Columns

Living with Vitality column: Use yoga to manage your stress

March 4, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This is part three in a five-part series from the Vail Vitality Center at Vail Mountain Lodge. Look for columns on Tuesdays in the Health section of the Vail Daily and learn how to manage stress using a variety of modalities. Visit www.vaildaily.com to read the first two installments.

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Vail Daily column: Breaking down barriers to employment

March 3, 2015 — 

“When I came out of the 7/11, there was this gangster, and I’m talking a thug, not a mafia thug anyway. This dude was just leaning up against the 7/11, just looking pretty mean. He looked like someone you wouldn’t really want to talk to, so that’s what I did. I walked right up to him and said, ‘Could you open my popsicle?’ Took him right out of his comfort zone. He did it, though, and I can assure you, it’s hard to look hard when you’re opening a popsicle. That’s right, (cerebral) palsy, breaking down barriers.” —Comedian Josh Blue, season 1 winner of “Last Comic Standing.”

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Amelia Anderson, and I am the face of the Colorado Mountain Region Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Our agency falls under the Colorado State Department of Human Services and is established in the Office of Community Access and Independence. Our mission at the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is to assist people with disabilities to succeed at work and to live independently. Our clients are comprised of individuals who have a wide range of disabilities ranging from mental illness, learning and cognitive disabilities to mild and moderate physical disabilities. If a condition causes a barrier to finding or retaining employment or living independently, Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation may be able to help. The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation has more than 50 years of experience in helping individuals with disabilities prepare to go to work, and obtain and maintain employment. We provide quality training, support and career placement services. The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is a trusted partner in helping job seekers who are disabled to find meaningful employment. We constantly strive to build and maintain relationships with employers so that our job seekers can compete for employment opportunities and obtain jobs that meet their needs.

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Vail Daily column: What the Constitution says

March 3, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This is the 10th part of a series.

Amendments 6 through 10 round out the Bill of Rights, the first 10 — and some would say, most fundamental — amendments to the United States Constitution.

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Vail Daily column: Greek credit fix boosts stock markets

March 3, 2015 — 

A Feb. 20 agreement between Greece and its creditors — seen variously as a short-term fix or capitulation by that nation’s new leadership — was still enough to send stocks here and across the Atlantic soaring. The Dow gained its first nominal high of the year, the S&P 500 posted its third in the past week, the NASDAQ closed in on 5,000 and Europe’s Stoxx 600 climbed to a seven-year peak.

Going into Feb. 20, the prospects for any agreement seemed slim, as the proposals offered by Greece’s leaders were rebuffed, and they were, in turn, given an ultimatum, which the Greeks all but dismissed. Nonetheless, after the third emergency meeting by the eurozone’s finance ministers in one week, an accord was reached. The four-month plan ensures that Greece will get the last tranche of its €240 billion ($273 billion) bailout to keep it solvent and, in return, Greece on Feb. 23 submitted a proposal detailing the austerity steps it will take to earn that money. However, the agreement states that Greece will “refrain from any rollback of measures” of the terms agreed to by previous governments or “unilateral changes to the policies and structural reforms that would negatively impact fiscal targets, economic recovery or financial stability.”

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Vail Daily column: Financial markets remain volatile

March 3, 2015 — 

Although we saw plenty of positive news about the American economy last week, including an upbeat assessment by the Fed and reports of rising consumer spending and confidence, nerves took hold. This led to a volatile and mostly downward run that closed out the worst month for the S&P 500 and the Dow since January of 2014, as they were off 3.1 and 3.7 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, investors continued to take refuge in bonds, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury falling to 1.68 percent – it began 2015 at 2.17 percent.

On Jan. 27, the Fed had its first meeting of the year and issued what many saw as its most positive assessment since the recession began, noting that “economic activity has been expanding at a solid pace,” while citing, “strong job gains.” Even so, the Fed said that it would remain patient when raising its benchmark rate because of the slow pace of inflation. It’s not expected to raise that rate until its June meeting at the earliest.

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Vail Daily column: What’s your aging plan?

March 2, 2015 — 

This is the second part of a two-part series detailing the importance of establishing an open communication with our aging loved ones.

Last week, I ended Tuesday’s article addressing the importance of having some sort of trust in place to assist with the many facets of end-of-life planning. While a trust may play an important part in developing a comprehensive end-of-life plan for our loved ones and heirs, it is just one of a number of pieces that need to be addressed.

