Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Funniest local street name?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 11:14 AM

Am I the only one who didn't know up until five minutes ago that Colorado Springs has a street named Leather Chaps Drive?

Seriously, Leather Chaps Drive. You can find it near Baptist Road on Google maps:


Does this answer the oft-pondered questions, "Where the hell do all these bikers that fill places like Southside Johnny's, Benny's and the Royal Tavern live?" and "Where do rodeo stars settle down?"

Probably not.

Does it mean that leather chaps have transcended primary association with gay porn?

Chaps-clad Ken doll, Adam and Steve not included.
  • Chaps-clad Ken doll, Adam and Steve not included.

Probably so.

Is this the work of a developer with a dark sense of humor?

Has to be.

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Broncos forever

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 10:17 AM

From the listings desk: the playoffs may be out of the picture for the Broncos, but you can always count on fan, ahem, support.

As part of Art Matters Gallery's fundraising show Artful Bras, I give you:

Do you have one in Avalanche colors?
  • Do you have one in Avalanche colors?

Artful Bras aims to raise money for a digital mammography program to service Chaffee, Fremont and Saguache counties. A finale and reception for the show will take place Sat., Jan. 23, 2-6 p.m.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Serious about security

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 5:42 PM

When you hear the Homeland Security folks saying that they're tightening the standards for travelers this week, in the aftermath of the failed bomb attempt on a Northwest Airlines flight last Friday (Christmas Day) from Amsterdam to Detroit, they aren't kidding.

A member of my family was traveling back to the United States from China on Monday, via United Airlines, and apparently there wasn't a problem leaving Beijing. She had nearly a three-hour layover in San Francisco before continuing on another flight to Denver, which seemed to be far more than enough.

It wasn't. After waiting for baggage, going through customs, re-submitting the bags for the domestic flight, then going through an additional security screening, she barely made that flight out of San Francisco in time.

So don't be surprised if anyone you know has to deal with customs returning from another country, especially now with the added layers of security. Most likely, it'll mean a lot more travelers missing their connections and having to (hopefully) catch later flights.

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Prepare to drive in the new year

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 3:31 PM

If you are thinking of taking care of a little motor vehicle business on New Year's Eve ... think again. Thursday, Dec. 31, is one of a handful of furlough days for state government workers, including those in the Colorado Department of Revenue. While the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's offices will be open that day, workers won't be able to process matters related to driver's licenses, titles or vehicle registrations.

So if your expiration date is approaching, it might be a good resolution to go in on or before Wednesday.

The state has four scheduled furlough days in 2010, all of them on Fridays: Jan. 15, Feb. 12, April 2 and May 28.

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Ten from '09: Songs to remember, part 1

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 3:00 PM

The year-end countdown begins: Between now and New Year’s Eve, I’ll be rattling off my Top Ten favorite songs of 2009. The complete list, along with an especially long-winded essay, will be featured in Thursday’s paper, yours to treasure forever. I’m also hoping you’ll take a moment to share your own favorite tracks. (If all this saves just one life, it will not have been in vain.) So to kick things off, here’s Numbers 10-7, complete with accompanying videos:

No. 10: “Fantasy Man” by the Swell Season (Anti)

Not many artists can capture the austere melancholy of Nick Drake and Antonio Carlos Jobim without lapsing into the solipsism that fuels a thousand bearded and boring indie-folk poseurs. Between the two of them, the Swell Season’s Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová have, in fact, managed one beard, but resemblances end there.
“Fantasy Man” is one of the more unassuming tracks on an album that’s not all that assuming in the first place. Irglová is bascially in charge on this one, with engaging vocals that suggest a less calculated Feist, and a quietly beautiful arrangement of acoustic guitar, piano and handclaps. The song is, to use entirely inappropriate terminology, a grower not a shower, so give it a chance.

No. 9: “Sea Within a Sea” by the Horrors (XL)

Wow, 8 ½ droney, druggy, but not draggy minutes, and not one proper chorus — unless you count the weirdly modulated bit midway through. “Sea Within a Sea” sounds like the Horrors have spent a lot of time listening to the three Js — Julian Cope, John Foxx and Joy Division — but they could do worse (and, in fact, have). The raved-out arpeggiation builds slowly and subtly and, by the end, this is a thing of undeniable beauty.

No. 8: “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” by Mayer Hawthorne (Stones Throw)

Producer Sam Phillips reportedly said he’d make a million dollars if he could find a white boy who could sing like a black man. Ironically, Mayer Hawthorne sounds way blacker than Elvis and looks way whiter, especially with those horn-rimmed glasses.
Hip-hop scenester Peanut Butter Wolf put out Hawthorne’s exceedingly swell debut album back in September, and “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” is a perfect showcase for the singer’s sweet high-tenor vocals that make it sound like the church of Smokey Robinson is back in business. And yes, an earlier version of the song was released as a red, heart-shaped 7-inch toward the end of ’08, but it took a while to, as the Grammy folks say, “achieve prominence.”

