Saturday, January 31, 2015

Every once in a while, I will see the above bumper sticker on a Boulder car.  One of our neighbors has one.  Raise your hand if you know what it's all about!  If not, here is your first clue:


So, several US states start with the letter M......  Another clue:

So, unless you flunked grade school geography, you should know this is Michigan.  And, here is a the M22 Route:

The road that traces Michigan's pinkie finger has its own website here, its own scenic road tour guide here, a biker's guide, its own Run, Bike, Paddle Challenge, a color tour site touting the Sleeping Bear Dunes on the 116 mile route as "the most beautiful place in America"!  I have been to Sleeping Bear several times, and it is spectacular - not sure about "most beautiful" but it certainly ranks right up there.  Visit the Sleeping Bear link or better, visit in person.  M22 is "more than just a road - it's a way of life" - 44 great pictures on that link.

Friday, January 30, 2015


It has been a while since the last music post, so here is one that harks back a while - Johnny Rivers had some big songs in the 60's ad 70's, and although the music does not transport me back to a specific time or place, it does give me a feel-good nostalgic feeling for 'the days of our youth' as they say.  His string of hit singles was from 1964-1968, exactly when I was in college.  Here are two of my favorites.  Enjoy.

The background singing is ethereal

And here is one of Rhonda's favorites:

Addendum especially for Bizzy Brain!!

Friday, January 23, 2015


In case you had not noticed, the doomsday clock just moved from five minutes until midnight to three minutes before midnight of the apocalypse.  You can read the story here.  The full report is here.

 Humans Could Go Out With A Bang

 Or Exit In A Much Longer Drawn Out Whimper,xcitefun-global-warming-effect-5.jpg

Maybe A Pandemic

We Know That Ultimately This Will Happen

When discussions turn to "the end of life as we know it" I usually pitch in with something like "If it comes down to betting on humans or the earth, I will bet on the earth." Humans will kill themselves off before they kill off the planet.  Humans have been around here for an exceedingly short time since the beginning of life on this planet - approximately 150,000 out of the 3,600,000,000 years.  Many species have been around for 10, 100 or 1,000 times longer, while on the other hand millions of species have gone extinct.  My money is on humans being among the latter group - headed toward extinction.  So, how might we do that?

Nuclear - although there doesn't seem to be nearly as much emphasis on this possibility as during the Cold War, many folks still consider this a significant threat.  After all, who are you going to trust among the nuclear states?  Russia, India, Pakistan, North Korea - yeah, right!  There are still at least 10,000 nuclear devices out there, and while there has been a reduction in stockpiles, there has been a concomitant increase in the sophisticated technology of the devices.

Climate Change - it really doesn't matter if you think that humans are or are not a major contributor to climate change, the globe is getting warmer and likely will continue to do so.  The consequences are so wide-spread, from the oceans to the atmosphere, that it is hard to anticipate the impact, but one likely outcome would be widespread crop failures and then famine and disease.

Eco-Systems Destruction - I believe that this goes hand-in-hand with Climate Change.  Virtually everywhere humans live, they degrade the planet - and they degrade the planet even where they don't live.  From hunting and fishing species into extinction to dumping everything from fertilizer, drugs and trash in lakes and oceans to destroying rain forests to .....  You get the picture, humans are the ultimate invasive species.  The human species will collapse when ecosystems collapse. [Added Note:  See Dr. Norman Pace's comment regarding overpopulation causing ecosystem collapse].

Pandemics - just envision a mutant bacteria or virus that is 10 or 100 times as deadly as Ebola.  Or even a fairly simple mutation that would allow airborne transmission of something not particularly deadly into an agent that would spread quickly around the world.  Of course the first to succumb to such a pandemic would be the anti-vaxers, although they would be a drop in the bucket in a true pandemic.  One unlikely pandemic would be small-pox.  Those of us who have been immunized are slowly dying off, leaving nearly the entire population of the planet susceptible.  The disease has been eradicated globally, but the virus exits in biological warfare research labs - bio-terrorism is a possibility.

Things From Space - asteroids, comets, unknowns, aliens - hey, asteroid impacts have happened before and at some time, will happen again.  Big one - game over.

