Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Lose Weight Now, Ask Me How!

A group of CU students has been on hunger strike for about two weeks, protesting how the administration allows CU-branded apparel to be manufactured. Apparently, according to these students, although the university has policies to prevent the use of sweatshops, these policies are not good enough for the workers. The strikers want the administration to adopt a new set of rules that would allow the sweatshirtshop workers to unionize and earn a living wage. The administration has apparently been listening to them, and has made some counterproposals, but is concerned about the legality of adopting the students' proposal in its entirety.

My first response is that I think I know what a hunger strike is, and this just doesn't seem like one. At a minimum, the striking students are drinking a yummy-sounding concoction consisting of:
  • 10-14 oz. (distilled) water

  • 2 tbsp. lemon or lime juice

  • 2 tbsp. organic maple syrup, grade B (I guess they can't afford grade A)

  • 1/10 tsp. cayenne pepper to taste
So, they may be hungry, but these students are in no immediate danger. This is on top of the rumors of eating fruit and protein drinks. (But I don't repeat rumors.)

Also, seems like every time I read about this story, another group of students has joined or left the protest. Well, to my thinking, you can't just drop in and out of a hunger strike. Who will take you seriously unless you are willing to take it to the end?

My message to the strikers: Read up on your Thoreau. There is a message in there to help you with your cause.

To the CU administration. I'm impressed that you have already worked so well with the strikers. Continue to listen to them, hear their arguments. Then, make the right decision, independent of the fact that they are on a hunger strike. You should not make policy decisions based on the demands of protesters, for the same reason that you don't negotiate with terrorists.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Local Issue?

Last week, the Boulder City Council declined to move forward on a resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within six months. Although declining to pass this resolution, they are planning to hold a town hall meeting in the next couple of months to allow the public to weigh in on the issue.

This comes on the heels of a resolution that was passed by the City Council in January, 2003, opposing the forthcoming invasion of Iraq.

Also last week, the Nederland Board of Trustees failed to pass a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush.

Do local governments have any business weighing in on national and international issues like these? Or should they focus on local issues, like keeping the prairie dogs safe?

I believe that this type of thing is legitimate if and only if the big issue can be made into a local issue (or, of course, if the electorate votes for it.) For example, in the arguments for impeachment, it was pointed out that President Bush is trying to sell National Forest land, land that is part of the Nederland natural and cultural heritage and legacy, in order to pay for his budgetary mismanagement and war. That is bringing it home, and I think makes it legitimate local legislative fodder.

What about the Boulder issue? I've read the proposed resolution. Lots of great points. But, consider that:
  • The Boulder City Council has no expertise in this area.

  • The MoveOn resolution is just one plan out of many possible plans, even if you agree that something needs to be done. Why should the Council adopt this plan? Just because it was presented first or most loudly?

  • The resolution does not make the case that this is a local issue.

  • Who is going to take Boulder seriously, anyway? I mean, many folks will be surprised that we didn't pass this, and disappointed that they won't have another reason to belittle our city.
The backers of this proposal may believe strongly in their cause, but for our council members to act on it would just be pointless political posturing, or it would be legislating based on emotion. And that would be a shame.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Where Are All of the So-Called Lions?

I reported recently about a mountain lion attack on a 7-year-old boy on Flagstaff Mountain. It's now a week later, and I was up there for the first time since.

One of my favorite runs (in the polite sense of the word "run") is from my house to the summit of Flagstaff. Today as I started up the trail I was just a bit nervous, looking around when I heard a noise. There were other people on the trail, perhaps a bit fewer than normal. Some adults were there with young kids, some holding their hands or carrying them, some kids running ahead on the trail.

When I got to the summit, I ran around the picnic area and over to the trailhead where the attack occurred. Very quiet. Not even a sign warning people to be cautious, or any other indication. Just the ubiquitous signs on the garbage cans warning people that they are in bear country. In fact, I saw no mountain lion warning signs until I was at the very bottom of the trail at Boulder Canyon (I had missed it on my way up.)

I suppose that the likelihood of a mountain lion attack up there, already miniscule, is even less, given that the lion who previously claimed that territory has been destroyed.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

If I Can't Understand What They're Saying, They Must Be Plotting the Overthrow of the United States

Colo State Rep Dave Schultheis fishing his way across the Rio Grande
The issue of immigration has heated up recently, and there have been any number of amazingly stupid things said. David Schultheis, Republican representative to the state legislature from Colorado Springs, is the source of yet another.

