and Numbers? Most Christians that I know that claim to be Bible literalists still largely ignore the 613 laws in those two old testament books. This is why I really enjoyed these ads posted in Texas:

Should we take these versus literally too? (btw--I'm very far from being any sort of biblical scholar and don't even know what versions of the bible these are taken from)

Would Jesus Discriminate? appears to play a play off "What Would Jesus Do?". WWJD is something my sister commonly asks when questioning her family and friends about their views on various issues. I think I like this knew WJD (would Jesus Discriminate) even better!

Here are a couple more that they put out. (Click on the pics to get an explanation of the Bible Stories)

[via Friendly Atheist]


Bloggity Blog...what's next?

So, I've been thinking for awhile about what I want to do with this blog. (and mostly thinking that I will just let it die...) But as I have met new people in Colorado Springs and joined new groups, I have lots of issues that I want to write about and groups I can help promote and, and...and! I'm excited. Don't worry, I will mostly still be reposting crap (it's what I do best) but hopefully someone, somewhere might find something inspiring, useful or thought-provoking.


100th Post!

Alfred was a good mouse. But Alfred got himself stuck in my window well. I made him a ladder so he could escape, but he wouldn't use it.

He pooped a lot and slept a lot. And sometimes when I poked him with a stick he would run too.

Sometimes Alfred would scare me while I was sleeping.

But, now he is gone and I miss him.

Remembering Alfred the Mouse. Alfred was in my life August 16 - August 21, 2009. I hope you had a goodish life Alfred!


I think I'll apply for this one!

Yup...this is definitely the job for me. Although when I used to work as a barista I managed to burn myself several times with my clothes on! I can't imagine the workers comp they would have to pay out. It's prolly a scam though.
Baristas Wanted! (Colorado Springs)
via craigslist | food/beverage/hospitality jobs in colorado springs on 8/15/09

We have positions open for experienced baristas at a busy new drive thru espresso stand in Colorado Springs !
You must be atleast 18 years old, friendly, confident, and honest.
If you are interested, please send a resume with a picture, and we will be setting up interviews in few weeks.
The tips and hours are great, and the schedule is flexable.

e mail: coloradobarista@gmail.com

Postions available are...

Monday –Friday 5:00 am – 11:30 am (morning shift)
Monday –Friday 11.30 am – 6:00 pm (afternoon shift)
Saturday 6:00 am – 11:00 am (morning shift)
Saturday 11:00 am – 4:00 pm (afternoon shift)

Applications will be taken for the next three weeks only.

September 2nd, 2009 will be the final day to have all resumes received.

We would like to thank you for your interest in the company.

Thank you & good luck!

I guess it's time to get a job now

The list is almost complete!


Escape Into Reality

"Science fiction is based on the face of social change. It tries to penetrate the consequences of thsi change or that and, in the form of a sotry, presents the results to the view of the public. It is rather ironic to me that science fiction is continually lumped under the heading of 'escape literature,' and usually as teh most extreme kind. Yet it does not escape into the 'isn't' as most fistion does, or the 'never was' as fantasy does, but into 'might very well be.' In its best phases, if science fition escapes it is an escape into reality."
--Isaac Asimov


Boulder Outlook is sooooo cool

Local authors even write about us!
"The Boulder Outlook Hotel, where Erin was staying, looked more like a trendy mall than a hotel. A rack of rental bikes lined the front, and twenty-somethings sat at the outside café tables, chatting and working on laptops.

. . .

I followed him through the immense common area with a restaurant, bar and swimming pool with faux rocks and fountains.
'Why is there no pool smell?'
'I don't know. It's some kind of environmental thing. They have a zero-waste policy, whatever that is.' Erin seemed to think I should be impressed."
--Esri Rose in her new book "Stolen Magic"

yep. too cool for school. and the rest of the book was super fun too.


