Powell, Wyoming: Where Barking Dogs Rule

If you live in Powell long enough, sooner or later you’ll hear someone tell you how friendly, how neighborly our town is. That being the case, I think this is a good time with summer approaching to challenge the dog-owners of this community to zen on that word “neighborly.”

Having lived here for over 30 years now, I think my experience and viewpoint regarding barking dogs has been rich to say the least—especially in the summer when the windows of the house are open at night. Air conditioning is nice, but there’s nothing like sleeping with fresh air coming through the window, unless that fresh air is accompanied by the sounds of a neglected dog barking in the wee hours of the night.

Just in my neighborhood alone—on both sides of my house—I experience at any given time of the day (or night) barking dogs that are left unattended while their owners are often away, going in and out of a house via “dog doors” into a fenced yard to bark at anyone who happens to walk past the property. Across the street, it’s the same scenario, though I’ve never heard this dog in the evenings. In all of their barking in the daytime and frequently at night, I’ve rarely seen or heard an owner correcting the problem. What am I to make of this? As I see it, these are people of our community who are simply not good neighbors and are so lazy as dog owners to only care about their own self-centered lives.

I challenge anyone to take an hour-long walk on the streets of this town—especially the alleys—you’ll have plenty of dogs barking at you.

I should be clear here, that I’m not only talking about dogs that bark all night long—although that’s not an unusual thing to happen around here. But, if one is a light sleeper, it doesn’t take a dog to bark all night long to ruin a night’s sleep—ten seconds of barking is all it takes to disturb one’s sleep. At 63-years-old now, once I wake up from such a disturbance, it often takes up to two hours to fall back asleep. 

In the past, when I’ve initially addressed some of these owners in a polite, but curt manner, rather than an apology and a promise to address the issue, I’ve experienced downright rude and even threatening responses. And, taking my complaints to Powell’s illustrious Law Enforcement is simply a waste of time as they have requested me to document the various instances of such disturbances and report back to them at a later time. God forbid they find out for themselves—getting out of their car and walking down the street or alley. Instead they just drive by and maybe they’ll stop by the owners and inform them that someone is complaining, but nothing ever comes of it—not to my knowledge. I know they have visited with one of my neighbors in the past on this matter, and yet the barking has never ceased. From a policing viewpoint, that’s just lame.

A barking dog next door should not be my problem to solve. And perhaps I’m the only one in Powell that objects… so it seems. My only reprieve is throwing an occasional firecracker out into my yard—hoping that the canine will stop its annoying behavior and perhaps run into the house and shit on the carpet. That’s probably overly optimistic. However, the coming of the colder months when windows are closed up and the barking dogs of Powell aren’t as likely to be left out all night—though sadly, some are—is when this problem is truly minimized.

I have this unproven and very opinionated theory that the frequency of any given dog’s barking is inversely related to the intelligence of its owner. Go ahead and prove me wrong. Until then, I’m convinced that Powell, Wyoming is below average when it comes to being neighborly.

I’d like to believe our town can do better.

Postscript: What’s saddest of all in this topic, I wrote about this over 20 years ago.

A Modest Response to Incompetence

As Israel contemplates its next move following the barrage of missiles and drones launched by Iran directed at the Jewish State, I would like to suggest that there are better responses than to capitulate back with a better, more accurate, and deadly bombardment. No doubt, Israel is more than capable of achieving such a mission knowing that Iran has nothing like an “Iron Dome.”

When Iran launched over 300 varied munitions at Israel, most of them never even made it into Israeli airspace, while none recorded hitting a target. Israel should see this outcome as a golden opportunity to think outside of the box when it comes to a proper response.

Rather than returning fire, they should simply turn this into a graphic design/marketing field day that involves creating graphics and merch mocking Iranian technology and weaponry as impotent and shoddy. That’s right, return no fire, but simply post photos and reels on various social media outlets of Israeli citizens wearing t-shirts, hats, and drinking from coffee mugs that poke fun at Iran and their feeble offensive.

Further, Israel should invite its best graphic designers to submit their ideas as the face of this new “war” campaign. They can save millions of dollars for every weapon that isn’t expended and directed at Iran; spending only a pittance of that amount in this much cheaper campaign that will be just as effective while sparing the lives of innocent civilians.

Perhaps this suggestion has more credence to it than the simple, light-hearted appearance suggests. Considering Israel is responsible for over 33,000 deaths (and counting)—most of them innocent bystanders—as a response to the 1,200 lives it lost in the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, choosing not to fire back (for once) at an incompetent Iran might be a smart, and well received public relations gambit.

