Friday, August 29, 2003


I had almost forgotten!

Just a scant hour ago at Fort Sherrod, My Own Dear Personal Dad and I were pinching ourselves, asking in wonder when was the last time we left Saratoga's Robert Hileman field after a Saratoga High School football game with actual by-god smiles on our actual by-god faces.

We concluded that at the very least it was back when Robert Hileman was coaching, which means, back when I could reckon my age on two hands, no recourse to toes or hairs on my head, etc.

Not only did our Panthers win, but they won gloriously, honorably, by playing four full quarters of tough, smart football. After years and years of watching our boys completely fall apart in the second half, no matter how commanding a lead they might occasionally have run up in the first, this is truly refreshing.

Starting QB Joe Pederson's arm has developed nicely since our days of slightly wincing as we watched him overestimate his throwing distance in middle school; he made at least one truly gorgeous pass to Dallas Fields that would have made any highlight reel.

Speaking of Joe and Dallas, both had fantastic interceptions today, with Joe's coming just at the tail end of the fourth quarter for a fabulous finish to the season opener against Lyman.

Even the tackling was good, MODPD, a former volunteer defensive line coach, agreed. And he hasn't complimented the tackling since, well, either Hileman's or the late Wally Walker's days.

I've been watching this particular band of kids playing football together for five years now, having started out as the reporter/photographer on the sidelines with them at what was for most of them their very first game (personal acquaintances of mine know that as the day one youngster who will remain nameless came running off the field after his first down ever bellowing to the coach, his teammates, his reporter, and, alas, his mortified mother, that "That guy was humping my leg!!!). They were undefeated for two straight seasons in middle school, largely because then coach Vance Peterson worked their tails off in practice and they simply outlasted even the giant bull moose fielded by Laramie and Rawlins.

And new head coach Lee Wisroth and his two assistants seem to have torn a page from Vance's book with them in high school. Bravo!

It's a long, long bus ride back to Lyman for the Wildcats tonight, shut out 13-0 for their first game.

Usually that's the story we've told about the Panthers.

Change is good.

Bill Clinton is narrating a "wolf-friendly" version of PETER AND THE WOLF

From the article (for those of you too lazy to click on the link):

Prokofiev's version ends with Peter capturing the wolf and leading a triumphant procession to the zoo, paining music-loving environmentalists with romantic visions of wolves in the wild.

In the new version, narrated by former U.S. president Clinton and called Wolf Tracks, Peter again captures the wolf, but this time repents of his act and releases the animal, who howls a grateful goodbye.

"Forgetting his triumph, Peter thought instead of fallen trees, parched meadows, choked streams, and of each and every wolf struggling for survival," Clinton narrates.

"The time has come to leave wolves in peace," he adds.

Do you folks realize how damaging this is? Questions of faithfulness to the artist's original visions aside, this idiotic reworking of a classic (that is admittedly near and dear to my heart; my very first performing arts event, which I attended at the age of three and where I met my childhood sweetheart for the very first time, was a ballet of PATW) has profoundly annoying and disturbing implications.

First of all, it further distorts the already distorted image that modern man has of what wolves are really like. We're already choked with paintings and drawings of "beautiful, majestic wolves" done by Rousseauist romantic rubes who always seem to manage to make these vicious predators look like big grey versions of the family dog... which leads to lots of visitors to wild places believing that's what they are and running the risk of getting hurt... and also to a lot of idiots on the coasts and in big heartland cities siding with "those poor, pretty wolves" against humans defending themselves, their livestock and their pets.

Wolves are so often the bad guys in fairy tales and it's just not fair to them, these softheaded idiots already maintain. As though there are some wolves somewhere whose feelings are hurt every time a daddy scares a kid with "I'll huff and I'll puff..."? By the way, who gives a shit about being "fair" to them, even if their feelings are hurt? Do you think they care about our feelings? No, they act according to their natures. They are predatory pack animals, who prey on the weak and the sick and the small, and do it in nasty, bloody ways, not sporting at all. They'll wound an already ailing animal and then follow it for miles as it staggers until it collapses, then they gang up and chow down. It's what they do.