No. 7: “When I Grow Up” by Fever Ray (Mute)

Incurably accented and insidiously eccentric, Karin Dreijer Andersson’s vocals are instantly affecting, whether performing with her brother Olof in the Knife, guesting with chillout duo Röyksopp, or masterminding her own solo project called Fever Ray. And while it’s true that the Swede’s disturbing imagery and frequently pitch-shifted singing makes Björk seem stable and reassuring by comparison, her eerily beautiful electronic pop is incredibly alluring if you give it half a chance. “When I Grow Up” is pretty unforgettable, and even more so once you see the video.

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Plan your garden now

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 2:35 PM

If you're the backyard type and already feeling antsy about being stuck inside the rest of winter, remember there is some work you can do on your garden now without actually bundling up.

Mainly, planning your garden for next season. Which crops will you rotate? Where should you amend the soil? Should you try out new greens or veggies?

If you're the visual type thinker/planner, consider using this handy square-foot garden calculator.


You basically drag and drop items into the grid, and afterward, the site will provide printable planting instructions such as how many seeds or plants to plant per square, which represents a 12-by-12-inch area.

Larry Stebbins of Pikes Peak Urban Gardens says "Some of the pre-calculated spacings are bit tight for some of the veggies (in my opinion) such as tomatoes, squash and broccoli. [But|, overall it is handy."

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Santa's global PR trip

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Since 1955, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has been tracking Santa's Christmas Eve flight, but as Geek.com reports, this year the NORAD mission "became a global phenomenon."

It was picked up by social media sites and literally hundreds of news stories promoted the high-tech trek around the world in seven languages.

Lt. Comm. Gary Ross tells the Independent the site's popularity and high profile this year could be due to nothing that NORAD did or didn't do. "It probably was a matter of there wasn't a lot of hard news at that time," he says.

Although Ross said the command wouldn't release the numbers until later today, Geek.com reported the NORAD Santa site recorded nearly 9 million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. That's a million more than last year.

Geek.com also reports volunteers and military personnel answered more than 70,000 phone calls and 12,000 emails "from children and young-at-hearts around the globe." To see the entire Geek.com report, click here.

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The definition of cold

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Although it's not a public event, anyone who wants to see how cold cold really is could crash a "media opportunity" to see firsthand how Colorado Springs firefighters train to perform ice rescues on lakes and ponds.

It will take place from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 4 at Prospect Lake's northeast corner near the Aquatics and Fitness Center, 280 S. Union Blvd.

During the demonstration, city folk promise to let reporters "participate in an actual ice rescue activity in the water." Talk about throwing cold water on a story!

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Art in Alamo City

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 8:29 AM

I know, this is hardly local, but bear with me, it is interesting.

While spending the holidays with family, we've visited the McNay Art Museum and the San Antonio Museum of Art.

At the McNay, Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker , a collection of paintings collected by Dutch art dealer Jacques Goudstikker which were pillaged by the Nazis in WWII and only recently returned (in part) to Goudstikker's family.

Remarkably, Goudstikker's notebook was recovered, accounting for all the paintings he ever purchased. Both the notebook and the NcNay's Reclaimed exhibition are featured on interactive Web sites.

Goudstikkers collection consisted mainly of works from the Dutch Golden Age.
  • McNay Art Museum
  • Goudstikker's collection consisted mainly of works from the Dutch Golden Age.

The exhibition closes on Jan. 10.

Meanwhile, SAMA currently hosts The Arts of the Missions of Northern New Spain: 1600-1821, which features grandiose Catholic art. Most interestingly, the show includes one specimen from the Taylor Collection at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. The piece is a rare hide painting, which was used in the early days of missionary work in Northern New Spain (primarily the southwest states today) as ultra-portable icons.

Catholic art is often highly emotional.
  • San Antonio Museum of Art
  • Catholic art is often highly emotional.

This exhibition closes on Jan. 3.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Colorado to insurance companies: don't forget 'the pill'

Posted By on Sun, Dec 27, 2009 at 7:05 PM

Katie Redding of the Colorado Independent recently wrote about a bill proposed in the Colorado Legislature that would mandate insurance companies cover maternity care, in addition to birth control.

