Went on a nice 6.4 mile morning hike before the summery weekend heat really arrived. The weather and the trails are improving steadily and I am finally getting in some serious miles on most every hike. I still have to push a little bit on the last couple of days of April to make up for the bad weather and other assorted missed days of hiking, but I think I can still make April the first month that I hit or exceed my monthly mileage quota. And of course it helps the mileage when I leave from my house and hike along the NIST/NOAA perimeter trail rather than scooting off to a trailhead somewhere in a car first.
I have just released the initial public version (0.4) of WordPress SpreadSheet plugin. This AJAX/SQL/PHP-based spreadsheet provides bloggers with basic spreadsheet functionality from within WordPress. This interactive spreadsheet differs from other web 2.0 spreadsheet offerings in that it uses open-source code to store the spreadsheet data right into your WordPress SQL database rather than on a 3rd-party server. You can see an example of the spreadsheet in action in my 2007 hiking logs.
The spreadsheet plugin can be downloaded from the WordPress SpreadSheet plugin homepage.
Note that this version (0.4) still needs quite a bit of polish on the user interface, both from within WordPress and on the AJAX spreadsheet interface.
About two weeks ago I saw Joe Wilson speak at the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, and Wilson’s talk also made salient a issue which has been ruminating around in my mind for some time now. Over the last six years of the Bush administration, time and time again, we have observed the same pattern of character assassination by Karl Rove’s political machine whenever someone in the public eye disagrees with the Bush agenda. Wilson, for example, was attacked after he wrote his well known New York Times op-ed debunking the phony Iraq-Nigerian nuclear materials transfer that the Bushies wanted to trumpet as part of their case for going to war in Iraq. We saw the same thing happen to Scott Ritter before the Iraq war, and now again with Sheryl Crowe’s encounter with Rove at the Washington Correspondents Association Dinner.
Only with Wilson and Plame did we see it backfire–with the end-result a criminal conviction of Scooter Libby for perjury for his role in the cover-up operation–and it only backfired there because, as Wilson put it, in the Wilson-Plame case the Bushies committed treason by exposing a covert CIA agent. But that makes me think–what of all of the other cases of character assassination? What about what happened to Natalie Means of the country music group the Dixie Chicks? To Sean Penn? To Representative John Murtha? To former Sen. Max Cleland? To Senator James Webb? To Scott Ritter? To John Brady Kiesling? To Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her Syria visit? To dead-soldier mom Cindy Sheehan? The swift-boating of Sen. John Kerry? How about the administration’s attempts to muzzle James Hansen for speaking out about global warming? And why did all the stories about Sheryl Crowe and using one square of tp per visit hit the airwaves right at the same time she told Rove that he works for the American people and not just for Bush?
My point is that there has been a series of these sort of character assassinations, carried out by the administration’s willing toadies at Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting group, Clear Channel corporation and other media megaphones. I’ve been toying the idea of creating a web site dedicated to documenting Rove and the art of character assassination, though there are probably already others out there. If anyone has any thoughts or other examples to contribute, please post them here.
Anyway, Rove was right about one thing during his encounter with Sheryl Crowe–Karl Rove works for G.W. Bush and NOT for the American people. As John Bolton recently told Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, Bolton believes he and the other members of this administration work for Bush and that segment of the American people who voted for Bush, not for all of us. I don’t recall that limitation being in the oath of office that all U.S. public servants are supposed to take. In fact, I believe the oath implies precisely the opposite, in that public servants swear to uphold the American Constitution, and that implies that they must serve the American people in their entirety. Why? Because the constitution reposes the final decision-making power in the American people, not a group of Washington elites. But Bolton, Rove, Gonzalez, Bolton, Hadley, Abrams, Wolfowitz and their ilk among Bush’s chorus of yes-men pretend otherwise, serving their president with a blind allegiance that is wholly detached from reality. And in doing so, they do a disservice not just to their oath of office, but to the American people.
