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Armijo: The power of attitude in daily life

Our attitude holds tremendous power over our daily lives. Attitude designates our approach to events, people, places, and activities. If we operate throughout our day with a positive attitude we will receive positive results, therefore, we’re more likely to have a wonderful day. When we allow ourselves to operate from a negative attitude we can expect negative results and most likely, a terrible day.

Attitude is responsible for acquiring that new job or relationship. It is responsible for our perceived attractiveness and approachability. Attitude is what separates successful individuals from the unsuccessful. Attitude can also be infectious to others in a positive or negative manner.

Have you ever had a job interview in which you were confident the position was meant for you? You may have felt as though you were standing on top of the world and, at that very moment, all the stars in the universe had aligned for you. This feeling was definitely accompanied by a positive attitude.

When we exude a positive attitude we feel invincible, grateful, abundant, and fulfilled all at once. The positive attitude is responsible for what some describe as “animal magnetism” or even “sexual energy.” Those who operate from a positive attitude are the same people who draw attention in a crowded room.

A confident and positive attitude bypasses all notions of superficial beauty. Have you ever met someone who exudes positivity and a confident attitude? There is almost something magical about them. They may not meet a superficial standard of beauty but they often seem to be the most desired people in the room. It is their attitude, positive outlook on life, love for themselves, and others that create an alchemy of abundance and joy in their lives.

Most people allow other people’s attitude to directly influence their own. This is akin to jumping into the ocean in a boat without a motor or even paddles for guidance. They are at the complete mercy of the attitudes around them. This means they will feel their coworkers’ angry attitude toward workplace issues and begin to carry this attitude around as well. If they allow this to become a habit, they will likely begin to resent their job.

Those who maintain control over their attitude will usually prefer to stay in a positive state. These are the people who face a challenge and relish in overcoming it. It does not mean overcoming challenges will be any easier, but a positive attitude will definitely make them more manageable from the beginning. A positive attitude acts as a sort of shield from naysayers and fear mongers. A positive attitude will allow you to become immune to the outside noise and instead focus on your own goals without impudence.

Attitude can decide your day even before it begins. If you wake up with a poor attitude due to a lack of sleep or your loud alarm clock, you will likely have a difficult day. Consequently, if you wake up to your favorite song playing and morning rays of sunlight on your face, you are more likely to have a good attitude and thus, a positive day will follow.

We should be more cognizant of our attitude and how we are affecting others. Those challenging days can cause our attitude to be negative and the unfortunate souls who we come into contact with may come away with a negative perception of us. Attitude is infectious. Have you ever met a person with a positive attitude who just leaves others in a state of bliss just by their mere presence? It is an incredible sight to behold.

The choice is up to us to choose if our days will be positive or negative but most people will be content to blame outside circumstances for their negative day and negative attitude. Blame may be an easy scapegoat but it will never allow for growth and change. Are you choosing to allow your attitude to affect your day in a negative manner or are you choosing to keep your attitude positive and uplifting? Only you will know that answer and only you can decide to change.

Norton: Reinventing and reimagining while staying true

As individuals and companies look to the second half of the year, many have already put 2020 behind them and are looking at plans and goals for 2021. The impact has forced us all to learn how to become more nimble, flexing when we need to, and pivoting as we adapt and adjust to what the world sends our way next.

Consulting with organizations and coaching teams and individuals, our clients are thinking about ways to first reimagine what the near-term future holds while also envisioning what the long-term future could look like. Admittedly some only want to focus on the near-term and may be willing to go as far as mid-range planning because everything seems so unsettled.

After we get through the exercise of reimagining what they hope their personal and professional world could look like, we then enter the reinventing phase of what it will take to get there. And we have to do this because as Marshall Goldsmith wrote, “What got you here won’t get you there.” Truer words may have never been spoken. It’s time to reinvent.

Reimagining allows us to tap into all of the endless possibilities as we release our creativity and envision the type of person we hope to be or become one day, the services that we want to offer the community, and the organization that can make a difference in the world. Reinventing means that we are not just dreaming and fantasizing, but we are taking inventory of our behaviors, habits, relationships, skills, and recognizing what we will need to change so that we can fulfill our reimagined future.

Here’s the amazing thing about both, reimagining and reinventing, even in the midst of an ever-changing world, we can continue to be nimble, flex, and pivot as often as we need to in our pursuit of health, happiness, safety, and success. And here is the other thing about both, we never ever have to compromise our core beliefs as we plan for a reimagined and reinvented future.

