Monday, August 30, 2010

The story of Bear

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 1:08 PM

If you tear up over happy endings, get out your tissue.

Michael "Moondog" Golembesky, a Marine sergeant from Manitou, sends us the following story about how a dog in Afghanistan adopted him in the midst of combat.

Michael and Bear - happily ever after.
  • Courtesy Michael Golembesky
  • Michael and Bear, happily ever after.

I joined the Marine Corps after the events of Sept. 11th. I left Manitou Springs in 2002 and served five deployments over seas in the past eight years. This September I will be returning home to Manitou as a local combat Veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan.

During my final deployment to Afghanistan this year, I befriended and rescued a Afghan dog. His name is Bear and he is currently living in Manitou Springs with my wife and daughter.

Here is a brief overview of Bear's story. We were defending a hilltop in a major Taliban controlled area
under some of the heaviest fighting I have ever seen. On the third day we patrolled the village we were being engaged from. We found a small, nine-week puppy living in a bombed out building. He was shaking, dehydrated and hungry. Needless to say we took him in and brought him back to our hilltop. The team decided on naming him Bear, for obvious reasons. He has half a tail and almost no ears. Afghans cut them off so they can fight off wolves when defending their herds. For the next few days we cared for him while still being engaged by the Taliban. When it can time to depart the hill, I put Bear in our vehicle and brought him back to camp.

Bear is happy as can be now. He has food, water, a warm blanket next to my rack and more importantly; someone to care for him. Bear had survived three days of intense gunfire, RPG and air strikes before we found him.


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Long lost Rembrandt at the DAM

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Be still my heart, the Denver Art Museum has now unveiled a jewel permanent collection on loan from a private collection: a self-portrait of a 22-year-old Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn. The work is on loan to the museum from a private collection. It goes on view this week and be on display through Nov. 30. The museum press office says the work was obtained through a connection made by one of the museum curators and the collector.

  • Denver Art Museum

Back in the day, I couldn't understand why Rembrandt was and is so revered. But then I saw some of his paintings in person and everything changed. I swiftly realized that few artists have handled light and human expression as masterfully as Rembrandt (and fellow Dutch master Vermeer).

Anyway, you can get a good look at the painting, Rembrandt Laughing, with the help of DAM curator Timothy Standring at noon Thursday, Sept. 2, when Standring will give a presentation on the piece, covering "its creation in 1628 by a 22-year-old Rembrandt, through its long period of hiding, to its rediscovery at an auction and subsequent journey to the DAM."

The talk is free with museum general admission (although I would spring for King Tut tickets while you're there).

For more on the event, read here.

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OK, I'm hooked on a new book

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 11:43 AM

I received my daily e-mail from Publishers Weekly on Thursday, this one an obvious ad.


I went into it a skeptic, but ... I have to admit, it grabbed me. And kind of creeped me out. And pissed me off that they're marketing it so early, since it doesn't release until Jan. 11.

Visit and see what you think.

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Lorelei Beckstrom leaving Rubbish

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Lorelei Beckstrom, one of the three co-owners of Rubbish Gallery downtown, announced via Facebook this morning that she's leaving in two months to "focus on her own work again." Beckstrom is well-known locally for her own art, which usually employs the use of wood, ink and Plexiglass. (You can view her work at

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HuffPo on Franzen frenzy

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 7:42 AM

Last week, the Huffington Post ran an exclusive interview with New York Times' bestselling authors Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner (honestly, two of my personal faves), about the attention literary fiction author Jonathan Franzen received from the NYT over his new release:

With the publication of Jonathan Franzen's fourth novel, Freedom, which was extensively covered in the New York Times while Franzen himself appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, a controversy broke out online over whether Franzen's star treatment was indicative of the literary establishment's alleged shoddy treatment of commercial writers, in particular writers of what is commonly referred to as 'women's fiction.' Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult, both #1 New York Times bestselling authors, found themselves in the middle of the fray. Weiner and Picoult were gracious enough to discuss with me their thoughts on what role gender plays in literary criticism, the importance of popular fiction in our culture, and whether progress is being made.

You can read the whole piece here.

The Pikes Peak region is home to lots of published authors, many whose books fall in the "commercial fiction" category, such as romance writer Deb Stover, Jerry Jenkins of the Left Behind series, and sci-fi/fantasy author Kevin J. Anderson, who I interviewed a year ago.

