Outside Online Magazine, April, 2015
Contemplate the western half of the U.S. for a moment. The promised land we once mythologized is, today, an arid landscape made inhabitable only by a vast infrastructure of canals, pipes, and dams.
Faced with an increasing urban population and dwindling snowpack and groundwater, it’s easy to see why much of the West seems to be experiencing a collective freak-out. Earlier this month, California Governor Jerry Brown imposed water use reductions for the first time in the state’s history. Drought conditions have reduced the Colorado River to a literal trickle in some places where it once gushed. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, there are currently more than 52 million people affected by drought in the West. Which is why “Water in the Western United States,” an online course from the University of Colorado Boulder, couldn’t have come at a better time.
The free, weekly course is only offered during the month of April. It provides an in-depth look at the history, politics, science, and hot-button issues that face the West as it confronts the harsh reality of water scarcity in the age of climate change. Lectures range from “The Prior Appropriation System,” a discussion about water rights, and “Human Control vs. Natural Variability,” a look at the Grand Canyon experimental flows program, to lessons on ground water resources, agriculture, and hydraulic fracturing—all issues that are playing out in the public debate about water in the West right now. In one exercise, students must determine their water footprint by calculating the amount of water required to generate power for their refrigerator and to produce the gasoline used for their daily commute.
“It’s not just for those people who want to know, ‘How do I get water out of my tap?’ but for those people who think, ‘OK, how do we deal with these problems?’” says Eric Gordon, one of the course instructors and managing director of the Western Water Assessment, a research program at the university. 
It’s also not only for residents of the western U.S., the instructors say. The West’s geologic and legal complexities make it a useful case study for water advocates around the world. More than 5,000 people have enrolled in the course, and many hail from Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America. Several of these foreign students are water management professionals in their respective home countries and use the course to complement their work. For example, Lyu Tianhui, who tunes in from Shanxi, China, works for a company developing a water diversion project. Another enrollee, Liliana Pimentel, is an urban planner and environmental analyst at the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Renewable Resources who studies water diplomacy and water management.

The course’s popularity raises the question of whether there’s an imperative to more thoroughly integrate water issues into public education curriculum in the U.S. There certainly is in the West, says William Kuskin, professor and associate vice provost for Education Innovation at the University of Colorado. “From the surliest oil magnate to the Birkenstock-wearing hiker, everyone in Colorado cares about the land,” he says. It’s CU’s duty to be “shepherds of the knowledge of the land.”
The water scarcity has cast every decision about water use in murky morality, the instructors say. For example, in a lecture titled, “Water Storage and Delivery Infrastructure,” an instructor explains that transporting water from the Colorado River to Phoenix involves an enormous amount of electricity provided by the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant near Page, Arizona. According to a 2011 Environment America report, the station ranked as the tenth dirtiest in the nation and emits a high amount of carbon dioxide, a chief contributor to global warming.
Knowledge is the antidote to the apathy that can result from feeling overwhelmed and unequipped to make sense of complex issues that effect water, like climate change and the drought, says Gordon. It’s hard to imagine anyone in California, or the West for that matter, unaware of the drought, yet many people continue to water their lawns, and golf courses in the state remain plush. “My mission isn’t necessarily to change people’s behavior,” Gordon says, “but hopefully to give them information to make their decisions more thoughtfully.”
I’d like to say that this course has suddenly transformed me into a latter day John Muir, but in truth I see little room for improvement in my daily life. I recycle, I commute by bike as often as possible, and I shower less than my wife would prefer. And in the areas of my life where a change of behavior could reduce my water footprint, like forgoing the three-hour winter drive up I-70 in traffic to go skiing at Vail, I’m simply too selfish to sacrifice.
Still, there is reason for optimism. Betsy Youngman, a retired middle and high school science teacher of 25 years from Phoenix, who now develops and writes science curriculum, says that courses like Colorado University's can make a difference. She relates how her high school AP environmental science class at Phoenix Country Day School in Paradise Valley Arizona took direct action as a response to the lessons they learned in the classroom. She says, “The students spearheaded a recycling program at the school, found a way to get a test solar energy station installed on the roof of a building, and organized Earth Day events.”
                                                                                   Profile: Colleen Glyde Julian
                                                                              Coloradan Magazine, Dec. 1, 2013
Colleen Glyde Julian (EPOBio’97, MKines’01, PhD’07) knows a thing or two about living in rarefied air. On her way to becoming a three-time cross country and track and field All-American at CU-Boulder, she experienced firsthand how running at high altitude can leave you breathless.
Today, as assistant professor in the medicine department at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo., Colleen is hoping to use both her practical and theoretical knowledge to enhance the lives of others.
“I don’t think I’ll ever stop being in awe of how intricate human physiology is or how much biologic fine-tuning has to go on to keep the whole operation moving,” she says.
Babies born at altitudes greater than 8,000 feet are three times as likely to have lower birth weights compared to those born at lower altitudes. In Colorado birth weight declines an average of just over 3.5 ounces per 3,300 feet. She explains that lower barometric pressure at high altitude means less oxygen is available in the air, which results in the baby receiving an inadequate supply of oxygen — a condition known as in utero hypoxia — and fewer nutrients.
Underweight babies have a higher probability of neonatal morbidity and mortality and a greater risk of such complications as jaundice, anemia and respiratory distress. Furthermore, when these babies reach adulthood they may be more susceptible to pulmonary diseases, according to Colleen and her colleagues.
In Bolivia she and her team discovered the effects of high altitude in pregnant Andean women, whose ancestors had lived at high altitude for millennia, are counteracted by increased blood flow and oxygen to the fetus through the expansion of blood vessels. In contrast, European women did not show this adaptation.
As a result, Colleen thinks it may be possible in the future to “identify therapeutic targets, so we can not only help prevent or treat hypoxia-related pregnancy complications but also their long-term consequences.”
She credits her time as a CU-Boulder athlete with helping to shape her scientific mind.
“When things aren’t panning out the way they should, you try something new, you ask questions, you get creative, you ask for advice, you modify your plan, but you keep moving forward and you keep trying even when the most attractive option is to just sit down,” she says.
                                                                                                Indelible Dirt
                                                                             Independent Weekly, June 27, 2012