Junk to Explore 4

-Monty Python's flying circus
-Slumdog millionaire
-The UltraMind solution
-Bridge to Terabithia / Katherine Paterson ; illustrated by Donna Diamond
-Boston legal. Season one
-Backyard composting
-Holy Horrors
-Illustrated Answers to 100 Basic Science Questions
-Holy Hatred: Religious Conflicts of the '90s
-2000 years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt
-Honest Doubt: Essays on Atheism in a Believing Society
-Amazon Moon
-the selfless gene
-women without superstition
-columbine, dave cullen
-The Atheist's Way: Living Well Without Gods, Eric Maisel
-Quiverfull, Kathryn Joyce
-American Violet, documentary
-Black Cloud, Sir Fred Hoyle
-RL's Dream, Walter Mosley
-Three Cups of Tea, Greg Montenson
-Juanita Molina
-doubt a history, Jennifer Hecht
-Holy Hullabaloos, James
-The Hour I first believed, wally lamb
-one last chance, jerry borrowman



"So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship."
Dostoevsky from "The Brother's Karamazov"


Bubye favorite black pants...and composting!!!

Left: This one is for you mom! I finally threw away my favorite black pants that have been repaired and re-repaired by you many, many times...

Right: And my roommate and I have started composting! We were just using a bucket, but it quickly got nasty so I got some compostable bags from the hotel which helps keep things much cleaner.


Dumb April Fool's Day

uggh. I don't like it. Here's just a small sampling of the things that I was "fooled" by:

1. Email from Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WLRV):
Dear Kaleena,

Thank you for registering for the facelift project at the Flat Irons.
It's going to be an exciting project for rapellers, obsessive cleaners and those who just love to hang off the side of cliffs!

We'll be working with several agencies to clean up, scrape off and put the shine on the Flatirons for the first time since they were constructed in the 1930s.
(I really like working with this organization so I emailed them saying, "i'm confused. I didn't register for any event...can you please help me sort this out?" Uggh.)

2. Best Funeral Ever:

Original Post: Best Funeral Ever

(I saw this one at about 11 PM on March 31, so I definitely was not yet tuned into April Fool's Day yet. I was really pissed off and was one of the first people to write an angry comment about how disappointed I was with this distasteful prank. Uggh.)

3. My poor mother called me all concerned about google's pank. (She's new to the gmail world and doesn't know yet that google has a history of 04/01 hoaxes (Gmail Autopilot)

So really, I hate April Fool's Day because I'm very gullible (maybe trusting is a better word?) BUT, I've decided my favorites are the ones that are just funny and obviously fake:

1. Touchless iCar

2. Evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence found

3. Eco Vehicle

(The funnies were all shared by Matt, Thanks Matt!!)

Young NonChristians Reach 40%

"A recent study by the Barna Group, a Christian research association, found that 40% percent of 16- to 29-year-olds identify as nonChristian. The survey found that only 16% of young nonChristians have a "good impression" of Christianity. Most nonChristian youths surveyed believe that Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%) and too involved in politics (75%). Only 3% of 16- to 29-year-old nonChristians express favorable views of evangelicals.

Even half of young churchgoers said they perceive Christianity to be judgmental, hypocritical, and too political."
(From Freethought Today, November 2007)

I wonder what the numbers would be today!!


Academic Question

While I was writing a paper last year I came across this:

Regarding D'Souza:

Here is the quote from the debate I watched: (He has also used this same line in other articles)
"Martin Luther King once said that ultimately every man must write with his own hand the charter of his emancipation proclamation."
When I asked him (D'Souza) what the citation was, here is the response I received:
"It's cited in my book The End of Racism. But I don't have the book at hand so I must request that you look it up. If you don't want to purchase the book it's available in most libraries."
So I found is book from the library and the actually quote says the following (I think he is rephrasing from the pink part.)

End of Racism, page 198
"We must not let the fact that we are victims of injustice lull us into abrogating responsibility for our own lives. We must not use our oppression as an excuse for mediocrity and laziness. Our crime rate is far too high. Our level of cleanliness is frequently far too low. We are too often loud and boisterous, and spend far too much on drink. By improving our standards here and now, we will go a long way toward breaking down the arguments of the segregationist...The Negro will only be free when he reaches down to the inner depths of his own being and signs with the pen and ink of assertive manhood his own proclamation." (Cited in Washington, ed., A Testament of Hope, pp. 212, 246, 489-90)

page 212
page 246
page 489

So, then I look at the citation for this quote from A Testament of Hope, and I highlighted which parts of the quotation came from the different pages.

Isn't this wrong? Like, really, really wrong to pick and choose and lump together as if it was intended to be one quotation?



Today is the one-year anniversary of the start of this blog. AND it's is the 150th birthday of Boulder! Coolio.

Apparently Boulder marked the occasion by having everyone ring bells. (I didn't hear any cause I was working today.

