Archive for January, 2007

Jan
30

The Strange Season

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The fishing guides here in Puerto Vallarta call it the strange weather in the strange season.

Mexico, it seems, is no stanger to the weird weather pattern affecting us in the states. Business newspaper publishers from across the U.S., joining me here in PV for a conference this past weekend, have all been watching us freeze in Colorado, but down here, the question that everyone is asking, including the waiters, cab drivers and shop owners, is “Where is the sun?”

Today it looks like the sun will finally come out here in Mexico, on the day, of course, that we’re packing up and flying back to Colorado, where I see the weather forecast calls for more snow! Just great.

Last night, shop owners along PV’s busy tourism Malecon were shuttering their windows as a heavy wind blew in from the bay. Dust and grit flew into our eyes as we walked back from Restaurant Barcelona, a casual yet elegant restaurant specializing in Spanish tapas and sangria. Highly recommended if you visit PV.

For about two weeks, it’s been cloudy with a little rain, not making the sun-seeking tourists happy at all. As usual, it’s good thing there is plenty of tequila, cervezas and Cuban cigars to go around.

Just like Colorado, El Nino seems to be busting the area’s claim to an average of 300 sunny days.

What a strange weather season indeed.

Categories : Travel
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Wyoming’s announcement that is has captured the deal to build a new $60 million supercomputer data center, beating out a competing bid by University of Colorado, Boulder and state officials, is a body blow to the city that prides itself as a national leader in federally funded scientific research, especially weather and climate change.

News that the Boulder-based National Center for Atmospheric Research, NCAR, wanted to build the supercomputer was broken last year by my newspaper, Boulder County Business Report, and reporter David Clucas has continued to cover developments extensively.

In the end, it appears it all came down to who had the most money to toss around, and Wyoming, with wads of economic development cash available from budget surpluses fueled by the energy boom there, put a deal on the table that no one else could match. CU officials had put out a number of $5 million with more spending later, but Wyoming may have topped that bid by another $15 million or even more. We’ll have to wait and see what officials will reveal. 

The National Science Foundation, NSF, eventually will provide funding for the supercomputing facility, and in October, they told the Business Report they were considering the idea of multiple supercomputer sites across the country that would be linked together. Officials said the new center might be similar to the NSF-funded TeraGrid partnership, which already hooks up scientific computers across the U.S. This idea might not be completely off the table for the new center.

Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal is expected to release more details tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 24.

Both CU and Boulder officials could only try to hide their disappointment of getting beat out for such a important project. But disappointment is an understatement, because I know personally how important both the city, federal lab workers here and university officials viewed this project.

Presently officials are saying the the supercomputer center, which originally was priced at about $75 million, will employ about 40 people in Cheyenne, Wyo., and anywhere from 20 to 30 workers could leave Boulder for new jobs there. We’ll see how many of these local scientists really want to move up to Cheyenne after years of making Boulder their home.

NCAR’s news release states that the new partnership is still contingent on approval from NSF as well as the Wyoming legislature, but consider this a done deal. The center is scheduled to open in late 2010 or early 2011, NCAR said.

Colorado economic development officials say privately that a real concern now is could other states, desiring Boulder’s high-paying science jobs, could start to come after other research efforts here? It wasn’t too long ago that Oklahoma politicians made a play in Congress to shift funding now going to Boulder labs to their state.

Boulder has long considered its federal labs to be one of the three legs in its economic stability stool — the others being education with the University of Colorado campus here and a diverse and entrepreneurial technology presence, especially in software and data storage.

Whether or not that stool just got a little wobbly is yet to be seen, but you can be sure economic development officials will be on the alert for any further moves to take science dollars out of Boulder.

Categories : Business
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Jan
21

5 Straight Weekend Snowstorms!

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Can you believe it? As of today, Sunday, Jan. 21, Boulder has been socked with five straight weekend snowstorms since Christmas.

I wandered out for a bit this morning, and businesses are clearly feeling the hit as cabin-fever weary residents seem content to stay at home and just not bother digging out anymore. Stores have snow shovels, de-icers, bags of salt and sleds prominently displayed, but who cares?

Retailers are practically giving away their over-stocked winter wear, running 50% off sales but huge mall parking lots are especially empty for this time of year.

Small businesses like restaurants and bars, hairdressers, the bike couriers, of course, report they’re getting hammered by loss of weekend business.

Skiers seem happy — I’ve seen a lot of cross-country skiers out on freezing mornings gliding around the new city park on Valmont, near where I work. And for those braving huge traffic jams and the occasional avalanche on the way up to the mountain ski areas, it’s a great time to enjoy the powder conditions. Getting back down I-70 on a Sunday evening is another story, with fellow employees reporting drives as long as five hours to get back to Boulder.

Jerrysidewalk_1

Myself? Well after a few weekends of this I’m off to sunny Puerto Vallarta this Thursday for a conference of business newspaper publishers at the Alliance of Area Business Publications. It feels strange to be pulling out my golf bag, but forecast is for 89 degrees in Mexico!

Adios snow!

Categories : Current Affairs
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Jan
20

Coffeehouse wanderings

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I think it’s only appropriate my first blog should be about the Boulder coffeehouse I visited today, The Laughing Goat.

I write an Editor’s column for my newspaper, the Boulder County Business Report and I recently wrote about how I was checking out different free hot spots around Boulder. Soon after, I got two responses from coffee spots I failed to mention, Super Joe Specialty Coffee in nearby Superior and The Laughing Goat. One of the owners of the Goat, Daryl, sent me a letter including several vouchers for free coffee so it was hard to pass up.

Two of the former baristas at the now defunct Penny Lane are now owners at the Goat, and they’ve created a relaxed — laid-back — Boulder bohemian atmosphere with great coffees and frequent entertainment in the evenings, including live music and poetry readings. I was there for the noon Saturday crowd, and there weren’t many seats left.

Seemed more of a college-age and 20 something crowd tdoay than a few of the older Boulder regulars you find on the west end of the downtown mall at the Trilogy coffee shop and used book store, but the Goat has a lot more room and very good energy. I want to try it out one evening.

Located at 1709 Pearl St. it’s open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and from 7 a.m. on weekends.

Their Web site is just under way, but you can get a feel of the place by looking for thelaughinggoat on myspace.com.

I hope to meet Johnny or Daryl, the two owners I’m told are also behind the counter making lattes and capuccinos, and thank them for having yet another very cool gathering spot in our city.

Categories : Food and Drink
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