Top performing individuals and organizations have this in common, a commitment to their values. These are not just painted on the wall, sent around in a company email, or espoused in a team or company Zoom meeting. These are lived and demonstrated in what they do, what they say, and how they live. I can’t remember a time in my life where this has ever been more important. In our ever-changing world, compromising what we value most is a huge mistake if we are ever to realize what we had imagined for ourselves.

Again, reimagining is what we want at some point in the future. Reinventing is how we get there. When it comes to reimaging, Albert Einstein said this, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” And in a recent article posted in May of this year, the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, shared that during these unprecedented times that it is important to be a “learn-it-all” and not a “know-it-all.” We all can imagine something, large or small, and create an image of where we want to be. And we can all take the time to reinvent ourselves by learning something new. Most importantly, do both without compromising our core beliefs.

Should we listen to other opinions and make new decisions based on new information? Yes. That is how we grow and evolve should the new information give us insight on what we might consider changing. The other side of that is making sure we don’t allow ourselves to become influenced by opinions that conflict with who we are and erode our core values.

How about you? Are you reimagining your future? Are you reinventing yourself during this journey? And are you staying true to who you are along the way? I would love to hear your story at mnorton@tramazing.com. And when we recognize that what got us here won’t get us there, and take the steps necessary to reimagine and reinvent, it really will be a better than good week.

Mazzuca: No clear cut answer

Seventy five years ago this Thursday the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima; three days later Nagasaki was similarly bombed and the morality and necessity of using these weapons has been debated ever since.

For some, nothing justifies the use of atomic weapons. But in 1945, with a nation weary of war, President Truman had little choice but to consider all his options. By this point in the war the Japanese were fanatical; fighting to almost the last man on Iwo Jima, mass suicides on Saipan and kamikaze attacks during the battle for Okinawa. Tokyo had already been firebombed killing 100,000 Japanese in a single night, and practically every major city in Japan had been bombed into rubble. Additionally, documents captured after the war revealed the destruction of Japanese cities had no discernible political effect on Japanese leadership.

Meanwhile to American military planners the prospect of invading Japan was absolutely terrifying. It was estimated an invasion of Japan’s home islands would result in another year of war with as many as a million U.S. casualties and perhaps ten times that many Japanese.

The idea of detonating a “demonstration bomb,” was proffered but with only two available (a third bomb wasn’t due until late August) military planners didn’t want to “waste” one on an unpopulated area. Alternately, others argued that using the bomb would deter Stalin from demanding joint occupation of Japan after the war.

The arguments against using the bomb were many and varied. Some felt the bomb was inhumane because it targeted innocent women and children when Japan was essentially defeated. After all, conventional bombing had already devastated the country, our Navy had enforced its blockade of the Home Islands, and the Soviets were about to enter the war in Manchuria — a perfect storm for Japanese collapse.

Truman’s refusal to modify his “unconditional surrender” demand of not allowing the Japanese to keep their emperor was one reason some felt Japan hadn’t capitulated sooner. Others believed while the Hiroshima bomb was necessary, the Nagasaki bomb wasn’t and therefore Japanese lives were unnecessarily sacrificed. And there were cynics who maintained the bombs were only used to justify their development costs.

But there’s another aspect of the matter we should consider. Stalin invaded Manchuria just two days after the Hiroshima bomb, and lest we forget, while World War II was ending, the Cold War was just beginning. And after the war when asked why Japan surrendered so quickly after the Russians invaded Manchuria, Japanese Prime Minister Suzuki explained that if Japan had not surrendered to the United States, the Soviet Union wouldn’t have stopped at Manchuria, they would have taken Korea, Karafuto and Hokkaido. And for those unfamiliar, Hokkaido is Japan’s second-largest Home Island, and Japanese leadership believed that if the communists were to occupy the island, Japan as a nation would literally cease to exist.

Hokkaido was of great importance to Stalin; if occupied, he could turn the vast Sea of Okhotsk into a Russian lake giving the Soviets an ominous naval presence in the Pacific after the war.

We’ll never know what went on in the minds of Japan’s Supreme War Council and Emperor Hirohito, but given the reverence for their emperor and their fight-to-the-last-man ethos, a very good argument can be made that the fear of being occupied by the Russians was the real motivating factor behind the Japanese surrender. So while the two atomic bombs may not have had the intended effect on the Japanese, it appears they had an enormous impact on Joseph Stalin who had already gobbled up most of Eastern Europe and had designs on Hokkaido.

