Monday, February 27, 2017

My Actions

This blog is to help me keep track of what I want to protest.  I may as well use it to help me track what actions I took.


March 5  -  Attended an activist meeting.  I am not alone in my quest for protection of our Earth.

February 27, 2017

What I learned today:  The House and the Senate office buildings each have their own ZIP code!  The House is 20515.  The Senate is 20510.

2/28/17 Mailing Great Horned Owl postcard to Rep. Lamborn.

The Honorable Doug Lamborn
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington DC 20515

Dear Mr. Lamborn,

Please protect your constituents by protecting the EPA.  We are all dependent on our environment.  Allowing a few industries to profit while damaging our land and poisoning our air and water is corporate welfare.
Please oppose HR 958, 637, and 861.
Protect your people.
Strengthen the EPA.
Thank you.

signed and stickered with a return address label.

2/27/17 - Called Lamborn's office to Oppose HR 637.  Let the EPA regulate greenhouse gasses.  Even if climate change isn't a real problem, greenhouse gasses aren't any good to breathe anyway.
Actually, I babbled something a lot less coherent than that.  But I did clearly state, Oppose HR 637.

2/14/17  -  Called Lamborn to oppose HR 958.  "Protect your people by keeping the EPA strong."

2/14/17  -  Called Sen. Gardner to oppose Scott Pruitt for EPA chief.  Please delay the confirmation until the investigations can be completed.  He may not be the right man for the job.

2/7/17  -  Voice Mail for Sen. Gardner:  Please oppose Betsy DeVos for Sec. of Ed.

2/7/17  -  Called Lamborn to oppose HJ Res. 38 and 46.

I also made donations to Sierra Club, Greenpeace (Resist!) and PBS (a politically motivated way to access this season of  Poldark.)  I'd already donated to ACLU and the Red Owl Water Protector Legal Collective last fall to oppose DAPL.


I have no idea if any of my actions will make even the slightest difference.  But I have reached the point where I have to try.

US Capitol Switchboard:  202-224-3121

Sunday, February 26, 2017

An Attempt to Deregulate Greenhouse Gasses

H.R. 637:  Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017

An Attempt to Deregulate Greenhouse Gasses

This bill is trying to “stop the EPA from overreaching its congressional mandate”.  The EPA accepted  that greenhouse gasses are pollutants, and should therefore be regulated.  House bill 637 states that the EPA is wrong.  Greenhouse gasses are not pollutants.  Greenhouse gasses should not be regulated. 

“The term air pollutant does not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride,” ie: the greenhouse gasses.

Here’s a basic elementary level explanation of greenhouse effects.  Greenhouse gasses act kind of like a window.  You’re sitting in your car in the summer.  The sun beats down, heating the inside of your car.  But the heat can’t escape.  So you get really hot.

With the greenhouse gasses, visible and ultraviolet light pass through the gasses without problem.  The energy hits Earth, and warms it up.  The surface re-emits the energy as infrared.  The longer wavelength infrared can’t pass through the greenhouse gasses.  So the heat bounces off, returns to Earth’s surface and heats it some more.

Energy comes in.  Some of it leaves.  Some stays.   If too much leaves, Earth cools down.  If too much stays, Earth warms up.

This is a VERY GOOD THING at the right levels.  Without greenhouse gasses, we humans wouldn’t exist because Earth would be very, VERY COLD. 

Like Goldilocks, we were at the “just right” stage.  But now we’re not.  Earth is getting warmer.

When the greenhouse gas levels are too high, the energy is trapped and Earth gets too hot.  Our sister planet, Venus, is an uninhabitable wasteland.  Its atmosphere is made up of lots of greenhouse gasses.  The Sun’s energy goes in.  It converts to infrared.  It can’t escape so bounces around between clouds and surface boiling everything. 

The Earth is warming.  Greenhouse gasses do cause warming.  Human activities are releasing greenhouse gasses.  These are facts.  There is no controversy here.  The only controversy is how much of the warming is caused by human activities.  And what can we do about it. 
It’s much easier to say, “not our fault.  Nothing we can do” than it is to spend the money to change the way we do business. 