"We do not have a law in CO that addresses [birth control], said Cameron Lewis, spokeswoman for the Colorado Division of Insurance. "There have been some actions taken in other states where if you offer something for one sex you have to offer a comparable thing for another. So for example you couldn’t offer Viagra for a man unless you offered birth control for a woman…But in CO we do not have a law or mandate that addresses that."

Last week, Redding further expounded in a Q&A on Rocky Mountain PBS' blog Panorama:

In its current state, the bill would require Colorado health insurance companies issuing plans on the individual market to cover maternity in the same manner that they currently cover sickness or accidents. The bill would also require both individual and group policies to cover pregnancy management, including contraceptive counseling, drugs and devices. But the bill explicitly excludes abortion procedures and services from the definition of pregnancy management. If the bill passes, the mandates would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2011.

Redding goes on to say that though the bill is in its early stages, lines are being drawn.

The debate, right now, is largely fiscal versus moral. Proponents argue that women who can manage their pregnancies and access good prenatal care have healthier babies. Detractors argue that mandates, however important, raise premiums.

Read the bill here.

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Bacon of the month?

Posted By on Sun, Dec 27, 2009 at 8:22 AM

Sure, you've heard of wine-of-the-month clubs and beer-of-the-month clubs, but bacon-of-the-month?

That's just ... well ... awesome! (Swinetastic, or porkalicious, even.)

I first heard about Zingerman's, which offers a three- ($99) or six-month ($180) membership, but then stumbled upon The Pig Next Door.

Just look how happy these piggies are:


Yeah, smiley logos can be deceiving, but the heirloom-club option promotes sustainable raising methods, at least.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pork in boots

Posted By on Sat, Dec 26, 2009 at 11:09 AM

Here's an interesting article and ensuing dialogue about how our unhealthy food system is undermining the military.

Could intentionally chunking up ever become the draft-dodging method of choice? (That is, assuming we ever get into another entanglement requiring such drastic measures as a draft.)

More pertinently, this AlterNet article points to a series of food issues facing our society, which impacts sectors like health insurance and agribusiness more so than the military. As the cliché goes: food for thought ...

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Abstinence programs hanging by a thread

Posted By on Sat, Dec 26, 2009 at 9:40 AM

There's a fresh irony in the latest developments on the health-care reform front: The outcome of negotiations between the House and Senate on their different versions of reform legislation also could determine the fate of national programs that promote abstinence from sex until marriage.

Actually, the Senate's bill includes money to continue such sex-ed programs in trying to cut back on teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

The latest federal budget, already approved, took away all such funding.

A Washington Post story, found online here, describes how abstinence opponents want that concept to go away because it hasn't worked. The concept started during the tenure of President George W. Bush, with more than $150 million annually going into teaching abstinence.

Those critical of the abstinence approach insist that making young people more aware about contraception is the best and most realistic approach to cutting down on pregnancies and diseases.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Broncos will go without Royal, Larsen

Posted By on Fri, Dec 25, 2009 at 5:42 PM

When the Denver Broncos fly to Philadelphia for their game Sunday afternoon against the Eagles, they'll be leaving two front-line players at home.

Wide receiver and kick returner Eddie Royal, along with fullback and special-teams standout Spencer Larsen, will not make the trip. Royal is sidelined by a persistent neck injry, while Larsen has a hamstring injury.

Royal has been an offensive disappointment in his second NFL season, but he still has been Denver's second-leading receiver and top returning threat. With him not available, the Broncos might turn to rookie receiver Kenny McKinley for returning kicks, but he hasn't been used much. Offensively, Denver likely will look for Brandon Stokley and Jabar Gaffney more in Royal's place.

Larsen's absence apparently will give a chance to second-year back Peyton Hillis, who was set back early in new head coach Josh McDaniels' regime by injuries and some fumbles. Hillis emerged late in the 2008 season as Denver's top running back until a season-ending hamstring injury. Hillis has only 12 carries for 54 yards all season.

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DIY fermentation and more

Posted By on Fri, Dec 25, 2009 at 2:21 PM

I was recently sent a DVD screener called Cook Your Way to Wellness by Burlington, Colo.-based Maria Atwood, a chapter leader for the Weston A Price Foundation, a nonprofit based around nutrition and healing.

Atwood runs her own Web site, where you can order a copy of the disc and obtain information on foods that supposedly restore health for a variety of ailments.

I'm not intending to advertise for her or to provide critical analysis of the tutorial disc (which she's the first to admit is pretty amateur), but it's a great introduction to a handful of food-prep techniques that curious foodies will probably appreciate.

Learn to make your own Kombucha tea, kefir and whey, and then use the byproducts to lacto-ferment items such as veggies, grains and nuts. If you're a person who already gardens, grows your own sprouts or does any raw food dieting, you'll probably dig this.

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