Francoise and I went for a long, flat hike in the rain on the Bobolink trail (7 mi). That 7 miles really helps the April miles total–I now have to average only about 5.5 miles the last five days of the month to make April the first month I don’t fall behind, despite the fact of course that simply keeping up in a month doesn’t mean I’m catching up for the winter underage. But considering all the spring rain and snow this month, just getting to the 82.50 miles in April will be a feat. And May should be summerish, so I’ll be setting a goal of starting to catch up…
Coming back on the hike the rain cleared up and we saw three ranch-hands on horseback herding cattle between one pasture and another. They actually ended up practically herding us with the cattle through a narrows where the trail is a boardwalk over a marshy wallow. Kind of a surreal, wild west experience for a hike just on the outskirts of the city…
Photo credit: Francoise Cooperman
Went for a quick but steep wildflower hike with Francoise from NCAR toward Bear Canyon. We turned off the Mesa Trail and went a bit up the (steep!) Fern Canyon trail, then looped around underneath the flatirons to the upper Shanahan Ridge trail and back to the Mesa Trail. A good 3.8 mile hike, but the stairway also known as Fern Canyon certainly made me aware of how quickly I can get a little out of shape.
Not much in the way of wildflowers, but coming back we did see a lot of emergency rescue police vehicles up at the water tank near the trailhead. Made me wonder if a climber fell or something…
Today Randi and I hiked the Foothills and Lower Old Kiln trails in north Boulder for 5.2 miles. That kind of makes up for a couple of slow hiking days where my only walk was along the Boulder Creek Path going to the Conference on World Affairs.
By the way, I thought Joe Biden’s talk at the CWA was at best average–to me Biden came off as an East Coast patrician, unable to speak directly to the emotion in questions from the audience and immersed instead in policy and numbers. While that might be fine for a policy wonk like myself, I don’t think it bodes well for Biden’s ability to connect with the general populace… and as for his patrician nature, his tone throughout just reminded me of what he once said to Scott Ritter (the U.S. Marine Capt./U.N. Nuclear Weapons Inspector), who was the only public voice from the establishment that was correct in his assessment of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program as non-existent: “The decision of whether or not the country should go to war is slightly above your pay grade.” Ahem–and this to the only public figure whose views on WMD capability were eventually proved right all along, even after the Iraq war. As McCain rebutted Biden at the time, “I wish we had listened to people of Ritter’s pay grade before the Vietnam war…”
Just afterward I stayed to hear the Princeton economist/New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, whose talk was even more awful. If these people are the brains of the Democratic party, the party needs a brain transplant. Krugman was uninspiringly bland. For example, he prattled on about “universal health care.” Why not just reframe that as “affordable health care for all?” It amounts to the same thing, and it is probably a more accurate depiction of the likely mix of public and private insurance that would eventually be the result of a universal care policy–I don’t think anyone seriously believes that a Canadian style single-payer plan is possible in our current political climate. More importantly “affordable health care for all” is a phrase that plays well with the general public, uses the market-based rhetoric that the GOP has stolen for their own, and isn’t “foreign-sounding” to the average American. But that’s too simple language for a Hillary-esque political operative like Krugman. But of course this was a talk to the party faithful–the audience was mostly composed of well-educated, grey-haired seniors (where was the reserved student section, CWA planners?), so perhaps the phrase “universal health care” didn’t come off as badly there as I think it does in general. But the point remains–when will the Democrats learn how important it is to frame the issues properly?