H.R. 637 is an attempt to excuse industry.  If we’re not releasing enough gas to be the real problem – global climate change is a natural process - then greenhouse gasses are not a pollutant.  And our businesses shouldn’t have to pay money to deal with it.

Unfortunately, the release of greenhouse gasses through industry and lifestyles choices is very real.  The current build-up of greenhouse gasses is human caused.  The speed of climate change is a direct result of our actions. 

Greenhouse gasses are a pollutant.  They must be regulated before we turn Earth into Venus.  Oppose HR 637.  Protect our food supply and our very lives by regulating greenhouse gasses.

Colorado Senators:
Michael Bennett – Dem – 202-224-5852
Cory Gardner  -  Rep  -  202-224-5941

Capitol Switchboard – 303-224-3121.  “Representative( Lamborn from Colorado), please”

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Speed of Legislation

The Speed of Legislation

White House Comment Line:  (202) 456-1111
U.S. Capitol Switchboard:  (202) 224-3121.  Ask for the Senator or Representative from your district. 
I always thought politics moved slowly.  Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” states, “It’s a long, long wait.”

 On Thursday, 2/16/17, President Trump signed H.J.Res. 38, “Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule. “  Representative Johnson (R-OH) introduced it on January 30.  The House passed it on Feb. 1, and the Senate less than 24 hours later.  I had no idea they could move that fast!  POTUS signed it on 2/16 creating Public Law No: 115-5. 

Mines can once again legally dump their waste into nearby streams.

On the same day, 1/30/17, Rep. Gosar (R-AZ), introduced H.R.Res. 46 “Providing for congressional disapproval of the final rule of the National Park Service relating to “General Provisions and Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights’.”  This one’s even scarier.  This says that Congress approves of mining and drilling in national parks, even against the park’s best interest. 

In this country, you probably do not own the mineral rights under your house.  A bunch of the newer Park Service units do not own their mineral rights.  This bill says that the owner of those rights can barge in and start drilling.  The original “Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights” law allowed parks to demand a comprehensive environmental and public protection plan, and if the plan wasn’t adequate, to deny any industry trying to operate within their borders.

This resolution says:  Nope.  Oil, gas and mineral extraction take precedence over pristine views, clean air, quiet, and public health.

How can they do this?

Well, in 1996, Congress  created the “Congressional Review Act” which allows them to kill a new law if both chambers and the president agree.  It’s only been used once before – Congress and Mr. Bush dismantled one of Mr. Clinton’s final rules.  Any actions performed in the previous president’s final six months can be overturned.  Bills that took years to draft, analyze and approve can be exterminated within days, with no recourse and no way to revive them.  

Contact your Senators and Representatives and encourage them to oppose H.J.Res. 46.  (House Joint Resolution 46).  Let’s protect OUR National Parks!  Defeat H.J.Res 46.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Political Protest 101

Political Protest 101

I’ve spent my entire life avoiding politics. It always seemed pointless and hopeless. Political power swings around, but the general trends are consistent. Our American lives gradually improve while our environment gradually withers. Yes, your life is better than your great-grandparents. You get fresh fruit year-round. You don’t have to break the ice on the bucket before you wash your face. And you probably don’t even know anyone with polio, much less cholera or typhus.

But the gradual decay of our environment accelerated abruptly on January 20, 2017. Our new president and both houses seem determined to sacrifice the very land we live on so they can make easy money with their industrial friends.

I am now officially angry.

I am angry enough to write and call both senators and my representative.
I am angry enough to wade through the jargon and tedium of
I am angry enough to read some of the proposed legislation.

For the first time in my life, I am angry enough to become Politically Active.

Now, I need a place to store and organize this new information.

I created Aveline’s Odyssey as a practice blog, and a casual attempt at travel writing. It was mostly an experiment. Since it exists, I’m now turning it into my political page. At heart, both topics are about my love for our land and water, our animals, and our skies.

