Suddenly, all in one motion, he stands and strides forward. His brush, already in his outstretched hand, pulls him to the canvas as an excited child pulls a parent along a sidewalk to show them some new and fascinating thing.
The brushstrokes come in quick, noisy bursts, shaking the tripod that holds the work in place. The sound of bristles scraping against the canvas, like a cat scratching at a door, drowns out the noise from the world outside the studio.
Once every minute, he takes four steps back, looking intently at the section of the piece he's just worked on, and looking ahead to the area he'll go next. After a few seconds, he retraces his steps exactly back to the canvas.
An unseen yet tangible connection exists between Tadashi Hayakawa and his work --; a tether that pulls him back each time he drifts away.
Streaks, swirls and lines spread across the piece like barely-formed storm clouds, pushed and dragged along by a divine hand. The process --; retreating, returning, swiping and stroking the brush, creating forms and lines out of a glob of paint --; repeats itself again and again for more than an hour.
The final time he steps away from the canvas his face changes from squinting skepticism to a wide-eyed smile.
"Ah," bursts from his lips. He knows the work is finished.
"To me this one is done. I have just expressed the excitement of being alive," he says, bringing his arms to his chest then raising them into the air as he says the words.
He is asked how he knows when a painting is completed.
He closes his eyes as he speaks, then slowly, deliberately, explains the unfinished quality of his work.
"Many artists explain every brushstroke, but this doesn't leave any breathing room for the imagination," he says. He paraphrases Einstein, who once said "imagination is more important than knowledge."
"In art, imagination is more important than technique," he says.
"For me, incomplete is complete."]]>
Instead, she was taking a helicopter ride to St. Anthony Hospital after spending six days trapped in her Chevy Malibu, 80 feet off the side of Highway 285 near Fairplay.
Just over two years later, the 46-year-old Highlands Ranch mother of four completed her goal. It took her nearly five hours to run, climb and crawl her way through the steep, rocky course that wound its way through five miles of the range area at Fort Carson that made up the course for the Spartan Military Sprint on May 15. But she made it. And she made it running on two prosthetic legs.
Hopkins had both lower legs amputated following her crash in April 2014.
The crash and loss of her legs was a bump in the road for Hopkins as she worked to get in shape. She had registered for the race as way to kick-start her efforts.
"I was out of shape, I was fat, I just kind of needed motivation," she said.
In the spring of 2013, Hopkins had begun working out, but going to traditional gyms was intimidating.
"You go to the gym and you're overweight, you're embarrassed, you cry before you go in the gym," she said.
Hopkins got her prosthetic legs in June 2014. The gym that she worked out at donated personal training sessions, and she began lifting weights. She accompanied a friend to a Crossfit gym.
"I drank the Kool-Aid," she said, referring to a common half-joking accusation that Crossfit is a cult.
The gym closed, and Hopkins began working out at F.I.T. Park Meadows Crossfit in Lone Tree, finding that gym owner and trainer Nathan Lemon's bootcamp-style workouts suited her.
"I use her as inspiration," Lemon said. "It's a great way to tell people 'yes, you can do this.'"
With Lemon's help, Hopkins prepared for another chance at the Spartan Race. She had planned to run it in 2015, but she didn't feel ready yet.
Hopkins can't do everything that is included in the gym's WODs --; workout of the day --; because her prosthetics don't flex. For instance, she can't do full squats, a staple of Crossfit workouts. This also her on the Spartan course, making the downhill running sections especially difficult.
The race wasn't easy while she was doing it, and she felt it afterwards as well.
"My back, my knees, they told me 'please don't do this again,'" she said.
"I'll do it again," she clarifies. "I've already forgotten the pain."
Hopkins is raising money to buy a more advanced set of prosthetics, not just in order to further her own workouts, but to become a personal trainer and help other disabled people realize their fitness potential.
"She's really determined," said Hopkins' prosthetist, Zach Harvey of Creative Technology Prosthetics in Denver.
Harvey said that active patients are challenging because the fit of their prosthetics needs to be precise.
Hopkins' quest for new legs was the beneficiary of the first of four charity events Lemon's gyms are hosting. Tour de Fit, as it's called, kicked off on June 18 at the Park Meadows location as dozens turned out for a friendly team competition.
