A Rogue Campaign for NWC

Here’s a couple drone videos I produced with Northwest College in mind. In particular, the ideal audience would be for those beyond Wyoming and Montana (where the majority of our students come from)—and especially for those to the farther outreaches that are east and south of our little campus.

My funky music via Garage Band.
Winter finally arrives at Northwest College in 2020.
A gorilla billboard for Interstate 80 just beyond Laramie.

Littering misdemeanors and/or felonies

A “prairie mattress” north of Powell, Wyoming.

Littering is littering, but when it shows up in those sublime places, I believe the crime is more severe.

Not far from the Powell Municipal Airport, I can across this gem… this “Wyoming Reststop.” When I come across such overt littering/dumping like this, I always try to picture the person, and of course the first image that comes to mind is some toothless White Trash dude and his cousin. But then, I start considering a couple of college-age students who just need to get out of their apartment ASAP. Regardless, I suspect whoever is guilty of this probably is rationalizing that someone will come along and pick it up and dispose of it properly. Nevertheless, if caught in this crime, I’d like to see these people serve some jail time and booked as a felony rather than a slap-on-the-hands misdemeanor.

I might have to go up there and be the one who removes it knowing that whoever did this is likely from my home town—and God forbid I know them. So, shame on you, Powell, shame on you Wyoming for such ugliness to curse your sublime landscapes.

Everyday Dissidence: Reboot

“You are in a continuous cycle of renewal, where all you comprehend doesn’t stay unchanged for long.” 

Steven Redhead, Life Is a Dance
Drone image of Sheep Mountain Anticline near Greybull, Wyoming

This is the first post on my revamped blog. Perhaps you’ve visited the original site at everydaydissidence.blogspot.com. If so, you’ll find that all my older posts from blogger will eventually be migrated over to this site (so no content is lost), and I’ll be adding new content as well—hopefully on a more regular basis.

My Air Disaster Nightmares

Final Approach at San Diego.

The recent controversy and mystery involving the safety of the Boeing 737 Max jetliners had me thinking the other day. I’m unsure how many years it’s been happening, but if there has been one reoccurring dream in my life, it has to do with plane crashes—big plane crashes.

These nightmares of aircraft disasters are never the same. Sometimes I’m in the plane, other times I watch one go down just over the horizon and then see the bright light of the explosion just above the tree line with a big plume of smoke rising after. When I’m in the plane, there’s never any question about what is going to happen. A wing or engine becomes detached and the plane will slowly roll over into an inverted nosedive. I don’t recall ever hitting the ground in this scenario as I always seem to wake myself up.

I often wonder if these dreams are premonitions to something about my future, or are they simply a reference to my childhood—where I was always watching the planes fly over our house on their way to the Akron Municipal Airport—a little over a mile away. Often it appeared that the various overhead aircraft would barely clear the trees on Wirth Avenue (the last high point) before the airport. The Goodyear Blimp was a frequent overhead visitor in those days too.

I’m writing this now just in case I should perish in this way. Maybe someone will come across this writing and say, “See, he knew he would go this way!” Maybe I should have written this years ago. That said, it’s never felt as if my demise is certain in this particular manner either. 

For the record, I first flew on a plane in 1978—traveling from Columbus to Phoenix via TWA on their 727s and 707s back in the day, with a stopover in St. Louis—and have flown numerous times since. I always get a bit nervous a few days before getting on board, but once I’m in the plane and we are taxiing hard down the runway for takeoff, there’s no sense of fear. It’s just exciting and fascinating, especially if I have a window seat.

A Case Study in Higher Education Ambivalency

A small modification to NWC’s current logo.

While Northwest College wrestles with all things related to the problem of diminishing state funds and enrollment, several ideas are being tossed about the campus designed to offset these critical times of financial crisis. Almost every proposed solution has to do with cutting or merging positions by means of reorganizing or diluting in such a way that cutting and merging are facilitated.

Sadly, as we consider how to keep on doing what we’ve been doing with less, one idea that hasn’t received serious consideration (to my knowledge) is the idea of renaming/rebranding the college—a college with a name so ambiguous, so easily forgettable that it would never be missed.