Rep. Schultheis has proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would make English the official language, banning the use of other languages in just about any public document or location. One of the remarkable features of this proposed amendment would be the banning of public libraries from buying any books or other materials in any language other than English (other than textbooks).

Let's think about that for a moment and see where it takes us. First, my friend who studies Spanish and other languages and sometimes works as an interpreter can't check out a novel written in Spanish. He can't check out a book on tape or movie in Spanish to brush up on his skills.

I suppose any DVD that has a Spanish language alternate soundtrack would be out. A field guide that gives Latin names of animals? Any book with footnotes that uses the phrase ibid, or I guess any Latin phrase. How about any book that has pages with Roman numeral page numbers?

What else. I suppose that Rep Schultheis, no doubt a devout Presbyterian(check out his website), would not be able to borrow a copy of the Bible in the original Greek. Not a problem, this just means he doesn't have to deal with the discrepancies between what the original authors might have meant and what his current translation might read.

I suppose this is all for the best. After all, that book I'm reading in Spanish just might include the instructions to build a dirty bomb, and nobody would know!

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I recently wrote about a boy that was attacked by a mountain lion on Flagstaff Mountain. Unfortunately , I believe I made an error in the location I cited for the attack. According to reports in the Denver Post, the attack was near the Crown Rock trailhead, which is just off Flagstaff Road, as I reported. However, the Boulder Daily Camera, which I believe is correct in this instance, reports the attack as happening at Artist Point, near the summit of Flagstaff Mountain.

It is my practice to correct factual errors on this site when they are discovered.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sharing the Wealth

A couple of reminders that we weren't here first.

First, in the local news, a 7-year old boy was walking along the trail with his family just off Flagstaff Road yesterday and was attacked by a mountain lion. From information released so far, the boy's injuries were not critical. The mountian lion, however, was tracked down and killed today.

Second, also yesterday, while running on a trail near Boulder Valley Ranch and Boulder Reservoir, I nearly stepped on a rattlesnake, which indicated its displeasure loudly, quickly getting my attention. We were both unharmed.

Simple lesson. We cherish the natural world. We should not be surprised by its extremes.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006


Colorado Republican Governor hopeful Marc Holtzman said he would declare a state of emergency to deal with the illegal immigration problem. This comes on the heels of a letter sent to President Bush by eight conservative Republican lawmakers calling for the same thing.

Hurricanes, tornados, fires, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, floods. I can understand how these things can be states of emergency. But, come on, the fact that people are here illegally largely looking for work is not an emergency. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, an emergency is "A serious situation or occurrence that happens unexpectedly and demands immediate action." This is not that. This is pure hyperbole.

The letter also cites the duty of the federal government to protect the states from invasion under Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. Again from the American Heritage Dictionary, an invasion is "the entrance of an armed force into a territory to conquer". I've heard no reports that an armed force has entered our state with the intent of conquering.

My suggestion to these politicians crying wolf: Rather than playing to fear, make your arguments based on fact.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Good Money after Bad

Boulder County can't seem to figure out how to run an election. Previously, in response to federal laws passed in the wake of the 2000 Presidential election fiasco, the county replaced its existing, functional punch card system for an optical scan system, at a cost of $1.4 million. The result was a system that produced vote totals long after the election results were announced.

Obviously not wanting a repeat, the county is looking at options. The new federal law demands handicap accessibility, which apparently isn't provided by the new system we just bought. So, the county is on the hunt for something better.

The first idea was to purchase another new system, with a price tag of $2.6 million. This brought predictable and justified cries from the public, especially since the new system likely wouldn't have even provided a method to perform a paper recount. So, the next alternative is to rent the equipment for a year and give the market a chance to settle down, the federal laws a chance to clear up, and perhaps allow the public to forget their concerns. The price tag for a one year rental: $1.7 million, and the only company willing to do this is the same company that sold us our last lemon.

Why are we doing this? Because if we don't voters with disabilities may sue the county.

I have another idea. Let's work with the disabled community and see what they want. I'd be willing to bet that we could provide a good accessible voting environment for much less than $1.7 million. Keep it up for a year or two or three, and perhaps a good voting system will be available.

There are about 200 voting locations in Boulder County. Let's hire someone to be on location at each one of them for the entire election day. Could we do that, plus purchase some other needed accessibility improvement for, say, $1000 per polling place? That would be $200,000 total per election.

Maybe it'd be more. I don't know. But maybe not. I'd have to be off by almost a factor of 10 in order to justify wasting our money on rental of equipment that we will only be using once.