The F.I.T. location in Thornton will host an event later this summer to benefit WOD for Water, an organization that uses workout events to raise funds for clean drinking water in poor countries. F.I.T. Loveland will host an event benefitting a local school lunch program. Lemon is still searching for a beneficiary for an event at his newest location, F.I.T. Littleton.
Hopkins is still working toward raising the $10,000 for her new prosthetics. She has a crowdfunding effort set up at www.gofundme.com/footlessgoddess.
At the June 18 event, about $3,000 was raised, Lemon said.]]>
Moe's Original Bar B Que in Englewood donated the use of the lane and other support to Wessels' effort, aimed at breaking the existing record of bowling 134 hours and 57 minutes straight --; more than five days --; and bowling more than 643 games.
Wessels, of Thornton, said he decided to do the bowling marathon as a way to bring attention to the needs of children like his son, who has a potentially life-threatening form of epilepsy, and to raise money to provide his son with a seizure-alert dog. He said training a dog depends on how long it takes, and costs could range from about $5,000 to 10 times that amount.
His bid to set the world record ended when he was less than 15 hours from his goals.
"I was away from the lane on a break when someone who knew what I was trying to do bowled on my lane," Wessels, 46, said. "I was heartbroken. I haven't cried since my mother died, but I cried when I found out what happened."
Wessels bowled a while longer after he knew his effort to break the record would not count --; he was required to bowl at least five games an hour. Before the unauthorized bowler ended his effort the night of June 24, Wessels had bowled 703 games, exceeding the world record. But it doesn't count because the marathon record is for hours and games at the same time.
He said the score didn't matter and he threw a lot of gutter balls. His game scores ranged from a 206 to a 1.
"I hate the fact this happened, but it definitely was a learning experience," he said. "I think I will try to break the record again later this year. I will tape off the area so someone can't `accidentally' bowl on my lane. I will hire someone as security. And I will put up some banners to let everyone know what I am doing and why I am doing it."
His fundraising effort was online through GoFundMe.com. His specific project was called "A penny a frame." The idea was to bowl about 7,500 frames, and he was asking for donations of $75 per person to go toward getting his son, Cameron, a dog.
When the record-breaking effort came to an end, Wessels began contacting those who had donated to the project, giving the opportunity to withdraw their support. He said most people said to keep the donations. The total collected was about $1,400.
He said he will still accept donations to help get his son the seizure-alert dog. For information on how to make a donation, call 720-670-7881 or go to the GoFundMe page.
Wessels brought his plan to break the world record to Moe's, where he said the management opened the doors and the lane to him.
"It is awesome what he is doing and to have him do it on our bowling lanes," said Moe's general manager, Josh Alston, the afternoon of June 23. "The entire staff has embraced him and he has become part of the Moe's family. He is doing this for a good cause. He is a very strong-willed individual battling through the struggles he has faced. We are doing all we can to help him get to the finish line."
Wessels praised all that Moe's has done for his project.
"Everyone here has really stepped up to help me anyway they can," he said. "They let me stay here around the clock. They lock up the place at midnight and leave me here with one other person so I can continue to bowl. They donate the use of the lanes and even donate the meals they provide for me and my family. I really appreciate what they are doing."
The Guinness Book of World Records requires that at least two video cameras record an attempt at a record. Wessell said he looked at the video and saw the people who stepped over and bowled on his lane.
"I sent an email to Guinness, even though I knew the answer," he said. "They replied that, even though it was not an authorized act, it was considered illegal substitution so my record attempt was over."
Wessels said Cameron, 14, has had epilepsy since he was 6.
"He began having more frequent seizures, we had him tested and found he had a rare form of the disease called SCN8A," he said. "There is no cure but the only way to keep our child alive is to have a seizure-alert dog, which lets us know the child will have a seizure in 45 minutes or less. That would be time to administer medication used to prevent a seizure."
He said he decided on the bowling record attempt because the only sport Cameron could participate in, because of epilepsy, was bowling.
