Columns

Vail Daily column: The right words at the right time

June 29, 2016 — 

There are so many people who enjoy a good crossword puzzle, word search puzzle or unscrambling a word jumble. There are many folks who love a good play on words, an anagram, a pun or a great riddle. These word games and puzzles help keep our minds sharp and our creativity flowing.

As we know, words are extremely powerful. They can be powerfully positive and energizing or they can be powerfully destructive and hurtful. Words can be factual to help transfer knowledge and information or they can be used to mislead or manipulate situations and people.

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Vail Daily column: Can the GOP dump Trump?

June 28, 2016 — 

I was deliberate in how I phrased the title of this column; “can” the GOP Dump Trump, rather than “could” it, “would” it, or “will” it dump him? As Bill Clinton once famously observed, “words matter.” What I’m trying to get at here is not the likelihood that the GOP will line up behind a candidate other than the bombastic Donald Trump but, instead, if it did so, would it be permitted? Can it, not will, it dump the Trumpster?

If you haven’t yet heard, the Dumpster Drivers are after it again. Certain elements of the GOP — apparently dozens of the Cleveland delegates among them — are rallying forces to bypass Trump at the convention. Presumably, the Brexit chaos will turbocharge them all the more. And Trump — not unusually for him — either misinformed, confused or simply bloviating. Recently, he was quoted as saying that if the GOP dropped him at the convention, it would be “illegal.”

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Vail Daily column: Don't wait until the last minute to plan for retirement

June 27, 2016 — 

I recently read an article in Forbes that piqued my attention. The article was about long-term care insurance. While I have written about this before, I was rather shocked by the new information.

According to the most recent Genworth Annual Cost of Care Study (Genworth is one of the largest providers of long-term care insurance), “Nearly a third of Americans (30 percent) believe home health care expenses are under $417 a month.” Nationally, Genworth estimates the monthly cost to be $3,861 — that’s about nine times more than most people guesstimated.

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Vail Daily column: Journey into the wild American West

June 26, 2016 — 

Dig your hands into the dirt. Feel it between your fingers. Wash it away in the cool stream nearby. Relax. Play. When was the last time you did that? What favorite place was that ... and does it still exist?

Eagle Valley Land Trust is hosting several experiential journeys this summer that will change the way you perceive our distinctly Western landscape. Over 7,600 acres of pristine habitat, important recreational access, and scenic agricultural land in our community, some of your favorite places, have been permanently conserved by the Land Trust for the benefit of people like you.

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Vail Daily column: New summer momentum a boon for businesses

June 26, 2016 — 

There is always excitement as the weather warms up in the mountains. Snow is dwindling on mountain passes, trails are clear, campsites have dried out and the rivers are running strong. Summertime in the Rockies is in full swing. With the activation of Vail Mountain’s Epic Discovery during the past week, this summer promises even more excitement in Vail. Guests can now experience a half day canopy tour or on mountain coaster as well as ziplines, adventure courses and hiking and biking trails. There are more great summer activities in Vail than ever before, and there are more interesting summer activities here in Vail than in nearly any other mountain resort community.

The real excitement for those of us that live in the Vail Valley however lies in the optimism for what summer activity development could mean for our local businesses and community. Additional summer visits mean more meals served in our restaurants, more hotel rooms booked, more retail items sold, and most importantly, more wages and tips in our local workforce’s pocket. Summer has been picking up momentum during the past several years, and the shoulder season seems a bit shorter each year, but Epic Discovery may hopefully tip the scales.