The info I’ve gleaned on protesting:

1) Call your Representative and both of your Senators. That’s 3 phone calls. Here in Colorado, I can trust Senator Bennett to act to protect the land, so it’s not as important for me to call him as often.

2) Keep your call short. The longer you talk, the less time there is for someone else to call in.

3) Give them (the aide, intern or answering machine) your name, your ZIP code, and what you want your representative to support or oppose.

4) According to other sources on the internet, your opinion will be tallied. If there are enough marks, your rep may change his vote. (Yes, "his". I know there 104 women currently serving. But the other 431 members identify as “He”).

5) Call on one issue, state the bill designation, and state your position. Keep it simple and short.

6) When your representatives are home, go to the meetings and speak up. Multiple sources agree that we the people don’t usually bother. Most legislation has so little public input that your voice is clearly heard.

That’s it for Protest 101 – Call. Keep it simple. Give them your ZIP code.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Senator Michael Bennett (Democrat) (202) 224-5852

Senator Cory Gardner (Republican) (202) 224-5941

Representative Doug Lamborn (Republican. Colorado Springs-Buena Vista) (202) 225-4422

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument really is made of white sand - a powdery softer sand than the usual beige substance. It's essentially composed of ground gypsum rather than ground glass. In December, there was no snow on the surface, but sand was damp just a few centimeters below the surface.

We spent the afternoon strolling the dune field and watching daughter fill out her Junior Ranger booklet. The area is truly a living laboratory for both biology and geology.

Just don't pick up any oddly shaped metallic objects - the monument is bounded on all sides by the White Sands missile range.

As a finish to our Christmas Eve, we watched the sun set from the dunes, then hubby asked about the really bright "star". I checked the sky and found two. One was Jupiter. The other cruised across the sky with an intensity and speed that can only mean one item - the International Space Station.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Planning for New Mexico

Two years ago, we hiked the Grand Canyon and camp for two nights at Phantom Ranch. Traveling to and from the canyon, we spent some time in New Mexico. We didn't have nearly enough time. So, this winter, we're going to spend ten days just exploring New Mexico.

The first step in planning this adventure was reserving a cave tour at Carlsbad Caverns. Daughter and hubby wanted a wild adventure so they're going through Spider Cave, "a 3-D cave maze." I'll just hang out in the main caverns while they crawl around and get dirt in their ears.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'm back

Today is October 17. That means my last blog post was 6.5 months ago. My summer job went nuts in April and it's only now settling. My museum work is very part time over the winter so I again get to focus on writing. I will add to this blog regularly (weekly, I hope.) I've also started a blog for the museum at I hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Skiing St. Elmo

Sunday, I invited my daughter to visit St. Elmo. She surprised me by eagerly accepting. We loaded skis, camera, picnic and selves into the car and headed to the 10,000 foot high ghost town.

I glide through town, searching for an image saturated in the WOW factor. The sky isn’t quite blue enough. Cars litter the historic feel. Wooden cabins hunker beneath the snow, hibernating until summer brings begging rodents and the incessant buzz of hummingbirds.

I snap the Home Comfort Hotel. The hotel rooms were heated by a single stovepipe carrying smoke from kitchen to roof. For guests lodged at the front, away from the kitchen, well, tough luck.

Across the street, the rebuilt town hall preens in isolated splendor while the pristine snow cloaks the remnants of disaster. Fire purifies, vitrifies, galvanizes and hardens. It also destroys, amply illustrated by the barren lots.

As I snap photos, daughter searches for balance on the slick street. With a shriek, she splats into the snow pile that barricades the boardwalk. We share laughter as she flails her 40 inch feet in the air.

We slide out of town and practice turns on the hack road. I force unwieldy skis around the corner, panting with effort and exhilaration. Daughter crashes in a geyser of white. Then, her binding released and refused to capture her boot.