The idea of “Northwest” in its name for the college came from a time when the school (or any of the other junior colleges) never looked beyond its own state’s borders—a time when the target population was mostly Wyoming based. But, as we know the times have changed, and relying on a student population that is Wyoming based is extremely short-sighted and fiscally irresponsible.

Think about it, “Northwest College.”

Is that in Washington somewhere?

No, it’s in Northwest Wyoming.

Anything else in the area that would be more unique, more recognizable in terms of association?

Well, there’s this place called Yellowstone National Park.

Is there any other institution of higher education using that moniker?

Nope.

This has innocently turned out to be a ripe textbook marketing-identity case study (or nightmare). The current school name is so timid regarding its location that when the college updated its logotype back in 2004, they added “Wyoming” underneath the school’s name. Might as well have attached the zip code too.

Even people in our own state often refer to us as “the college in Powell.” And, when they do use a name, they still get it wrong in saying “Northwest Community College.” Hell, one of my students used that old name in a short essay he wrote the other day.

Yellowstone College. It’s a slam dunk, a no-brainer, but you know, that would cost money in rebranding and whatever else associated with such a deliberate and obvious change. Nevermind that when the college moved it’s website and email address from www.northwestcollege.edu to www.nwc.edu, there was plenty of reprinting of various forms, letterheads and business cards to keep our printshop busy in the year that followed. Basically, we’ve gone through dress rehearsals like this before and barely blinked.

Saddest of all, the college used to be called Northwest Community College up until 1989. As near as I can tell, sometime before that a movement evolved (clearly “movers and shakers”) and managed to get the school renamed to Northwest College (sans “Community”). Supposedly that made things a lot better. Talk about failed rebranding testimonies.

As gutting of the institution’s public relations office continues—from nine staffers in 2010, down to six in 2018, nothing would boost enrollment numbers more than a name associated with one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. What other institution of higher learning is more entitled given the East Entrance is just over 70 miles from our campus. Instead of explaining to the whole world where and what Northwest College is, Yellowstone College would wipe away all of that unnecessary, utilitarian, and no-one-is-listening-anyway language.

Nevertheless, like all of my ideas, this one is also a bit too bold for our milquetoast institution of higher learning. So, as long as we’re keeping “Northwest College,” perhaps we can at least poke a little fun at ourselves by printing up some of those bumper stickers that ask, “Where the Hell is Northwest College?”

Postscript: Along with the gutting of the public relations office, just over a year ago the financial crisis was also the rationale stated for the sinking of the student newspaper which did as much—if not more—to promote the college.

Clichés, Hysteria, Ridicule… and Football

Recently, I wrote the following to the Powell Tribune regarding their lack of coverage (as I see it) in some of the outlying communities.

Dear Editor:
If the Powell Tribune can run a front page story about the monastery’s green light in Meeteetse, why can’t we get a little coverage on the same community’s athletics—even if it’s only the scores?

On a related note, the Tribune had a photographer covering the homecoming parade in Cowley for Rocky Mountain High School and not a word (or image) that the game played that evening was the first home game at their new field. What a missed opportunity that was. I wonder how many of your readers would rather have learned about the new venue and game outcome in Cowley as opposed to the ridiculously overworked piece on the various 3A playoff scenarios—all for a 4-3 football team that will likely be one-and-done in whatever playoffs setting that finds them.
—Morgan Tyree

The 4-3 football team I referenced above was our own local Powell High School football team. In the next issue of the Tribune, the following letter was printed from Powell High School’s head football coach Jim Stringer.

Life’s Lessons (the headline given to the letter)

Dear Editor:
My grandfather was a wise man, and he taught me many great lessons in life. Don’t get me wrong, Grandpa wasn’t a well-educated man in the image of great intellectual philosophers, problem solving rocket scientists or small college assistant professors of graphics arts/printing, however, he knew people and he knew dignity and he knew how to use one to treat the other.

As I learned the value of honest hard work living on my grandparent’s farm during the summer months of my elementary years, Grandpa also taught me important lessons in respect, appropriate social behavior and interpersonal communications. Many of the lessons continue to transcend time as sage clichés recognized and understood by most, such as: “Treat others as you would have them treat you.”

Or… “Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes.”