Kevin Anderson
  • Kevin Anderson

I'm wondering what our readers think about Franzen, and Picoult and Weiner's comments. What do you all enjoy reading? And what do you think the NYT (and the Indy, for that matter) should cover?

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Friday, August 27, 2010

MMJ company to go public

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 6:27 PM

The Colorado Springs Business Journal reports that Denver-based Altitude Organics, a name that three Colorado Springs centers license, is working toward an IPO.

The Denver-based firm is a venture partner with The Amergence Group of Scottsdale. The firms hope to eventually transition their joint operation to a public company, said Altitude Organic CEO Brian Cook in a statement this week.

“We endeavor to meet the demand from new licensees and rapidly grow our business at a pace that is consistent with the current growth of this multibillion dollar market,” he said.

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Julie Penrose Fountain shut down for broken pump

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 5:16 PM

Mama always said, "Sometimes you just can't win."

So true.

A lot of community-minded people worked really hard to make sure the Julie Penrose Fountain would run this summer. And guess what, they did it! They raised the money. The fountain was running, and the kids were loving it, and then... and then the pump broke.

The fountain will be dry until at least next year.

Talk about a bummer. But hey, at least it ran as long as it did.

Here it is in official press-release terms:

Julie Penrose Fountain CLOSED for rest of season due to pump failure

The Julie Penrose Fountain at America the Beautiful Park closed today and will remain closed for the remainder of the season. The fountain was scheduled to be open this weekend and over Labor Day weekend before closing for the season, but equipment failure has caused the fountain to be shut down early. Signage has been posted at the site to notify visitors.

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You say 'patient,' I say 'caregiver'

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Let's call the whole grow off.

Or, so you might want to do after reading Westword's story regarding the wording in House Bill 1284, which states, "A patient who has designated a primary caregiver for himself or herself may not be designated as a primary caregiver for another patient."

The Denver newspaper spoke to an anonymous man who said he was taking 22 medications "and basically puking them up as soon as [he] took them," says the report. He started growing his own medical marijuana, and has knocked that list down to 14.

Before long, he decided to become his own caregiver. A couple of years later, he'd gained enough experience, and had enough medicine, "to help other people," he notes. "I became a caregiver for one patient first, and then another. And in working that out and learning how to grow, I became friends with another fellow who's also a patient. And he became my caregiver, and I became his caregiver. But now, the new law prohibits that, as I read it."

And it does. Spokesman Mark Salley at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told the newspaper: "If someone is a patient, and something comes through for them identifying that patient as a caregiver, the application would be denied."

To summarize, as one story commenter put it:

A law passed without anyone knowing what's in it. Imagine my surprise.

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Sedaris fans, this is for you

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 12:08 PM


From the Listings desk: David Sedaris, described as "America's preeminent humorist" and the "Mark Twain of our time" (which, of course, you already knew), is coming to the Boulder Theater on Oct. 26. He'll give a talk, answer audience questions and sign copies of his new book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, an illustrated volume of essays and stories about animals encountering very human conundrums. The Boulder Book Store will be be on site to sell his other works.

Tickets are on sale now and available here. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk goes on sale Sept. 28.

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Removing the stigma

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 10:32 AM

What with the Army's conclusion that many suicides are linked to alcohol abuse, a new program has been launched to allow soldiers to seek alcohol treatment confidentially.


Both of Colorado's Democratic senators — Mark Udall and Michael Bennet — were behind an effort to expand the program to Fort Carson. The program begins Monday.

As stated in a press release from Udall:

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Mark Udall announced that the Army has agreed to his request to implement the Confidential Alcohol Treatment Program — or CATEP — at Fort Carson starting Monday. The program will enable soldiers to seek confidential treatment for alcohol-related issues without fear of stigma or harm to their careers.

Senators Udall and Bennet requested last year that Fort Carson be added to the pilot program, which is already operating at other bases, in response to alarming findings in recent Army studies regarding risk behaviors by soldiers.

“Fort Carson’s soldiers and their families continue to make extraordinary sacrifices for the nation and for each other, and we need to provide more lines of support when they return from battle,” Senator Udall said. “I’m concerned that our troops are responding to stress by self-medicating and through the abuse of drugs and alcohol. We need to break down the barriers to seeking treatment, and this pilot program is one small step in the right direction.”

