Wednesday, March 05, 2003


Somehow I knew that when I finally published my little report on who does and does not answer his or her e-mail over in the Capitol in Cheyenne that a late entry or two would report in.

In all fairness, though, today is the first time I contacted Rep. Chris Boswell (D-Green River) though I've long held a certain fondness for him ever since he put up a banner that read, in part "FIGHT LEGISLATIVE DE-EARMARKING" in the window of his magnificent Embassy Tavern in Green River (notable also for being an establishment that does, indeed, have Guiness on tap - another mark of quality in the bar and its owner, I say).

See, the House voted yesterday not to concur with what the Senate did to HB 264, and so had to appoint a few of its members to a Conference Committee, whose job it is to meet with several Senators to be named later (I'm hoping that happens today) to hash out the now glaring differences between what the House and the Senate did to this bill.

Mr. Boswell is one of the three appointed to this committee from the House, the others being Randall Luthi and Frank Philp.

So I wrote to him this morning, concerned because he had been one of the "yes" votes when the House was asked to concur with the Senate's tinkering and because I wanted to make sure he knew that dragging the State Land and Investment Board into the approval process for grants and loans is a mighty bad idea.

He wrote me back within about an hour and a half to tell me he agrees with me, and had only voted to concur because he wants to make sure the entire measure doesn't just die. He has a point there, actually!

So anyway, add him to the list of delightfully responsive legislators.

(Of course, anyone who serves Guiness on tap probably deserves to be in our good books even if he doesn't answer his e-mail, no?)

Tuesday, March 04, 2003


A friend who recently ventured out into the rest of America and was amused at how impressed his companions were by his political connections has observed, to them and to me, that in Wyoming, if one has any kind of life at all, everyone is politically connected.

In what other state do front-running gubernatorial candidates make the morning coffee circuit in a town with less than 1700 people in it?

No other.

In what other state might one's Representative bother to track one down at lunch and callthe restaurant to alert one about an important vote coming up that needs some "instant lobbying" magic?

No other. Unless the "one" under consideration is, e.g. Bill Gates or John Malone or somebody like that.

I can think of no other state where routine, matter-of-fact, friendly contact with even the House Majority Whip of one's state legislature is such a commonplace, either.

Still, as this legislative season winds down, I feel the need to stir the pot a bit by pointing out some members of our state legislature that have been wonderfully communicative and who has been woefully, perhaps arrogantly, silent. The former I must praise even if they voted wrong; at least they bothered to explain themselves to an impertinet chamber chick who wrote them out of the blue. The latter, well, I'll just say who they were and leave it at that.

First of all, my sampling. Looking over my e-mail records, I have written at least once to the following legislators this term:

Pete Illoway
Frank Latta
Kurt Bucholz

Bob Peck
RaeLyn Job
Jayne Mockler
Bill Hawks
Hank Coe
John Barrasso
Bill Vasey
Keith Goodenough

Not a huge sample, and we're only talking about 50 messages in total, working on Senate File 16 (where to put the prison and how much to spend on it), HB 264 and HB 91, but still, I found the results interesting.

First of all, Pete Illoway. The House Majority Whip, he not only replied to every single e-mail, no matter how trivial or chatty, but at one point he gave me his cell phone number (no, I'm not giving it out) in case I needed to pass on something urgent. Also, he kept me so posted that I knew committee decisions and bill status in general even before the press or the webmaster for the Legisweb!

Even when we disagreed about things, he was cordial, timely, responsive and thorough in explaining his reasons. I will of course stipulate that prior personal contact may skew my results some in this; as I have previously disclosed on this site, he and I had a fine old time a few years ago beating up on our Local Podunk Phone Company (tm) over a certain directory assistance issue.

Frank Latta was also an immediate turn-around kind of guy, though again we have a prior acquaintance from when he was the mayor of Gillette and I was a WAM (Wyoming Association of Municipalities) newbie. We disagreed on HB 91 (repealing sales tax on ag implements), but he was still genuinely cool about it, and he even returned phone calls before he remembered who the hell I was. Big thumbs up! We can expect a lot from this guy in the future.

(Oh, and I just remembered: he wants to borrow my YHB-and-Sewer King-and-Oracle-and-MinisterofFun-annotated copy of Pushed off the Mountain, Sold Down the River!)

Kurt Bucholz is our hometown man, and is the one who managed to track me down at lunch, fortuitously a lunch I was having with Mr. and Mrs. Mayor of Saratoga, so he got three brains for the price of one as we discussed strategy and tactics on HB 264 and school funding. I bet he's governor someday, our Kurt.

As for the Senators, all hail John Barrasso! Not only was he responsive (and he doesn't know me from Eve), he was INSTANTLY responsive, like Illoway, giving me the scoop before even the newspaper reporters at the Capitol knew HB 264 had passed. He was also great about warning me of likely alterations the Senate would most likely be making (and some of them stink overwhelmingly, like dragging the SLIB into the approval process for grants and loans administered under this program). Not just a nice medical commentator (he does a Health Minute on KTWO-TV in Casper), that one!

Keith Goodenough, of course, is the king of keeping citizens in the loop, maintaining his own personal spam-list updating hundreds of folks on the progress of his bills, his opinions on Senate procedural matters, his analysis of the supplemental budget, and other things that cross his mind. A lot of people don't like him, but I've gotta say he sets the standard for trying his best to involve the ordinary citizens who pay for this government in its decision making processes.