And one of my personal favorites… “It is better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Now, my grandfather knew that the latter was not always possible, so he would sometimes follow it up with the age-old classic, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

While this concept seems to be less and less popular in today’s society of reality TV drama, social entitlement and malicious free speech, it would be nice if an educated fool could ponder the impact of his words on many innocent young men of our community. Mr. Tyree, I have no knowledge of personal wrong doing or atrocities committed on you by members of the Powell High School football program so the motivation behind your deliberate and unprovoked attacks over the years completely baffle me.

Maybe it is because of another lesson I learned from my dear departed grandfather, “Misery loves company.” Mr. Tyree, you must be one of the most miserable individuals around to feel the need to ridicule young men for wanting to be a part of something wholesome and greater than themselves. Professionally, I find it reprehensible that another educator would deliberately and publicly insult the community’s youth and seek to demean their efforts and goals. It is unspeakable and inexcusable, and as a father of a young football player and proud member of our school community, I find your remarks tawdry and offensive.

Considering the number of young men and families you have malevolently insulted within our community, I only hope they will be able to subscribe to another of Grandpa’s wise old sayings, “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” —Alexander Pope
Sincerely,
Jim Stringer
Powell, Wyo.

Here’s my response to the esteemed coach.

Dear Editor,
“It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.”
—Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in the movie Tombstone.

After reciting a litany of worn-out sayings that he subscribes to such as, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” Powell head football coach, Jim Stringer then turns around and in the same breath, refers to me as an “educated fool,” and “one of the most miserable individuals around.”

Golly Coach, that doesn’t seem like a very nice thing to say. What’s that your grandpa said again?

And all that for simply saying your football team is 4-3 and “will likely be one-and-done in whatever playoffs setting that finds them.” I actually thought my criticism leveled toward the Tribune was more severe.

I strongly disagree that my brief comment about the local football team was an attack on the community’s youth or families. I am not one to pull punches, and had I intended to insult, it would not have required a long-winded, sanctimonious analysis by Stringer to point it out.

Stringer’s use of the word “ridicule” jumped out at me beyond his “lessons with Grandpa” that he learned long ago. I looked up the word “ridicule” right after reading Stringer’s letter because (as an “educated fool”) I wanted to be sure I really knew and understood its meaning—especially since I was being accused of it.

Ridicule: the subjection of someone or something to mockery and derision. Since when was referring to a team by its win and loss record and predicting they will only last one game in the playoffs a form of mocking… how is it derisive/harsh? How is it so unreasonable as it is realistic? How does a football coach allow such a minor-league quip from a wimpy, 50-year-old rile him?

The truth be told, after spewing such hysterical drivel, I only wish to ridicule Stringer for coming up with such a poor and exaggerated interpretation of anything I’ve actually said about the Powell football program. Might his response be an illustration of the overly-sensitive climate that has gripped our country in the past decade, thus spurring the “Sanity Rally” this past week in Washington, D.C.? Of all the comical signs that were toted around, one in particular seems appropriate for Stringer to heed: “I disagree with you, but I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler.”

Ironically, I can’t help but think that our model-of-toughness in Coach Stringer is rather thin skinned—and worse, suggests that his players (i.e., “innocent young men”) are the same. My guess here is that his football players who read my comments have easily recovered from the “ridicule” without counseling. Surely the trash talk they hear from their opponents on the other side of the ball during any given contest will render my words fairly inert in comparison. If not, perhaps football isn’t their game.

From my perspective, Coach Stringer blew a perfect opportunity in the handling of an unintelligent remark from an armchair quarterback (that would be me). Rather than responding with a personal attack on the commentator, Stringer could simply have addressed his team sometime before the big playoff game with, “OK boys, let’s show that lamebrain Morgan Tyree how stupid he is when it comes to Powell football!”

And had they actually won their first-round playoff game, perhaps a sharp rebuke could have followed in the next edition of the Tribune from the team captain that said, “Powell 28, Riverton 14. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Morgan Tyree.” Rather, the seasoned head football coach responded like a spoiled little girl who was knocked down in a mud puddle.

I admit to being blunt and not having the most tact, but in a world full of Pollyannas (i.e., see Stringer’s worn-out and trite clichés), the last thing I want to be is another person who sugar-coats mediocrity in all of its forms—football included.