Over the past several years, the number of "gentleman farmers" taking their goods to market has increased as quickly as the variety of heirloom tomatoes sold there.

So, just what is a gentleman farmer? He or she is someone who farms for pleasure, not the need of money. They have an alternate source of income or might have cashed out altogether in search of something to fill time, inflate ego or invoke long-lost roots. For the gentleman farmer, farming is a hobby.

There's nothing necessarily wrong with farming flirtation, but it does become a problem when these farmers set up shop at the local market, competing with and sometimes bleeding those who depend upon the cash for their crops. In spite of the utopian ethos generally associated with local farmers markets, a bureaucracy lurks beyond the idyllic veneer; the laws of supply and demand still apply. Once a market accepts a gentleman farmer, there's one less spot for a young agriculturalist burning to plant and sow for what I consider the right reasons, or for an old-timer who needs the harvest to pay bills and support a family.

For the past three years, I watched the farmer I worked for suffer through two serious illnesses, pulled muscles and a mysterious shoulder-and-hip ailment. Actually, it was only mysterious because he couldn't afford health insurance. And that's just the physical toll. Last year, the transmissions on both of his beat-up pickups quit, costing him a fine 10 grand. His barn burned to the ground, killing a beloved sow and her newly born piglets. The John Deere wouldn't start and had to be fixed. Implements break. Crops fall short of expectations. Feed has to be purchased. Mortgages and employees must be paid. Expense invoices pile up like potatoes and butternut squash in his cluttered office. "White Cross, North Carolina, where the wind blows, the corn grows and the farmer does owe" goes a saying familiar to those locals trying to eke out an existence on the land.

On the farm, I often witnessed these hobbyists come for advice or to borrow equipment. That's fine and neighborly, but the gentleman farmer's perception of time and place is skewed—in this case, farming is an escape from the pressures of work or life. To the full-time farmer, the pressures of farming and its endless chores are work and life themselves. Who would ever dream of hanging out at an accountant's office, chewing the fat and asking questions about debits and credits just so you could do your neighbor's books next year? Dirt that is not a permanent part of a farmer's fingernails, a newly purchased pickup and an overabundance of unblemished Carhartt clothing are all sure symptoms.

I don't want to sing too vociferously of the serious farmer's plight; there are an untold number of small joys that are experienced daily. Most wouldn't give it up for the world. Let's hope they don't have to.
                                                                                 Running to Remember
                                                                              Running Times, Nov. 20011
It was the second week of September. I was in Maine for my honeymoon. The air was crisp, the summer crowds were gone and the Twin Towers were burning. I was training for the New York City Marathon but more specifically for the U.S. marathon championships to be held in conjunction with the race. There was never a doubt in my mind that the race would take place. So I continued to run in silence among the lakes and the fall-tinged leaves--to dance around the track in what now seemed like a senseless endeavor. How could I go for a run when people were forced to jump from the 100th floor? "Can you imagine how bad it must have been for someone to do that?" I asked my wife, Robyn. She hesitated, searching for an answer. "You have to go on; you can't give in. What else are you going to do?" Her advice sounded trite and I had a hard time accepting it, but of course she was right.

Still, I felt guilty. A guilt born of an illogical reaction to an irrational act of misplaced hatred and fear. I was alive. I was safe. My friends and family were healthy. And of course I ran. It's what we runners do to cope with life's uncertainties, to make sense of the senseless--that somehow by taking that first stiff, lumbering, seemingly insignificant step, things will work out. Step by step until the cadence builds, breathing hard, legs begin to burn and the pain that comes is good because it means life and a willful sacrifice towards progress. And as lactic acid fills your legs and doubts assail you, the only way to continue is to forget.

During my stay in Maine, I ran 130 miles per week. (Some honeymoon, huh?) I pushed myself like never before. I ran the endless carriage roads of Bar Harbor and took a respite from reality. I lost myself in the sound of shoes on gravel and the freedom of running, of breathing deeply.