That is all. Happy Birthday Boulder! (And cousin-in-law Ken!)


INVST Community Leadership Program

Make a difference! Combine academics with activism.
Apply for the INVST Community Leadership Program Class of 2009-2011.

Consistent with our vision for a just and sustainable world, INVST Community Studies programs develop engaged citizens and leaders who work for the benefit of humanity and the environment. In order to fulfill our mission, we offer: A comprehensive two-year Community Leadership Program (CLP); Community Studies Electives; and A Youth Council for Public Policy.

The INVST CLP is designed as a two-year commitment combining meaningful community service with theoretical inquiry and leadership skills training, challenging students with an interdisciplinary exploration of issues relevant to social and environmental change.

HOW IS THE PROGRAM STRUCTURED? Over a period of two years, INVST Community Leadership Program students engage in rigorous course work, comprehensive skills training, and community service. The service-learning activities include two summer service experiences, four theory courses and four skills classes, and numerous community-building activities. During the first year, students participate in a community service internship, and during the second year, students design, implement and evaluate a community-based project. In addition, students help create the policies and procedures of our organization.

WHO MAY APPLY? The INVST Community Leadership Program is open to all majors. Students may be freshmen, sophomores, or juniors, as long as they plan to be at CU-Boulder for two consecutive years. For those who plan to finish earning their undergraduate degrees from CU before completing their commitment to the INVST CLP, the courses described above may be taken through Continuing Education.

INVST Community Leadership Program Commitment to Multicultural Pluralism: We actively seek and support the participation of individuals and communities that reflect diversity of ability status, age, color, ethnicity, gender, gender variance, life experience, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and veteran status.

Applications for the INVST Community Leadership Program Class of 2009-2011
DUE March 9, 2009 AT NOON.

The Application is available online at http://www.colorado.edu/communitystudies/downloads/INVST%20CLP%202009%20Application.pdf
For more information email invst@colorado.edu or call 303-492-7516.


Restaurant review: Outlook Hotel's Blues & Greens puts a healthy spin on pub grub

By Meg Tilton
Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cook Rene Zarate holds a polenta dish and a plate of Greek salad at Blues & Greens Restaurant at the Boulder Outlook Hotel:

Photo by Paul Aiken

Food 2.5 stars
Service 3 stars
Ambience 2.5 stars

800 28th St., Boulder 720-974-7775. Roadhouse fare with vegan and vegetarian dishes. Live music on many nights; see www.bouldershomeoftheblues.com.

Hours 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Reservations accepted. Kid friendly (no formal kids' menu, but will prepare half portions of most dishes). All major credit cards. Wheelchair accessible. Vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Noise level Loud during live music performances, quiet-medium otherwise.

Recommended dishes Mushrooms and cheese appetizer, spinach salad, vegetarian Philly "steak" sandwich.

Boulder was one of the forerunners of the local and organic foods movement, with restaurants like the Kitchen and Sunflower putting the city on the culinary map. So when a National Restaurant Association survey declared local and organic foods a "hot trend" for restaurants in 2009, Boulderites might be forgiven for raising their eyebrows. Eating local and organic is great idea, sure. But cutting edge?

Now, Boulder restaurants may once again be ahead of the pack. In the past two years, a new breed of restaurant has sprung up in town, as the local and organic movement has spread to burger lovers and the non-foodie proletariat. Forget that grass-fed filet mignon with truffled mashed potatoes. These places serve pub grub. First on the scene was V.G. Burgers, which serves six different kinds of vegan, organic burgers and chicken-free chicken sandwiches. Then came the Scotch Corner Pub, which offers vegetarian haggis and vegan bangers and mash. And now there's Blues & Greens, a new restaurant in Boulder's Outlook Hotel that offers roadhouse fare with many vegan dishes and locally grown ingredients.

The restaurant's name reflects both the "green" cuisine and the live blues acts that frequently perform at the place. (The "blues" also brings to mind the nearby hotel pool, which occasionally wafts chlorinated air into the restaurant, but let's skip that.) The restaurant's combination of beer, live music and creatively healthy food makes an endearing if somewhat odd mix. Meat-lovers can dine on all-natural barbecued ribs, while vegetarians can sink their teeth into a Philly "steak" made with wheat gluten. And thanks to the blues-joint ambience, the place has character. Paintings of musicians decorate the wall, and the blues-loving patrons aren't your normal hotel restaurant crowd.