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Vail Daily column: Jobs report slows stocks

March 2, 2015 — 

In a week when stocks soared, it took a glowing jobs report to slow things down. Investors see it as a sign that the Fed might act sooner, as in June, rather than later, as in waiting until September, to start raising its benchmark rate. Even so, both the S&P 500 and the Dow gained 3 percent last week, with the latter posting its biggest weekly gain since January 2013, up 3.8%. However, on Friday, as stocks fell, the yield on Treasuries surged, with the 10-year seeing its largest one-day jump since November 2013.

By almost every account, Friday’s jobs report was one of the most positive in years, not just because of the number of jobs added – 257,000, well above expectations – but also because of higher wages. Average hourly earnings rose 0.5 percent in January and 2.2 percent over the last year, low by historical standards, but comfortably above the current rate of inflation. The household survey rate ticked up to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent, because 700,000 people joined the ranks of job-seekers, a sign of confidence in the economy’s recent revival. In addition, thanks to upward revisions for November and December, the average number of jobs created in the last three months was a robust 336,000, adding up to the best stretch since 1997.

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Vail Daily column: So much for an ‘unlucky’ 13

March 2, 2015 — 

Better-than-expected GDP growth in the Eurozone, a ceasefire in Ukraine and more good news about fourth-quarter earnings added up to push the S&P 500 to its first nominal high of 2015.

The Dow, meanwhile, moved back above 18,000 points and was within striking distance of its record, while the NASDAQ, propelled by earnings from such tech giants as Apple and Amazon, climbed to its highest level in 15 years. The renewed appetite for risk was reflected in safe havens as well, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury moving back above 2 percent as demand tailed off .

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Vail Daily column: Ramunno balances academics, athletics and service

March 1, 2015 — 

“Ain’t it great to be a Devil?” This is Eagle Valley High School senior Mike Ramunno’s mantra.

It may have been influenced by his dedicated high school football coach (and father), but he takes true pride in its reference to the Eagle Valley High School mascot. Ramunno’s athletic frame, laid-back demeanor and smile all invite fellow classmates to follow his lead. As he struts down the hallways in his varsity letterman’s jacket, he doesn’t seem to fit the typical stereotype of an accomplished high school athlete who captains both the football and lacrosse teams. There are many more layers to this young man. The adjectives empathy and compassion come to mind.

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Vail Daily column: A fascination with collaboration

March 1, 2015 — 

Proselytizing the gospel of cooperation and not combat can often be a lonely and seemingly hopeless endeavor. Stacked against my vision of a radically different or nonexistent legal system is the entire lucrative legal industry, not to mention humanity’s penchant for conflict. Yet I remain dedicated to the cause, knowing in my heart and head that it is worthy. Recently, I have been energized in my quest by an epiphany gained from a shift in perspective. Instead of lamenting the entrenchment of an outmoded system for dispute resolution, I celebrate the promise embodied by the new economy. The economic revolution is not merely the province of Silicon Valley startups: Some of the world’s most influential corporations and persons are making the business case for collaboration.

MICROSOFT’S NEW APPROACH

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Vail Daily column: Bird songs bring added dimension to winter landscape

February 28, 2015 — 

There are many beautiful aspects of winter. Some love the blanket of white strewn across the mountains. Others enjoy recreation that celebrates the unique qualities of snow. I think the part I enjoy most is the noise dampening value of snow. To be immersed in silent, white woods is a wondrous thing. As we run into March, however, that silence will be broken by an equally beautiful phenomenon: bird song. Thus far this winter we have been restricted to the guttural caw of the raven, the ratcheting of the magpie and the occasional “chick-a-dee-dee” of the chickadee. Soon the hills will be alive with song as we welcome back our songbirds.

Sweet Sounds from the Syrinx

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Vail Daily column: Why so many opportunities in western part of county?

February 27, 2015 — 

Dear Joan,

I own a second home in Beaver Creek and for the first time I am giving thought to doing a development venture in Eagle County. I have checked with a Realtor and discovered numerous opportunities for sizable developments in the Eagle and Gypsum areas. Why are there so many opportunities for sizable tracts of land in Western Eagle County and how does that fit with what is happening in the resort areas?

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Vail Daily column: Millions are unclaimed by those involved in foreclosures

February 27, 2015 — 

If you were (or still are) a homeowner whose home was in any stage of foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2013, listen up. If your loan was serviced by (meaning you made your payments to) Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Citi Financial or Citi Mortgage, Countrywide, GMC, Everbank, EMC, Goldman Sachs, HFC, HSB, Litton, Met Life, Morgan Stanley, National City, PNC, Saxon Mortgage, Sovereign Bank, SunTrust, US Bank, Wachovia, WAMU, Wells Fargo or Wilshire Credit, then you might have unclaimed cash waiting from a few hundred dollars to $125,000.

