Immunity for parents braving the school drop-off line

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on March 5, 2018. It can also be found online here.

I have a confession to make. When I drop my daughter off at school, I break the law. Not always. But sometimes.

In my defense, like all parents, I know kids are our future. And if they don’t get to school, there will be no future. For any of us. So no impediment must ever hold back a parent’s ability to transport their child to school. A parent driving a child to school is a sacred social event, like a funeral procession or pro sports championship parade, and nothing should hinder its execution or progress. Even laws.

For the thousands of parents in the Pikes Peak region that brave this stress-inducing event to drop their kids off at school, it’s time to organize and demand that all parents be granted the right to drop-off their children without fear of legal infraction. These parents should get the same immunity we customarily extend to diplomats. Continue reading “Immunity for parents braving the school drop-off line”

Can’t separate the Olympics from global politics

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on February 19, 2018. It can also be found online here.

I love the Olympics, in part because they seem to defy reality as a place where dreams really do come true.

But geopolitics doesn’t stop while the Olympics are on – countries always use the Games to jostle for power, position, and prestige. Hitler’s 1936 Games come to mind, or the U.S. decision not to attend the 1980 Games in Moscow, and the subsequent Soviet decision to skip the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

The geopolitical maneuvering continues at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang – not surprising considering they’re so close to the DMZ that separates the North from South Korea. Tensions are high, as the North’s missile and nuclear tests have grown in number, range, and quality, poised to threaten not just Seoul and Tokyo, but the U.S. homeland as well. Continue reading “Can’t separate the Olympics from global politics”

A cost-free way to help make our children ready for school

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on February 12, 2018. It can also be found online here.

I almost ran a kid over the other day. It was pre-dawn, a wintry, early morning, and I was out for a run. Shoulders hunched, he shuffled along, the way drowsy teenagers do, and left me wondering how he possibly could have missed my fluorescent clothes or flashlight.

Sleepwalking his way to school, he was destined to be a teen zombie for the first hour or two of classes.

Which is the problem: every day, our Pikes Peak area middle and high schools force half-awake teenagers, against their biological clocks, to start school a solid hour before their bodies are physically ready to learn. Our kids take tests with their brains still partly asleep. Continue reading “A cost-free way to help make our children ready for school”

Throwing fruitcakes could be healthy fun

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on January 31, 2018. It can also be found online here.

It turns out tossing some fruitcake might have been the healthiest thing you could have done this past weekend.

I did, this past Saturday, at the 22nd annual Manitou Springs Great Fruitcake Toss. Hundreds took advantage of a sunny afternoon to descend on Memorial Park to try their hand at three fruitcake-infused challenges: throwing for accuracy (through hula-hoops of various sizes), throwing for distance (on a marked field), and balance (speed-walking a zig-zagged path while holding a cake on a spatula). Continue reading “Throwing fruitcakes could be healthy fun”

Libraries are our community’s greatest investment

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on January 22, 2018. It can also be found online here.

I’ve always liked libraries, but never knew how vital they are to society. They’re our community’s memories and dreams, and where our collective past, present, and futures collide.

It started in the summertime. Mom used to take us to the library, where I’d lay on a beanbag chair for hours, gobbling up kid versions of classic literature like “Treasure Island” and “Robinson Crusoe.”

Today, I use them for research, whether it’s my dissertation or to dig into the story of Marine Corps Pvt. George Eber Duclo, the first boy from Manitou Springs to die in World War I. I also bring my daughters to our local Manitou Springs library – they love the endless rows of children’s books, the puzzles, and the kid-friendly touchscreen computers they use for digital drawings.

But that’s just our family. What about others? What’s a library good for? Continue reading “Libraries are our community’s greatest investment”

Giving blood contributes to community

Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on January 16, 2018. It can also be found online here.

Two seconds. One, two. Every second second.

That’s how often blood is needed each day in the United States, according to the American Red Cross.

One car accident victim can require as much as 100 pints, and the American Cancer Society tells us that of the nearly 1.7 million people who’ll receive a cancer diagnosis this year, many will need blood, even daily, during chemotherapy.

But while roughly 40 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at a given time, less than 10 percent do every year. And since blood can’t be manufactured or created in a lab, it’d be good if we better understood what gets people to give. Continue reading “Giving blood contributes to community”

In 2018, let’s throw out the surface labels in the Pikes Peak region

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on December 31, 2017. It can also be found online here.

I don’t always do it. But I scrolled through the comments in response to a recent opinion column of mine on the giant blue frame in the Garden of the Gods (may it rest in peace). I read them all.

This time, there were a couple that pierced my armor. One called me a “military carpetbagger,” and another said I “haven’t lived here long enough to have a stake in this issue.”

Both are worth a moment of thought. Just how long does it take a resident to gain “a stake” in local decisions? When does a “carpetbagger” become a “local?” And what is the right balance between the wishes of long-term residents and ideas of relative newcomers in a city? Continue reading “In 2018, let’s throw out the surface labels in the Pikes Peak region”