The End - as shown in the graphic above, the earth will cease to exist in about 7.5 billion years.  The sun will begin its death spiral, becoming a red giant, and the interior planets will either be totally destroyed or become dried up or molten globs.  Not to worry - humans will be long gone from this orb long before then, one way or another.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Reader BES recently wrote a bit about conspiracy theories, so I thought that it might be good to have a little fun.  As Joseph Heller said - “Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you."
I think conspiracy theories are interesting, often fun, and mostly crazy.  I admit to enjoying Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts in Conspiracy Theory.  There are of course the biggies like the fake moon landings, JFK assassination, 9/11, Area 51, etc., but there are literally 100's if not 1000's out there - here's a good list.  One fascinating aspect of many such theories is that they sound plausible, having enough truth in them that the stretch to conspiracy is not too far.  And since I am a member of the Illuminati, I can relate to many of the conspiracy theories!!,width=235,height=235,appearanceId=2/Men-s-Black-Illuminati-Logo.jpg

Here is what BES recently shared via a comment on this blog - enjoy!!  And chime in with your own favorite Conspiracy Theory!
Ok. I confess. I enjoy a really juicy conspiracy theory every now and then. Not that I necessarily believe any of them. But conspiracy theories can get amazingly creative in connecting otherwise puzzling or meaningless dots.

For instance, there are some conspiracy theories out there that connect the 19 9/11 Muslim terrorist hijackers to the CIA, who sponsored the attack in order to start a full-scale Middle East war. Considering the trillions of dollars pumped into the military industrial complex to prosecute these wars, there is certainly some Tom Clancy/Oliver Stone plausibility to it. But no hard proof it was a false flag. And speaking of the military industrial complex and conspiracy theories, conspiracy buffs believe some remarks made by JFK affecting the MIC got him killed. Again, no proof and his assassination will remain one of the greatest mysteries of all time.

But other questions remain open and unanswered about 9/11, a Muslim executed terror conspiracy. Most of them were Saudis, our so-called allies. Why did Building Seven, untouched by the two jetliners and the Tower 1 and 2 collapses, implode on its own? Nobody is saying. Why did a white hot fire at the bottom of the two smoking holes burn for almost 6 weeks? The fire burned hotter than jet fuel (and building materials for that matter) for a much longer duration than the one day it would have taken to cook off a jet’s unburned fuel load. There are few things that burn at the higher temperatures recorded at the site and none of them are typically found in office buildings.

Is there a conspiracy theory behind the Muslim “infiltration” of the USG? Not one that I’ve heard. But I have read a lot of email chatter by people who are vocally opposed to it. There hasn’t been any malicious behavior that I’m aware of, but it’s certainly adding to the anxiety (phobia?) about Muslims in America.

I’m not a big Thomas Friedman fan and I think the New York Times is litter box lining, but he wrote an OpEd piece that if nothing else, echoed the sentiments of most of the non-Muslim world asking where is the outcry from the Muslim world condemning the violence? The interesting angle was that he excused BO for skipping the solidarity pageant because it should have never happened in the first place. Instead, it should have been the Muslim world - leaders and followers - conducting that gathering, speaking out against acts of violence.

And to that point, I believe that when you have to demand such condemnation, it will only lack all the sincerity and heartfelt meaning that would come were it delivered without hesitation.

Think about it this way: In many states, it is against the law (as in you can be imprisoned) for failing to report child abuse of any kind. Acts of moral turpitude that evoke no anger or outrage are essentially viewed as socially acceptable, by default. So except for one whisper I heard, the widespread silence of the Muslim community speaks volumes.

An ethical question on conspiracies arises when we dare peak at the dark underbelly and consider how terror plots are foiled. Terrorism conspirators do not file for permits, or issue press releases. This information has to be obtained and doing so inevitably means rules and laws have to be broken. Civil liberties have to be violated. This is a very troubling paradox because I am a staunch believer in the protection of civil liberties that is now horribly perverted by an even greater need to be protected from attacks.

Recently, our leadership from California published a report on the subject that gave us a peak at that underbelly and a national debate ensued. But this all speaks to my earlier concern where the protection of our liberties and freedoms is in conflict with our safety and security. Judge Nepalitano summed it up very well in a striking quote: "The liberties we enjoy today don't necessarily make us a more secure society.” 


Saturday, January 17, 2015


As I have previously written, eTown is an incredible resource for this community and for all of their followers on the web and on national radio.  Last Sunday, Nick Forster hosted a free event at the eTown Hall to highlight this year's five finalists in the Handmade Songs series - watch Nick's intro below - these are high school kids!!!  They preformed live with the eTown house band, and we got to view the premiers of the mini-documentary music videos for each of the finalists.  The students' exceptional talent was matched by all of the time, effort and professional guidance that the eTown staff provided to these young musicians - kudos to all!!

Here are three of the videos

You can watch all of the videos here, as well as some highlights of the 2013 Handmade Songs.

"eTown’s Handmade Songs Series is designed to utilize music’s power to connect on behalf of the challenges creative teenagers in Boulder County face.