We ended up staying with friends. My parents, unable to get a flight back to Colorado, decided to join us as well. Again, some honeymoon, but in the wake of the events it was a blessing to have loved ones close. We ate lobster, drank good wine and talked about the events of the past week in a surreal, detached manner. We dwelled on the details and the technicalities of the act itself and not on the aftermath. What type of plane had they used? How had their plans gone undetected? How had the terrorist targeting the Pentagon gotten on a plane with box cutters? Anything to distract us from the why and the unimaginable suffering that took place as a consequence of that answer.

When I was young, I watched diminutive and powerful Tanzanian Juma Ikangaa battle the sleek and graceful Ibrahim Hussein on TV. Juma always seemed to come in second but he ran with a fierce determination. He ran from the front with a willful disregard for the limits of the human body. As Ibrahim pulled away, I remember thinking, "Why doesn't he [Juma] just run harder?" Inevitably, I learned that success isn't always a question of willpower, that sometimes fate is stacked against you and the outcome seemingly determined.

But as I sat on the bus headed for the starting line and stared at the horizon where the Towers once stood, I knew this wasn't going to be one of those times. I ran with abandon. I followed the lead pack through the first 8 miles at a 4:48-per-mile clip, a pace that was beyond my abilities and impossible to sustain. I relented and was soon in no-man's land but I was never really alone. The people of New York filled the streets en masse. By the halfway point, I was suffering from a side stitch that finally gave way as I reached the Queensboro Bridge at about the 15-mile mark. Here the course begins to climb steeply before descending into Manhattan. The bridge is one of the few places spectators aren't allowed. It's a shock to be thrust suddenly into an eerie windswept silence after the perpetual shouts of encouragement, then, coming off the bridge, to be engulfed on First Avenue by what's the largest and loudest crowd along the course.

In Central Park, with 3 miles to go, I began to pay for my early exuberance. My legs were thrashed. I slowed but persevered, buoyed by the collective will of a city. I'd run in defense of and for a human ideal incommunicable but palpable to every runner and spectator. Yet unlike my time in Maine, I ran not to forget but to remember.
                                                          Profile: Cross country and Track & Field Reunion
                                                                    Coloradan Magazine, March 1, 2011

When CU cross country coach Mark Wetmore opened the van door with newly crowned champion Kara Grgas-Wheeler Goucher (Psych’01) to tell his team they had just won the 2000 NCAA Women’s Cross Country Championships, they told him, in no uncertain terms, “Shut the door!” They were in Ames, Iowa, and it was minus19 degrees Fahrenheit.

This was just one of the many stories recounted at the Cross Country and Track & Field Reunion Oct. 22-24 in Boulder to honor both the 2000 women’s cross country team and the 1985 men’s cross country team that finished third nationally.

Sprinter Wayne Hardy (CivEngr’54) recalls taking his first ever airplane ride to a meet in Kansas. And Cliff Branch (A&S’72) — after winning three Super Bowl rings with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders — tells of the bitter disappointment he felt losing the Big 8 Indoor Track & Field Championship team title by only a few points.
As the night progressed, some stories may have been embellished, but there could be no denying the genuine friendships that were forged as CU student-athletes.

“As a student-athlete the experiences you have on a team are irreplaceable,” says Sara Gorton Slattery (Bus, Econ’03, MEdu’05), who placed eighth in 2000 and is an Alumni C Club assistant. “You work together for the same goal each season and see your teammates go through the same sacrifices and struggles you do each day. Often, you’re away from home and your teammates become your family. You can’t re-create those friendships with anyone.”

Clint Wells (Psych’98) had a successful postcollegiate distance running career, but his time at CU was invaluable. “Look at this,” he says, his arm sweeping over the crowd of former athletes. “This is what it’s all about; it was always about being part of a team.”

Dan Reese (Psych’85), pictured above and an inductee into the Colorado Running Hall of Fame and member of the 1985 men’s cross country team, says his team came together when Mick Bannister’s (Geog, Math’85) father died before regionals. Mick flew back to England for the funeral and missed the meet. He told the team that if they qualified for nationals he would “run out of his mind.” He did.

Jerry Quiller, coach of the 1985 team, sums up the weekend best when he says, “As you get older your priorities transcend past winning and losing to health, family and friends.”
                                                                                        Time To Get High
                                                                             Slow Trains Literary Journal, 2008

To each his own. Call me Scott. When the shit hits the fan, and it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge (Boulder, Colorado) I head for the high country, the terrible high places, the high and lonesome, the mountains. The mere mention of those words invoke joy, pain, loneliness, contentment and the anticipation of adventure -- the stuff of life.

I finished fourth at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Marathon trials: all those 140 mile weeks, all the lung-searing interval sessions, only to come up short. I was a reservoir of pent-up anger, frustration and energy with no outlet. Mr. Jack Daniels and I were becoming good friends, and my days were spent aimlessly wandering the streets and trails of Boulder. Time to leave, but where? Pouring over an atlas of the west: Wheeler Peak 13,063 Ft, located in Great Basin National Park caught my eye and imagination. I was transported back to the Larson family vacations. My dad, mom, sister, uncle, aunt, and two cousins rambling through the barren Nevada landscape jammed into a '77 green VW van on our way to San Diego. Me listening to Duran Duran on my Trapper Keeper-sized Walkman amidst the chaos…she’s hungry like the wolf…fixated on the snow covered peaks in the not so far distance. Thinking: someday I’ll come back and ski here.