So going back 75 years it’s highly likely, if not probable that if the Japanese hadn’t surrendered when they did and Stalin had invaded Hokkaido, then similar to what occurred in East Germany (soon to become the German Democratic Republic) so too the Japanese on Hokkaido would been enslaved under communism for nearly half a century, perhaps in a “Peoples Republic of Hokkaido,” while their centuries old culture was eradicated.

Reframed within the context of an incipient Cold War, there are two questions observers of the matter should ask. First, would Stalin have refrained from invading Hokkaido if he hadn’t seen the results of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and secondly, what would have been the greater tragedy — the carnage caused by two atomic bombs or millions enslaved under communism for nearly 50 years and the elimination of a centuries old culture?

The debate continues …

Quote of the day: “You may not be paranoid, but that doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” — Unknown.

Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. Follow him on his blog at butchmazzuca.com.

Youth Spotlight: The secret is out about Anabel Johnson

Mountain Youth absolutely does not want Anabel Johnson to be its best-kept secret, but her contributions to date (67 days from her hiring as a matter of fact) have been kept secret for too long. In fact, those contributions have been so significant, she has been selected for this month’s Youth Spotlight.

Here, we are going to use the official definition of “youth,” which includes individuals up to 25 years of age. She is a 2020 graduate of Boston College who has decided to return to this beloved valley to begin her professional career. 

One of the biggest criteria for her interview committee, a group of six high school-aged youth, was that the youth engagement coordinator be youngish and relatable. Johnson exudes these qualities and that has led her to 67-plus days of amazing success.

Here is Johnson, by the numbers. Since her official start date on May 15, she has accomplished the following:

7 Valley’s Voice Passion Projects: She has been involved in the development, proposal, implementation, and evaluation of seven projects that are driven by youth and adult-supported. Highlighted projects include ProtectOurValley, a COVID-19 response project for 19- to 25-year-olds; Tu Guia, a student/family academic support system to reduce summer regression caused by COVID-19; and “Screenagers, The Next Chapter,” an interactive family engagement opportunity on how to cope with stress and anxiety. 

19 + 6 + 12 youth participating in Passion Projects: Each participant helped to develop leadership skills in the youth who direct the projects. That youth leadership ends up impacting the lives of individuals. The 19 youth who are working with English Language Development families are teaching adults how to help their own children, teaching children valuable skills, and their own personal take-away is the pride they feel for being a catalyst for that change. 

Johnson manages their growth and shares it with others. The six is the number of young people who contributed to the development of a new Youth Center in Edwards and the 12 are the youth who serve on the Youth Executive Board of Valley’s Voice. 

64+ art submissions for Heart of the Vail Valley: These submissions were displayed on June 29 to celebrate how art is therapeutic in times of stress and anxiety. From soup (all of the local artists and adult role models who presented at the event) to nuts (the virtual presence and presentation by all-star Mikaela Shiffrin), Johnson facilitated, coordinated, organized, and implemented the four-hour experience. How? She craftily delegated youth to leadership roles and had adults support along the way. Folks, not just anyone can do this; Johnson made this happen. 

10 + 19 families + children who receive support from a Passion Project called Tu Guia: While the project itself is run by youth, it is Johnson who manages all of the behind-the-scenes necessities — scheduling meetings, troubleshooting communication, getting tutors paid, monitoring successes and challenges and so much more. These are families whose children already struggle in school as English Language Development students and who had been at risk of falling behind their peers. By teaching parents and supporting children, their academic careers will be greatly improved. 

$5029.90 into the hands of young people who are working to affect change here in Eagle County.  Each youth who participates in the Passion Projects and submits a timesheet is paid a minimum of 15$ per hour. That adds up and it is Johnson who is doing the adding and the tracking. Youth voice has value and making sure that value is rewarded is part of what Johnson brings to her role. 

91,160 people reached on FaceBook accounts. The stats say that almost 100,000 people were engaged at He(Art) of the Vail Valley’s Youth on that one day. The message was all about the use of art to help cope with difficulties in life, a message not only for youth but for adults, too. Johnson, with her passion for the arts and experience to match, brought this message to people across our county and across the world. 

Cosmic, my friends. Cosmic.