Look, wolves are not the bad guys in stories because some mean old storyteller of yore was picking on them. They were bad guys in real life first, and so inspired these stories.

But I am, I know, fighting a losing battle here. I might as well sit back, munch some popcorn, and wait around for the new "Devil-friendly" version of Gounod's Faust, in which Mephistopholes jovially presides over Faust's marriage to Marguerite.

(oh, and by the way – even changing the ending of PATW's text is never really going to work to "improve" the Wolf's image in the piece unless something is done about those powerful, menacing horns – which, if anyone ever does that, I guaran-damn-tee that I and the rest of my ex-trombone-playing posse also known as the Propeller Beanie Tenor Section will pack up and bring the perpetrator down in a way that would be the only way to actually make a wolf look merciful, noble and beautiful)

Hey, I didn't think it was possible, either.

Well, that's not entirely true. I've never thought about it at all, really. And I bet none of you have, either.

Unless you're far stranger than I, I bet you've never, ever asked yourself, your dog, or your Indian Companion, hey, do you think it's possible to get jet lag without actually leaving home?

Uh huh, I thought not.

I am, however, here to tell you that in fact, it is.

To achieve it, you just need to become a freelance writer in the Mountain Time Zone, a few of whose sources are here, yes, but most of them are actually over in Central, with a scattering of those in Eastern and Pacific. No one in Newfie yet, but there's always next month.

So, for instance, right where I am sitting now, it is 11:50 a.m., MDT, and I am waiting for several sources, for several different articles (adding to the fun) for several different publications (adding more to the fun), to either call me back or just freakin' well be there when I call them back.

OK, I have to think for a minute now. The guys at Anadarko Petroleum's headquarters in Oklahoma are still away at lunch, right? But the guys at Williams Companies, also in Oklahoma, are in (but busy) right now because they lunch at 1 p.m. instead of noon. I'm also waiting to talk to a few people right here in the valley, but I can no longer remember or judge from the hurried notes I left myself when exactly I'm supposed to call.

I don't whether person A is lunching at noon or 1 p.m., whether I promised person B's secretary I'd call at 11 my time or his time.

Of course, none of this would be necessary if people behaved properly and anticipated exactly when I, more or less a complete stranger, am going to call them with impertinent questions and were at their desks at the (not) appointed hour. But no. Time and time again, I find myself entangled in about twelve games of phone tag a day.

Eventually, thank bog, it all sorts itself out, usually just in time for me to sit down and bash out the article(s) within a half hour of deadline. But still, a girl can dream.

On the other hand, as My Own Dear Personal Dad says of so many things, it beats working for a living.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Oh, and it was great fun sitting next to Ambassador Tom Strook and quietly heckling the EOR panel as we waited for their standard issue crappy Dell laptop to finally get itself sorted, boot up (giggle, snort) Windows ME and interface with the overhead projector. Strook and I pointed out, for instance, that had the boys not been so very committed to being high tech and had just brought in a good old flip chart and pen, they could have done their presentation twice in the time it took for their Dell to boot up.

And Pete Illoway made lots of jokes about said laptop having the SoBig virus.

And Rep. Tom Walsh, who has exquisite taste in computer hardware, and knows that Sobig and other crap can't touch a Mac, kept pointing at the sticker on My Own Dear Personal Laptop* and giving it the thumbs up and pointing it out to his colleagues.

It's not every day I get to be a Luddite and a techsnob at the exact same moment in time.

*Which proclaims, emphatically and succinctly "My Macintosh Rules"

Saw this over on Reason magazine's website.

Q: How many bloggers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Two -- one to change it while the other apologizes for the recent lack of illumination and explains that they've been really busy lately.

Not that I feel any real need to apologize, since I've known for years now that there's no one to whom to apologize. I know you're all just figments of my sick, egotistical, narcissistic imagination.

But even if you were real, O you imaginary readers, still I would feel no need to apologize. I really have been busy.