For the time being, let’s consider a few possible slogans for this campaign until the graphic designers bring something to the table…

Iranian Weapons: rubber bands not included
Iranian Weaponry: We’re having a going-out-of-business sale
Iran: $50 million spent, 300 launched, 0 hits
April 2024 No Hitters: Ronel Blanco & Iran
Hey Iran, thanks for the fireworks show

Image by Despair.com

College Football’s BCS is Broken

Following the conclusion of the 2023 college football season, there are now 43 college bowl games scheduled to play out. The first game of the post-season was December 16 when Ohio University defeated Georgia Southern in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. The post-season extravaganza will conclude on January 8 with the College Football Playoff National Championship game. And, if 43 bowl games seems like a saturated market, consider that many of these teams are a shadow of what they were during the regular season thanks to the NFL Draft and the transfer portal.

Anyone who has followed BCS college football throughout the year will barely recognize these college football teams playing in the various post-season bowls due to the numerous “opt outs” by many of the better players. Good thing the uniforms haven’t changed because in this bowl line-up, many of these post-season teams come across as imposters of the regular-season teams—something akin to a football version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

With the exception of the two BCS semi-final games of Alabama/Michigan and Washington/Texas, along with the line-up of playoff games at the FCS level, many of these non-important bowl games will be missing several key players that heavily contributed throughout the regular season thanks to them either opting out because they are about to declare themselves as NFL prospects (these players are all starters), or they are transferring to another school for next year via the transfer portal (a combination of starters and non-starters).

Because The Ohio State is only playing in the Cotton Bowl against lowly Missouri, starting quarterback Kyle McCord and Heisman Trophy finalist Marvin Harrison are staying home—McCord transferring via the portal to mighty Syracuse while Harrison is opting out for the NFL draft. You can be sure if the Buckeyes had made the top four and propelled into the official playoffs, those two would still be on the roster. Nevertheless, I was delighted to hear that OSU was held to only one field goal in their demoralizing loss to the Tigers.

Speaking of the Heisman Trophy, this year’s winner, Jayden Daniels of LSU will sit out the ReliaQuest Bowl (to enter the NFL Draft) when the 9-3 Tigers meet 7-4 Wisconsin on January 1. Meanwhile, thirteen players from USC are opting out of their appearance in the Holiday Bowl against Louisville including last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams.

As long as players are opting out for the NFL Draft or to transfer before their teams’ seasons are completed, my question is, what’s the point in having all these other bowl games if the starting line-ups are fractured and the games have no consequence other than just another “W” or “L” for their season record?

I see two possible solutions.

First, given that college football players at this level of collegiate play receive lucrative college scholarship, they should be required to sign a yearly contract that stipulates they will play in every game of the season and post-season barring any kind of injury. If they opt out for any games for whatever reason—including the post-season—they have to pay back their scholarships in full for that year. For those that are hedging their bets on an NFL career, given the money they will likely make in the NFL, that reimbursement of funds for the year will be a drop in the bucket. Those wishing to enter the transfer portal, can’t do so until college football’s last game of the year has concluded (i.e., the BCS title game).

The other possible solution is to simply eliminate the quagmire of insignificant bowl games that are essentially consolation prizes for teams that had a better than average year (never mind there are some .500 teams in this year’s bowl games). Instead of having 43 bowl games where only three have any real meaning (the two semi-finals and the title game), whittle it down to 31 bowl games that are all part of a 32-team playoff where any team could claim the national title.

Until one of these things happen, college football’s BCS will continue to be badly broken. So, bring on the FCS championship game in Frisco, Texas between the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State and the Grizzlies of Montana.

Las Vegas: Loving2Hate

Sometimes I simply love to hate. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve caught myself saying this regarding various subjects in my life. The latest resurrection of the phrase likely came about because I traveled to Las Vegas with a couple of friends for the SEMA car show, and Vegas is certainly a place that I love to hate. In fact, I love hating it so much, I couldn’t wait to get there.

There’s much to hate about Vegas if one just thinks about it—especially from my rural setting of Wyoming. So, I always look forward to the newest Las Vegas particulars to hate that I never expected or considered. So, beyond the usual overcrowded and loud casinos, overpriced tickets for washed-up entertainment icons, and the ubiquitous, supersized LED displays, I was pleasantly surprised to add a couple of new things to what I love to hate about Las Vegas—all on the last full day of my stay there.

SEMA Fest
On the second day of SEMA Fest not long after the gates opened, I was turned back at the entrance by security personnel because I had a “professional grade” camera with me—a modest Yashica Electro 35 (mm) film camera. At first, I thought they were just having me on because I had a camera that was built in the early 1970s. But, when I realized the security staffer was not joking, I reached around in my back pocket and pulled out my iPhone X and said, “You should be more worried about this camera.” The staffer didn’t budge only to tell me that the iPhone was permitted, while assuring me that I could not enter with my threatening 50-some-year-old 35mm, f1.7 fixed 45mm lens rangefinder camera.