A recent Army-wide study of soldier suicides found that Army suicides are often linked to alcohol abuse and that the CATEP program helps soldiers “return to readiness, while enhancing the Army’s anti-stigma objectives.”

The report and Army leaders have said that some soldiers do not seek treatment because they fear ridicule by their peers or supervisors or other consequences. The CATEP would waive a requirement that soldiers have to notify their commanders if they refer themselves for treatment.

The pilot program is already being conducted at Schofield Barracks, Fort Richardson, and Fort Lewis.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another reason to hate the 60s

Posted By on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 5:46 PM

As if Amendments 60, 61 and 62 weren't enough to satisfy our far-right-wing dreams, now we get Amendment 63. The Colorado Secretary of State announced today that organizers, most notably the Independence Institute's Jon Caldara, pulled together enough signatures to put on the ballot a state opt-out of some elements of "Obamacare."

Fighting progress, one ballot initiative at a time.
  • Fighting progress, one ballot initiative at a time.

As explained by John Tomasic of the Colorado Independent:

The amendment seeks to block aspects of the federal health care legislation passed in the spring — mainly the key provision that seeks to lower costs by requiring all citizens to buy insurance.

He goes on to note that a majority vote for 63 wouldn't necessarily mean an immediate withdrawal from aspects of the federal plan:

Should the amendment pass, it would likely come under more legal fire, with attorneys prepping here and around the country to test whether Caldara’s amendment and similar laws could withstand charges that they unconstitutionally trample on federal authority.

But regardless, it'll give all of us one more chance to marvel at defenders of the status quo, in all its cost-soaring glory. And it will potentially take attention away from Amendments 60 and 61, and Proposition 101 — a key piece of the strategy for the crazies behind those initiatives, as we reported a few weeks ago.

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CU may discontinue journalism school

Posted By on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 5:43 PM

In an obvious attempt to make me feel like a dinosaur, my alma mater is considering shutting down the journalism school because it's "outdated."

The University of Colorado at Boulder announced it will consider discontinuing the journalism program as soon as 2012, citing the rapid evolution of media and the need to train students to use digital media.

Well, here's a little advice from the dinosaur: When you're teaching the kids all that fancy crap, don't forget to teach them how to do research, or how to build a story, or how to spell. While these skills may be old-school, the basics aren't outdated.

And there's something to be said for all those grumpy dinosaur professors at CU, too. You know who you are. You are the ones who like to taunt every kid who thinks they have born talent (god bless you). You are the ones who are stingy with compliments and generous with red ink.

I remember one professor telling our class, "You aren't writers; a writer is someone who writes every day."

Yes, actually, we did need to hear that. Just like all writers need a copy editor to tell them to go back to grammar school, and an editor to tell them they're not Shakespeare.

So good luck on all the big changes, CU. Just don't get all high and mighty on us.

Read more about the proposal here: Daily Camera.

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More from Aaron North

Posted By on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 1:43 PM

Once you get a taste for Aaron North's work, you're really hooked. North's whimsical and ultra-cheap multimedia drawings are now on display at Marika's Coffeehouse (formerly the Gift Shop) in Manitou Springs. You can read all about them in this week's paper, right here.

North works in simple pen-and-ink drawings (most pulled from his sketchbook), swiped with stripes of chalky colors and lined with a running stitch. What was once a part of diary is now dressed-up for public consumption. It's intimacy meets craftsmanship.

  • Aaron North

I happened upon North's work elsewhere just last week. I picked up a slick business card for the Drear Light, an art and design website ( On the site, you can find art and poetry books, including one made by North and site owner Garrett Dawson. It's called He & Him, about a boy with cloven hooves and deer with hands, and can be found through the site's link.

  • Aaron North

While you're there, you can also see a book created by local artist Holly Hinkle, a NocMoc darling we featured a few seasons back. (You can read it here.) Hinkle's book is devoted to her muse, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and features numerous harsh poems about Kahlo's tough life.

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Water storage deal sealed

Posted By on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 12:51 PM

If you're tracking the intricacies of delivering water to Colorado Springs for the next 38 years, you'll be interested to know that Colorado Springs Utilities reached agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation this week for storing, conveying and exchanging water using Pueblo Reservoir.