In it’s second year, the 2014 Handmade Songs Series reached out to schools in Boulder County, initiated an audition process, and invited over 30 high school songwriters to perform their original songs in front of an audience. A panel of judges, including local music industry leaders, selected the five winners and those winners were paired with professional record producers to realize the full potential of each song.

The 2014 winners were given an inside look at the recording process and complete access to some of the best and brightest in Colorado’s music scene. They had unlimited time in the studio, access to any outside musicians that enhanced their songs, and untold hours of time with their producers in the process of recording, editing and mixing. The results are spectacular, and the process was transformative for all of the students."

Friday, January 16, 2015


This is another post regarding my promise to write about relatives, friends and colleagues while they are still alive rather than give posthumous tributes.

One of my favorite quotes is "You can't walk on the water unless you get out of the boat."  Of course I do not take it as a literal claim but more toward "You will never know what all is out there unless you get out there!"  It is oh so much easier to roll with the status quo, keep the same routines and environs, be comfortable, stick with the thought that you are not in a rut but rather in a well worn groove!  I am not speaking about dumping stability for high-stakes risk-taking, but about carefully considering new opportunities, new horizons with the expectation of new adventures and new friends.  If Rhonda and I had not decided to step out of our comfortable lives in Colorado Springs for a new life chapter at Pepperdine University in Malibu, we never would have come to know a whole host of wonderful colleagues, friends, students and neighbors.  Here is one of the many remarkable folks that we never would have known had we stayed in Colorado - Daniel Daugherty.

Daniel is the Resident Director of Pepperdine's International Program in Heidelberg.  Daniel and I likely would have never met had it not been for a last-minute medical complication for the faculty person scheduled to be the Visiting Faculty person in Heidelberg combined with my availability and inclination to pinch-hit, albeit after the semester had started.  Given the nature of such an abrupt change of plans that are laid out over a year in advance, it is not surprising that there was some apprehension, particularly on Daniel's part given that he has the ultimate responsibility for the quality and success of the program.  Since Daniel, the program faculty and staff, and the students did not know me from Adam, I could not blame them for their concerns!!  Fortunately, as time went on, things progressed fairly smoothly and major catastrophes were avoided.  Daniel and Doug became Herr D and Dr. S, although Daniel loved to give the uber-German emphasis on my last name - Schwaaaarrtzenttruber ;-)  Here are just a few of the delightful aspects of my time with Herr D.

Herr D the Polyglot - Anyone who can speak more that one language is a polyglot in my book.  I know, two languages doesn't really fit the polyglot definition, but Daniel does.  Upon first meeting, his English sounded like he must have grown up in mid-America.  However, having lived in Germany for many years, German would appear to be his native tongue.  But, when you learn that he grew up in Paris, it becomes clear that French is his beloved native language.  That qualifies for polyglot - but - Herr D also studied in Spain, and as we traveled to Barcelona for our Educational Field Trip, it became apparent that he also quite adroit in Spanish.  Rumor has it that he is studying additional languages.  Color me envious.

Herr D the Program Director - I am quite certain that every year, there some recurring situations and events that need to be addressed by the Director, usually in conjunction with the Visiting Faculty Member.  Academic warnings and probations.  Behavior warnings and probations, particularly regarding a bit too much alcohol.  Roommate incompatibilities.  And so on.  And Herr D handled each of these with a balance of sternness and understanding.  However, I think he faced a new challenge during my time there - an illegal music download.  Justin Bieber at that!  Herr D received a very disturbing notification letter from the German authorities detailing the specifics and the significant fine for the download.  Naturally none of the students would actually admit to downloading a Bieber album; however, with the help of the program's IT guru, the computer and the time of download were identified.  The computer owner adamantly, and believably, held that he was not the culprit, which pointed to the likelihood that someone had hacked the system.  After a discussion with all of the students regarding that the fine still had to be paid, some of them stepped forward with contributions. I am sure that Herr D lost more sleep than usual over this escapade, but no doubt learned how to avoid a similar situation in the future.  I want to also commend Herr D's commitment as the Program Director to be the spiritual guide and mentor for the Heidelberg program - he provides both wisdom and food for thought.

Herr D the Musician -  Similar to the Mennonites, the Churches of Christ folks have a very strong affinity for good music of all sorts, from congregational and choral singing to folk, R&B and contemporary music to classical orchestral music.  Thus it was not too surprising the Herr D and I shared an affinity for similar types of music.  I was pleased to introduce Daniel to another type of music that I very much enjoy -  Taiz√© and the attendant worship service. However, one significant difference between us - I am a very reluctant solo singer whereas Daniel is an unabashed performer.  A wonderful part of the semester is the 'talent show' that showcases the varied and impressive talents of the students - and the less impressive talent of the faculty.  Below, Herr D and I work through "Knocking on Heaven's Door" with some ad lib lyrics by Daniel, with his usual energy, enthusiasm and gusto.