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Vail Daily column: Bees, flowers benefit from symbiotic relationship

June 25, 2016 — 

Hiking a trail that meanders through the brilliant reds, yellows, purples and oranges of emerging wildflowers, I feel a sense of wonder and awe. As I stop to enjoy the beauty of these blossoms, I hear the sound of a small bee buzzing by my ear. “Stay cool. Stay still. Stay calm,” I tell myself, but I feel that sense of wonder and awe fade into fear of being stung. Although I try to stay calm, I move away quickly. Honing in on my potential enemy, I see that it has landed on the very flower I was observing, and I can see clumps of yellow pollen on the bee’s hind legs. I recall that bees are not merely flying insects with stingers; they play a crucial role in the ecosystem and are incredibly important pollinators that are likely the cause of these beautiful blooms I enjoy each summer. My fear finally dissipates and the wonder and awe returns as I contemplate how interconnected everything in the natural world truly is. John Muir said, “When we try to pick anything out by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

The symbiotic relationship between bees and flowers is a perfect example of Muir’s interconnectedness. Both evolved during the Cretaceous Period of the Mesozoic Era (the era more commonly known for the rise and fall of the dinosaurs) and still rely heavily on one another to thrive and survive. Since the Cretaceous Period, at least 19,500 identified bee species have evolved worldwide, and 3,500 of them can be found in the United States. Colorado is home to 946 known bee species, which makes it the fifth state with the most diverse bee species population, behind California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.

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Vail Daily column: Technology helps buyers, sellers

June 24, 2016 — 

Dear Joan,

I used to sell real estate, many years ago, actually before computers. We are now selling a home that we have listed with a wonderful Realtor who knows all of today’s technology. I am flabbergasted with what all she does. My question is, does technology actually help get a home sold quicker and easier, or is it simply something that is very popular and keeps Realtors from having to talk to each other and the clients? I am entering into the electronics age with my grandchildren and it is great fun, but I would much rather talk to them than text. I would love to hear what you have to say. Thanks.

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Vail Daily column: The Brexit vote could impact local homeowners

June 24, 2016 — 

As my regular readers know, world events impact local homeowners and home buyers, and the vote in the United Kingdom this week to exit the European Union is a huge event to the world economy. This event, known as the Brexit,is pretty huge news.

For those who have better things to do with their day — such as enjoying our great summer weather outdoors — than follow global politics, here’s the short version. The Europe Economic Union is an agreement amongst European nations to have free trade, open borders and a common currency — the Euro. British citizens voted on Thursday to end their membership in the European Union.

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Vail Daily column: Is your business ready for new overtime regulations?

June 23, 2016 — 

Get ready, local businesses. The Department of Labor has revised the definition of exempt employees, which is likely to impact many businesses across industry sectors. Small businesses with a high number of hourly and seasonal employees, nonprofits and retail, restaurant and manufacturing industries will be most affected.

A bit of background: Last July, the Department of Labor proposed a dramatic change to the regulations that determine whether a white collar employee — executive, administrative, or professional — is eligible to be paid overtime for any hours worked beyond 40 per week. Currently, if these employees are performing the primary duties of their classification and paid a salary more than $23,660 annually ($455 per week), they are classified as exempt from being paid overtime. The new proposal would increase that salary to $50,440 annually ($970 per week), and increase it annually. For more information, local businesses can view an informational webinar from the U.S. Chamber by visiting http://bit.ly/1S31IrA.

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Vail Daily column: Gen X'ers must juggle money, time

June 23, 2016 — 

If you’re an older member of Generation X — if you were born in the early- to mid-1960s — then you may have a lot of balls in the air.

You are saving for your own retirement — which might not be far away — while at the same time possibly wanting to help pay for your children’s college education. And you may also be assisting your aging parents in some ways.

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Vail Daily column: Putting an end to myths

June 22, 2016 — 

“You can cure yourself of HIV if you drink a bottle of Coca-Cola.” “Our community has healers who can cure you if you have sex with them.” These were a few of the horrific misinformed statements I heard from youth when I was working with an African nongovernmental organization in Tanzania in 2005. I returned to Eagle County shocked and determined. I was determined to raise awareness in my community about my experience with the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Equally as important, I wanted to play a role in making sure our local youth had access to correct information surrounding sexuality, pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, and access to resources for their prevention needs. Fortunately, for our community and my intentions to support youth in our community and raise awareness surrounding HIV/AIDS, I connected with Red Ribbon Project.