Perhaps my upbringing in Northeast Ohio (the cradle of professional football by the way) explains my crude perspective on football (or sports)—so, again, my apologies. Fans of the Cleveland Browns, Ohio State Buckeyes or the Massillon Tigers have never hesitated to praise or take jabs at their favorite team.

Be assured, the Powell football team or its coaching staff have never brought “personal wrong doing or atrocities” upon me as Stringer ponders. However, given that the coach considers comments I’ve made over the years related to the Powell football team as “deliberate and unprovoked attacks,” that could explain his attacks on my character.

Nevertheless, I am only a critic and the last I heard, that was permissible, even if considered “tasteless” or not popular. I do not speak as an educator (again, something pointed out by Coach Stringer) when it comes to football as I am not an authority—merely a fan of the game… with an opinion. Therefore, I seek no forgiveness in expressing such opinions as Stringer has subtly suggested. Nor does he need to seek forgiveness from me for the personal comments he’s directed at my character. It’s all good.

Lastly… I like Lovell’s chances.

—Morgan Tyree Touted keeper of “vitriolic negativity”

Remembering Mrs. Brazil

What a time to be alive in America—to believe in America.

Having just celebrated Dr. King’s 80th birthday, swelling in the background for the entire week was the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

I wasn’t sure exactly how to go about the business of celebrating on that pseudo-double-barrell holiday. Dr. King and President Obama reminded us about the importance of public service, but I couldn’t help but reflect on those of African-American descent who have touched my life over the years. Too bad for me that such individuals are so few. Yet, I’m the only one to blame for such an abbreviated list.

It was only a couple weeks ago that I remembered Mrs. Brazil, and because of these recent events, for the first time I saw her in a new light.

I never gave much thought about her as an African-American. And, to be sure, no one in my family let it be known to me that (in 1966) my foundation for reading and writing were being shaped by an African-American woman. Yes, I owe my humble beginnings in reading and writing to my first grade teacher, Mrs. Brazil.

Up until now, I’ve been rather oblivious to the unique scenario that had shaped my early years—especially in light of those tumultuous times. Only three years earlier the racial atrocities were recorded regarding the 16 Street Baptist Church in Alabama and not long after 1966, Dr. King was gone.

So, folded in between all of this racial strife, a bunch of young White kids growing up in an all-White neighborhood of East Akron, Ohio, were given the first tools of reading and writing by an African-American woman—tools that have defined the inner core of any civilization.

What a contrast from Kindergarten with Mrs. Scheatzle to the first grade with Mrs. Brazil. Mrs. Scheatzle was a petite and attractive Anglo woman who spoke calmly and evenly. When I walked into Mrs. Brazil’s class on the that first day of the first grade, I knew I had graduated. She was a smart dresser, but she was big enough to play linebacker with Ray Nitschke of the Green Bay Packers (or so it seemed). In short, she was no Mrs. Scheatzle. Mrs. Brazil was gentle with us to be sure, but her voice was capable of booming across the room and she had a great, uninhibited laugh. Occasionally, when we started to become unruly she would settle us down by reminding us that we weren’t in Kindergarten anymore. She conducted that class as if she were holding court.

Morgan in 2nd grade, a year after learning to read and write from Mrs. Brazil.

In reflecting on that time, the other day I called my mother to see if there was anything she remembered that may have been too harsh for a first grader like myself to comprehend. She only remembers the surprise to hear about Brazil’s assignment as a teacher at Ritzman Elementary where I was entering the first grade. Both of us suspect that she may have been the first non-White to teach there—and long before any African-American children attended as students. Regardless, my mother couldn’t recall any controversy regarding Mrs. Brazil at Ritzman and only remembers her as a caring and friendly teacher who would call the house to check on my status when I’d been sick and away from school.

I hold a certain sadness today in that I don’t know what became of Mrs. Brazil, nor do I know how many years she actually taught at Ritzman. I suspect it wasn’t very long because I don’t recall being aware of her presence by the time I was in the fifth grade—the last year I attended Ritzman. Like many of my former teachers, I truly regret not knowing what paths she pursued after sharing the 1966-67 academic year with her. I never learned her given name either.