The rules to break the world record were fairly simple. Wessels was allowed a five-minute break each hour, he had to bowl at least five games an hour and had to start the five-game set five minutes after each hour. He said you can stockpile the breaks so there was a longer period to eat, rest or take a bathroom break.]]>
Less than a week before the June 28 primary election, the staff at the Douglas County Elections Building was preparing for its big night.
"In the last election, we had 805 polling place ballots out of over 93,000 voters," said Merlin Klotz, Douglas County's clerk and recorder. "That's less than 1 percent."
Ballots went out on June 8 and began returning to the elections building at 125 Stephanie Place in Castle Rock on June 10. Since then, a team of 11 full-time employees, six voter-support employees and two temporary support staff have been busy processing the ballots.
The Douglas County elections staff is aware of the sentiment among some voters who are reluctant to send their ballot through the mail. Klotz said the "paranoia" is understandable but added that most of the population pays utility and other bills through the mail, and if they trust the post office with their money, they should trust it with their vote.
Klotz added ballot boxes, made of plate steel and weighing 650 pounds each, are built to ensure security.
"They're like tanks," Klotz said, joking that one box "ran into a car" last year. The only damage it suffered was a dented leg, faring much better than the car.
Drop boxes, located at libraries and other government buildings throughout the county, are watched over 24 hours a day, seven days a week by an election judge, a camera or both. If a judge or camera views any suspicious activity near one of the boxes, a quarantine protocol is put into place and law enforcement, the district attorney and the secretary of state are notified.
Six election judges, working in teams of two, selected from different political parties, collect ballots from drop boxes once a day Monday through Friday, placing them in locked bags to deliver them to the Douglas County election facility, which is also monitored around-the-clock by cameras. They ramp up their schedule the Monday before election day, hitting each box at least twice, and they make a minimum of five collections on Election Day.
All access to rooms where ballots are stored is restricted to certified personnel, and judges can only access ballot storage in groups of two or more, again, from different parties. Klotz said ensuring the team members are registered to different political groups ensures transparency.
"Everybody has a bias," Klotz said. "But we've set up a process where everybody is looking over everybody's shoulder... Nobody can mess with anything."
Cameras, located in every corner of every room at the elections building, are also looking over the shoulders of everyone involved in the process.
Once ballots are collected and delivered to the elections building, they are run through a machine that verifies ballot authenticity. A camera takes photographs of each signature to compare it to the existing signature in a voter's file, and to make sure that only one ballot has been returned by each voter. The signature is then verified by judges from different parties.
Deputy of Elections Sheri Davis, who has worked in the department for more than 11 years, said every effort is made to validate signatures in a fair fashion.
The machine "marries" each signature to the one a voter has on file, Davis said. If they don't match, it takes two judges, one Democrat and one Republican, to reject the ballot. The rejected ballot is then evaluated again by a second-tier team that looks at all of the signatures in the voter's file to see if the current one is similar enough to others to allow the ballot to be counted. If it is rejected again, a signature verification letter is sent to the voter, who has up to eight days after the election to clarify the issue.
Once ballots are accepted, they are removed from their envelopes and security paper in a three-person process that looks a lot like a dealer and two players playing Black Jack. Ballots and envelopes are hand-counted by the "dealers" and "players." Then they are counted again. And a third time.
"I ask them to treat the envelopes like cash," Davis said.
Voters' choices on ballots are then recorded, but not tallied until the moment polls close on election night. A scanner makes images of each ballot and the information is stored in an encrypted machine. Davis said the machines are all on a closed system, so hacking or manipulating totals isn't possible.
Once polls close, the images taken from each ballot are uploaded into a machine that rapidly tallies votes and records results. Though the process of collecting the ballots takes weeks, initial results are usually available within 15 minutes. This stage of the process is also monitored by election judges from different parties.
Despite an average of 12,000 ballots being processed daily at the center, the atmosphere is surprisingly calm. About 30 employees and judges smile as they "deal" envelopes, carry trays of ballots and finish the afternoon's work. Four days from now, Klotz said, the environment will be a little different when 52 staff members will work to calculate and report returns as quickly as possible.