Whether or not you're vegetarian, the mushroom and cheese appetizer ($6.75) makes a good way to start your meal. The dish features several varieties of mushrooms from Hazel Dell, a Fort Collins-based farm, which are sautéed to perfect juiciness and then topped by melted, pungent Parmesan.

Salads are a main feature of the Blues & Greens menu, and you can order the spinach salad ($7.50) with real bacon or a meat-free substitute. The fake stuff doesn't infuse the salad with flavor the way real bacon would, but the other ingredients -- fresh spinach, red onions, red peppers and egg -- are tasty. And in any case, it's nice the restaurant offers alternatives for meat-eaters and vegetarians.

As for the veggie chef's salad ($6.50), I'd recommend this variety only for those who like their greens accompanied by clumps of sprouts and big florets of raw broccoli and cauliflower. With blue-cheese dressing or the restaurant's yummy agave-mustard mix, the salad becomes more palatable, but it's difficult not to yearn for some walnuts or pears.

The restaurant's vegetarian sandwiches are better. The portabella mushroom sandwich is a standard but juicy affair of mushroom, veggie garnishes and a Rudi's whole wheat bun. The aforementioned Philly "steak" ($6.95) is more adventurous and equally rewarding. It features seitan (wheat gluten), which the restaurant makes itself. Truth be told, the seitan does not taste like beef, and it's springier and more uniform in texture than meat. But its slightly smoky, mushroom-like flavor goes well with the rest of the sandwich, which has melted cheese and sautéed onions and peppers. I'd order this one again for both taste and price.

Blues & Greens offers many specials, such as a recent one featuring all-natural pork spare ribs ($10.95) from local farmer John Long. The meat, seasoned with a dry rub and accompanied by hickory barbecue sauce, was tender and flavorful. The dish's cornbread and rice and beans, however, were disappointments. The lackluster cornbread needed more salt and a pat of butter, while the rice and beans were mixed together in a gelatinous scoop. Fortunately, the coleslaw was crunchy and fresh. And the entree as whole was still worth ordering, thanks to the generous serving of ribs.

The restaurant's staff work hard to satisfy their customers. On my first visit, our server comped a round of our drinks after two different kegs failed to tap properly. On our second visit, a different server offered to take back an extra salad we'd ordered because we hadn't realized our entrée included one.

All in all, Blues & Greens makes a fine addition to the list of Boulder restaurants serving healthy pub fare. The place is affordable, appealing and quirky. So if you like vegetarian food or blues music, make your way to the Outlook Hotel. Who knows? You may be getting in on the hot restaurant trend of 2012.

Contact Camera Dining Critic Meg Tilton at boulderdining@gmail.com.

Original Article at: Daily Camera


D'Souza v. Hitchens

Last night I went to this debate. I tried to get tickets about a week and a half ago, but they were already sold out. BUT, a guy in the overflow room had a ticket that he wasn't using because none of his friends had tickets so he gave it to me!

The debate was everything I expected it to be. Hitchens was a big jerk and and D'Souza was much more respectful.

Dinesh D'Souza describes himself as Roman Catholic and Christopher Hitchens describes himself as Secular Humanist. It seems to me that D'Souza somehow had more bargaining power prior to the debate as the name of the debate was a play on the titles of his latest books. Also, D'Souza started the debate and had the final remarks as well. I took furious notes for the first half of the debate, but then realized that I wasn't really enjoying it or paying attention. The audience was surprisingly balanced (there might have even been more Christians then non-Christians--I'm guessing 60/40) At one point, early on in the debate, in the debate I clapped for a particularly good point that Hitchens made. I stopped right away because I realized that I was surrounded by Christians in the Mezzanine. It made for an interesting rest of the night because each time a good point arose I had to decide whether it was a good enough point to clap and endure the glares or if Hitchens was just being an ass again.

My favorite part of the debate was when Hitchens jokingly said that for the first 98,000 years of the existence of Homo sapiens, heaven watched with indifference and only decided to start caring 2,000 years ago. And when "the heavens" decided to start caring they only choose one species of thousands for salvation off of only one planet of billions. D'Souza's response was that for 98,000 years we wandered around making no progress until 2,000 years ago when God breathed life into humanity.

If you are interested in hearing another eval of the debate, you may check out Susie's blog, third paragraph.