Red Ribbon Project is a small but extremely impactful nonprofit organization that began in 1996 to bring awareness and education to Eagle County in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In the early years, much of Red Ribbon Project’s work revolved around education and awareness regarding HIV/AIDS. In recent years, the programming has focused to highlight attitudes and skill building as vehicles for successful prevention efforts. The Red Ribbon Project’s programs have a sharp focus that ensures all youth receive comprehensive, developmentally appropriate, evidence-based, sexual health education designed for all cultures, ages and genders.

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Vail Daily column: Duty before self

June 21, 2016 — 

Country before self.

Even in this supercharged season of angry politics, it’s a concept we all understand.

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The work ahead

June 21, 2016 — 

This column has corrected a previous editing error that confused Eagle Valley High School and Eagle Valley Elementary School.

This past week, the Board of Education heard a briefing from polling and election consultants about the viability of a pair of tax proposals for Eagle County Schools that the board is considering. The results were encouraging, and seemed to show strong positive support and a pathway to additional resources for our local schools in November.

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Vail Daily column: Alzheimer's and supplements

June 20, 2016 — 

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part column on Alzheimer’s disease.

I would like to preface the following information by stating that supplements will not cure or keep Alzheimer’s disease from occurring. However, they may assist in mitigating the development of the disease.

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Vail Daily column: The balancing act of life

June 20, 2016 — 

With her poised Vriksasana and a beacon of a smile, she is the picture of literal and figurative balance. Each inward breath has its corresponding exhale; each negative thought is replaced with a positive spin on the situation. She charges the molecules around her and derives energy from her surroundings. More so than material wealth or the fleeting esteem of the public, her equanimity is the emblem of her life’s success. She is an inspiration.

Few are so composed. Many struggle simply to accomplish the most basic of tasks, pulled in a plethora of directions. The push to earn money to support one’s life can be an all-consuming endeavor, particularly as the price of living in our community grows ever higher. With precious few hours left in the day, it is nigh impossible to counterweight the burdens daily placed on one’s shoulders. As the years mount, those stresses bend the body and/or mind until one or both topples over from exhaustion.

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Vail Daily column: In light of the summer solstice

June 19, 2016 — 

Grilling out with friends and family, playing competitive yard games until late in the evening, hiking or walking the dog after work and finishing the day with a breathtaking sunset. These are merely a few of the moments we treasure on these long summer nights. Monday marks the longest day of the year, the summer solstice.

Here in the northern hemisphere, this year’s summer solstice lands on Monday; however, due to the structure of the calendar, it can appear on the June 20, 21, or, rarely, June 22. Most of us already know that it is the longest day of the year, but do we really understand why the day is so long or how culturally significant the solstice has been throughout history? In light of this year’s summer solstice, let’s take a short science and history lesson on the matter.

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Vail Daily column: Do contracts include appliances?

June 17, 2016 — 

​​Dear Joan:

I think my spouse and I have purchased and sold 10 homes in the past 30 years. I know that does not make me an expert, but I am very concerned with the latest contract to purchase we had written here in Colorado. Our Realtor said that with the new contracts, they no longer have to write down all the appliances, curtains and other items we always have included in our contracts. He pointed out that the new contracts already include them and it would be redundant to write it in. I want to insist that he write in the items that I am concerned with and my spouse says I am being ridiculous. I would very much like your opinion on the matter. Thank you.

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Vail Daily column: Disputing your credit report can create other disputes

June 17, 2016 — 

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers have a series of rights when disputing information on their credit reports. This includes asking the three major credit bureaus to investigate information reported by a creditor or collection agency that the consumer disagrees with.

There are several levels these disputes can extend. The most common is that the consumer will dispute a late payment or balance owed and the credit bureaus will make an inquiry to verify the information is correct. If it is not correct, then the report is updated to reflect that and that’s generally the end of the matter.

