Archive for June, 2016


June 9, 2016

Sometimes I wonder how often I choose to do something that observers might consider, for lack of a more precise term, stupid.  I also ponder over whether these things are occurring more frequently as I’ve become a Golden Ager.

Let’s look at three related terms, “ignorant”, “dumb”, and “stupid”. To me, ignorant implies “uninformed”, there’s something going on about which one has no knowledge; in fact, the individual may even be vaguely aware that there’s something “out there”, but lacks the interest or motivation to investigate and educate one’s self to the events.

Dumb, to me, implies either an inability to fully understand a situation, sometimes due to the same lethargy indicated above, or on other occasions for a lack of ability to reason out the need for action.

But then there’s stupid. This is characterized in my world by such descriptors as, “He should have known better!”, or, “Knowing what he did, how could he have possibly gone ahead with that?”.

Actually, we see examples of each of these running rampant through the current Presidential political campaigns, particularly with reference to the followers of one specific candidate. This edges over into my last blog on “Denial”; we have facts being denied (dumb), voters going ahead in spite of having accurate information presented for them to consider (stupid), or are just not interested in finding out anything that might change their minds (ignorant).

In looking at my own situation, both past and present, numerous examples easily emerge and unfortunately, often frequently lean toward the “stupid” genre. “Knowing what you do about their unreliability, why did you buy another Jaguar?” “Knowing how your Jayhawks have a history of choking, why do you continue to support them?” “Knowing what you do about nutrition, why do you continue to eat Twinkies?”   As you can see, my examples can occur in almost any category of daily living. But this time, I may have overdone it!

On August 21, 2017, there will be a total solar eclipse (google it!); the path of totality passes directly over central Wyoming including my community of Thermopolis. As a result, the few communities in our sparsely-populated state are faced with two major issues: the first, how are we going to deal with the numbers of viewers flocking into our area, and the second, how can we fleece them out of as much $$$ as possible.

Consider: Wyoming probably has perhaps the cleanest air in the U.S. for viewing things in the sky, even in the daytime when all solar eclipses occur. Yes, we do have lots of oil, natural gas, trona, and coal extraction, leading the nation in several categories. But we send all of it elsewhere for your pollution pleasure; we keep our place clean.

In the past 20 years, there have only been two occasions when the area of viewing has been cloudy; most of our summer days are generally cloudless except for some occasional afternoon thunderstorms. The three hours of this eclipse around here will occur beginning at around 11:30 a.m.

The population of our whole state is only about 520,000; it is expected that as many as 100,000 Yellowstone tourists will zoom down to watch the totality, scientists will flock in from all over the world, and early predictions are that at least 300.000 extra souls will be visiting.

Well, how does this affect my own personal peace and quiet? Well, given that one of my college majors was Astronomy, and that for the past several years I’ve been a Chairperson/Board Member for the Big Horn Basin Foundation (the educational arm of the Wyoming Dinosaur Center), it seemed appropriate for me to get involved and maybe be on some kind of minor committee associated with this event. And so, yesterday I attended a meeting locally to see what I can do to help. And this is where Stupid rears its head.

Even after hearing that all of the five communities west of Casper are each planning a weekend of events, the eclipse to occur on a Monday, I remained silent.

When we were told that the Wyoming Highway Patrol will not allow any parking along U.S. highways 20/26 in spite of there being 175 miles of vacant space between the various small towns along the route, I sat quietly except for clearing my throat a few times and making a few moves in Words With Friends on my smart phone.

I began to fidget when a representative of one of the three State Parks in the area reported that his inquiry regarding the need for about 350 portapotties was met with an offer to sell us that many, there weren’t that many available to rent for three days.

As the meeting continued, we learned that no one community knows what the others are doing as far as entertainment and other activities are concerned; that there are six city police departments and four county sheriff departments in addition to the state patrol, to coordinate logistics.

Our large nearby Boysen reservoir, easily visible from 500 miles above the earth in NASA photos (and a mother lode for walleye fishing), is expected to be hosting hundreds of viewers in boats on the lake.

Many hotels already have all their rooms booked, even with this whole year to prepare. Most of these are for scientists from foreign countries.

Wyoming is not currently set up for the numbers expected (actually, that’s why I live here).

It occurred to me that there didn’t appear to be anyone actually coordinating or collecting information from all the communities and entities involved, so that some level of communication could be achieved. There is a need to identify as accurately as possible the potential problems to be addressed, as well as soliciting input from among the major players. And, since all the persons attending the meeting have “day jobs”, who was to do it?

Well of course, none other than Stupid! I suggested that there need to be appropriate sub -committees established specific to each identified task, and that their information and progress should be funneled through a central point to be distributed among all the groups. As another example of what we’re facing, I have made two unreturned phone calls to one of the community’s Chamber of Commerce; I hope this isn’t going to be characteristic of the road ahead.

So, wish me luck as this task unfolds. I’ve already run into a disagreement—When I suggested that in the event of bad weather on that day, we move the eclipse to a different day; I was met with blank stares.

During all of this, I hope to complete the draft of my book, “The Middle School Primer — An Owner’s Manual for Parents and Teachers” and solicit input to the draft through an announcement on this blog site. The outline has been reposing in my computer for more than a year.

I may even need some Divine Intervention periodically along the way. I note that Ramadan begins this weekend; if you know anyone of that persuasion, you might mention these tasks.

Always Be Happy   To Our Youth