"You should see it (on Tuesday,)" he said. "This place is going to be packed."]]>
Arrangements, mutually beneficial to employer and employee alike, that accommodated individual lifestyles, family commitments and emergency needs. The 73,000 number comes from the U.S. Department of Labor and is part of the 4.2 million nationally that DOL claims are recipients of its warmly embracing beneficence.
Would that life worked so simply. It is worth noting that to explain its new rule, DOL used two cartoon characters, Sam and Mattie, not two human beings. Sam, the voice-over explains, will "have more of his own time" to do the things he likes.
"Sure, you might not make more money, but think of all the free time you'll have to look for a second job," noted Noah Rothman in Commentary magazine with bull's-eye irony.
The new rule affects salaried employees, not hourly paid employees. Hourly employees are paid overtime no matter what their annual pay. But certain employees, white-collar workers performing supervisory, managerial or administrative duties, are currently exempt from overtime pay after a $23,660-a-year threshold. The threshold increases to $47,476 on Dec. 1, and it needs no congressional approval to take effect.
If you think this increase only fair, think again.
"Entry-level management positions are going to disappear, and those employees will fall back to hourly jobs," said Juanita Duggan, president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business. "Obviously, that means higher costs for millions of small businesses regardless of whether they're making more sales, generating more revenue or dealing with other rising expenses. Many are struggling now, and they'll have to make tough choices that might affect the very same workers the Department of Labor thinks it's helping."
Added NFIB's senior legal counsel, Beth Milito: "Struggling small-business owners can't afford to pay more in overtime pay just because the Department of Labor says they should. Businesses can only afford more in payroll if they increase revenue, something the government is powerless to make happen. Most small-business owners will have to limit employees' hours and career opportunities."
But then, Duggan and Milito would say that, wouldn't they? That is the tone taken by The New York Times in an editorial praising the new overtime rule. "They (employer groups) have said that employers will cut base pay if forced to pay overtime, but that appears to be an idle threat."
Had, however, the Times editorial board read more than its section that day, it would have come across a story by their reporter, Sarah Max, who analyzed the options available to employers: "They (employers) could even cut the base salaries of those who regularly work more than 40 hours ..."
Across the political divide from the Times, The Wall Street Journal put it right on the money: "The irony is that salaried workers will enjoy less personal flexibility once they have to record their hours, and those who become hourly wage hands will receive even less."
Indeed, as business owner Kelli Glasser put it in Max's Times report, "If somebody needs to pick up a sick kid or go to a doctor's appointment, we let them do it because we know that at some point they'll make up for it. Once you start tracking hours, all that changes." Added businessman Lior Rachmany in the same article, "I think you get a better product when people are paid a salary. When a person knows there is a task to get done, it will get done, not on the clock." Rachmany, reports Max, "said he would probably end up hiring more entry-level employees and minimizing overtime pay for his affected salaried employees."
Finding real-life portrayers for DOL's overtime script after Dec. 1 will be a most difficult casting call. Watch for Sam and Mattie the sequel.
Tony Gagliardi is Colorado state director for the National Federation of Independent Business.
Laura Hillenbrand holed up for a year to write "Seabiscuit: An American Legend."
Then what? The pressure is on to do it again.
That's not for me. I write the equivalent of a 50-meter dash three or four or five times a week.
Then one is chosen for publication.
I sometimes wish you could see what isn't chosen. My editor is wiser than I am, and knows that I might shutter the paper with some of my ideas.
I read the news and watch the news and pluck.
There were so many topics today that I wrote them on cards and threw them in the air.
One landed face up.
It wasn't the one with "Orlando" written on it. Or the Broncos' off-season theme song, "Show Me the Money."
It had "Philadelphia soda tax" on it.
Philadelphia has decided to tax sodas at a rate of 1.5 cents per ounce. A 12-ounce can or bottle will be taxed 18 cents.
Taxing sodas will generate about $90 million. It will go to good causes, to pay for pre-kindergarten, for example.
I never went to kindergarten. I was home-crayoned.
The reason why I wrote "Philadelphia soda tax" on a card in the first place is because I drink the stuff.
The tax is intended to cut down on the consumption of sugary drinks.
My sugary drink does not contain sugar. I drink diet soda. My non-sugary, sugary drink contains aspartame, an artificial sweetener.
According to one website, "Aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods."