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Inform family of plans

June 16, 2016 — 

You might work diligently at building a financial roadmap for your retirement years and a comprehensive estate plan. But you can’t just create these strategies by yourself— you also have to communicate them.

Specifically, you need to inform your spouse and your grown children what you have in mind for the future — because the more they know, the fewer the surprises that await them down the road.

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Vail Daily column: Indian wars: Ouray to Obama

June 16, 2016 — 

Ouray sighted his rifle on the Ute horseman approaching his camp south of Montrose. He knew the intruder was sent to kill him.

Chief Ouray was an unusual man; intelligent, multi-cultural, pragmatic, diplomatic, and quick to kill.

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Vail Daily column: If it's to be, it's up to me

June 15, 2016 — 

Throughout the Memorial Day weekend, as I was visiting family and friends in Montauk, New York, we stopped by the local grocery store to pick up some things for the weekend picnic and barbecue. It was a perfect beach day, the weather was phenomenal and the morning sun was already melting away the remnants of spring.

As expected, the grocery store was packed with other people who had made the trek out to the eastern tip of Long Island for the weekend. As we maneuvered through the mayhem and crowd while steering our cart and avoiding other shoppers, children and display cases, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between a bread vendor and a local regular customer.

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Vail Daily column: Law is elemental

June 14, 2016 — 

In another life, I was in the sciences. I studied genetics, human physiology, and, for a short time, medicine. A thread that ran between them is—and remains—the chemistry of life.

All of our biology — from the way we each metabolize the air we breathe to our digestion, to the thoughts that rip through our brains like internal strikes of lightening — is based on chemistry. And what is most elemental to chemistry are the elements themselves; from hydrogen, through vanadium, xenon and gold, to Lawrencium. The 118 natural elements constitute the very matter of our being.

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Vail Daily column: Education is first step in prevention, understanding

June 12, 2016 — 

The stigma surrounding the AIDS epidemic is profound. Globally, there are 5 million young people living with HIV. The vast majority of HIV-positive youth live in parts of the world where educational and health resources are scarce. For instance, the percentage of young people living with HIV in parts of sub-Saharan Africa are at a staggering 71 percent. According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, the needs of young people living with HIV or AIDS are “underestimated and largely unmet.” Countries with the highest numbers of young people living with HIV are also among the world’s neediest countries. Young people, globally, are underserved.

Stigma contributes to epidemic

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Vail Daily column: The marmot life: Lazy summers and sleepy winters

June 11, 2016 — 

How would you like to eat and sunbathe all day during the summer and then sleep through the cold winter months? The yellow-bellied marmot of the high regions of Colorado and the West do just that. At up to 2 feet long and weighing 15 pounds, they are the biggest of the squirrel family and live at high elevation between 6,500 feet and 13,500 feet.

Yellow-bellied marmots are very social creatures. One male marmot protects a colony of up to two dozen marmots, with multiple female breeding partners. Females generally give birth to one litter of three to eight young each year and the colony raises the young jointly. Only about half of the litter live to be yearlings. The young stay with their mother throughout the first summer, and occasionally hibernate with her.

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A lot happens between a contract and closing

June 10, 2016 — 

Dear Joan: We finally have our house under contract and the buyers have delivered the earnest money to the title company. I am so excited that we are going to finally move. Do I have much else to worry about? The buyers are a nice couple who are locals who own their own business. They are very nice and seem ​as excited​ as I am about buy​ing​ our home. My Realtor says we have only begun the process and it is much too soon to start celebrating. I am not sure if she is a worrier or if I am very na​ive. ​What problems or issues should I be anticipating? Our Realtor said she will take care of everything and keep us informed, but she has not said what the problems can be. Any clues? ​

Dear ​Excited​: Your most critical decision in your sale process was made when ​you listed your home. Choosing a great Realtor is the most important factor in having a successful sale accomplished. Did you know there ​are more than 30 different dates and contingencies in your contract that need to be met and satisfied to have your contract make it to the closing table?