And, Eagle County community, that is just the beginning of her professional career. As a Battle Mountain student, she served on the Youth Leadership Council with Mountain Youth and helped direct change at that time as a member of the board of directors. With her robust experience in theater, organizing events, working with young people, and making community impact, we will all be seeing much, much more of Johnson. Consider her revealed now. 

Haims: Options for cholesterol management

Your chances of having a heart attack or stroke can be reduced by managing your cholesterol. If all you know about cholesterol is that it’s either HDL or LDL which is bad for you, you need to read further.

So, what is cholesterol and what does it do?

Cholesterol is a type of fat that is found in your blood. When there is too much of it in your blood, it can permeate and build up on the walls of the arteries (plaque) which can restrict blood flow to organs and tissues. This is called atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis is a specific type of arteriosclerosis.

While the two words are sometimes used interchangeably, atherosclerosis is different than arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis occurs when the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body (arteries) become damaged, thick, and stiff. Healthy arteries should be flexible and elastic.

Think of the difference in relation to a gardening hose. Arteriosclerosis is damaging to the hose itself, and atherosclerosis is the clog/narrowing inside the hose.

As a whole, cholesterol is not bad. In fact, cholesterol is very much needed by our bodies. It is an essential component for many processes of a cell including hormone production (cortisol, testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen), developing cellular membrane, making vitamin D, and is used in the liver to make bile.

While cholesterol is not a disease, it is often called a “silent disease” because it produces no clinical symptoms that you or your medical provider may notice. Unfortunately, once symptoms become obvious the results can be catastrophic.

There are two types of cholesterol — good and bad.

Good cholesterol is HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver where it is then broken down and flushed from the body by excreting it through bile and urine.

Bad cholesterol is called LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol unfortunately is more prevalent in our bodies than HDL. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise our risk for heart disease and stroke.

While you literally cannot flush excess cholesterol out of your body, you can reduce your cholesterol levels by making simple lifestyle changes. The No. 1 change that will reduce your cholesterols is lowering your intake of saturated fats.

Saturated fats are found in animal products like butter, hamburgers, poultry skin, marbled steaks, ribs, cheese (one of my favorites), yogurt, and some plant foods such as palm and coconut oils.

Instead of whole milk, fried tortilla chips, ice cream, French fries, cheeseburgers, lamb, or fatty beef, you should try fat-free or low-fat milk, baked tortilla chips, frozen fruit bars, baked potato, steamed/grilled vegetables, poultry (without skin and fish.

High cholesterol does only occur in older people. Studies have found that atherosclerosis (narrowing inside the hose) can begin in children as young as their teens.  

There are many ways to slow the progression and even mitigate the development of high cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Scientists believe a quality diet, reducing salt intake, avoiding smoking, and exercise can provide substantial benefits.

Although statins (a type of drug that lowers the level of cholesterol) are often the go-to solution many medical providers suggest for controlling cholesterol, there are other options you can discuss with them. There is evidence that suggests supplements can be helpful in modifying cholesterol. Take some time and learn about niacin, curcumin, CoQ10, high-quality red yeast rice (some products are not pure), ground flaxseed, fish oil, artichoke extract, and soluble fiber.

You should always consult your medical provider before you choose any supplements to make sure there are not potential conflicts with other medications. Be proactive in your health. Get your blood checked and talk to your medical provider.  What you don’t know can kill you.

Writers on the Range: If the water goes, the desert moves in

Paonia, a small town in western Colorado with a handful of mesas rising above it, wouldn’t green-up without water diverted from a river or mountain springs. The lively water travels through irrigation ditches for miles to gardens and small farms below. But this summer, irrigation ditches were going dry, and one, the Minnesota Canal and Reservoir Company, stopped sending water down to its 100-plus customers as early as July 13.

Drought was hitting the state and much of the West hard, but a local cause was surprising: Water theft.

Longtime residents who gather inside Paonia’s hub of information trading, Reedy’s Service Station, have a fund of stories about water theft. It’s not unusual, they say, that a rock just happens to dam a ditch, steering water toward a homeowner’s field. Sometimes, says farmer Jim Gillespie, 89, that rock even develops feet and crosses a road.

But this is comparatively minor stuff, says North Fork Water Commissioner Luke Reschke, as stealing ditchwater is a civil offense. Stealing water from a natural waterway, however, is a crime that can bring fines of $500 per day and jail time. That’s why what was happening to people who depend on the Minnesota Canal company for their fields or gardens was serious: Water was being taken from Minnesota Creek before it could be legally diverted for irrigation to paying customers.

