Thinking About Columbus Day

I am well aware of the feelings among many American Indians about Columbus Day. One Lakota woman who worked for me used to ask if she could come in and work on Columbus Day, a federal holiday.

My feeling though is that we can’t have enough holidays and so I choose to think of Columbus Day as the Italian-American holiday. Nothing wrong with that. We have an African-American holiday on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. We have the Irish-American celebration that is St. Patrick’s Day. And Cinco de Mayo is surely the Mexican-American holiday, a much larger celebration here than in most of Mexico.

So, instead of protesting Columbus Day, perhaps American Indians should organize and bring about a holiday of their very own. Given the great diversity among Indian nations (and, lets face it, a proclivity for endless debate), the tribes might never reach agreement, though, so I will suggest a date.

The day before Columbus Day.


Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

Taken Saturday, September 25, 2010, at sunset at Delicate Arch, Arches National Park.

Delicate Arch is Entrada sandstone. It’s 52 feet high. This vantage point is reached via 1½-mile trail with an elevation change of about 500 feet. There were approximately 200 people there Saturday, all with the courtesy to stay away from the arch during sunset (prime time for photographers). Six-, soon to be seven-, year-old Sofie made the trek with ease. Grandpa made the trek.


Wanderlist

The British-published Rough Guides lists these 30 places/events as things not to miss in USA. How many have you checked off?

Follow above link for photos.

  1. Monument Valley, AZ • Massive sandstone monoliths stand sentinel in this iconic southwestern landscape.
  2. Redwood National Park, CA • Soak up the quiet majesty of the world’s biggest trees, wide enough to drive through and soaring upwards like skyscrapers.
  3. Skiing in the Rocky Mountains • The Rockies make for some of the best skiing anywhere, with their glitzy resorts and atmospheric mining towns.
  4. Pike Place Market, Seattle, WA • Piled high with salmon, lobster, clams and crabs, the oldest public market in the nation is also home to some great seafood restaurants.
  5. Savannah, GA • Mint juleps on wide verandas, horse-drawn carriages on cobbled streets and lush foliage draped with Spanish moss; this historic cotton port remains the South’s loveliest town.
  6. Ancestral Puebloan sites • Scattered through desert landscapes like New Mexico’s magnificent Bandelier National Monument, the dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloans afford glimpses of an ancient and mysterious world.
  7. Yellowstone National Park, WY • The national park that started it all has it all, from steaming fluorescent hot springs and spouting geysers to sheer canyons and meadows filled with wildflowers and assorted beasts.
  8. Going to a Baseball Game • America’s summer pastime is a treat to watch wherever you are, from Chicago’s ivy-clad Wrigley Field to Boston’s Fenway Park, the oldest in the country.
  9. Graceland, Memphis, TN • Pilgrims from all over the world pay homage to the King by visiting his gravesite and endearingly modest home.
  10. Sweet Auburn, Atlanta, GA • This historic district holds the birthplace of Dr Martin Luther King Jr and other spots honouring his legacy.
  11. Niagara Falls, NY • The sheer power of Niagara Falls is overwhelming, whichever angle you view the mighty cataracts from.
  12. Driving Highway 1, CA • The rugged Big Sur coastline, pounded by Pacific waves, makes an exhilarating route between San Francisco and LA.
  13. Crater Lake, OR • Formed from the blown-out shell of volcanic Mount Mazama, this is one of the deepest and bluest lakes in the world, and offers some of the most evocative scenery anywhere.
  14. Crazy Horse Memorial, SD • A staggering monument to the revered Sioux leader, this colossal statue continues to be etched into the Black Hills of South Dakota.
  15. Las Vegas, NV • From the Strip’s erupting volcanoes, Eiffel Tower and Egyptian pyramid to its many casinos, Las Vegas will blow your mind as well as your wallet.
  16. Hiking in the Grand Canyon, AZ • Explore the innermost secrets of this wondrous spot on many of its superb hiking trails at the heart of one of America’s best-loved parks.
  17. Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL • Though each of Orlando’s theme parks strives to outdo the rest, Walt Disney World remains the one to beat.
  18. Glacier National Park, MT • Montana’s loveliest park holds not only fifty glaciers, but also two thousand lakes, a thousand miles of rivers and the exhilarating Going-to-the-Sun road.
  19. San Francisco, CA • Enchanting, fog-bound San Francisco remains bohemian and individualistic at heart.
  20. Hawaii’s volcanoes • Hawaii’s Big Island grows bigger by the minute, as the world’s most active volcano pours molten lava into the ocean.
  21. The National Mall, Washington DC • From the Lincoln Memorial to the US Capitol by way of the towering Washington Monument – this grand parkway is an awesome showcase of American culture and history.
  22. Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA • Crazy, colourful, debauched and historic – this is the carnival to end them all.
  23. New York City, NY • With world-class museums, restaurants, nightlife and shops aplenty, the Big Apple is in a league of its own.
  24. Yosemite Valley, CA • Enclosed by near-vertical, mile-high cliffs and laced with hiking trails and climbing routes, the dramatic geology of Yosemite Valley is among the country’s finest scenery.
  25. Miami’s Art Deco, FL • This flamboyant city is deservedly famed for the colourful pastel architecture of its restored South Beach district.
  26. Driving US-1 to Key West, FL • Travel one of America’s most tantalizing highways from sleepy Key Largo to heaving Key West, cruising over the sharks and rays on giant causeways and bridges.
  27. BBQ • Perhaps no other cuisine is as essentially American as BBQ – smoked ribs, pulled pork and brisket – with the Carolinas, Texas and Kansas fighting it out as the nation’s top pit masters.
  28. Venice Beach, LA, CA • Combines wacky LA culture with Muscle Beach, surfing, sand and good food, all a short drive from the glitz of Beverly Hills and Hollywood.
  29. South by Southwest, TX • This thriving ten-day festival in Austin is one of the nation’s best music festivals and plays host to bands from around the world – and Texas, too.
  30. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, OH • Housed inside this striking glass pyramid is an unparalleled collection of rock music’s finest mementoes, recordings, films and exhibitions.