Herr D the Epicurean - not the philosophy of Epicurus, but rather being a connoisseur of the arts, of life and the refinements of such things as food and drink.  I cannot recount the many and varied experiences that we shared, sometimes just the two of us, sometimes with a small group of colleagues or students, and often with our whole group of Heidelbergers -  from Die Kartoffel to the Belvedere to the Krypt to Weihnachtsmarkt to Lincoln to Vienna to Barcelona to.......

Herr D, Husband, Father, Son, Teacher, Scholar, Mentor, Colleague, Follower of Jesus, and Friend

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Now that the Broncos have dispatched of Coach Fox, a fundamental question becomes obvious - is it time for Peyton Manning to retire?  As we Broncos fans watched that latter part of the season, it was quite obvious that Peyton was hurting and not up to his usual level of performance.  So - answer the poll at the top of the page, and leave a comment about your thoughts if you want.  The poll should also give results [if it's working properly!]

Friday, January 09, 2015


Unanswered emails are one of my top pet peeves, one that I simply do not understand.  How much effort does it take to hit "Reply" and type "Got it"??  Are the non-responders that busy?  Or are they arrogant?  Or thoughtless?  Rude?  No manners?  No common sense?  Or a******s?  My take is yes for all, excepting too busy.  Would they ignore a question if it was asked in person?  Why have email if you are not going to converse as you would if the person was speaking to you? 

I could make a very detailed Wall of Shame, but for now, I will stick with some generalities.  The Boulder Daily Camera lists email addresses for its various editors, but I have yet to get a response to a question regarding the change in the daily reports of gold and silver prices.  A few of my Pepperdine colleagues are notorious non-responders.  I have given up on a couple of them.  I would email a link to this post to them, but I doubt that they would bother to read it.  I have emailed some entertainers who provide a Contact on their web pages, but I guess they only respond if you want to pay them to perform.  I have sent copies of articles that I have written to people who have requested materials, without acknowledgement of receipt. 

The least the chronic non-responders should do is set up an auto-reply.  That would be one step up from the implied message - "You are not important enough to me that I would take the time to reply." For 2015, I plan on keeping all of the unanswered email queries in a file for the post Wall of Shame - 2015.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015


I would venture that for most of us, many of our good friends are drawn from the circle of our co-workers and colleagues.  Thus it is not too surprising that my sister Kay's friends tend to be quite different from my friends - Arts & Entertainment Types vis-√†-vis Scientists & Professors :-)  For example, my friend Ron Ruminski, chemist and professor at CU-Colorado Springs, and Kay's friend Art Reynolds, songwriter, singer, producer - learn more and listen here.

During our Christmas gathering at Kay's place in Palm Springs, Douglas A, Rachel, Rhonda and I were privileged to join my sister and daughter Anna for breakfast at Art and Michael's home near Palm Springs.  Art loves to cook, and Michael said that he likes to eat, so we had a lovely time enjoying tasty food, some bubbly, and conversing.  I learned a bit about how artists get paid for their creative efforts, particularly in relation to one of Art's most popular compositions, "Jesus is Just Alright."  I had thought that the Doobie Brothers were the first to make the song popular, but Art pointed out that the Byrds had recorded it before the DB's, and as seen below, the Art Reynolds Singers preceded the Byrds. 

The Art Reynolds Singers - see more at Art's Biography

"It was in 1966 that Art took the 5 best singers from his choir at the St. Vestal C.M.E. church and created the gospel singing group, the "Art Reynolds Singers". As the first gospel group to record for Capital Records, they soon became pioneers in the development of "gospel rock". Many considered their music too secular for the time. Their first album "Tellin' It Like It Is", went on to become one of the biggest selling albums for a new gospel group. It received local and national acclaim. "Jesus Is Just Alright" was the first song recorded by other groups from the "Tellin' It Like It Is" album. The song was recorded and made famous by the Byrds, the Doobie Brothers and DC Talk. Four other albums followed: "Long Dusty Road", "The Soul-Gospel Sounds of the Art Reynolds Singers" and "It's a Wonderful World". Art later recorded an independent live gospel concert album titled, "A Work of Art". One of the original members of the Art Reynolds Singers was Thelma Houston, who went on to become a Grammy Award-winning singer with her recording of "Don't Leave Me This Way", an anthem of the disco era. Art later changed the name of the group to the "Art Forms Limited" and produced 2 singles for RCA records, "I'm a Bad Man" and "Time to Call It A Day". Wolfman Jack described Art's vocal on "I'm a Bad Man", as the birth of a new Isaac Hayes."

Here is another of Art's songs