Once the ditch company “called” for its water as of June 8, only holders of patented water rights could legally touch the creek. Yet during three trips to the creek’s beginning, starting in mid-June, and then in mid-July, I noticed that two ranches — without water rights — were harvesting bumper crops of hay. How could that have happened unless they’d illegally diverted water to their fields?

At first, no one would talk about the early-drying ditch except to hint broadly that it wasn’t normal. Then one man stepped up: Dick Kendall, a longtime board member of the Minnesota canal company, and manager of its reservoir. “On July 5,” he told me, “I saw water diverted from the creek onto one of the rancher’s land. And I wasn’t quiet about it.”

Kendall reported what he saw to Commissioner Luke Reschke, who oversees the area’s 600 springs, ditches and canals. Reschke dismissed it, he told me, because “The rumor mill is something else on Minnesota Creek. The only people who give me trouble are the new people who don’t know how the system works.” But locals say that four years back, Reschke’s predecessor, Steve Tuck, investigated when locals complained.

Though it may not be neighborly, stopping any illegal diversion is important, said Bob Reedy, owner of Reedy’s Station: “Without water, you’ve got nothing around here.” Annual rainfall is just 15 inches per year, and without water flowing into irrigation canals from the 10,000-foot mountains around town, much of the land would look like the high desert it truly is.

But it’s not just a couple of high-elevation ranchers dipping into the creek. The West Elk Coal Mine runs large pumps that supply water for its methane drilling and venting operations in the Minnesota Creek watershed. 

Mine spokesperson Kathy Welt, said the diversion is legal, and that they only take early-season water when the creek water isn’t on call. That early water, however, is what begins to fill the Minnesota ditch’s reservoir. 

In other ways, the mine has damaged the watershed by building a sprawling network of roads in the Sunset Roadless AreaA cease and desist order from the State Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety on June 10, sought by environmental groups, halted the building of an additional 1.6 miles of new roads this spring. Satellite images of the road network resemble a vast KOA Campground: Where trees once held back water and shaded snowpack from early melting, their replacement — gravel roads — shed water and add to early runoff.

For all of Minnesota Ditch’s challenges, warming temperatures brought about by climate change could be the real challenge. Kendall said that this spring, when he plowed out the Minnesota Reservoir road, dust covered the parched ground beneath the snow.   

Water — so precious to grow grapes, hay, organic vegetables and grass-fed beef, and to keep the desert at bay — had vanished early on Lamborn Mesa above Paonia. Farmer Gillespie summed it up, “there’s just no low-snow anymore — and it’s not coming back.”

David Marston is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a nonprofit dedicated to spurring lively conversation about the West. He lives part-time in Colorado.

Carnes: I want, I want, I want

Welcome to the Vail Valley! Now put on your damn mask.

“Woah, dude, why so harsh?”

I don’t mean it that way. How’s this: Now put on your damn mask, please.

“Oh, I get it, you’re one of those…”

One of those what’s?

“One of those typical liberal types, all hot and heavy with your collectivism to do whatever the government tells you to do, even if it’s not in your own self-interest.”

No, Spanky, not in the least. In fact, I’ve never voted “liberal: in my life, whatever that means. And for the record, I always wear a seat belt, stop at red lights, and never drink bleach in spite of what the government says. All which, I might add, is to protect my own self-interest.

“So why all the babble about wearing a mask?”

It’s simple, I want this thing to end.

“You mean this COVID thing?”

Yes, Sherlock, this COVID thing. I want to go to a store without having to remember to take my mask on the way out the door. I want to go to restaurants and bars and sit next to people. I want to shake my friend’s hands when I see them and hug their girlfriends and/or wives whenever it’s appropriate. I want kids to go to school without having to spend one minute worrying about standing too close to their best friend. I want teachers to go to school without having to worry about catching a virus that might kill them or spreading it to a family member at home.

I want the Huskies and the Devils to play football for county bragging rights with the stands full of students shouting and screaming their fool heads off.

I want the Denver Broncos to play in a stuffed-to-the-rafters Mile High, even if they’re being slaughtered by the Chiefs.

I want the parking structures and frontage roads full of cars every single day on Thanksgiving week. I want locals to bitch and moan about it incessantly.

I want six-person chairs to carry six people, gondolas packed and the Ford Amphitheater crammed with standing-room-only guests paying 10 bucks for a Coors Light.

