May 15


Do we require greatness of great people? Or can greatness come through a neighbor buying bottles of water or offering his home to shelter strangers? Can greatness come from First Responders arriving on the scene of unimaginable devastation; then thinking first of people who needed their help. We don’t think about what might be out there, one policeman said later. We just turn on the lights and breathe after it’s all over.

When one thinks about all that goes in to responding to a mass casualty event like last week’s Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, there is so much that can go wrong. But this time things went right and that was due to greatness. The greatness of people. The greatness of the people of Philadelphia. It brought tears to my eyes knowing that so many good things happened at that dark and lonely place where the Train 188 left its rails. A policeman, first on the scene, calls in … this is really bad; send me everything you’ve got. In minutes there were hundreds of police, firefighters. Organized chaos, they called it, at the crash scene and at the hospitals receiving the injured.

Reminding one that this is a different century, even in Philadelphia, we see women on scene, doing themselves proud.

Women's new work





Jul 13

Western fire

A FRIEND WANTS TO KNOW what I would do in regard to people building houses in and immediately adjacent to wild lands. My response does not fit onto one or two iPhone screens. It is impossible to long live here in the West before being touched one way or another by range and grass fires. We have quite a lot of federal land here. All of it managed as open space and much of that is wild lands.


States also own large swaths of land managed to benefit public education and other state funded institutions. The above map shows federal lands. One almost might wonder, looking at Idaho or Nevada, where the population resides.

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Dec 11

Our returning children

I DEPLANE INTO A COMMUTER terminal at DIA at 9 PM on a Saturday and there is pandemonium. The place is jammed. Really, the airport is jammed. I know semesters are ending and holidays are approaching but that’s not entirely it. More like what happens at the end of a war.

Norman Rockwell and The Saturday Evening Post capture this moment from another era in “The Homecoming.” The weary, bedraggled, young man standing there as his family explodes with joy.

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Jan 11

Bread, bread everywhere and not a crumb to eat

I’VE JUST RECENTLY RETURNED from my first out-of-town trip since beginning an experiment with going gluten free. Sleeping past the free hotel breakfast I find myself wandering the empty streets of downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, looking for breakfast. I pass the Starbucks and the Panera Bread Company. No gluten-free bakery and coffee shop? I wander into the local branch of what happens to be the bank we use. I ask only for suggestions about breakfast places. A woman with a clipboard and a pleasant South American accent starts thinking but is interrupted by a hurried, important, man in a suit who asks where he can exchange money. She suggests the bank tellers right behind her. Then it comes. Panera’s! I thank her for this bit of advice and simply follow it. Continue reading →

May 09

Bozeman’s Wall

GO FOR A JAUNT SOUTH on 17th Avenue between Durston and Oak and back north on 15th Avenue from Oak to Durston and you will experience THE WALL. A manufactured home park that used to be on the outskirts of town now abuts a tony new development of single and multi-family Rocky Mountain (read that “Colorado) chic condos and single-family homes. An eight-foot high wooden fence separates the old from the new. Two worlds kept apart. More than likely one hopes to vanquish the other all in good time.

The blue line marks the way of the new wall

The blue line marks the way of the new wall

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Mar 09

The windows of downtown Bozeman

NEARLY ALL of the north side of this block of downtown Bozeman is effected.

NEARLY ALL of the north side of this block of downtown Bozeman is affected.

A WARM SATURDAY AFTERNOON and a stroll through a busy downtown Bozeman. One block, just west of Rouse Ave, nearly isn’t there except for some ruins. Downtown Bozeman is back in business but up and down the street are stores with boarded up fronts and signs saying “open for business.” Some of these buildings are more than a block away from the scene above. Click on the photo to see it in full size,

What is worrying is the fate of the building on the far right. See the detail below. It seems intact but clearly there is fire damage inside. See detail below:



Nov 08

The future of Sarah Palin?

IN A GRACIOUS, CLASSY and very heartfelt concession speech last night, John McCain seemed to suggest that his time was over and that Sarah Palin’s had just begun. While it was kind of him to talk up his running mate whose ambitions he knew he had to affirm somehow, I don’t agree with him. I think the opposite is the case.

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Feb 08

Obama wins more caucuses

Caucuses are a great way to disenfranchise people.  They are chaotic and complicated, managed in the most rudimentary way and look nothing like an orderly and procedure driven election. Continue reading →

Jan 08

Not nice in Minnesota

The antithesis of Minnesota Nice

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Aug 07

Finally, the truth regarding Karl Rove’s departure

This Modern World 

At last, an insightful American cartoonist GETS the real reason for Karl Rove’s resignation from the Bush Administration effective the end of this month. Click here or on image to see scalable version. To see the This Modern World archive, click here.