Friday, July 30, 2010

Overton Window

"The Overton Window"
That's title of a best selling thriller written by a highly controversial political commentator.

(About the picture: Don't you love how that flower's pistil ends in velvety curls?)

I won't bother explaining the book's storyline; it's pretty complicated. What I did want to explain was the title. I had never heard the term "Overton Window" before the book came out; I wish I had known about it all along as it gives me two simple words to use to explain something that I've noticed through life, yet couldn't articulate.

(About the picture: Perspectives caught on camera: shall I look at up close flowers or far away sunlit trees?)

Here's a good enough short definition of an Overton Window:

At any given moment, the “window” includes a range of policies considered to be politically acceptable in the current climate of public opinion, which a politician can recommend without being considered too “extreme” or outside the mainstream to gain or keep public office.

Named after its originator, Joseph P. Overton, former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Overton arranged the spectrum on a vertical axis of “more free” and “less free” in regards to government intervention.

When the window moves or expands, ideas can accordingly become more or less politically acceptable.

The degrees of acceptance of public ideas can be described roughly as:


The Overton Window is a means of visualizing which ideas define that range of acceptance by where they fall in it.

Proponents of policies outside the window seek to persuade or educate the public so that the window either “moves” or expands to encompass them.

Opponents of current policies, or similar ones currently within the window, likewise seek to convince people that these should be considered unacceptable.

Other formulations of the process created after Overton's death add the concept of moving the window, such as deliberately promoting ideas even less acceptable than the previous "outer fringe" ideas, with the intention of making the current fringe ideas acceptable by comparison.

Haven't we all experienced an "Overton Window" apart from politics in our own lives?

I know I have; in areas ranging from appropriate attire at various functions to debt load to public breastfeeding of infants. Some of the windows have moved in ways that I approve, others have moved in ways that scandalized me.

I would love to round up some thinking friends and invite them over to chat about this concept. Next best thing: post it on my blog, and see what others may think.

It isn't an easy "think" by the way...but once you are aware of the term "Overton Window" it does make it easier to point out when it is occurring either in the news or in your own life.

It is sort of like having a term like "Pregnant" to wrap up the many physical/emotional/social elements of the condition. Yes, someone may be throwing up in the morning, breasts may be swelling, a crib may be purchased, baggy tops are being worn, lots of trips to the doctors office etc etc...perhaps unrelated symptoms, unless one knew a baby was on the way.

The question is: Are the symptoms that we observe in our lives and the world about us likely to produce a "baby" (a continuation of human life) or are the symptoms a signal of a malignant condition?

More importantly: What is our calling as Christians in the management of the Overton Windows of life?

Something I'll be thinking about for quite awhile.

(About the picture: So many snowflakes, so many raindrops, each so light, yet now create a rushing stream that can take down trees with it's power. I don't think I will ever cease to be amazed at that fact.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Random e-mails at work

"Please do not use the west exit door from the building. A badger is outside in the parking area. Animal control has been notified."

"Between 10 and 11 am Skin Care students need people available to get a manicure. Also need volunteers for waxing."
"Get ready for swim suit season. Hair is for bears, get waxed!"

(I'll spare you the picture of the wax job. I think the badger was just looking a wax and a manicure myself.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beauty all around...except when looking down.

Ahhh...the Days Of '47 afternoon (that was last Saturday by the way, see previous post for details).

Bernie suggested we head north to an area called Hardware Ranch.

We stopped along the way so B. could cast a fly or two in the stream alongside the road.

I got busy doing my usual thing of looking for wildflowers.

Pretty, huh?

Bernie had read that there was a certain mineral in this particular stream that made the water have an especially pretty color.

It was pretty, with maybe a hint more of aquamarine than streams usually have.

I decided to get closer to the shoreline to see the water up close.

The water seemed pretty usual to me. I glanced back to see if there were any interesting flowers or butterflies worth photographing.

There was something worth photographing all right. I simultaneously froze and jumped back when I spotted a snake that I had apparently and unwittingly stepped over earlier.

The snake was frozen in place as well...and I couldn't see the tail shape.

Oh great. I tried to decide if I could just wait for it to move along, like most snakes prefer to do when they find themselves confronted with humans.

On the other hand...what if it was a rattler? Don't they travel in pairs? What if there was a second one just lurking behind a bush, waiting to chomp on my foot as I tried to leave?

I got as far away from the snake as I could, sticking the toes of my shoes into the water. Bernie was a bit down the river; I began frantically waving my arms and pantomiming snake movements, including wiggling two fingers in front of my lips to mime a snake tongue motions.

Bernie signaled how big.

I stretched out my arms and then made an O shape with my hands.

He quickly began to move upstream towards me.

Hurrah! I would be rescued!

He sure did take his time getting to me though. Later he told me he thought I was trying to tell him I had seen some really big fish in the water, not a snake. Guess we should spend more time playing Charades in the evening if that is what he though.

Right away he captured the snake so I could safely leave the area.

(But not before he had chirped like a parent talking to a new born child " is just a little baby gopher snake. It's cute!)

"Give me a little kiss..."

Is my husband the only husband who sweet talks snakes?

Finding a snake is almost as good as catching a fish, at least in Bernie's mind.

We stopped at several other likely places along the stream. At one place mosquitoes were biting me through my tee shirt.

Other places were so beautiful that I waded into the stream with my running shoes just for the joy of it.

