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Tuesday - July 14, 2020

Archive for the ‘ Curious Boulder ’ Category

 

What’s in a Name?

June 7th, 2020

Symbols are an interesting phenomenon when you stop to think about them. And they’re everywhere. A road sign with the silhouette of children on a seesaw is a symbol, not warning of recreational equipment but of kids at play. Bills and coins are symbols of value, the tangible representation of economics. They take the form of icons, as well: a bluish bird for Twitter, a Polaroid-like camera for Instagram, and so on. Symbols evoke companies, stand-in for purchasing power, even encapsulate “slow down, drivers, kids are unpredictable and around the corner” in an instant. Simple or complex, they... Read More

Subtopia

June 6th, 2020

It’s been argued the history of the world can be seen on your plate. Moorish improvements to Roman irrigation boosted rice production in 15th century Spain, eventually melding with Middle Eastern spices into what we know today as paella. Bánh mì sandwiches combine native Vietnamese ingredients (such as cilantro, cucumbers, and pickled daikon) with baguettes and mayonnaise left behind by French colonists. There are many interesting through-lines when it comes to food. Closer to home, consider a different kind of example: the humble sub sandwich. Whether you prefer to call them hoagies, grinders,... Read More

Leanin’ In

April 2nd, 2016

Among other things, cities are amalgams—a mix of geography, history, economics, and trends. Most of the time this blending is fairly subtle. Neighborhoods come and go, like the people that live in and define them. Businesses pop up, shut down. The baseline for life, or the signs thereof, have a fluidity to them that’s easy to miss. Boulder, of course, is no exception. In many ways, it’s more of an amalgam than most. But that’s hard to pin down. Sometimes, though, you can step into a space that wears its Frankenstein-like mish-mash on its sleeve, and in doing so, get a glimpse of wider ranging... Read More

We Can Weird It for You Wholesale

March 5th, 2016

The Boulder area is known for weirdness, however you choose to define that. To political conservatives, it’s because of our liberal-infused policies. For those interested in culture, it’s because of a “San Francisco of the Rockies” label applied in the 1960s and 70s, or for pre-legalization 4/20 celebrations that left the Norlin Quad blanketed in weed smoke. To others, it’s more a feeling that can’t be quantified, but is nonetheless there. The thing is, much like those defunct 4/20 gatherings, there’s more smoke than fire nowadays. Don’t misunderstand, we still have our claims to... Read More

The Perennial Canyon

February 27th, 2016

Colorado’s reputation as a confluence of health and recreation is well established. We’re known for our ski resorts, biking, and every athletic activity in-between. Anyone can challenge or simply enjoy themselves throughout the mountains, Western Slope, and Front Range. The history of this is long, to say the least. But perhaps the most important chapter, in terms of impact, came in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tuberculosis was the leading cause of death at that time, and effective antibiotics wouldn’t come until the 1940s. Failing other options, many doctors prescribed the sun,... Read More

Pinball Wizard Redux

February 13th, 2016

There’s an old saying-slash-cliché that goes, “everything old is new again.” We’ve all heard this, and have likely experienced it firsthand. Nostalgia is a powerful mechanism, particularly when coupled with irony. Some resurgences, however, though they might start that way, end up finding life of their own. In Boulder—both the city and county—we’re seeing one such situation. Despite our region of the Front Range becoming increasingly known for start-ups, particularly of the high tech variety, low tech has its place too. Here, I’m talking about the unassuming pastime of times past:... Read More

Tis the Seasonings

December 19th, 2015

There are a lot of stereotypes about Boulder. It’s a college town with a reputation for partying. It’s home to a Buddhist-based university, Naropa, started in part by Allen Ginsberg. Its people are some of the healthiest, in one of the healthiest states in the country. And, of course, there’s the “granola crunch” factor, encapsulating the intersection of once-dominant hippiedom and alternative eating practices. Exactly how Boulder gained that last reputation isn’t an easy question to answer. To my mind, though, one of the biggest factors comes in terms of tea. And if we’re talking... Read More

A Home in the Holidays

December 5th, 2015

This time of year tends to breed reflection. Sometimes it takes the form of thinking about the meaning of holidays, friendship, and family. Sometimes it’s less specific, as if the season is a point against which measurements of the past, present, and future are made. And all of this, of course, comes with a backdrop of work shuffling and travel schedules, jumbles together in a rush of logistics. Then, inevitably, there’s a shift. Maybe it’s seeing someone you haven’t for too long. Maybe a loved one waits to share news until you’re face to face. Arguments come about over mashed potatoes;... Read More

Snakes and Stallions

November 15th, 2015

I’m not a gearhead. I don’t know how most systems work in my car. Checking tire pressure, and maybe replacing a fuse or headlight bulb, is about as hands-on as is possible. I know of the internal combustion engine’s work, but couldn’t tell you much about it. Growing up and beyond, cars never interested me all that much (see also: complicated board games, the heaviest/ deathiest of heavy/ death metal, and reality TV). But as with anything, whether or not I generally like it, there’s always the possibility for change. Sometimes all it takes is the right situation, or person, or example... Read More

Skiing at Home

November 1st, 2015

When the days get cold, it’s hard not to turn your attention to the weather. And when it comes to fall and winter that means snow. Come on: more than a few of us live in Colorado for that very reason. Where there’s snow, of course, there’s skiing, snowboarding, and a host of other activities. That probably brings to mind the big Summit County resorts—your Beavercreeks and Breckenridges and Keystones. Closer to town, there’s the always scrappy Eldora; while their snow tends not to be as deep, their territory not as expansive as the mega resorts, they make up for it in coziness. And better... Read More