I decide first to go to the Ruby mountains near Elko, Nevada, then work my way south. I worry that the national park will be crowded with pork rind-eating, RV (repulsive vehicles) driving tourists. If I had it my way, these voyagers would be banished to Lubbock Texas, never to be seen again. I want to come as close as possible to a solitary wilderness experience, while still covering a large territory. Skiing-wise nothing interests me, so I backpack five miles to Favre Lake. The parking lot is crowded, but no one ventures past the first snow field; I’m happy the masses are content with the view from the asphalt. I spend the night reading The Call of the Wild, and munch on salami, cheese and crackers. When I return from my night under the stars, I stop at O'Carroll's & The Grill. in Lamoille, Nevada. Shortly after I arrive at 10:30 am, a group of ranchers walk through the door and order a round of Budweisers. Some wear caps, others don cowboy hats, some have a gut, and others are wiry, but all are strong, have weather-beaten tan faces and the hands of men who earn an honest living. CNBC blares on the TV over the bar, the NASDAQ is down, and combined with the ranchers’ conversation it makes for a surreal scene. I order a ham and cheese omelet with hashbrowns, toast, and coffee from a sweet, petite blond who flashes a genuine smile, and listen to the men discuss the days events.

The following quotes are as accurate as my short- term memory, the time it takes me to scarf down breakfast.
Patron at bar: “Laying yourself some wire? You’re bleeding there.”
Rancher #1: (In a boisterous voice.) “Well send me to the hospital, I need a haircut. Can they cut hair?”
R#2: (After dying laughter.) “Laid ten, twelve lines of barbwire this morning.”
R#3: “Well, goddam better give me a beer. You’re not having any after that?”
R#1: “He’s going straight on ye.”
R#1: (several minutes of silence pass, another round is ordered.) “Have you seen those heifers? Jesus Christ, slicker than shit. Christ did they put on weight.”

I roll down Highway 93 at eighty miles an hour, listening to my Bob Marley tape for what must be the tenth time. The wind kicks up a swirling ball of dust to my right, while my left hand makes like a dolphin and slices through the hot air. I turn east at Ely, Nevada, and travel on Highway 50, touted as the loneliest road in America, for a short time before reaching my destination.The Great Basin extends from the Sierra Nevada of California to the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, an approximately 200,000 square mile area. Scientists prize the region because it is regarded as a closed hydrological system; none of its waters reach the ocean. This makes the Great Basin an ideal place to study biological diversity and human impact on our environment, such as global warming.
With the rest of the lemmings I hike the 4.3 mile, 2,900 vertical feet trail to the summit of Wheeler Peak. I blaze past flatlanders who are busy sucking air (one of the side benefits of six months self imposed suffering). From the top it is easy to see why the area is geologically known as basin and range. For as far as the eye can see, the land resembles an accordion. Mountains run north-south and are separated by dry valleys of sagebrush. Each oasis in the desert contains a variety of plant and wildlife. Pinyon-juniper woodlands, Englemann spruce and Douglas fir forests, aspen groves and in some cases bristlecone pine thrive. Cutthroat trout, golden eagles, deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain lion all make their home here.

Enough of the science lecture; I’m done playing tourist. The snow is lacking and it seems my skis will not be needed on this trip.

Headed for home, I drive east on I-70, wanting something more. The trip's been a general success, but I haven’t had that one unforgettable experience for which I’ve searched. I’m in Utah passing through scrub country, plateaus with rocks the color of rusting iron stretch to eternity: maybe I’ve been trying too hard to create a lasting memory, those moments usually come when you give yourself up to the journey, and take things as they come. I stop at a roadside rest area and buy a pinyon pine-nut necklace from a beautiful Navajo girl with large dark eyes. For a moment I contemplate stopping in Moab to join the spandex-clad fat-tire fanatics in their spinning revelry, but it’s too hot and crowded. Been there, done that.

I stare at the snow-capped La Sal Mountains -- a sight for sore eyes after driving through so much inspiring, yet desolate, country -- and decide to ski Mount Tukuhnikivats. The same mountain Edward Abbey climbed to escape the oppressive heat in his classic book, Desert Solitaire. My mind races as I try to remember his description of the mountain, and his two-night excursion. I remember he drove up a rutted four-wheel drive road, camped in a grove of aspen, and stated that Mount Tukuhnikivats is not the highest of the surrounding mountains. Not much to go on, so I hightail it skyward and find a quiet place to pitch my tent. After over an hour and a half of driving, most of it on rough dirt roads, I stop at a meadow surrounded by quaking aspen and dotted with yellow and blue wildflowers. While I set up my tent, two deer come bounding through the trees running free and easy. I still have over an hour of daylight to burn. I’m rejuvenated by the cool mountain air, and am anxious to climb above the trees to see if a ski descent is possible. I hop on my bike with frayed tires and ride hard for forty minutes, keeping an eye out for the carved initials "EA" in the white bark of an aspen. The road finally begins to level, and as I reach the top a snow-filled couloir looms over the next pine-covered ridge. The date on my watch reads 6/9, but it may as well be Christmas. Less than fifteen minutes of eye-watering fun has me back at camp, where I devour a dinner of steak and beer while the sun bows and the temperature dips.