Today, I find myself wondering what pressures and anxieties she experienced as a teacher working at a school that was 100% White way back then? I can’t imagine it was as innocent and uneventful for her as it appeared from my first-grade perspective. How did such an assignment even come about? Whatever racial tensions she may have experienced, tolerated, suffered, it never showed. Yet, I have to wonder what would a first grader really notice? For me, she was competent, effective and influential as a first grade teacher. What more has ever been required?

Perhaps even more perplexing is that I don’t recall any of the kids from the other classes saying anything about Mrs. Brazil while on the playground or in route to and from school. And the kids attending Ritzman were hardly angels—many used the various inappropriate and offensive names for those of colour and other nationalities. In fact, I remember hearing more jokes about Poles than any other race or nationality.

The fact that my first grade experience with Mrs. Brazil was racially uneventful is probably a credit to my parents who never demonized Blacks or used any of the derogatory, popularized-by-Whites terms for African-American people, although several members of our extended family did—and probably still do to this day.

I’ve told many people over the years about Mrs. Brazil—not because she was African-American, but because she always called me “Tyree”—my surname. I thought that was cool because my brother and his friends in high school always called each other by their last names and suddenly, my teacher was as cool as they were.

As it turned out, sometime later in the year, she pulled me aside and apologized when she realized that my given name was actually “Morgan.” I’m pretty certain I told her it was OK, but had I a little more courage, I would have told her I preferred to be called “Tyree” all along.

On this week when we’ve celebrated the 80th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the swearing in of Barack Obama as our 44th President, I’d like to look her in the eye and thank her for being such a powerful and influential force in my early years. Maybe I could even have her read this essay and offer me a little feedback on my writing one last time.

Barking Dogs


The arrival of summer is always a welcomed event with the exception of two elements that I’ve come to associate with the season and living in the city proper of Powell. It would be wonderful to go on writing about all the positive things of summer and living in this part of Wyoming, but no one wants to read about nothing that isn’t happening. So, it’s on to the business of complaining.

Besides the fact that we have a considerable mosquito population here in the middle of a desert, I see another problem that gives me even more concern than the excessive water consumption in a desert town that could be plopped down in the middle of Indiana and not one Hoosier would notice.

Although everyone has been going on about SARS lately, the epidemic of dog ownership is bringing me to my knees. Everyone seems to have a dog. In particular, a barking dog. And so my real concern is directed at those citizens who turn their dogs loose in their tiny, fenced-in city lots so it can bark and bark and bark. Although summer is still down the road, my bedroom window is finally and permanently cracked open (at least) until late September. Yet, on this particular Sunday morning (April 13 to be exact), I was awakened by a neighbors excessively barking dog at 5:00 a.m. I repeat, summer isn’t even here, not a mosquito have I seen, and I’ve already encountered the true scourge of summer—barking dogs on early Sunday morning. I think this is a bad omen.

And when I hear such a dog violating my quiet time, I instantly start referring to it as “stupid dog.” Yet we all know who is really stupid in this scenario.

Laying in bed in an attempt at the novel idea of sleep once again, all I can think of is, “What kind of person can allow their dog to go on with a litany of barking and not be annoyed themselves? A stupid and inconsiderate one to be sure.”

Perhaps it’s the person who has big plans (or not so big plans) for the day and needs to get an early start for work or recreational purposes. Sure, they know it will be a nice day so the last thing they do before they jump in their pickup is leave the dog in the backyard and forget to consider the neighbors whose bedroom window is only across the street, alley or small strip of yard that separates the two homes. I suspect these are the same people who believe their children are the smartest in their class and would never do anything wrong.

Than their are those dog owners who let their dog out at a civil time in the evening to take care of its business only to forget about it as they proceed to get themselves tanked that night inevitably leading to their passing out on the couch with the TV or stereo still blaring. Ah yes, ignorance truly is bliss in this scenario. Barking dog? Hell, they don’t even hear the police banging on their door when someone like me complains. My question here is, how many six packs does it take to make a dog (seem) quiet?

I often wonder if I’m just overly sensitive about this subject. Are their others like me who are fed up with barking dogs? Whatever the fines are, whatever law enforcement there is about barking dogs, it’s not enough.