After struggling to the point of chilly boredom, I gave her my skis and sat to analyze the situation. Snow diamonds melt into my jeans and leave me cold. The binding is broken. I clip on her good ski and navigate the slope on one foot. My thigh screams with the added effort. I enjoy several unbalanced runs while daughter masters my ultra-long skis.

Worn out and wet, we pass through the guardians of history and return to the car.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Grand Canyon Experience

Recently, my daughter declared herself ready for another Grand Canyon adventure.
I adore the canyon. I totally understand how some of the First Nations consider it the center of the world. I fell in love with the canyon as a pre-teen when I read Powell's account, "Explorations of the Colorado River" and saw the stunning IMAX movie. The Denver Museum of Natural History had a huge 3-D contour map of the canyon. I was fascinated. And hooked.

A year later, my family visited for the first time. Much to my surprise, my seriously acrophobic mother allowed my best friend and me to hike down, spend the night at Phantom Ranch, and hike out the next day. We were both 14. It was AWESOME! (And, that is the correct useage of the term "awesome" - the Canyon truly is one of the most magnificent places on Earth.)
I spent a fall during college working at the El Tovar Hotel, hiking sections of trails several times a week, and took two solo trip to Phantom.
Last Thanksgiving, after a 16-year absence, I returned! It was the first visit for daughter and hubby. In an effort to save a few dollars, we got a backcountry permit to camp for three nights. Due to a mild illness the day before, and daughter's desire for another Junior Ranger badge, we didn't get on the trail until noon. We reached the inner gorge at sunset and negotiated the last mile in the dark. We had to scramble to arrive in time for the Hikers Stew dinner. Delicious.

We enjoyed our full day lay-over, except for the rain. What a time to discover that our tent was not waterproof. We wrapped the tent in our emergency blankets and double checked that all clothing was secured in trash bags.
Someone cancelled their dinner reservation that day so we got to eat steak. Yes, it's expensive. But, I swear, Phantom Ranch has the best food, anywhere.
That night, it rained and rained. Well before dawn, daughter says, "It's wet over here." Yeah, I know. "No. Really wet." I heard a splash. My fingers reached for the floor and found a lake. Our entire campsite flooded. There were 2-3 inches of standing water inside the tent. It would have been deeper except the sleeping bags, jackets and spare clothes soaked up gallons.
We stumbled out of our new wading pool into a the misty night. A visit to the restroom confirmed that we were not the only victims. Several of us hung out inside and to wring out our clothes in a bizarre 5AM slumber party.
There was no point trying to get back to sleep. We ate granola bars and started packing.
Water is heavy! Our packs were stuffed for the hike down. We each carried slightly more weight than was truly comfortable. Rain doubled the weight we had to lug out, plus the food we'd planned to eat for dinner the night before. We reached Indian Gardens about 3 in the afternoon. Now, we had a choice. Do we set up camp and suffer through a cold, wet night with saturated gear? Or trust to our flashlights and hike out in the dark? I decided I was less tired right then than I would be after an second cold, uncomfortable, disturbed night.
We went on. More than a year later, I'm still not sure it was the best choice. We are experienced night hikers, through early and late starts, unwillingness to turn back, and long hikes after work. On one of our sunset training hikes that summer, nature rewarded us with a shining glowworm on a rock.
In my youth, I hiked out of the Canyon in six hours. This time, it took almost fifteen. Fortunately, the trail stayed wet and muddy, not icy in spite of the snow on the rim. Our flashlights held up. Daughter got out safely, even though she was hiking in the dark for two hours past her bedtime. Good girl!

Next time, we buy a waterproof tent with a sealed bathtub bottom. Yes, it's heavier than our 1980s castoff, but anything would be lighter than the gallons of extra water we hauled up. We estimated our combined packs weighed 60-70 pounds when we started down. At the top, while begging for a hotel room and sizzling by the Bright Angel Lodge fireplace, we tossed the packs on the mule-ride scale. Over 100 pounds.

Hubby coined a new term. Mule-acious - able to carry heavy loads down and up that grueling trail. We all qualified that trip.

We are the Muleacious Family.

Happily, daughter announced she is ready to do it again.