I wake at five a.m.: dress, inhale a Pop-Tart, wash it down with cranberry juice, and stuff my pack with ski boots, extra clothes and water. After my scarred 185cm Rossignol skis are cinched to the side of my pack, I toss it in the back of the truck and grind to the section in the road where a fallen tree blocks further progress. Exchanging four wheels for two, I labor upward, the heavy pack making travel difficult and awkward. Reaching the end of the road, I stash my bike and make tracks over the dense pine slope observed yesterday. I make great time, not hurrying, simply enjoying physical exertion in the midst of grandeur, and arrive at the base of the peak in a couple hours. A quarter of a mile up I’m forced to kick steps in the firm snow; kick, kick, step…kick, kick, step…The sun is intense at this altitude and there are no clouds to shield me from its rays. Sweat rolls down my face, falling to the surface. Lying in the snow is a small thin piece of paper. I bend down to pick it up, careful to keep my balance as the load on my back shifts. It’s a page out of a Bible. I want to stop and read, but I’m in the flow and decide to put the scripture in my pocket and continue. Near the top the angle steepens, and I feel vulnerable and humbled by my insignificance in this vast landscape. A fall wouldn’t be fatal, but the slope's fall line runs diagonal to the bottom, and I would end up crashing into the granite boulders that flank the couloir.

The view from the top is a study in contrast. The red rocks of the Canyonlands, the peaks of the La Sal, and the flatlands to the east fill my senses. I look for a metal benchmark that would betray the identity of the mountain, but find none. Resting in the sun I converse with the local pica.

“I’m not certain, but I think I must be on Mount Peale or Mount Mellanthin.”
“Squeak, squeak. “
“I’m glad I’m up here and not baking down there.”
“Squeak, squeak.”
“The snow looks like perfect corn, it should be a great ski!”
“Squeak, squeak.”

After a week of silence it’s nice to chat. He is in complete agreement with everything I’ve said.
I click in and fly down the mountain, free falling for a fraction of a second as I unweight to make my next turn. My skis carve big sweeping turns in the soft snow despite my worn edges. It’s all over too soon; I head back to the car exhausted and satisfied. Suddenly I remember the abandoned prose and search my pocket, but it’s not there. Later at home I scour the Bible for a passage I would like to think was on that lost page.

Praise the lord from the earth Sea monsters and all deeps; Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling his word; Mountains and all hills… Psalms 148: 7-9The journey is complete and I’m content and at peace; but like an aspen, my soul quakes, and is easily stirred by the wind, rivers, people, and mountains of the American west.

                                                                          Why The Sudden Interest in Africa?
                                                               American Satellite Magazine, October 10, 2008

Amid the American economic meltdown and the upcoming presidential election the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) became fully operational October 1 with little scrutiny. Africom will have a base in Djibouti with the idea of placing bases throughout Africa in the future. Despite fears that this endeavor marks the beginning of an increased United States military presence in Africa, Gen. William “Kip” Ward, commander of Africom, assured opponents that the U.S. military will only function in a supporting role to civilian agencies with the mission of fostering an environment of security where development can occur.

 But in light of the Iraq war and an increased Chinese presence in Africa, can the U.S. be taken at its word? There is growing concern that the U.S. has a hidden agenda, particularly with regard to Africa’s wealth of oil reserves. “Africans believe Africom is aimed at promoting America's interests, not Africa's," said Wafula Okumu, a Kenyan analyst at South Africa's Institute for Security Studies. Nigeria is now the the fifth leading importer of crude oil to the U.S. and with the tightening supply of oil among competing nations like Russia and China, Africa’s importance to the United States is vital — something Africom officials fail to admit among their claims of altruistic endeavors. But if America’s aim in Africa, as they state, is solely to stabilize and enhance the continent, then why doesn’t this support come in the form of humanitarian aid and infrastructure development projects rather than in military training? Where was the U.S. during the genocide in Darfur? And why the sudden interest in Africa?