Maybe I dreamed it or maybe I read it somewhere, but isn’t the amount of barking by any given dog indirectly related to the intelligence of its given owner? That being the case, perhaps anyone who has the police called on them because of a barking dog should automatically be forced to take the G.E.D. exam on site. I suspect many would fail it. And given the fact that they would fail, along with a stiffer fine, I propose they be stripped of any titles, certificates or degrees in their possession at that time—including their driver’s license.

The sad thing about my letter is that the community of barking dog owners probably won’t or can’t read this—hopefully the former.

I used to like dogs when I was a kid, in fact my family had one too, but it never barked excessively or on and on into the early morning. I’m trying not to be prejudice about dogs. I still like them, but these days it’s getting tougher. Lately they remind me of rap music—annoying, obnoxious and in my face.

Seems like I remember a few years ago where someone was going around poisoning the local dogs in Cody, was it? I didn’t give it much thought back then, but now I suspect I understand how that unfolded. Although such acts are wrongful and despicable they are mostly misdirected.

Postscript: About a week ago the home next to mine exchanged owners. The new owners have two dogs that bark at me everytime I step out into the back yard. I sure hope they get used to me.

Postscript2: Two years later and no such luck regarding the situation next door. Their dogs are as retarded as they get while their owners are beyond inconsiderate. There went the neighborhood. The only reprieve is they don’t leave the hounds out all night, but on several occasions have let them out early on weekend mornings to give the neighborhood an unappreciated wake-up call.

146,810.3 miles

The 1983 Honda in its final resting spot—Zier’s Auto Salvage near Deaver, Wyoming.

Deaver, Wyoming

We bought the ’83 Honda Accord in 1990. Considering the amount of rust on the body, it’s safe to say the car had spent most of its time on the salted roads of Northeast Ohio. I don’t remember the final price, but the monthly payments were $105 for three years.

When it came to reliability, the yellowish-tan import never let us down; however, like most used cars, many of its more dispensable features were just that—dispensed. The air conditioner never worked due to an electrical short somewhere between the control panel and the A/C itself. And the cruise control was extremely temperamental, sometimes staying on for hours as we cruised down the interstate; other times, it would disengage after a mile or two—never activating again for the remainder of the trip. I would guess that both defects were attributed to coffee spilled on or near the dashboard by its former owners.

In ’91 the car was towed behind our pick-up as we moved to Flagstaff, Arizona—never to see salt again, though the rust continued to spread like a cancer without a cure. While in Flag, we photographed the salt-free import the day it turned over 100,000 miles—as if it had graduated from some institute of higher mileage.

Before another year had passed, we were on the move to Northwestern Wyoming and the Honda was riding piggy-back again. From Wyoming, the Accord made two trips back to Ohio and a side excursion to Tennessee. By this time original parts were being replaced on a regular basis.

Zier’s Auto Salvage just outside of Deaver, Wyoming 20-plus-years after the Honda’s arrival.

We finally sold the car for $800 to our best friends’ daughter. Though I never expressed my true feelings, I felt reluctant to depart with the Accord. I pictured it as my second car and driving it into the next century. Two months after the sale, the Honda’s teenage owner lost control of it on a dirt road, causing the destruction of the entire front wheel drive and suspension. There was talk shortly after the accident of rebuilding and replacing the damaged parts; but in light of the vehicle’s age, a retired family mechanic suggested taking it off life support. Arrangements were made with a local junkyard to park the Honda one last time—in its final resting place—a junkyard outside of Deaver, Wyoming. There it has embarked on a journey toward extinction—a trip where tune-ups, oil changes or other maintenance-related work are no longer necessary. I wonder how long its identity will stay in tact as parts are stripped off and cannibalized for other ’83 Accords still in service? Perhaps one day it will be crushed like an aluminum can under a heavy foot, then shredded to bits, and finally used for re-bar soup.

Until it does meet the diabolical auto shredder, I’ll likely stop by for a visit on occasion to see how our old car is holding up to the turbulent Wyoming weather. And who knows, maybe Accords will someday be considered classics, like the early Mustangs, drawing me back to Deaver—to reclaim its tattered remains.