I want to watch a premiere in a jam-packed movie theater and Front Range TV talking heads do the news and weather in the studio instead of judging the backgrounds in their houses.

“OK, OK, I get it, there’s a lot of things you want. But what about fascism and socialism and Bill Gates and Dr. Fauci and hydroxychloroquine and the election and—

“None of that conspiratorial crap matters, because no matter what you choose to believe, what science you ‘choose’ to follow or how desperately you try to politicize the whole thing, this virus ain’t going away on its own. The only way we’re ever going to return to ‘how things used to be,’ in one form or another, is by doing everything possible, including wearing masks, to make COVID-19 go the way of polio, the mumps and disco music.

No matter how strongly you wish to debate the efficacy of masks with every waiter, bartender, and sales clerk you accost, it will only serve to prolong our collective misery. And it doesn’t matter if you’re local, from the Front Range, or Allah forbid, from Texas, we all have to do our part to get it out of our lives.

“Oh, that’s right, you hate Texas and blame it all on them.”

I was born and raised in Dallas, you dolt. Texans fund half of this valley, and thus are the easiest scapegoats to make fun of, and it’s been that way around here since the beginning. 

“But I thought—”

That was your first mistake, just shut up and put on your damn mask.

Curious Nature: The reality of our rectangle state

Happy birthday, Colorado. Saturday, Aug. 1, marks Centennial State’s 144th birthday and the observance of Colorado Day. Our scenic beauty, friendly communities and outdoor sports make this a day worth celebrating.

Another aspect of state pride: Colorado’s rectangular/square shape. Upon closer inspection, this is not a valid brag. In accordance with what we learned in geometry class, a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square.

Contrary to what we may have learned in geography class, the shape of Colorado is neither. Nearly a century and a half ago, state legislation tried to fit Colorado’s borders neatly within the latitudinal lines of 37 degrees and 41 degrees north, and the longitudinal lines of 25 degrees and 32 degrees west, thus forming a near-perfect rectangle. However, what works well on a flat piece of paper does not easily translate into the actual land topography.

Back in the 19th century, especially, there was immense potential for both human and machine error while creating state borders. The first issue was in the surveying technology. The rush to establish new territories combined with the technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution brought an improvement in the accuracy of surveying instruments to the 1800s.

Still, there was no GPS or 3D land modeling. Surveyors relied on tools like the theodolite, an early instrument with a rotating telescope, and a metal chain to measure distances. Instead of flying drones or satellites, surveyors had to trudge across the plains, slog through streams and navigate the mountains with all of their equipment as they measured the lay of the land. This was a tough task reserved for the hardy outdoorsman or military man. The difficulty of the work and the quality of the tools made errors inevitable.

To complicate defining borders even more, the legality of a border is based on the physical boundary markers agreed upon by the parties involved. Colorado fit within the latitude and longitude lines quite nicely, but land surveyors had to go out and find where those lines ended up on the actual land.

“How closely do these points need to match up?” you may ask. Not as close as you may think. United States law declares that as soon as a large stone marker is placed and the states and Congress both approve, the border is finalized, regardless of whether it matches directly with the description.

Colorado’s boundaries went through several decades of surveys and resurveys to become the “square” state we know today. Despite the edits, the state still has several deviations from a straight line. The Colorado-New Mexico border veers south, just after the town of Edith, CO. It follows a northwest-southeast line along a valley, a topographical feature, before continuing directly east again. When the border approaches the Oklahoma panhandle, it begins to swerve both north and south. Similar errors occur along the Utah and the Wyoming border.

Not to get too much into the technicalities, but a rectangle needs to have four straight sides and four right angles. Colorado definitely has more than four sides and no right angles thanks to the difficulty of old-time surveying and laws that are set in stone — literally. Therefore, more accurately and perhaps more disappointingly, Colorado is an irregular polygon. Let’s just stick to bragging about our skiing.

Claire Kantor is a naturalist at Walking Mountains Science Center. She’ll be celebrating Colorado Day with an evening hike, to bask in Colorado’s famous mountain sunsets.

Van Ens: Colorado’s statehood shaped by power struggle

1876 marked the centennial of our nation’s birth. That significant year has made an impact on me. Moreover, in 1876 another gold star was added to Old Glory, recognizing Colorado’s statehood.

Born in 1876, an educator inspired me to interpret how religious convictions and political trends intersect, usually causing divisive upticks between citizens.