If America wants to enhance its security with regard to Africa and earn back the support of the the world’s leading nations as well as the third world countries it professes to help, it would be better served by leaving its military at home. America is increasingly seen as a nation bent on the colonization of oil rich nations with little regard for the people it displaces. The Iraq war and now Africom do little to squelch this notion. Had the post-9/11 U.S. put the money it subsequently squandered on the Iraq war into the building of Afghan schools, roads, sewers and health facilities, Al Quida would not have had the opportunity to regain solid footing in Afghanistan. When a nation and people have a country worth fighting for, they will do their own bidding without the resented acceptance of an outside force. Afghans see the minimal improvements made to their country by the U.S. as promoting U.S. self-interest, and, as a result, the vacuum left by the United States, in the form of continuing poverty and inadequate humanitarian support, has been filled by terrorist organizations. The U.S. failed to give the Afghan people a stake in their own country, a mistake they should not make in Africa. America does not have the resources, manpower or support of its allies to play policeman to the world.
Indeed, the U.S. has a long history of supporting corrupt, violent regimes if militarily advantageous. One need look no further than U.S. support of Iraq in the face of a powerful Iran and its support of the Mujahideen in the Soviet- Afghan war — factions of those former allies that they are now actively at war against.
Africom’s mission statement is decidedly abstract leaving the possibility of increased U.S. involvement in Africa. Africa is seen by the U.S. as a safe haven for terrorists and it would seem that the rooting out of these terrorists would fall under Africom's objective of “security,” something Africom denies. “So this isn't about chasing terrorists around Africa,” said Theresa Whelan, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs. “Obviously, within the context of security we will — [if] the issue of terrorism arises, but it is in the broader context of security. That is not the specific purpose of this command.” Still, Africans fear they will become proxies to America’s war on terror and recent history combined with Mrs. Whelan's less than clear assurances to the contrary give them good reason.
                                             A Look Back On My Attempt To Infiltrate The DNC (Oh, And God Hates Democrats)
                                                                 American Satellite Magazine, September 13, 2008

Today, while 74,000 people bask in the aftermath of Obama’s historic speech (I realize the importance of it all but I’m not sure I’m ready to call it historic -- my breakfast too is historic--let’s wait till November and see how things shake out) and recount my attempt take part in... um, the historic event.

8:00 am No ticket to the future historic speech

8:17 Still no ticket to the future historic speech

9:00 Not enough money in my bank account to buy a ticket to the future historic speech even if there was a euro sign next to my account balance.

11:30 Pick up my son Michael from kindergarten. I ask him who he’s voting for: McCain or Obama. “I’m voting for Hillary,” he says. I tell him Hillary lost to Obama -- it’seither Obama or McCain; Hillary wants you to vote for Obama. “I’m still voting for Hillary.” Some people just can’t let go.

12:18 p.m. After dropping Michael off at my parents, I head for the convention. My plan is to go to Mile High and catch the ‘God Hates Democrats’ rally sponsored by the Westboro Baptist Church.... If there’s going to be any action this is where it’s going to be. If I don’t see arrests, dousings of pepper spray, or billy club toting providers of peace and tranquility bashing heads I’ll be disappointed.

12:55 Arrive...miles from Invesco,somewhere off Federal Boulevard I hear sirens. Good sign. I begin my walk.

1:20 Walking

1:34 Still walking. It’s getting hot. I left my water bottle in the car.

1:40 I made it! But... you can’t get within shouting distance of Mile High, not even if you had a voice like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr.

1:42 I join the exodus. I notice I’m the only one without a credential -- this doesn’t stop me. The scene resembles a small country on national holiday. If McCain wins the election maybe he could take it over--I hope he doesn’t tear down the bronco;everyone is in a jovial mood. I’m getting thirsty.

1:47 Up ahead a sign for water -- only two dollars.

1:48 Water in hand, my wallet at home, I give the water back. “A man’s gotta make a living,” he says.

1:55 I must be doing something right in this world, karma of karmas; they’re giving out free water--its wrapped in an edition of Discovery News. My first hand out since the Bush incentive package. Who says Republicans don’t care?

2:01 I look at the paper. Discovered: Sodom and Gomorrah, reads one headline followed by a picture with the caption: Cities destroyed by burning sulfur pellets.

2:03 I’m handed a package of ‘Protect Yourself from John McCain’ condoms. I immediately look to the skies for burning sulfur pellets.

2:06 I admit to myself that I’m addicted to free stuff. I’ll take anything as long as it’s free, no matter how crappy
it is. I’m not alone, half of Boulder feeds themselves on Whole Foods samples. Cinnamon and sugar nachos anyone?

2:10 I’m beginning to hallucinate that I’m interviewing the leader of ‘God Hates Democrats.

’Me: May I ask you some questions.
Him: Who do you write for?
Me: It’s an article for American Satellite.
Him: American Satellite, as in God fearing Republicans?
Me: Uh, yeah, sure.
Him: God smiles on you my son.
Me: Thank you Sir. Do you have any Democrats in your congregation?
Him: Of course not. Monica Goodling used to moonlight for us, tho now she’s full time.
Me: What do you have against the Democrats?
Him: Other than the fags and baby killers? Why, not a thing.
Me: Can a Democrat go to heaven?
Him: Not unless heaven bends over.
Me: You sound like a mighty fine Christian Sir.
Him: God Damn right I am.

2:20 I’m brought back to reality by a red-haired kid hawking free dog tags. On my knees with the rest of the horde, I snag one from a 60-something women wearing a stars and stripes top hat.

2:27 They’ve routed us down a steep embankment covered in gravel. A women in high heels curses. Her husband’s halfway down to the bottom.

2:28 An older women falls. Five people rush to help her up.