Previously Rough Guides included —

  • Aurora borealis, AK • Winter visitors to Alaska just might see the skies ablaze with the shimmering veils of the Northern Lights.
  • Chicago’s modern architecture, IL • The history of modern architecture is writ large on Chicago’s skyline, site of the world’s first skyscraper.
  • Burning Man • Every summer a temporary community takes life in the middle of the Nevada desert and hosts an art and music festival wholly unlike any other.
  • Swamps • From the steamy Everglades of Florida to the ghostly bayous of Louisiana’s Cajun country, America’s swamplands are hauntingly beautiful.
  • New England in the fall • The Northeast’s breathtaking fall foliage presents an ever-changing palette of colour and light.
  • Rodeos • Relive the Old West with cowboys and cowgirls at rodeos like Cheyenne Frontier Days and countless smaller ones.

Padre Island National Seashore (Texas)

… was authorized by Congress on this date in 1962.

Padre Island

Padre Island National Seashore separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre, one of a few hypersaline lagoons in the world. The park protects 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats teeming with life. It is a safe nesting ground for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and a haven for 380 bird species. It also has a rich history, including the Spanish shipwrecks of 1554.


Padre Island National Seashore is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. In addition to its 70 miles of protected coastline, other important ecosystems abound, including rare coastal prairie, a complex and dynamic dune system, wind tidal flats teeming with life, and the Laguna Madre, one of the few hypersaline lagoon environments left in the world. The National Seashore and surrounding waters provide important habitat for marine and terrestrial plants and animals, including a number of rare, threatened, and endangered species.

Situated along the Central Flyway, Padre Island is a globally important area for over 380 migratory, overwintering, and resident bird species (nearly half of all bird species documented in North America). Thirteen of these species are considered species of concern, threatened, or endangered.

National Park Service


Porn Squad

First posted here nine years ago today. I’ve made a couple of minor edits.


The news item “Recruits Sought for Porn Squad” reminds NewMexiKen of one of the things I don’t list on my résumé. I’ve already served on an FBI “porn squad.”

About 30 years ago, a lawsuit was brought against the National Archives and the FBI for violating the Federal Records Act. The Archives, it was alleged, had allowed the Bureau too much independence in deciding which records to keep under the Act. As a result of the litigation, the Court ordered the Archives to exert much more oversight. In practice it was almost as if the Bureau couldn’t empty its wastebaskets without the Archives sifting through to make sure there were no valuable records.

Things began to pile up at Bureau offices. Among the heaps were whole warehouses full of confiscated pirated copies of popular films and music, particularly in Los Angeles (that is, Hollywood) where I was the National Archives’ regional archivist. Ultimately I was dispatched to the Los Angeles FBI field office to “review” these tapes and affirm they were not legally records and that they could be disposed of consistent with the court order. I’d slap a cassette into the VCR, watch enough of it to attest that it was in fact just another copy of “Patton” or “The Empire Strikes Back,” sampling my way through endless boxes and palettes. Then I’d go back to the office and draft a document saying such-and-such was trash. The Deputy Archivist of the U.S. would sign the affidavit and file it with the court. We cleaned out a large warehouse this way. (Keep in mind that this was just bulk confiscated material. A sample was retained with the case materials to serve as evidence and to provide a historical record.)

[I was not, however, allowed to apply my sampling process to the confiscated cars in the FBI garage. Even then, L.A. drug distributors drove some fancy automobiles.]

It turned out about this time that there was a big bust of audio-visual materials in Honolulu and the FBI field office there was bursting at the seams with worthless junk. “Could I go out to Hawaii for a week and help them out?” “Well,” I said, “OK. If I have to.”

But, in Honolulu, the pirated copies of popular movies were interspersed with confiscated pornography — and in those days at least, the pornography the FBI confiscated wasn’t smut. It was animals and kids and stuff. So there I was in a darkened room at the FBI offices in Honolulu putting cassettes into the VCR and sampling enough to attest that it was in fact just another pornographic film and not a federal record.

Take it from NewMexiKen, there are better ways to spend one’s day than on an FBI porn squad.


Best Line of This or Any Other Day


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Constitutional Convention, September 17, 1787