Bookstores: A Love Letter

October 25th, 2015

There is an incredible range of quality work being done on TV these days. Despite Hollywood doldrums, at least a handful of genuinely great films are released every year. More music is being made and released than ever; the Internet is always coming up with more ways to enrage, distract, and entertain us. In short, the media landscape is as vast as it is varied. Of all those forms, though, books have a special place in my heart. In fact, I am an irredeemable book junky. As much as I love high-quality TV series or movies, there is something about a story being told in my mind, via words and sentences... Read More

Something in the Air

October 18th, 2015

Humans have always had a complicated relationship with weather. Ancient cultures prayed and made offerings to gods in hopes of receiving conditions conducive to growing crops. Adverse weather, then, was often interpreted as displeasure on behalf of those same beings—a punishment for failing to observe proper rituals. It doesn’t take a history scholar to understand this impulse. Weather, now as then, is both an enemy and ally. On one hand, it provides everything from the raw material for food—sunlight driving photosynthesis, wind the primary method of plants spreading their seeds—to something... Read More

Mork Versus the Subaru

October 11th, 2015

Let’s look at 1978 for a moment. The Camp David Accords were signed, Japanese car imports soared in reaction to petroleum shortages, and the comic strip Garfield debuted to a world bereft of lasagna-scarfing cats. Another debut, of a TV sitcom called Mork & Mindy, came a few months later. And for Boulder, this hit much closer to home. Mork & Mindy was a spin-off of the 1950s-themed Happy Days. In one episode Mork (played by Robin Williams), an alien from the planet Ork, visited Milwaukee to obtain a human specimen for study. Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) would’ve been that specimen,... Read More

Green with Community

September 27th, 2015

It’s hard to say what makes a business catch on. There’s strange calculus, even alchemy involved. Often it’s about selection, catering to a niche, or comes down to price. On rare occasions, though, a business survives because it becomes part of the community in which it was created. These days, brick-and-mortar stores not only struggle against each other, but against virtual retail. Anything can be found online, and purchased with a mouse click. Where once towns centered on the local drug store, for example, now that idea seems quant. As a result, even mega-chains have problems. Many local... Read More

Pleading the Fifth

September 20th, 2015

Often, the significance of an event isn’t clear until after it’s passed. Everyone can recall an example in his or her own life. Sports, of course, are no exception. And since September is in full swing, that means football, which brings to mind a particularly odd example. It’s October 6, 1990. The CU Buffs had a record of three wins, one loss, and one tie; their opponent, the University of Missouri Tigers, had a record of two wins and two losses. Nearly 47,000 fans packed Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri to watch the rivals battle it out. Both teams played hard, and Missouri lead 31-27... Read More

The Trace of Overcoming

September 13th, 2015

If you ask five people why they participate in outdoorsy activities, you’re likely to get five different answers. They might have similarities—health consciousness, a love of nature—but the real thrust of their recreation is unique. Boulder, of course, is known for the opportunities afforded its athletically inclined residents and visitors. If you’re into running, biking, skiing, or any other verbs-turned-pastimes, this city and its surroundings are your huckleberry. For me, one thing connects these activities: conquering. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s everywhere. Anyone who participates... Read More

Geniuses of the Cold

September 6th, 2015

Mid-1990s Boulder was busy with activity. Fitness was king. Local businesses were prized. Hacky Sack circles and jam band opuses were ubiquitous anywhere students congregated. Simultaneous to that, though, was something wholly different. Buried in the corridors of the JILA tower on CU’s campus, a breakthrough was purring along quietly. Professors Carl Wieman and Eric Cornell were making real what many physicists thought was only theory. In the 1920s, Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein conceived of a new form of matter, which came to be known as the Bose-Einstein Condensate. A full explanation... Read More

Postcards from the Edge

July 12th, 2015

Douglas Adams wrote: “Space is Big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.” Some of that distance, though, is about to shrink. Enter NASA’s New Horizons mission. Launched in 2006, it’s been hurdling toward the outer reaches of our solar system at 31,000 miles per hour. The destination? Pluto, its system of five known moons, and beyond. The craft is on track for its closest flyby of Pluto on July 14th; detailed information is expected to arrive beginning the 16th (again, space is big). Using a host of abbreviation-heavy scientific equipment—REX,... Read More

Life and Taxes

July 5th, 2015

Once upon a time European transplants came to the New World. The results were complicated to say the least. Native populations and cultures didn’t fare well; slave trade was established early. New lives were built on shifting ground. Fast-forward to the British expanding what the French and Dutch began. King George III reaped the benefits of his American colonists, and in kingly fashion found ways to further enrich his coffers. Chief among those tactics was the leveraging of taxes. That led to a certain tantrum: the Boston Tea Party. In time, this dust-up morphed into what we refer to as the... Read More

The Business of Getting Down

June 28th, 2015

Boulder is an interesting mix of currents. Consider, for example, the constellation of tech start-ups that find a home here. Think about the many craft breweries and distilleries that have cropped up over the years. Taken together, you get a place equally devoted to innovation and cutting loose, often at the same time. Given CU-Boulder is a dominant fixture, it’s no surprise similar labels apply. The university boasts an array of research associates, experts in various scientific disciplines, as well as artists in every medium, all teaching under its tent. Academically speaking, attending or... Read More