2:50 The end of the road. People stand in line waiting to have their creditials checked. They wear a look of relief on their faces something l imagine like the Jews must have looked after the parting of the Red Sea. I wonder if they know God hates Democrats. Idon’t have the heart to tell them.
                                                      Show Me A Man With A Cause And I'll Show You A Hypocrite
                                                                      American Satellite Magazine August, 2008

Show me a man with a cause and I’ll show you a hypocrite. The headlines are ripe with examples: The politician who built a career fighting prostitution spends thousands of dollars on a buxom brunette hooker. The Evangelical Christian who rails against gay rights is gladly bending over to retrieve the soap. It’s more than the Shakespearean coverup of, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” -- but what else is it?

To find the answer, don’t look in the bank accounts of our elected officials, it’s in our midst each and every day -- take a look in the mirror and it will be there as well. I’m all for pink ribbons and a cure for AIDS, but I’m ready to report my neighbor (who power washes his car and revs his motorcycle like he’s from the NASCAR belt) to the Home Owners Association as an anonymous tip, rather than having a simple neighborly chat. I’ll sign petition after petition for clean air and water, even going so far as send a letter of complaint to a Senator or two, but in the end that's all I’ll do. Dostoevsky said it this way in The Brothers Karamazov, “The more I detest men individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity.”

What’s the reason for this contradiction? As individuals and a nation we’ve come to a point where we don’t believe we can cause meaningful change. The kindness shown to a neighbor will not affect the overall prosperity of a long suffering world so why bother--I’ll cut you off despite my ‘Free Tibet’ bumper sticker.

If we don’t believe that acting as concerned, caring humans with the belief system that patience, perseverance and kindness can enact lasting change, then wide sweeping, fast acting, progressive transmogrification must be the answer. So, as a nation we latch on to a Presidential candidate who promises change or a cause with the exalted goal of ending genocide. Driving down Broadway in Boulder one afternoon I see a group of four ladies picketing to end the genocide in Darfur and my first reaction is: “Of course I’m with you on that, but you can stand here all night and the machetes will still fly and women stepping outside the refugee camp for fire wood will still be raped. It’s the height of guilt, vanity and hypocrisy to stand on the corner with smiles on your faces, signs in the air, when tonight you’ll sleep in plush beds.” But of course I’m no better -- honking my horn as I pass in a show of solidarity.

We’re paralyzed, either from existential impotence or from our own selfish comforts. In the end, 9/11, the genocide in Rwanda and Sudan, and the war in Iraq have yet to become a great enough impetus to force soulful, willful action on the part of the majority of Americans--simply put, we don’t care enough. Our causes are mere representations of the ideals we aspire to, but we don’t know how to bring these goals to fruition and we don’t believe we can. So, while I cringe over the newspaper during my morning coffee, shake my head and mutter about the incompetence of our leaders, my day will proceed just as it always has.
                                                                                                 Give Me The Tour
                                                                                     Runner’s World online,  July 2003

The spandex-clad geeked-out world of cycling is beckoning—a siren song as strong as EPO to an elephant-eared Italian cyclist. I resist, but the peloton is fast approaching and threatens to sweep me up in its slipstream of splendor.

Time to trade my New Balance 716’s for a pair of cleats, my shorts and singlet for a logo bedecked jersey and form fitting Lycra? Probably not—I’m not even sure they make bicycle shorts tight enough for my spindly legs—I’d just as well resemble a white rapper named after a candy coated chocolate treat, as I would Lance Armstrong. But given the opportunity to watch the Tour de France or one of America’s major marathons, my TV would be glaring with images of men in pain pedaling space age tricycles up mountains with gradients that have the kick of Kentucky moonshine.

What’s to stop me? The enraptured coverage we’ve (as a show of loyalty to the running brethren I include myself) come to expect? The cuts to commercial inevitably made in conjunction with the move of the race? Sad song bios of middle of the packers as the gazelles up front glide on? The drone of the commentators duly noting historical points of interest along the course? Fine for a National Geographic special but not an athletic event. It’s not their fault really (unless you happen to have the first name Carol and are the sister of a once fleet-footed cheater). TV land doesn’t trust the inherent drama of the purest (not referring to chemical morality) of all sports. The producers would be wise to let the race evolve without the sideshows. Men and women staring down the barrel of a 26.2 caliber gun, running heroically into a land of self-inflicted pain makes for good TV. Let the race stand alone and if it comes crashing to the floor like a Saturday night drunk, then give the masses the PBA to go along with their PBR.

Contrast the blah blah blah telecast with the sublime prose of the bards of cycling, Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett ...he’s obviously suffering like a dog... time to dig deep into the suitcase of courage... the race has been blown to smithereens. Descriptions of men turning themselves inside out, willing themselves to become more than their allotted DNA (drugs not withstanding, OK I’m a cynic). The race becomes more than first man across the line; it evolves into a testament of our ability to turn self-doubt and fear into greatness. Lance wins the race, another dons the Sprinter’s Jersey and yet another becomes King of the Mountains, but in the end real glory comes when heroes and no names alike spin into the Champs- Elysees and pass around the Arc de Triomphe, two thousand plus miles put to rest.