An avid researcher and interpreter of U.S. history, I celebrate Colorado Day on August 1 because on that date in 1876 Colorado became the 38th state to join the Union. Then the Republican Party began its phenomenally successful power grab for rural territories in the West. After achieving statehood, these Western lands formed GOP voting blocs, in place today as Red states.

Why does 1876 personally affect me?

My wife’s paternal grandfather was born in 1876, a hundred years after the Founding Fathers carved a fledging nation from 13 colonies. He taught Romance languages at Calvin College (now “University”) for half a century. My wife’s grandfather was educated at Calvin Seminary, established in 1876. He also received an earned degree from the University of Michigan at the turn of the 20th century, followed by study at the University of Heidelberg prior to the Great War’s eruption in 1914.

When I dated my wife in college, this grandfather spent his sunset years living at her home. Although his mobility slowed, this wise Christian’s keen intellect and abiding faith did not subside. Our lively conversations provided proof that life is a school from which learners never graduate.

Colorado achieved statehood through shady compromises and partisan deals. The late 19th century Republican Party’s “Western strategy” garnered votes through power grabs that kept their majority in the U.S. Senate.  

These Republicans echoed what Henry Clay Warmoth admitted a few years before 1876. He served during the first term of the Ulysses S. Grant Administration (1869-1873) as Louisiana’s Republican governor. “I don’t pretend to be honest,” he confessed. “I only pretend to be as honest as anybody in politics.” Louisiana’s politics stunk like an open cesspool. “Corruption is the fashion,” Governor Warmoth matter-of-factly acknowledged.

Horace Greeley, editor The New York Tribune, which boasted the largest national circulation, ardently supported expansion in the West. Historian Ron Chernow ranks him “one of the original celebrity editors in American journalism,” who promoted slogans that stuck to Americans’ hearts. He coined the challenge, “Go West, young man.”

The Republican Party wed its soul to this motto. On the surface, the GOP appeared to have control of the United States from 1860 to 1884 because it won every presidential election during this period. It also had a lock on Congress, controlling both houses in all but two years during this span.

But appearances were deceiving. Lethargy set in, with most Republicans assuming God destined them to automatically win future presidential elections. After the GOP raised tariffs to satisfy Big Business, working-class citizens were outraged at paying higher prices. After 1876, the South forsook the Grand Ole Party, embracing Democrats with sympathies towards keeping Black Americans subservient.

Republicans countered these losses by pledging to win the West through inviting less populated rural western territories to join the Union. After achieving statehood under Republican control, the GOP secured two Senators for every state admitted, no matter how small and isolated it was.

This political campaign to win the West and secure control of Congress through a top-heavy Republican Senate emerged in the 1874 mid-term elections after Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives. To protect their power from further erosion, the GOP got on the bandwagon to admit Colorado, a part of the Great American Desert that less than 40,000 pioneers called home in 1870. Usually, statehood was not granted until at least 50,000 residents lived in a territory.

Who cares about these numerical guidelines, if Colorado’s statehood would swell the GOP’s Senate majority by two? Republicans didn’t reflect King Solomon honest character, showing traits of acting with “righteousness, justice and fairness,” (Proverbs 1:3).

Heather Cox Richardson, history professor at Boston College, tells why Colorado’s statehood made Republicans smile. “Colorado’s admission was momentous. In the 1876 election, the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes lost the popular vote,” notes Richardson, “but the new state’s three electoral votes kept his candidacy alive long enough for a Republican-dominated temporary electoral commission to award him the presidency in one of the most hotly contested presidential elections in the nation’s history.”

After the Republican Party’s control decreased in the industrialized East, the GOP carved states from isolated western territories numbering more grizzly bears than residents. These new states each added another two Republican Senators, no matter how small their population.

Today, Republicans have switched tactics, rejecting the District of Columbia’s bid for admittance the 51st state. Its proposed name “Washington, Douglass Commonwealth,” honors Frederick Douglass, the 19th century’s preeminent Black orator and crusader for emancipation.

The GOP-controlled Senate recently rejected The District of Columbia’s statehood goal. D.C. has over 700,000 tax-paying residents, many with black and brown complexions. A high percentage earned college degrees but do not know how to milk a cow. Republicans don’t see their likeness in this urban, non-rural constituency.

After Colorado’s admission to the Union in 1876, Republicans reaped a bountiful harvest of U.S. Senators. Today, they reject as rooted in fallow political soil the District of Columbia’s bid for statehood. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” recite Democrats who have pushed for the District of Columbia’s statehood in 2020. They learned this lesson from Republicans’ power grabs in Western territories that joined the Union over a century ago.

