Mar 29, 2008

Plastic to pay taxes?

We are being encouraged to pay our taxes with plastic for "rewards" back. Should you take the bait?

Genetic Testing Gets Personal

Washington Post
Firms Sell Answers On Health, Even Love

Why high gold prices don't mean it's time to sell your jewelry


Shoddy home addition merits double damages

Milwaukee Journal

Mar 5, 2008

See the Grand Canyon flooded for beach restoration and read how this process endangered rafters in 2005

Here is my personal story about what happened when the feds flooded the Canyon for a similar restoration attempt in 2005:

Facing my 65th birthday, I was perplexed. I had been striving for retirement for many years and now, when I could retire comfortably, I couldn’t let go of my career. I was having too much fun.

After deciding to stay on for another five years or so, I began experiencing a letdown. I had worked for more than forty years and now I was just going to keep on working?

Adventure offer

Then—three days before my birthday—a friend on the verge of early retirement told me he was lifting weights to get in shape for a private whitewater rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. I admired my friend (and still do) for having this kind of adventure in his life and told him so.

Later, he sent me this email: “No promises here, but if you want to stay on a backup list for this year’s trip, let me know. Perfect conditioning is not a must, but you would have to be in condition to descend 5,000 vertical feet over a nine-mile route.”

I told him I was interested, and began walking six miles a day instead of my normal three—just in case.

The day before my 65th birthday, my friend told me there was an opening for the second half of the trip. I said I would think it over and give him an answer the next day.

I woke up after 1.00 a.m. and realized I was now 65. It just seemed so old…older than I felt. I decided to go rafting.

Research Reveals
I was bragging about the trip now, telling just about everyone I knew. Instead of turning 65 and having people inquiring about my retirement plans, they were asking me about my adventure.

But checking recent news releases from the Canyon, I was shocked to learn that multiple deaths occur there every year. For example, rafters drown, runners die of heat exhaustion, teenagers fall over the rim, campers get struck by lightning…And climbers fall to their death on Bright Angel, the trail I would be taking down to the river.

I had to sign a waiver acknowledging that I was participating in a risky adventure and would hold no one liable if I was injured or killed.

Adventure Ho

I met up with a group of the rafters in Phoenix and we drove to the Grand Canyon by car. They were nice church-going professional men, but that night some were drinking to excess and slurring their words--despite the potentially dangerous trip we were about to make the next day.

It was 28 degrees the following morning and Bright Angel Trail was icy, muddy, narrow and straight down the Canyon if you stepped off it. Suddenly I was having second thoughts as:

A fear of heights kicked in;
I realized you can die doing what I was about to do;
My new friends were drinking too much; and
I had just learned that the federal government was going to be flooding the river while we were rafting!

So I changed my mind and didn’t make the climb down.

Before I made that decision, I’d been troubled about what I’d gotten myself into. As soon as I said I wasn’t going, I instantly felt better. And I laughed at myself for taking on too much adventure.

After saying good bye to my companions, I waited around and watched climbers coming up Bright Angel after completing the first half of the trip.

They trudged wearily over the rim, one by one, after a five-hour climb. Most wanted a drink at the hotel bar to toast their great accomplishment. A rafter in his early thirties told me he had been so drunk in the Canyon that, “I couldn’t remember my name.” Another man in his late fifties told me privately that, while he would remember the beauty of the Canyon for the rest of his life, he didn’t condone the excessive drinking. The rafters hauled whiskey, gin, wine and at least sixty cases of beer, enough for each to have a six pack a day.

Back in the Canyon, a tragedy was about to take place. The feds released a flood from Glen Canyon Dam for more than four days. It was an experiment to restore sand to the Colorado’s beaches and it created peril for my rafting friends. The river rose more than seven feet in some places and generated faster currents than normal. Beaches and camps disappeared under water. Hurtling downriver, the rafters had nowhere to land and dodged dangerous logs and driftwood ripped from the shoreline.
Unfortunately, a fireman from Phoenix who was rafting with another group drowned. His friends abandoned their rafts at Phantom Ranch and headed for the funeral.
Downriver, where there were not trails out of the Canyon, my friends had to scramble for high ground, where they were forced to stay for three days.

The rafts were too heavy to lift so day and night the crews floated, dragged, and pushed them to a shoreline that rose higher and higher. Then, as the water receded, the crews struggled to move the rafts to the river, hoping not to get stranded on land.

The rafters were not prepared for the flood because a river ranger told them it probably wasn’t going to happen and had no advice if it did.

When I got home to Madison I was so relieved to have bailed out , I was ready to accept ribbing about Glen’s Great Adventure. It didn’t come.

I’m sixty-eight now, still working--and not signing any more risk waivers!