Start by having our election officials meet with the leaders of the local disabled community. Find out what would make a good voting environment. And then start spending our election money on something that we can feel good about. I'd be willing to guess that voters with disabilities would not be anxious to sue us if we were obviously going out of our way to work with them and make it easier for them to vote, clearly in the spirit of the Help America Vote Act.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

In the Global Hot Seat

In an editorial opinion today, Jay Ambrose attacked those who warn against global warming. (I prefer the term "climate change," which portends drastic and long-term changes. "Global warming" sounds too much like the weather is just going to get nicer.) And attack is the word for his essay -- those who urge action are hyperventilating alarmists, lapsing into stupidity, name-calling, and Bush-bashing leftists. On the other hand, Mr. Ambrose, who clearly never hyperventilated in his life, bashes nobody, does not resort to name-calling, and has said nothing stupid himself, assures us that the stated rates of warming are wrong, ice caps aren't melting, hurricanes are not getting more intense, and that we will adjust and find solutions to whatever moderate rate of increase actually happens.

So, what is the truth? Check out what the EPA has to say on the topic.
  • We know for a fact that the earth has warmed by about a degree over the past hundred years.

  • The rate of temperature increase has increased during that time.

  • Glaciers have been melting, snow cover has decreased, and below ground temperature has increased.

  • Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased to levels unseen in historical times. This is largely due to human activities.

  • It is a known fact that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere tend to cause increased temperatures.
So, what don't we know for sure? Well, we can only model how fast the earth's temperature will rise in the future. And we can only make educated guesses on the local impacts this may have.

Let's give the climate-change-deniers the benefit of the doubt for a moment. Suppose there really is no consensus among scientists. Maybe there's only a 5% chance that the climate will change in a drastic and negative way. Shouldn't we still do everything we can to prevent that or lessen its impact? I'm guessing Jay Ambrose buys insurance. Consider the things we do to lessen global warming an insurance policy. Surely we can afford that.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How Much Land Is for Sale?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Forest Service plan to sell parcels of land to pay for rural schools. After quite a bit of poring over the Forest service websites, I calculated a total of 2,100 acres for sale in Boulder County.

A week after my diatribe, the Boulder County Commissioners had a guest opinion in the Boulder Daily Camera. In addition to agreeing with many of my points (no, I'm not accusing them of plagiarism), they raised a number of further arguments against the sale. And, they also gave the same number of acres for sale: 2,100. This gave me some confidence that my efforts in interpreting the maps and other information on the website were reasonably accurate.

Well, a couple of days ago, there was another article in the Camera. This article reported on a letter sent by those same County Commissioners to the Forest Service. This letter brings up many of the same points as well as some new ones. It also states that the list of parcels on the website shows 2,120 acres for sale in Boulder County, while the maps show 3,120.

Ok, now I'm freaked out. If they can't even agree on how much land they want to sell, how are we supposed to respond to this proposal? How did the maps suddenly show an additional 1,050 acres? If the total is 3,120 acres, the plan is 50% worse than I thought it was.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

An Insomniac's Annual Nightmare

Grumble, grumble, grumble. Yes, it's the worst day of the year.

What am I talking about? Only the start of daylight savings time, the day every single year when they take away a whole hour of my sleeping time.

It's almost like flying to Tulsa and not being able to come back until October.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Don't Pray for Me, Argentina

For years I've worried about people praying on my behalf without my permission, or even directly against my will. What if someone who believes in the almighty tortoise prays for me to do well in a running race? Or somebody who believes in crystals prays for my kidney stones to dissolve? If somebody who believes in auras prays for me while I'm walking through airport security, will it set off the alarm?

My religion (insomniology) relies more on lying in bed and worrying than on actually praying for any specific outcome. But this is one thing I no longer have to worry about. A new study in the April 2006 issue of the American Heart Journal has proven that praying for other people has no impact. Telling them that you're praying for them, of course, has a negative impact. Who needs all that pressure?

In this study, titled Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: A multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer, 1800 cardiac patients were divided into three groups. One group was told they might be prayed for and were. A second group was told the same thing but weren't prayed for. And the third group were told they were definitely going to be prayed for and were. The first two groups had about the same rate of complications, while the third group (who knew they were being prayed for) actually had more complications.

Apparently, one of the groups doing the praying consisted of Christian Scientists.

In any case, from now on you should all feel free to pray on my behalf. Just please don't tell me you are doing so.

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