So busy I haven't even made it to coffee this week!

No, really!

Take today. No, take last night. Last night was when it got interesting. My editor at the Rocky Mountain Energy Reporter asked me pretty please, with sugar on top and a mileage check and a little something for my time plus my usual freelance fee(s), to go to the quarterly meeting of the Wyoming State Legislature's Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee today.

First segment relevant to my assignment would start at 8:05 a.m., sharp.

My own personal immediate economic outlook being what it was, I said, hell yeah. Might even be fun.

And it sort of was.

(Here's where my extra special imaginary friends, the Sewer King and the Rock Star, start yelling "Jesus, Kate, you really do need to get a life" at their imaginary computer screens)

First on the menu was a report from the committee making recommendations on streamlining/fixing the permitting process for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Lots of sob stories about how one heroic DEQ man has to monitor 10,000 coal bed natural gas wells and 4000 outfalls in the Powder River Basin, with an antequated and tiny lab in which to do is analytical work and gee, it's only going to get worse, because there are going to be ever so many more wells soon and maybe oughtn't we add a few staffers and buy some new testing equipment so the permit holders get the results from their compliance visit back sometime before the election returns for the first superevolved hyperintelligent pan-dimensional galaxy spanning slime mold President of the United States of America, Mars and Pluto come in?

Oh, I think I forgot to mention that, true to form, I completely failed to sleep last night because I had a road trip in the offing. Does that happen to anyone else, imaginary or real? You have to get up a few hours before your usual rise'n'shine time and you get obsessed with it, what if your alarm doesn't go off, what if you sleep through it, what if you accidentally bumped it in the night and switched the AM to PM oh hell, there goes another night's sleep worrying and oops, there's the sun, time to shower, warpaintify, gas up the car and get on the road.

Sleep deprivation. Cheaper even than wine.

But anyway, I'm digressing, because the real important thing is, the real important thing is...

Looks like the Committee members are pretty ticked at dear ol' GovDave. And I cannot, in all honesty, pretend that I don't see why that's so.

See, Dave made good this spring on some warnings he had issued regarding a little "administrative layer" created by his predecessor called the Wyoming Energy Commission. He'd been complaining about this organization ever since he announced his candidacy for governor last year. It was a waste of taxpayer money (especially the big salaries reportedly paid to commissioners). It duplicated the functions of the Wyoming Business Council's energy committee. Energy policy should actually be the governor's responsibility to set. Oh, and he wasn't sure how legal it was that it had six sitting legislators on it.

So, he basically got rid of it. It's not officially disbanded or discontinued, but since GovDave is the chair, all he has to do to more or less permanently idle it is not call any more meetings until its statutory sunset date of 2005.

That was April, or so.

Today, after a full day of plodding through the aforementioned NPDES stuff, a report on wage disparities that you heard about on Wyoming Public Radio, a report on how subsidizing ticket prices from ten Wyoming airports might induce more people to take commercial flights that originate here instead of driving to hubs like Denver or Salt Lake (but really, even if the ticket's cheap, I for one probably still would make the drive. Connections from Wyoming-originating puddle jumpers to the big carriers in real airports never, ever work, no matter how great a spinter you are. Trust me on this one. Oh wait, I forgot. You're not real)(coincidentally, that's usually what I say to the slappably patient desk ladies in Denver when I've missed a connection again because the flight outta Laramie was an hour late. I say it over and over again in the hopes that it might turn out to be true. So far, not much of a track record on this) that ran into the lunch hour, stopped momentarily, then reassembled just on the other side of lunch hour like a horror movie creature from the atomic age (Aeromoeba!), one of those nauseating reports by a state agency that shall remain nameless that consisted entirely of agency bureaucrats telling the Committee how great other agency bureaucrats are to work with and how lucky the whole damn state is that said bureaucrats have graced us with their greatness, and the Shortest Electrical Transmission Planning Briefing Maybe Ever (tm)... came...

Wait for it...