And a few of my final thoughts/questions:

  • I wish that the moderator (or someone) would have pre-screened the questions. Have the audience write questions at the beginning of the debate and then have someone pick the most popular and most interesting questions for the Q/A part of the debate.
  • What is the difference between morality and ethics?
  • Did Socrates really exist? (Actually, prior to this debate, I had no idea that anyone questioned the existence of Socrates)
  • I want to read Stephen Hawking's, A Brief History of Time. Good thing I now own it--thanks to Matt.
  • I was surprised about the number of times slavery came up as an example for and against the existence of god.
  • I wish that I could take a comparative religions class at some point.

As soon as someone puts the video online, I'll post a link to it here.



So, that last post was a little more about me and a little less about Martin Luther King Jr. I feel the need to give MLK a little more "air" time.

Today I watched Mississippi Burning and then a little later watch the entire "I have a dream" speech. They are both so powerful and I wished that I had invited someone over to watch them with me. 

I keep wondering--If I was alive in the 60s, would I be part of the civil rights movement? I sure hope so...

MLK day and my elbow

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Another bittersweet holiday... In addition to Martin Luther King Day, today also marks the one year anniversary of my great elbow saga. Exactly a year ago, my right elbow started acting up. To Date, I have had: 1 trip to the ER, 10 Physical Therapy appointments, 13 Doctor Appointments, 8 round-trips to University of Colorado Hospital in Denver, 4 two-and-a-half hour bus rides, 2 custom-built splints, 2 slings, 2 MRIs, 5 x-rays, 7 different doctors, over $400 in co-pays and prescription meds, 1 surgery and zero answers.

My elbow is still not better. When will it end?


You are My Sunshine, My only Sunshine

beautiful story! i'm such a sucker for a sappy story

Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling.

They found out that the new baby was going be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sang to his sister in mommy's tummy.

He was building a bond of love with his little sister before he even met her.

The pregnancy progressed normally for Karen, an active member of the Panther Creek United Methodist Church in Morristown , Tennessee

In time, the labor pains came. Soon it was every five minutes, every three, every minute. But serious complications arose during delivery and Karen found herself in hours of labor.

Would a C-section be required? Finally, after a long struggle, Michael's little sister was born. But she was in very serious condition.

With a siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushed the infant to the neonatal
intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital, Knoxville , Tennessee. The days inched by. The little girl got worse. The pediatrician had to tell the parents there is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst.

Karen and her husband contacted a local cemetery about a burial plot. They had fixed up a special room in their house for their new baby but now they found themselves having to plan for a funeral. Michael, however, kept begging his parents to let him see his sister. I want to sing to her, he kept saying.

Week two in intensive care looked as if a funeral would come before the week was over.

Michael kept nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care. Karen decided to take Michael whether they liked it or not.

If he didn't see his sister right then, he may never see her alive. She dressed him in an oversize scrub suit and marched him into ICU. He looked like a walking laundry basket.

The head nurse recognized him as a child and bellowed, "Get that kid out of here now. No children are allowed." The mother rose up and the usually mild-mannered lady glared steel-eyed right into the head nurse's face, her lips a firm line. 'He is not leaving until he sings to his sister' she stated.

Then Karen towed Michael to his sister's bedside.

He gazed at the tiny infant losing the battle to live.

After a moment, he began to sing.

In the pure-hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sang:

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray." Instantly the baby girl seemed to respond. The pulse rate began to calm down and become steady.

"Keep on singing, Michael," encouraged Karen with tears in her eyes.

"You never know, dear, how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away." As Michael sang to his sister, the baby's ragged, strained breathing became as smooth as a kitten's purr "Keep on singing, sweetheart."

"The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms." Michael's little sister began to relax as rest, healing rest, seemed to
sweep over her.

"Keep on singing, Michael." Tears had now conquered the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glowed.

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don't take my sunshine away..."

The next day...the very next day. the little girl was well enough to go home

Woman's Day Magazine called it The Miracle of a Brother's Song.

The medical staff just called it a miracle.

Karen called it a miracle of God's love.


You Are My Sunshine
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away

The other nite, dear,
As I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms.
When I awoke, dear,
I was mistaken
And I hung my head and cried.

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

I'll always love you
And make you happy
If you will only say the same
But if you leave me
To love another
You'll regret it all some day;

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

You told me once, dear
You really loved me
And no one else could come between
But now you've left me
And love another
You have shattered all my dreams;

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.