Suszynski: The hinterland

When I moved to Vietnam in 2017, I did not anticipate the monsoon season. It arrived swiftly at the end of October. For the first month, I impatiently watched the tropical rains wash the windows.

To me then, the monsoons were stillness and muggy waiting. Then it dawned on me that the mildew growing in my interior was partly my fault.

Shortly after I arrived in Colorado after my time in Vietnam, a poetry chapbook was published called “Eye Level” by Jenny Xie.

Her collection addresses a few themes that resonate with me: travel, solitude, exile. She spent time living in Cambodia as a copywriter, “in the business of multiplying needs,” while I was heading the editorial department of a travel company in Da Nang.

She begins her chapbook with a quote by one of my favorite Spanish poets, Antonio Machado: “The eye you see is not/ an eye because you see it;/ it is an eye because it sees you.”

Here she lays the groundwork for the relationship between the seen and the seer.

In the poem “Phnom Penh Diptych: Wet Season,” the narrator says: “Rainwater mars the tin roofs,/ melts a sticky bun left in the alley./ It worries down the final tips of daylight.”

The narrator asks, “How long will it be like this?/ Water growing out of water.”

I haven’t been back to Vietnam since I left in 2018 but when the rain decides to stay like it did last week in the valley, I return to that monsoonal mood.

Last Saturday, I woke up to a low-hanging horizontal cloud. These horizontal ones seem like ghosts to me, spreading out their arms to reach from peak to peak.

Travel has come to mean something different this year. Xie’s chapbook, on the surface, is certainly about travel but more importantly, it is about the journey into the interior.

The etymology of the word “travel” reveals a few things. It comes from “travailen” in the 13th century meaning “to make journey.” And travailen is most likely related to “travail” which means “painful or laborious efforts.”

In Vietnam, I discovered that I could leave my little apartment, to see things as I wouldn’t normally see them. To shake the creeping mold.

I would take the motorbike to the beach and walk toward Son Tra peninsula, a long finger that stretches out to sea. The horizontal cloud came into view. The ivory Lady Buddha of Linh Ung pagoda, who guides the fisherman home, peeked from the top.

When it rains in Vail, I travel to landscapes I am familiar with and see them in different ways. I visit with the ghost cloud— touch its outer reaches. Clouds are great mufflers, muting the distractions, letting me project what I feel in my interior upon its soft skin.

In Xie’s poem “Long Nights,” the narrator says: “If there is a partition between/ the outer and inner worlds,/ how is it that some water in me churns/ between the mountain ranges?”

The partition lifts when the clouds settle in. The monsoonal rains wash away the boundaries that we have become accustomed to, so we can look inward and perhaps assess what’s there.

In that same poem, the narrator ends with: “Traveling and traveling,/ but so much interior/ unpicked over by the eyes.” The final line: “Nothing is as far as here.”

The interior life is a wilderness that may grow too wild if we do not tend to it.  While Xie spends her time in places around the world, Sapa rice paddies, Corfu, a Cambodia ad agency, she does most of her traveling inward: “To profligate in taking in the outer world is to shortchange the interior one.”

Machado wrote a beautiful poem titled “Proverbios y Cantares.” I particularly like section XXIX because of its meditation on travel. The final line is seemingly simple: “Caminante, no hay camino/ sino estelas en la mar.” Traveler, there is no road; only a ship’s wake on the sea. “Caminante” can mean a few things, walker, wayfarer, but in this poem, traveler seems to be the more translated term. Camino is another word with many meanings: path, way, road. The word “estela” is a ship’s wake and also trail (of dust or smoke). One might translate this last line to: “only foam trails upon the sea.”

The monsoonal cloud reminds me that I can walk to the beach and wave at the Lady Buddha. The water holds no path for me, my footprints like foam trails are the only reminder that I have traveled.

I drove to Homestake Road last week after it rained. I sat on top of my car, coffee in hand, bantering with the expansive ghost hugging the trees that stood out like burnt matches. I pulled out my interior and teased the knots. The untamed vines and patches of paintbrush, the troughs of stocky lettuce — my hinterland. I observed these pastures and twined the vines around a lattice to the sky. Traveling into the interior is laborious, so when the clouds say goodbye and recede over the peaks, I can arrive at the doorstep of the exterior and feel as though I have traveled very deeply into the “here.”