Letters to the editor | VailDaily.com

Letters to the editor

Mike Spaniola

An Associated Press article by Anthony Breznican, published in Saturday’s (July 17) Vail Daily, takes pity on multimillionaire Whoopi Goldberg, who lost a Slim Fast contract for her ribald remarks at a Kerry-Edwards fund-raiser. First of all, “mean-spirited” has suddenly and inexplicably vanished from the media’s store of well-worn phrases. This seems to coincide, conveniently enough, with ever-escalating attacks staged by Democrats to foment public opinion. Under Bill Clinton’s politically correct regime, those who dared to initiate critical but well-intentioned and meaningful dialogue were labeled “mean-spirited,” held up to ridicule and dismissed from further consideration. Secondly, Goldberg chose to use prepubescent valley girl rhetoric, and, worst of all, the Democratic candidates for the nation’s highest offices chose to condone hours of juvenile, if not sociopathic, ranting. Such displays of banal emotions are often associated with countries where free speech is restricted, not protected. Like the Democratic primary “debates,” these tactics are reminiscent of Orwellian “daily hate sessions” designed to usurp intellect and reason. Indeed, Democrats have no plans to “take back America.” Instead, they are collaborating in the “take over of America” with the very socialist forces Orwell wrote about in “1984” and “Animal Farm.” Thirdly, the article cites the location of Slim Fast’s headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla. The AP reporter informs readers that President Bush’s brother is governor of this state! No implication is given or made, making this guilt by insinuation, not even association. (When I contacted the Associated Press, the deputy managing editor for national news replied: “[T]he reference to Jeb Bush did not belong in the story … and that has been discussed with the writer and editor of the story.”) This loose style of reporting is rampant. Maybe we should conclude that 9/11 terrorists were able to hijack – not one or two – but four jetliners in a single morning at Boston’s Logan Airport because Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry is a co-conspirator in the attacks. Come to think of it, why did terrorists choose that airport? Mike Spaniola VailRiverside lessonMy family and I live on the river in Minturn. Recently we were blessed with a visit from my mother and her sister around the Fourth of July holiday. In the weeks prior to their arrival, I had been designing a simple landscaping descent which would accommodate a steep bank that leads down to the river behind our house. I wanted my mom and her sister to be able to make their way down to the river’s edge to see the way the town’s recent restoration project had evolved since her last visit. They are both in their 70s. I also wanted to stop the bank from eroding from all the foot traffic imposed on it. It’s the straight shot my kids and the neighbors’ kids use to get to the water.In my zeal to complete my project before the holiday arrived, I failed to check my plans out with all the necessary entities that regulate use along the rivers and streams in the area. I made my usual call to Chuck the building inspector to bounce my plan off him, and after adding rebar to my shopping list, I was off to Home Depot for 20 bags of Quickrete. I was halfway finished with three steps poured when my neighbor down the block stopped by to see what I was up to. After her conversation with me, I figured I had better quit while I was ahead. I called our new town planner, Wiley Smith, and after seeing my project, we decided I’d best be ceasing and desisting until we got word from the Corps of Engineers as to the fate of my “simple descent.” In the two weeks since my project began I have experienced the joy of learning from my mistake, or as my wife, Lisa, describes it, “my second-greatest landscaping disaster.” Other feelings I experienced were indignation, fear and, of course, questioning my project planning leading up to its execution. My wife says I suffer from terminal self-doubt. My excuse is the usual. Having too many irons in the fire and trying to keep my head above water in a shark tank full of very hungry fish here in Happy Valley. Planning sessions sometimes only last from here to Home Depot.The joy of experiencing the error of my ways, lies in explaining to my two kids, Mason and Natalie, what we parents have been saying to them since they left their diapers behind and began inter-acting with their friends. Unlike what my parents taught us, that when you screwed up you got to enjoy all the guilt, fear and shame and when it’s all over, my folks would say, “Now , forget about it; let’s never talk about it again!” Nowadays, we don’t teach our kids that way. We say,”It’s OK that you dropped Gramma Vance’s priceless vase. Mistakes happen. We’ll just have to put up some of our breakables up till you learn to ride your bike in a more comfortable fashion through the living room.It’s a two-edged sword for all of us late-blooming boomers, trying, on the one hand, to explain to the kids that it’s OK to make mistakes, that it’s part of the learning process, AND it doesn’t make you a bad person. On the other hand, that’s not how I grew up. My folks’ generation loved to manipulate you with all those endearing guilt trips designed to keep everybody’s life simpler back then. All it serves us as adults is to make us ranters, screamers and guilt trippers with our own children.So, it was with no small amount of crow in my craw that I attempted to engineer an explanation to my kids concerning my recent and numerous ascents and descents to and from the river bank; hauling demolished dream steps fit for the Parthenon in chunks with a 5 gallon bucket out to my truck. I explained that this was one of the consequences of my mistake. I told them that consequence is what fuels the learning process. When Mason asked me what exactly I’d learned from my recent landscaping adventure, I said that no matter how busy people get these days, that their actions can affect other people’s lives along the river and we all have to take responsibility for preserving the sanctity of the environment – not only for us now but also for the kids of the future to be able to laugh and play by the river.I also told them that I needed the exercise. That hard work is good for you. We even did a little math together. Thirty bucketfuls of cement chunks divided into 1,600 equals a little more than 50 a trip.I also told them that that I learned who some of my true friends were here in town. I thank all of you for your support and guidance these last few weeks, especially Lisa and Marge. Pete VanceMinturn