Vernors ginger ale was available only in Michigan at one time. We would buy it fountain-fresh on the way home from my grandmother's house near Flint. It was nectar, and I was hooked on soda.
I have cut back on my non-sugary, sugary drink. Water seems like a good option.
As you might guess, sugary drink manufacturers are not happy about this development in Philadelphia.
But what if the soda doesn't contain sugar? Then it becomes a question of what is and isn't a soda.
Carbonation might be the difference between a soda and other sweetened beverages.
More than 68 percent of the adults in Philadelphia are overweight or obese, so there are understandable concerns about the causes.
Sodas aren't the only villains.
A Philadelphia cheesesteak sandwich contains 620 calories or more.
I did some checking. The smallest soda offered at a Philadelphia Phillies game, 20 ounces, is $4.
(The smallest soda offered at a Los Angeles Dodgers game, 24 ounces, is $6.)
That means that a Citizens Bank Park soda will go up by 30 cents, at least.
Why point the finger at soft drinks?
What about pie?
What about cake and ice cream? Candy and cookies and doughnuts? Breakfast cereals?
Someone said, "Soda is the tobacco of the 21st century."
There were ways around Prohibition. There will be ways around this too.
A soda underground will bubble up in Philadelphia.
Families will head to Upper Darby to load up on Squirt.
I had a dream that I drowned in an ocean of orange soda, but it turned out to be a Fanta sea.
Imagine Rodney Dangerfield, tugging on his tie. "I'm telling you. This new tax. It's soda pressing."
Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we know, words are extremely powerful. They can be powerfully positive and energizing or they can be powerfully destructive and hurtful. Words can be factual to help transfer knowledge and information or they can be used to mislead or manipulate situations and people.
There so many events happening in our own backyard as well as around the globe that leave people thinking about powerfully negative words. We hear people using powerfully negative words like fear, terror, frustration, anger, rage, road rage, hopelessness, doubt, worry, anxiety, cynical, hate, mad, racism, revenge and others that are equally as negative or damaging when we dwell on them or let them change who we are or how we treat other people, especially people closest to us.
Obviously we all deal with very real and difficult situations and sometimes those powerfully negative words are just expressing very real feelings, I totally get that and understand how that can sometimes happen.
Yet in a world filled with uncertainty and change, we need to take the time to refuel our minds and our hearts with those powerfully positive words. We need to be deliberate in thinking beyond the fear, doubt and worry and instead focus our thoughts on the good, the possible and the hope for a better and brighter tomorrow.
Sounds too simple, doesn't it, maybe even a little naïve? Maybe so, but stay with me on this and just try it. Make a list of all the positive and powerful words that you can think of, words that you may already have committed to your own personal word bank. Keep this list in a visible place, place copies of the lists around your house, your office, your car. Share the lists or even one word at a time with your family, your friends or your co-workers - even when, or especially when, they are using their own negative word banks.
I like to leave one-word notes around the house or send one-word texts or emails from time to time. I just simply write or type words like faith, love, hope, encouragement, kindness, truth, happiness, thanks, blessings, appreciated, grateful, forgiveness, success, opportunity, commitment, passion, purpose, XOXO, belief, special, goodness, sunshine, excellence, fantastic, joy, flourishing, achievement, accomplishment, driven or any other powerfully positive words that may come into my mind. I write them down and put them in a visible place, or sometimes a hidden place where they can be found later. Or I quickly type it out and hit send.
The initial thought may be that I am doing this for the benefit of others, those who receive my encouraging words. But the reality is this, I am the biggest beneficiary of constantly, and consistently, using and sharing these very powerful and positive words each and every time I write them down, type them out, or allow myself to be deliberate in my thoughts. If we are not deliberate in thinking about the good, the possible and the hope for a better tomorrow, it's just too easy to go along for the ride on the rollercoaster of negativity, up one side of a big problem and down the other side into the valley.
So how about you? What are your favorite words or what are those powerfully positive words you use to recharge your positive attitude and belief in the good and the possible? I would love to hear all about it at email@example.com, and when we use the right words and the right time, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a resident of Castle Rock, the former president of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, a strategic consultant and a business and personal coach.