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Vail Daily column: Things you don't want to do when applying for a loan

June 10, 2016 — 

Getting a mortgage requires opening many aspects of your life to scrutiny from people and computers. Chances are good that by the time your loan is complete, your lender may know more about you than your fiancee did when you got married.

Mortgage brokers and lenders have a serious responsibility to protect and keep your information confidential (unlike your fiancee, should they find a non-disclosure). We also practice common sense and discretion. During the past 23 years, I’ve stumbled upon references to bank accounts or credit cards that I’m fairly sure were unknown to a spouse and not said a word. I’m not the IRS, your mother or your priest.

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Vail Daily column: Take steps to prevent identity theft

June 9, 2016 — 

Identity theft is a big problem. How big? Consider this: In 2015, about 13 million Americans were victimized, with a total fraud amount of $15 billion, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. That’s a lot of victims and a lot of money. How can you protect yourself from becoming a statistic?

Here are a few ideas:

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Vail Daily column: Vail Valley Business Forum spotlights community topics

June 9, 2016 — 

Vail Valley Business Forum series is a gathering of ideas and innovation to discuss and tackle big issues facing our community.

Vail Valley Partnership has historically hosted an annual Business Forum bringing in leaders from Colorado to discuss issues of importance. While these annual forums offered a great launching point for many initiatives, it has become apparent that a series of forums would present a greater platform on which to build a strong foundation for the future of our communities.

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Vail Daily column: Selfless student gives back to community

June 8, 2016 — 

When is enough simply enough? Traditionally, this phrase has negative connotations and refers to monetary items as eccentric homes, personal possessions, fancy automobiles and general materialistic goods. But, it can also be applicable when gauging a person’s work ethic or dedication to their academic pursuits. The terms overachiever, workaholic or go-getter are often used. In Eagle County, we have many high school students who fit this stereotype. Jordan Brandt, a recent graduate of Battle Mountain High School, is no exception. This young woman is an overachiever and go-getter in all the best ways.

Brandt managed to transition from the classroom to the volleyball court to her student council seat with ease. Academically, she performed at the top of her class, earning a 4.2 grade-point average while comfortably securing herself in the top 10 percent of the graduating class. This was while taking a rigorous course load consisting of Advanced Placement classes and Colorado Mountain College dual enrollment courses. She served the position of student body president for four consecutive years. At this year’s graduation ceremonies, this National Honor Society member received the Outstanding Female Senior Service Award. A humble and modest soul, she fills her free time by coaching young aspiring volleyball athletes. As a member of Battle Mountain High School’s LINK crew, she ensured that all incoming freshman students felt welcome and appreciated upon transitioning into high school. An exceptional athlete, she was selected to the volleyball All-League First Team for two years and the All-State Team in 2015. As a varsity track runner, she also earned All-League Honorable Mention recognition.

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Vail Daily column: Lessons from a life well lived

June 8, 2016 — 

This week, I want to share a couple of lessons that I learned from Harry. Harry served our country in the United States Air Force for 20 years. When he retired from the Air Force, he worked for an insurance company for another 20 years and retired successfully from that company. At age 59, he started and built a very successful local insurance company of his own. And when he finally sold that business, he took a part-time job at Home Depot simply to keep busy and spend time helping other people. He also faithfully served his church as an usher and treasurer and volunteered for many projects and committees. Once a week, Harry volunteered to serve meals to the homeless.

Harry was my grandmother’s brother. He was my great uncle, a better man, a loving husband and a man of faith who served God, our country, his fellow men and the community. He was a special man who worked hard, loved much and laughed often. He loved telling jokes and laughing at all the jokes others shared with him. Every time I called him or saw him, he would have two or three jokes for every new one that I had prepared for him. His approach to balancing life and giving back was an incredible inspiration to me.

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