During that period, over 4 million homeowners were in some stage of foreclosure with the above mortgage companies. Many were treated unfairly, and while part of the problem was there was no precedent for dealing with such a flood of foreclosures that backlogged the system for months, and in some cases years, there is no question that many people were denied their legal rights to try and keep their homes. The government started a review process to try and right the wrongs that were done, and each homeowner in any stage of foreclosure was invited to send in their story with the promise that if their complaint were justified, then they would be compensated to some degree.

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Indecision and fallen fruit

February 27, 2015 — 

He was middle-aged, Hispanic, with tired eyes and hair speckled with gray.

Ellie and I were returning from a ski trip in the San Juan Mountains and had stopped at a local market to resupply. Ellie shopped while I waited in our camper listening to the radio.

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Vail Daily column: Conservation easements are a powerful tool

February 26, 2015 — 

At Eagle Valley Land Trust, we protect land and water through a tool called a conservation easement. Many of Eagle Valley Land Trust’s conservation easements protect land that is publicly accessible to anyone living in or visiting our community, but Eagle Valley Land Trust also protects land that remains in private ownership. Most often this means only the owner and their invited guests are allowed to access the property. Conservation easements must protect conservation values that are beneficial to the public, not just the individual landowner. What public benefit can there be, if the public is not allowed to access a property Eagle Valley Land Trust conserves? To answer this, we first need to know the reasons why land trusts protect land.

Recreational Activities

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Vail Daily letter: Colorado’s tourism efforts an economic driver

February 26, 2015 — 

Two weeks ago in this space we reviewed Colorado’s “opportunity gap.” As a refresher and for those who missed it, Colorado in 2014 had the second largest “opportunity gap” of any “aspirational destination” in the continental U.S. This means that of the 25 percent of people in 2013 who said they wanted to visit Colorado, only 9 percent actually visited. A Strategic Marketing & Research Inc. analysis provides an outline to Colorado’s Legislature showing that an increase of $10.7 million to the state tourism office budget would result in $1.2 billion in incremental spending from new visitors.

Investing in tourism from a state level will help our state reach our goal to become one of the top destinations for domestic and international travelers. Research shows we’re already a top aspirational destination and that people want to visit here, yet the statistics also show that we’re only reaching a fraction of our possible audience with our limited marketing budget.

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Vail Daily column: Sonnenalp Club shares exciting vision for families

February 25, 2015 — 

This is an exciting year for all of us in the Vail community. While we all realize the importance of the winter season, it is gratifying to see the emergence of more summer activities, the valleywide marketing effort and the multitude of special events which all factor into making Vail a true destination for all seasons and a viable community in which businesses and families can thrive.

We at the Sonnenalp have taken the past year to develop a new vision for our club in Edwards. As we prepare for the future, I am excited to share with you some news regarding enhancements to the Sonnenalp Club and our vision for the club’s future.

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Vail Daily column: Learning the value of 51

February 24, 2015 — 

Years ago, I heard someone say that leadership is about helping people achieve things they would not accomplish on their own. At Think2Perform, we provide leadership and support to individuals and organizations to help tap potential, achieve record-setting performance and reach heights they may not attain without some extra help.

Very often, the path to achieving peak performance begins with leaders changing their behavior. While we know that managing behavior begins with self-awareness, the problem for many is a lack of self-awareness. We simply just don’t pay enough attention to our thoughts, feelings, actions and behavior. While lack of self-awareness has implications for us individually, when you’re a leader, the impact of not paying attention to our behavior grows exponentially as the effects reach those who look to you for leadership. Building on the underlying principle that influence of others, or effective leadership, is a function of the leader managing their own behavior, we use the leader’s actions as the roadmap in our work to optimize overall results.

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Living with Vitality column: Healthy stress versus chronic, unhealthy stress

February 23, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This is part two in a five-part series from the Vail Vitality Center at Vail Mountain Lodge. Look for columns on Tuesdays in the Health section of the Vail Daily and learn how to manage stress using a variety of modalities.

Everyone feels emotional stress in their daily lives. In our first column of this five-part series on managing stress, the Vail Vitality Center’s Ben Stone addressed some of the physical effects of stress on the body, including cortisol, glucose regulation, weight gain and thyroid function. In this column, I will suggest ways to combat stress by working with a personal trainer or coach.

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Vail Daily column: Failures of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

February 20, 2015 — 

One of the early stated goals of the Dodd Frank Act was to create an all powerful, all knowing quasi government agency to protect consumers from the evil clutches of big banks. They called it by a very innocuous (and civic-minded sounding) name of the “Consumer Finance Protection Bureau” (aka the CFPB).

While that sounds like a group that would lead the charge against widows and orphans being overcharged (and they might do that) the reality is the old adage that those who do something well do it, and those who have not a clue what they speak of regulate it.