I was sure there was some mistake, but once I realized they weren’t going to relent, I gave up and walked back to a friend’s car to squirrel away my humble Yashica. During that long walk back to the car, all I could think about was how ignorant the organizers of SEMA Fest must be when it comes to cameras and photography. I felt like I had been transported back to the entrance gates of Northeast Ohio’s Blossom Music Center in the 1970s. And so, it was during that walk back to the car and once more to the SEMA Fest entrance that my love to hate Vegas came screaming back like a Tom Brady, game-winning offensive drive in the final seconds.

With my film camera receiving a red-card by the SEMA Fest photography police, I realized that whatever photography I would attempt that day would be limited to my iPhone. Now I had a new mission thanks to SEMA Fest’s draconian photography policy—I would shoot to my heart’s content with my iPhone and eventually submit images from the day to whatever paying, professional publications I could find while making sure that the SEMA Fest photo nazis get notified of my supplemental income from that day—with my iPhone!

I’m never very confident when it comes to my own photography, but spite can be a powerful thing, changing a person’s outlook in any given situation. 

Circus Circus
It’s not a stretch to predict that the next major casino to be razed on the Las Vegas Strip will be Circus Circus. It was a dump 20 years ago. Today, it is nothing more than an ugly and smelly eyesore on the life support of desperate, low-stake gamblers.

Because SEMA Fest was in the shadows of the crumbling 35-story Circus Circus, we walked over to the 50-some-year-old rundown infestation in search of a modest lunch. What a mistake that was as I was reminded of shopping at a crowded Walmart on Black Friday—not to mention the healthy menagerie of trashy and gloomy patrons filling up its corridors, restaurants, and gambling locations.

Further, while walking around in Circus Circus, I was certain that its dystopian interior and unhealthy-looking patrons was surely the place I would contract a bad case of COVID-19.

Lastly, like most of the other casinos in Vegas, Circus Circus is no different in its tolerance and accommodating environment for smokers. Say what you want about the casino high-tech ventilation systems, when I returned to my room that evening, I felt as if I had been walking through the smoke-filled 1970s all over again. It’s been a long time since my clothes smelled like a crowded bar full of smokers.

A Quick Note to Nancy Mace

Sadly, Nancy Mace is the
best South Carolina can do.

The following was sent to U.S. Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina:

I just listened to your interview on NPR, and I was struck by how rude you were to the journalist interviewing you—noting how many times you interrupted her before she could even complete her question to you. I just sat there shaking my head in disbelief. Your interview seems especially cringe-worthy knowing you have a master’s degree in journalism and mass media. Obviously it must have been a “participation degree” instead of anything associated with earning the degree.

Further, you indicated how almost every problem in this country is on the current President’s lap. It was ridiculous and all I could think was, “Yeah, she must represent all those dumbed-down, knuckle-dragging racist of South Carolina. All you accomplished in the interview was throwing out the usual red meat like Donald Trump and the nightly Fox News line-up.

In short, you are what’s wrong with this country… full of yourself arrogance, disrespectful toward other professionals, self-centeredness, and unquestionable stupidity.

Joe Cowboy & His Gun

It was a typical coffee gathering for us “old/retired guys.” A nice Wyoming spring day outside with another semester and another school year coming to an end. It’s difficult not to feel optimistic about the world when the stars align like this every year in early May.

Yet, in this moment of everyday euphoria, it all came crashing down when a 30-some stranger (I’d never seen before) walked into the coffee shop with a gun strapped to his hip like he was walking out of a 1950s Hollywood Western movie set—I don’t doubt that’s how he saw himself too.

This has happened to me before when I was in a Rock Springs Loaf & Jug store; another time at a Walmart in Riverton. Each time, my reaction is the same—just leave. Whatever I’m doing at that moment, I’m not doing any longer, I am simply getting out of that setting as quickly as I can without causing others to panic.

It’s one thing if a police officer is in the same space as me knowing they are armed. Although there are no guarantees even with armed police officers, at least I know they are thoroughly vetted when it comes to their line of work and carrying a weapon. With “Joe Cowboy” walking into a public space with a gun, I have zero knowledge of the rationale behind his self-appointed armed status.

In such instances I’m not going to stick around to find out whether he’s simply some paranoid, insecure White dude who needs to announce to the world that he is carrying a gun and is here to save us all, or he is some insecure White dude with a chip on his shoulder and has intentions of using the gun indiscriminately in the form of a mass shooting. If all I have is one’s appearance to go on, I’ll always error to the latter.

Hanging around to discern the intentions of an armed stranger is just another version of Russian roulette in my book.