Running has all the intrinsic beauty of cycling. The winner strings one step in front of the other faster than those vanquished--and this is all we get, a logarithm of predetermined destiny. As if the athlete’s stoic face, relaxed skin jouncing over protruding cheekbones belie the soul. Battles rage within. Show me. Tell me.

Maybe it’s all the miles I’ve logged that are making me a little loopy, but I’m slowly morphing into a cyclist, if only in my imagination. The infamously steep Old Stage road in Boulder has become Alp D’Huez and the little voice in my head tells me in an English accent that I’m dancing on my pedals as I grind up. I was Sean Nesbitt’s domestique, a cycling term for the work horses who break the wind for their team’s strongest member, pacing him to his Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying run at the Louisville Marathon. I’m not the only one. Sean has dubbed himself The Angry Runner (Le Coureur Fache.) Any self-respecting member of the peloton needs a nickname and preferably in a language other than English-- Bernard Hinault, The Badger (Le Blaireau); Eddy Merckx, The Cannibal (Le Cannibale); all legends of the road bigger than the mountains they conquered. The romance of it all: in the saddle by day scarfing pasta and swilling wine by night— but like training plans neatly crafted with visions of momentous races prancing in the cranium the twice daily floggings are often overlooked. How can 10 x 1000m look so enticing on paper and in reality be so ...well, painful?

This cycling business has gone far enough. I’m throwing around The Mountain Lion (Le Lion de Montagne) as my moniker, which is still within the realm of a grown man’s childish delusions, but I caught a glimpse of my gorilla like legs and had the sudden urge to do drastic things with razors. God help me.
                                                                                    Sometimes the Marathon Wins 
                                                                                         Men's Racing, Dec. 2002

I limp, confined to the sidewalk, toward 77th Street in Brooklyn to catch the subway back to Manhattan. I have just passed the three-mile mark of the New York City Marathon, but my race is over. To my left runners flow en masse, not far removed from the Staten Island start, still with the energy to match shouts with the coffee-sipping spectators.

No runner makes it to the start of the New York City Marathon without personal sacrifice. The temptation to hit the snooze button squelched in order to get in 10 miles before work, an extra slice of pizza forgone, long runs crammed in between weekend errands are some of the many. For my part, I traveled to Kimberley, a small town located in the South African interior, for a five-week training stint with Gert Thys, a 2:06 marathoner (he would place seventh in New York this year); Ian Syster, who ran 2:07 last April in London; and Tobias Hiskia, a talented young Namibian. "You must eat," Gert advises over a dinner of curried chicken and rice. "Tomorrow is town-to- town."At 6:30 on a Sunday morning, we hit the road from Kimberley to Barkley Wes at a 5:20 per mile clip. Sprawling brown grasslands dotted with small trees surround us. Baboons graze confidently by the road I will get to know intimately. The peacefulness of the rising sun and the distant melodies from shantytown singing in no way belie my inner struggle."Relax," I tell myself. "One step at a time." But the rational mind is too strong. "I can't make it," it argues. With more than 15 miles still to go, my legs are sore and beginning to crumble. My stride is ragged, while the others seem to float. We slow for water provided by Gert's wife, who follows in a car. This saves me. The relentless pace subsides briefly, and along with it my panic. Now I count my steady exhalations, up to 100, then begin again. The time flies, my mind is quiet. We cover the last 5 miles at a pace hovering around five minutes per mile-23 miles in a little over two hours.

Six days a week, this was my sacrifice, this was my fight. There was no striving, only survival. The New York City Marathon seemed as distant as my trip home -- nowhere in my conscious thought. I trained hard, perhaps too hard. After one particularly trying effort over undulating terrain I saw blood in my urine. I told myself that sometimes it is important to push beyond what seems possible.

In many ways, running is a selfish sport. Personal sacrifice pales in comparison to the support given by spouses, family, and friends. They are the reason we pursue our dreams. My wife, Robyn, six months pregnant at the time of my departure, moved across town to our new home. My parents and our friends assisted. I ran.They expect nothing in return, but we as runners feel a deep accountability. Our gift to them is the accomplishment of our goals. All a runner can expect from himself or herself is total effort. However, when failure occurs, this is no salve.

In Bay Ridge, cold and shivering in singlet and shorts-the African struggle flushed from my body, seemingly wasted -- I stare blurry-eyed at the subway map. Dazed, in no frame of mind to reason, I hear a couple ask me if I need help."I have to get back to the Hilton in Manhattan," I mumble. Their daughter, Kathleen, gives me a long-sleeved shirt. Her friend hands me 10 dollars "just in case." They offer to travel with me to the hotel. I decline, and they give me clear directions instead.

Contrary to what the popular t-shirt proclaims, running is not life, but it can teach us a great deal about who we are and what we want to become. Anyone who has ever laced up a pair of running shoes with joy and mindful purpose knows the meaning of the word humility. And although the sacrifice of the runner is small compared to world sufferings, one has the notion that if more people joined our ranks, life would be better.That night I learn that I tore my plantar fascia not more than two miles into the race. Someday I'll be back, as will most of the people who traveled from around the world and across the United States to make this 26.2-mile journey. Not because of city nights or Broadway lights, but because of people like Kathleen. And because we accept the high price asked for the chance to try again.