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Vail Daily column: Luxury bargains?

February 20, 2015 — 

Dear Joan,

I am afraid my husband is going to buy a luxury second home for us here in the Vail Valley​. I do love to visit here, and so do our children, it is just that I am the practical one in our family, and I fear it is a poor investment. We can afford it, but there are so many other places we could spend that much money and get a return on our investment that I feel frivolous spending it here. I know that it is your job to sell buyers the most expensive homes you can, but don’t you think I have a valid point?

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Vail Daily column: World Champs were a rousing success

February 19, 2015 — 

The local economies of many resort-oriented towns across the country rely on special events and festivals to help drive visitation, tourism dollars and sales tax revenues. This isn’t unique to the Vail Valley or to Colorado; it’s true across the country. Special events are big business, which benefit small businesses within resort communities.

Our community knows events. Special events are a key component of our brand, and we do events well; from statewide events such as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to local events such as the GoPro Mountain Games and Bravo! Vail Music Festival, events are a significant economic driver for our business community.

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Vail Daily column: Look through this ‘LENS’ when making Social Security decisions

February 19, 2015 — 

Your Social Security benefits can be an important part of your retirement income strategy. But when should you start taking these payments?

You can begin accepting Social Security as early as 62, but your monthly checks will be much smaller than if you wait until your “full retirement age,” which will likely be between 66 or 67.

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Vail Daily column: Follow these tips to respect the trails

February 19, 2015 — 

As winter draws in and the snowpack gets deeper, it seems the array of toys we can play with and transportation methods we can use only increase. This time of year, trail users range from fat bikes to skinny skis, snowshoes to hiking boots, and everything in between. We are lucky here in the Vail Valley, where we have an abundance of trail networks and open spaces that allow so many different users to enjoy the same area.

With that in mind, the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association would like to encourage a few winter tips to keep our treasured trails in good condition.

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Vail Daily column: What did you say?

February 18, 2015 — 

Have you ever found yourself so distracted during a conversation that you had to ask the other person, “What did you say?”

And maybe it’s not even the fact that you were distracted, maybe the other person was just talking too slow or too fast for you to comprehend what they had said, so again you ask, “What did you say?”

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Vail Daily column: What the Constitution says

February 17, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This is the eighth part of a series.

So much controversy, debate and, yes — anger — has the Second Amendment stirred over the two and a quarter centuries since its adoption, it deserves a little historical context. Adopted by the states in 1791, the Second Amendment provides, in its entirety that “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

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Vail Daily column: What’s your ‘aging plan’?

February 16, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series detailing the importance of establishing open communication with our aging loved ones.

I am almost 50 years old. My father passed away many years ago and my mother is in her mid-70s. Speaking to loved ones about a plan for their later years is something I have done personally and something I happily share with friends and clients.

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Your Inner Athlete column: Find your ‘flow’

February 16, 2015 — 

You’ve most likely heard people talk about the runner’s high or being in the zone. Sport psychologists call it “flow,” but it all means the same thing: It’s the moment in time when you both feel and perform your absolute best.

On average, people can easily access about 65 percent of their absolute strength. With flow, five neurotransmitters are released into your body, creating the opportunity to push your strength to its absolute threshold. In this state, you’ll jump higher, lift more, reach farther and persist longer — all while loving every minute of it!

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Vail Daily column: How best to help?

February 15, 2015 — 

A Gallup poll taken the day after Barack Obama secured the presidency in 2008 indicated 70 percent of Americans believed race relations would improve under the new administration (you can count me among those 70 percent). But today, fewer than 18 percent of Americans believe race relations have improved regardless of the president’s exhortations to the contrary.

It’s unfair to link the state of race relations to the president, but the string of racially dividing comments he’s made since taking office hasn’t helped. Early in his presidency, Mr. Obama accused police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, of acting “stupidly” for arresting a prominent black Harvard professor (this before he knew the facts), a comment that encouraged racial hostilities. Likewise, comments such as “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon,” have served only to exacerbate racial tensions.

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Vail Daily column: Make peace with your fear

February 15, 2015 — 

As the valley comes down from the two-week adrenaline rush engendered by the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and the attendant crush of concerts and other events, we are left with many lasting impressions. For me, the most poignant images are the downhillers rocketing down the treacherously icy Birds of Prey/Raptor courses. Presumably human, these athletes must experience fear, but to see them pitch themselves headlong down a steep slope, it is hard to reconcile their apprehension with their action. Rather than crippling a racer, fear fuels. In their feats we see our own possibilities and an example emerges: Never let your fear prevent you from chasing what is in your heart.

FEAR AS A WEAPON

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