As for the rest on my list.... Coe, Mockler, Job, Hawks, Peck... and Vasey!... all have yet to acknowledge my e-mails or calls. Now, they might just be technophobes who don't dig on e-mail, but then... why do they have e-mail accounts, then? Hmm?

I'll leave the conclusion-reaching to y'all, for a change.

Monday, March 03, 2003


OK, I've been bugging you guys enough about politics and chamber events lately, so, as Monty Python's crew would say "And now for something completely different..."

The Friday Five is a blog-related phenomenon in which five questions are posed each Friday, I suspect to help the millions of us out there who occasionally run into writer's block keep these here web pages going.

I learned about it from fellow blogger Lance Riley over in Laramie, and while yes I am well aware it is not Friday, these questions, posed Friday last, were just too entirely up my alley to pass up. So here goes.

1. What is your favorite type of literature to read (magazine, newspaper, novels, nonfiction, poetry, etc.)?

My gut response is science fiction, but I have to qualify that; I generally hate what my My Own Dear Personal Mom has referred to as "dragons and dum-dums" stories although I love J.R.R. Tolkein (I guess it's all those lesser beings who try to rip off Tolkein that really annoy me). I like the more serious stuff, that makes the reader question his assumptions or understandings, makes the reader a little uncomfortable with himself and the world, or makes the reader wonder if he's crazy. Sort of like my taste in movies.

Runner up: Ancient Greek and Roman literature, largely because they are "pre-specialization," i.e. Aristotle did not ever say to himself (or allow others to say to him) "I am not a sociologist, so I can't comment on X" or "I have never actually written a play, so I cannot comment on drama" or whatever. Everything we need to know about why we are who we are can be found in the average Sophoclean tragedy, Socratic dialogue, or Ciceronian essay.

2. What is your favorite novel?

Wow. Very, very, very hard to say. Generally when I'm asked this question I say Umberto Eco's FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM, though there are a few other contenders worthy of mention: William Gibson's NEUROMANCER, Philip K. Dick's RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH, and Robertson Davies' CORNISH TRILOGY (Consisting of THE REBEL ANGELS, WHAT'S BRED IN THE BONE, and THE LYRE OF ORPHEUS).

I like novels that teach me something I didn't know before. I first read FP when I was about 14 and it triggered a lifelong interest in Christian heresies (remember, I am the only Manichaean you know), the Templars, crackpots in general, and Charles Fort. NEUROMANCER was the first book I've ever read that induced fetishes; Gibson, as I will touch on in a later blog entry (book review alert!) is the most spectacular poet of surfaces, of materials, of the sensual quality of objects, since Keats, and he's got a great sense of story, too. Philip K. Dick re-triggered my interest in stuff that didn't make it into the Bible and all of his VALIS books, but especially RFA, have haunted me deeply for other reasons, too, especially their suspicious, paranoid qualities (why I like Pynchon and Borges, too).

Pretty much everything Robertson Davies has written has shot up my list, too, but the CORNISH trilogy, being the first I read, will always be my favorite for sentimental reasons.

This list will probably be entirely different tomorrow.

3. Do you have a favorite poem? (Share it!)

Again, can't choose just one; I have a habit of obsessing over insect poems, so it could be Paul Valery's L'ABEILLE (The Bee) "let my body be made warm/by this tiny gold alarm/without which love suffers and dies" or Yeats' LONG LEGGED FLY "like a long legged fly on the stream/his mind moves upon silence" (note: pulling these from memory; I'm at work, my library is at home, get it?).

My single favorite bit of poetry ever is part of a longer poem "Songs Between the Soul and the Bridegroom" by St. John-of-the-Cross, Roy Campbell's translation. Once I even embroidered it, in colored thread, on a pair of jeans:

Diffusing showers of grace,
In haste among these groves his path he took.
And only with his face,
Glancing around the place,
Has clothed them in beauty with a look.

(This stanza quotes a "reply from the creatures" made to a bride [the soul] who is chasing after a missing bridegroom [god]. You don't even have to dig the allegory to enjoy the idea of "clothing them in beauty with a look". Think about what it's like to see a place where a loved one, long missed, has been and what that knowledge does to your own perception of that place. Good stuff)

4. What is one thing you've always wanted to read, or wish you had more time to read?

You know, this is pretty sad for a complete Greek/Roman nut, but I've never read Gibbon's DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. Funny: the book fairy left a Britannica edition of same on my doorstep a few months ago, so maybe I'll get to it soon.

In general, I do not deprive myself of any reading, though. If I want to read something, I read it – even if I have to overturn the heavens and the earth to get my hands on it.

5. What are you currently reading?

Several things (of course). GEEKS AND GEEZERS (a Harvard Business School book that is driving me crazy because I am SO not the target audience for same; I feel most of the time, when I read such things, like what I've actually got in my hands is just a big fat marketing brochure for the book I thought I had bought), William Gibson's PATTERN RECOGNITION (best since NEUROMANCER!), SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS (March is National Novel Editing Month!), Caleb Carr's ANGEL OF DARKNESS, PM, PC Engineer's scintillating Phase I Study of Water Treatment and Delivery Options for the Town of Saratoga, and, for the seventh or eighth big week, the Draft Forest Plan for Medicine Bow National Forest (or what parts of which my dog hasn't wisely torn up yet).

So there. Probably the wordiest Friday Five ever!