(I used to see pictures like this in magazines: cars loaded with outdoor gear and flowers blooming thickly about. It didn't seem like it could be real then. Now I smile and take a picture, thankful that I get to live where such scenes actually happen to me!)

Bernie spotted our final wonder of the day. Can you see what he saw in the golden field?

Two Sandhill cranes! We had never seen one before; and here we were seeing two! My folks have seen the sand hill crane migration with cranes as far as the eye could see.

Perhaps someday we will get to see the migration too. But for now, just having seen two made me happy.

In fact, just about everything I saw on Saturday made me happy!

Days of '47: You (weren't) there!

The buzz had been growing around town: The days of '47 were coming! People were talking about the event; families were gathering, plans were being made.

I asked Tiggie and Hart about it...they said they didn't know anything about it, and what ever it was, it wasn't their fault.

I had been told that people arrived down town in the wee hours of the morning before the big Days of '47 parade to stake a claim on the "best" spots. They slept in lawn chairs through the night, and cooked breakfast on the spot in the morning.

This kind of dedication and fervor I just had to see. I asked the boys if they wanted to come along, the offer was declined by both the feline and human household males.

The day's celebration actually had begun several days ago. Families throughout Utah had taken ahold of a handcart, dressed in 1847 era clothing and proceeded to walk for days along the original trails trod by the Mormon settlers on their way to the promised land of Zion, aka Deseret aka Salt Lake City.

Upon mounting the crest of Emigration Canyon above the Salt Lake Valley, the Mormon leader Brigham Young famously announced to his weary followers: "This is the place!" This year, the announcement has been researched and the quote is now changed to "This is the right place, drive on." The "restored" version doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but oh well.

The Mormons have celebrated that defining moment ever since.

When Jeff arrived in SLC, he was informed that the 4th of July celebrations were a poor second to the celebration of Days of '47. He didn't believe it until he saw it to be true himself. He still shakes his head at the memory of the first Days of '47 that he beheld.

It was my intention to settle for a really poor parade viewing location. The celebration's events actually kicked off at 7 am with a Mormon Tabernacle Choir rejoicing time in the Temple Square Tabernacle.

I slept through that. My bad.

The parade was to begin at 9; for some reason, I thought it would begin at a reasonable 10 am.

It wasn't until 10:45 until I finally left the house on my own trek to "this is the place". Still, I drove on....

Floats were randomly heading away from downtown...clearly I had missed the parade proper.

Every street corner was filled with families toting chairs, coolers and umbrellas. Guess the party really was over!
It must have been quite a cute parade.

Now I did plan to not only see the parade, I also had an errand to run: a library book was on the verge of being over due. I planned on dropping the book into the outside book drop and then being on my merry way.

I had been warned, but I just didn't listen. Ever heard the expression: You can't get there from here?

Well now I have lived it. Even though the parade had finished up and the crowds dispersed, EVERY east/west road was blocked off with police cars and barricade. Grid lock: accomplished! I rolled down my window at one corner and asked the police officer how I could get to the library. He suggested a course that was equally blocked.

Eventually by going waaaay outside the downtown boundaries I was able to target the N/S library boundary street, and secure a parking space. Parade vendors were walking along with the jumbled remains of their wares. I asked if I could buy some cotton candy from one man. For a dollar, he gave me one and another one just because.

The library seemed a bit dark...

Pioneer Day, the politically correct term to be all inclusive of ALL pioneers who came to SLC at one point or another.
How PC funny is that?
My book would have to accrue fines; the outside book drop was also closed for the day.
Next year, Bernie later told me as we watch fireworks light up the sky in every direction, we WILL get up early and see the entire parade.
Jeff tells me that the most interesting part of the parade is seeing floats of models of the various LDS temples.
Can you imagine a parade on a Christian holiday (say Christmas for example) that would include floats of the various churches in your community?
That your town would shut down in honor of the date of the establishment of the first church in your community?
Sounds good to me.
Wonder where we Christians lost the zest for that kind of celebration?
It wouldn't be PC to do so now.
I also wonder: How long will the term "Day's of '47" last, before the demand for inclusiveness will hijack the celebration to being for Pioneers "of all times" as I heard one radio person say.
I suppose there could be floats for modern Pioneers from say...Houston?
Sure...I can see it now: the float will have Bernie and Jill in twice life size sculpture, complete with airline tickets and cat carriers in hand. We personally would be riding along, waving and throwing candy at the crowds, while the cats would be hunkered down in complete horror beside us.
Poor Tigs and Hart.
Next year, boys, you may not get to stay on the deck and snooze the Days of '47 away.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What a weekend!

Days of '47 weekend here in SLC...a holiday of which most of world is unaware. I'll be posting about that later this week, just so you all can be "in the know" about such things.
Bernie and I packed our weekend to the brim without even attending any Days of '47 events. We had a grand time exploring some rivers about an hour north of us (I'll post about that later too...) but on Sunday...well, I just wish I could have allowed anyone reading this to see what we saw in person.
Albion Basin up in Little Cottonwood Canyon/Alta area is renowned for wildflowers.

Without further comment, here is the next best thing to being in Albion Basin in person:

(well, actually, I guess I should tell you in advance that the pictures won't get bigger if you click on them. I "cheated" and emailed the pictures from my web album to save a ton of time. Did you know you can do that? If you really to see them full sized you can just click on THIS link and see them in a full screen sized slideshow instead of scrolling down through this post.)

So...when are you planning on coming out to see Albion Basin for yourself?

Make plans for next July now!