Deal made on Pueblo Reservoir storage.
  • Deal made on Pueblo Reservoir storage.

The talks spanned the summer but resulted in a deal that clears the way for city-owned Utilities to begin laying the 66-inch diameter pipe.

The Southern Delivery System is a pipeline project that will cost roughly $2.3 billion over 40 years, which includes financing and construction costs.

Utilities released the following to explain the importance of its agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation:

"This is another tremendous milestone for the project,” said John Fredell, SDS Program Director. “With this agreement, we've secured a reliable source of water to meet our communities' needs for decades to come.”

On Wednesday, Reclamation and the SDS partners agreed to no charge for conveyance and $36 per acre-foot for storage with a 1.79% escalation rate — down from Reclamation's initial proposal of 3.08%. The long-term excess capacity contracts provide for storage of up to 28,000 acre-feet for Colorado Springs, 10,000 acre-feet for Pueblo West, 2,500 acre-feet for Fountain and 1,500 acre-feet for Security. Colorado Springs — the only partner with an exchange contract — will pay $36 per acre-foot when an exchange is needed.

The SDS project communities will invest an estimated $31 million up front to construct the North Outlet Works — the infrastructure needed for conveying water from Pueblo Reservoir to the SDS pipeline. As part of the negotiations, Reclamation agreed to pay $5 million (net present value) for over-sizing the capacity of the North Outlet Works — a considerable increase over their starting offer of $287,500. The new outlet will benefit Reclamation and other water users by expanding the municipal/industrial capacity and providing redundancy, as well as opportunities for future leases and revenues generated for Reclamation.

In total, the contracts amount to a cost of roughly $70 million for the SDS partner communities over a 38-year period — almost 80 percent less than Reclamation’s starting offer in May of nearly $350 million.

“We set out to obtain a reasonable price for our customers and that’s what we ended up with," added Fredell. "We are pleased to have agreement on these contracts and the positive momentum as we move into the construction phase of this critical project.”

SDS construction is scheduled to begin this year. Work on a section of the finished-water pipeline will begin in September along Marksheffel Road in El Paso County between Highway 24 and Constitution Avenue. Coordinating this work with the County’s widening of Marksheffel Road will avoid the need to disturb a newly-paved road at a later date — saving about $1 million.

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El Paso County board will refer MMJ ban to ballot

Posted By on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Bensberg: The lone dissenter.
  • Bensberg: The lone dissenter.

Update, 2:04 p.m.: To clarify, though the vote will only affect businesses located in unincorporated territory, all registered El Paso County voters will be eligible to weigh in on this issue, not solely those in the unincorporated areas, as part of the November ballot.

— — —

In a meeting that went half as long as the previous, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 to refer a medical marijuana ban question to the ballot.

Commissioner Jim Bensberg was the lone dissenter, citing logic similar to a City Councilor's recent decision.

"I don’t question the motives of those who wish to change the status quo, nor do I condone illegal activity of any type," Bensberg says. "But I believe, as my colleague and City Councilman Scott Hente believes, in representative government. … We should decide these types of issues.

“We should not devolve into a board that does nothing but set ballot titles for controversial issues ... We ought to have the political courage to decide this issue one way or another.”

Commissioner Sallie Clark proposed an earlier motion to add a grandfathering clause to the ballot language which failed in a vote of 4-1. Despite that, Clark voted for ban referral.

"I will vote to put it on the ballot, but I think it’s important that it’s explained very clearly that this will not impact those that are in operation in their municipalities of our eight towns and cities through this county," Clark says. "It will only impact the unincorporated. But it will likely increase, if it passes, to push more into neighborhoods. And I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

In earlier testimony, Sheriff Terry Maketa echoed that sentiment.

”They’re going to end up in our neighborhood, and that’s the last place that we want them," he says. "And a lot of us don’t want them at all.”

The sheriff also added that he had not found an increase in crime following dispensaries. In fact: “At the time I asked, there had not been one crime related to a dispensary. I can only speak for the data we have available, but we have not seen it.”

Commissioner Amy Lathen justified the board's decision, despite earlier actions toward licensure: "We do the very best to guarantee opportunity, but we do not guarantee outcomes. It’s not our role to guarantee outcomes. Especially when we put [earlier measures] out there as temporary."

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