Last, I’ll briefly mention the talk I loved, the only one that was worth my time. On Thursday morning I went to see Joe Wilson–”the most famous husband in America.” Ambassador Wilson is, of course, the husband of Valerie Plame–the covert CIA agent outed by the Bushies and their armada of right-wing media mouthpieces like Bob Novak. Now Wilson was a great speaker–I’d love to see him run for President–and he moved up and down the ladder of policy abstractions with ease, interwove his family’s personal story with the elite political events of the recent past in a Shakespearean fashion, and had the clearest and sharpest descriptions of the on-the-ground reality of the Middle East I’ve ever heard. Wilson was of course the last American dignitary in Baghdad before the Gulf War broke out in 1991–he was handpicked by President Bush the Elder to negotiate during that tough time, even though Wilson was not a Republican. In fact, that last fact illustrates the key difference between two Bush administrations: at the least the elder Bush valued divergent opinions and reality-based descriptions over the fanciful (and incorrect!) geopolitical theories of likes of Wolfowitz or Hadley. The current Bushies, by contrast, are nothing more than a series of “yes-men” who pass up what they think their superiors want to hear and kick down on any responsible voices that raise objections to the pre-ordained views. This administration rules the U.S. not as a democracy–instead, we are now a sycophancy.
(note: I’ve posted further thoughts on this last subject in my entry Joe Wilson at the CWA and the art of character assassination.)
Francoise and Tara kindly invited me on one of their weekly wildflower spotting hikes. Despite warnings that their botanical proclivities would make for a day of rather stop and start hiking, the three of us managed to hike up the relatively steep Eldorado Canyon trail in just over an hour and a half (6.2 mi/3.1 mi ea. way). Several wildflower stops did ensue, but it is till a bit early season this year for the wildflowers on the canyon’s south-facing slopes.
It was interesting to actually be learning something on my hikes–it is clear to me that despite growing up here and hiking more here than elsewhere, I know much more about the botany in Oregon, Costa Rica and Arizona than here–probably because when I lived in all of those places I didn’t take them for granted like I do here at home. Also, in Oregon and Costa Rica there was lots of tasty plant matter worth stopping to graze upon, while in Arizona the cacti are so distinctive and unusual–not to mention sharp and prickly–that learning the plant names mattered more to me. I guess this hiker marches on his stomach.
Note that the title of this entry refers strictly to the name of the wildflower pictured, and is by no means to be read as a commentary on the day’s hiking companions. (Though I do recall a certain debate about whether a certain flower was good for urinary tract infections, where one companion facetiously inquired as to whether she meant good for treatment or for causing…)
Photo Credit: Francoise Cooperman.
Just took a quick jaunt up Skunk Canyon today from the house (3.3 mi) after last week’s snowstorm. I had to start out April on a better note than March ended on, though I am happy about the new windows. But the first quarter totals were only about 136.55 miles out of the 250 needed. Even worse, I managed only 36.55 miles in all of March–much worse than in the previous two months, and lowering my percent-on-track to just 54% of goal. It’s not good to have the numbers be dropping…this is the time of year when I need to be stepping it up!
1000 Miles or Bust!
January 1, 2007
In 2007 I am challenging myself to hike 1000 miles in a year. That’s almost 20 miles a week, or about 2.75 miles every day. Whenever I’ve mentioned this goal to friends, the reaction has ranged “Wow, that’s a lot!” to “No problem! That should be easy!” to “What, exactly, counts as a hike? How long?” to “Cool, but you should give yourself extra mileage for elevation gained” to “Does jogging/walking/biking count?”... [read the rest of the first post about this blog]
The Hiker's Progress
Actual miles hiked in 2007:
- Cute SVN tricks
- WordPress 0.62 released (security patch)
- Switch from Yahoo Calendar to Google Calendar
- Floating a rounded corner box inside a WordPress post entry
- Isabelle, O Isabelle
- WordPress Spreadsheet 0.61 released
- Crater Lake Backpack Trip
- WordPress Spreadsheet (wpSS) version 0.6 released
- Chicory Bears on the Big Bluestem
- Cottonwood Pass Peak Bagging
- Copper Creek Teaser
- Maroon Bells under the Maroon Bells: Stolen Shots in Rustler Park
- Land of the Obvious
- Beckwith Pass Beckons
- Up On Crooked Creek
- August 2008 (1)
- April 2008 (1)
- March 2008 (1)
- October 2007 (3)
- August 2007 (2)
- July 2007 (10)
- June 2007 (15)
- May 2007 (8)
- April 2007 (10)
- March 2007 (23)
- February 2007 (15)
- January 2007 (19)