And unless you’re a fool or have had your head in the sand lately, my reaction shouldn’t seem too extreme giving the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S.

And, while I’m here… fuck the N.R.A. and fuck the 2nd Amendment, period.

Just Because

It’s odd, funny, interesting, and even mysterious how certain obscure terms can become household terms overnight thanks to some controversy or news event that never seems to go away—think “viagra,” “ginormous,” or “janky.” And so, for the last couple of weeks, it has been “mifepristone.” Thanks to the Supreme Court, I think it’s here to stay.

More Local Stupidity

“This is a real image.” —Tucker Carlson

Regarding the recent letter to the editor by Tina Purdy in the Powell Tribune on the dangers of wind and solar energy systems (elegantly titled “Solar and wind farms not good for man or beast”), I had to question the shady sources listed at the end of her piece. I think this type of cherry-picking and thus, gullible research illustrates the single-mindedness that appears to be running rampant in our community, our state, and our country. 

Starting with her sources: Michael Shellenberger is at best a controversial figure who has constantly been in opposition to most environmental scientists and academics of environmental studies. His “bad science” positions and writings on climate and the environment have for the most part flown in the face of the true research and data collected by the experts in the environmental sciences for decades. His education/expertise—both undergraduate and graduate—are in the social sciences rather than the physical/environmental sciences. He’s certainly an eloquent writer, but no authority on any of the above.

And, Tucker Carlson… well, I’ll just leave it at Purdy’s simple mentioning. His credentials for anything are only that he is handsomely paid for spewing whatever red-meat material that boost the ratings for Fox News, period.

I would encourage any reader who finds Purdy’s letter convincing to do their own research and avoid the input of scoundrels and posers such as Shellenberger and Carlson for starters.

A Very Small Supermarket War

As of last weekend, my hometown of Powell, Wyoming now has three supermarkets stores. The newest one is Albertson’s—they had their grand opening last Saturday.

Powell has a population of a little over 6,418 people as of 2021. I don’t know what the recommended ratio should be for population and supermarkets, but it seems a bit precarious, which means something has to give.

Although I didn’t go near Albertson’s on the day they opened, I did have a look around the following day and walked out with a purchase an underwhelming purchase of just under $20.

My first impressions of Albertson’s is that the place is tight with isles that are narrow and high. It must have been a real circus in there on the opening day given that their parking lot was full. In comparison, Blair’s (one of the other supermarkets) is much more spacious, but I think once the shoppers of Powell are over the novelty of Albertson’s it won’t feel as claustrophobic with the everyday shopping numbers.

The first thing I did was make a comparison between Albertson’s and the reigning champ of Powell, Blair’s. A loaf of Franz’s Cinnamon Swirl bread (a favorite of mine in the mornings) was on sale at both Blair’s and Albertson’s. Blair’s had it reduced down to $5.99 while Albertson’s brought it down fifty-more cents at $5.49.

The third store in town is Mr. D’s. It was once an IGA, but went through a change in ownership several years ago. Since that time, it hasn’t really kept pace with the offerings and prices at Blair’s. Probably the only attraction in shopping there is their liquor store which is larger, roomier, and seems to have more offerings than Blair’s. I can’t remember the last time I walked through Mr. D’s pushing a shopping cart.

I think Blair’s will remain as my supermarket default for two reasons: 1) they carry my favorite tortillas that are made in Billings (Trevino’s), and 2) because I typically ride my bike to the supermarket, Blair’s is closer. Albertson’s will be at least a half mile farther, and on a cold day or night, that’s a big difference on a bicycle. Further, although Blair’s has been around since 1980, their store is fairly modern—it certainly doesn’t feel antiquated in comparison to the new Albertson’s. I also like the fact that Blair’s offers paper bags which I prefer over plastic and they are better for transporting groceries in the front basket of my bicycle. My only notable complaint directed at Blair’s is the ugly typeface their logo incorporates—some generic stencil-esque, all-caps bullshit.

It was recently reported to me that Mr. D’s had an equipment failure that was responsible for all of their freezers going down and thus their contents was lost and discarded. Some would say that—combined with the arrival of Albertson’s—signals the beginning of the end for Mr. D’s.

A few other items worth noting are the following:

Albertson’s is not a fresh build. It was previously a Shopko store and before that was a Pamida store.

Blairs was once a smaller store located just a little north of where the current store is. They built the new and larger store in the late 1990s? Blair’s have been in business since 1980.

All three stores seem to be close to the same size. 

Oh, and the new Albertson’s also has a Starbuck’s coffee shop and a pharmacy. That’s two other entities that are abundant is this town as well.

Like I said before, something has got to give. 

Albertson’s Hours: 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Blair’s Hours: 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Mr. D’s Hours: 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.