Enhanced Oil Recovery, which, like so much in energy development, is actually a lot more interesting than it sounds and, if Ambassador Strook and his crew don't lie, a potential financial bonanza for the state of Wyoming for the next ten years if we play it right.

I'm not going to load you down with details on what EOR is, exactly. Read my article next month in the Energy-Reporter. Playing it right is going to be tricky, let's just say.

Which brings us back, after a fashion, to the late, great, Wyoming Energy Commission.

After a fashion.

In my years as a redheaded stepchild of the fourth estate, I've seen legislators do a lot of things. Yawn. Roll their eyes. Fillibuster. Make origami voodoo dolls of members of the Woody family to burn later.

After GovDave's energy policy advisor, Steve Waddington, announced one of Dave's ideas for pouncing on this EOR thing, though, I braced myself for a new sight, the greatest of all, but alas one that only presented in my mind's eye.

Namely, all 13 of the Committee members present slapping their foreheads in unison.

Cuz the bit Waddington brought up that kept them all muttering, stuttering, and coming up with inventive new ways to get digs in at the mercifully absent governor sounded, well, a lot like the old Wyoming Energy Commission.

It even had two legislators, one from each house.

Difference was, it was only going to be about EOR.

Oh, no it wasn't.

Oh, yes it was.

Oh, no it wasn't.

Rep. Pete Illoway pointed out that Dave's the governor, and energy policy belongs with the governor, so he doesn't need Committee approval or participation to create his EOR glee club.

OK, Pete didn't call it a glee club. But he might have done, if he had thought of it instead of me.

Jayne Mockler and Hank Coe (Coe was on the Commission, at one point, as were Committee members Pat Childers and Dave Miller) snorted at the notion of this task force/sewing circle/cabal having legislators on it (Coe eventually made the motion to go ahead and start some kind of commission/board/cell group with the stipulation that it not include any legislators - and the motion passed unanimously).

Dave Miller said something along the lines of, hell, he's the chairman of the Energy Commission and it's mostly the same set of people we got right here, why doesn't he just reassemble that committee and get to work?

But the QOTD (Quote of the Day) award goes to Childers, the Republican House member from Cody, who said, as this came up: "If he [GovDave] is ready to bring a knife and a fork to the table, I'll feed him some crow."


I don't think our governor – who, let me be perfectly clear, I still totally support, and I agree with him completely on the WEC thing, incidentally – is going to live this down for a while.

Let's all hope they kiss and make up soon.

Monday, August 25, 2003


Regardless of the ultimate fate of the newest/oldest business venture in Encampment, I have to publicly express my gratitude to the guys making it go.

I just toddled down to 44 Lumber & Timber, formerly the Hammer Sawmill, down there to take pictures and gather quotable quotes for an article I'm doing, and had to stop several times on my way down there to gawk and marvel at how...

...It's absolutely wonderful to come over the crest of that last hill on 230 and see a huge plume of smoke... and not worry that it's a forest fire...

...Loud and mechanical noises, while no longer a part of my own dear personal nighttime soundscape the way they were before this January, are actually deeply comforting...

...Sawdust and woodsmoke are two of the nices smells one can suck into her nose. Why don't any companies that make scented candles ever take a stab at synthesizing these somehow? Oh yeah, they're all Yankee/Boulder types. Wouldn't be very PC....

It was also a lot of fun to be around some people who have been told all over the place that they have pretty much zero chance of succeeding and are determined to pull it off anyway. Maybe they will, maybe they won't, but I admire their will to try their best.

They've pulled it off so far.

And Encampment smells like home again.

Too bad home doesn't.

Sunday, August 24, 2003


I'm wondering if maybe a disproportionate number of my readers out there have not been keeping up with their antivirus software?

I just checked my yahoo email address to which this page links where it says "Email me, dammit!" and there were over 200 messages that were obviously versions of the SoBig virus, at least judging from the subject lines, which included all of the classics... Wicked Screensaver, That movie, Thank You... all with attachments, of course.

So to all of you out there in LIANTland who found themselves infected, my condolences.

Just another reason to make the switch to Macs.

No one writes viruses for Macintosh.