Tuesday, April 30, 2013
1318 - Adventures in Publishing selling a popular Wyoming book
It has been awhile since we updated readers about our most amazing adventure of 2012 – the publishing of the book Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders.
We ordered a first printing of 10,000 copies and had less than 1,000 left on Dec. 31. Here in May, we are already dipping into a second printing of 8,000 books. Did any other book deliver over 9,000 copies last year in Wyoming?
This project has had me traveling across the state giving speeches and presentations about this adventure. One of my favorite stories is that up until Dec. 1, our book was the best-selling Wyoming-oriented product during the Christmas season. What happened on Dec. 1? That was when Wyoming Whiskey sold 80,000 bottles of Bourbon.
Aspects of the story about how this book came into being might be worth re-telling.
Although the idea of the book was hatched in a 2007 column, our first memo about doing it was Feb. 17, 2012. We had to have it compiled, written and designed by Aug. 1 in order to get it to the printer so it could be printed, bound and shipped to Wyoming by Thanksgiving.
My wife Nancy is a wistful sort. Often, she has sighed and asked: “What happened last summer? I don’t remember us doing anything.” To that my reply is, well there was this book . . .
Before starting, we bought 40 assorted coffeetable books at various used book stores. Several things jumped out when studying them:
First, producing such a book did not appear as daunting as originally thought.
Second, there had not been a coffeetable book done about Wyoming for five years.
Third, the foldout pages in the books added to the reading experience. Yeah, we should do that.
As of April 30, 2013, we have sold thousands of books wholesale to wonderful booksellers around the state and sold a few retail ourselves. Perhaps most importantly, we found community-minded businesses and organizations that bought quantities of books to give away to their customers at Christmas.
As part of that package, we printed separate covers for their books, which either featured their businesses or their parts of the state. Here are some examples:
• Neiman Enterprises of Hulett used an amazing photo of Devils Tower taken by Randy Wagner.
• TCT Cable of Basin used a wonderful photo of two moose that had been the winner of its local photography contest.
• Lander’s CPA firm of McKee, Marburger & Fagnant used a marvelous shot of three eagles taken by Woody Wooden. I asked Dean McKee, which eagle represented him?
We are grateful to Mick and Susie McMurry and the McMurry Foundation for buying a quantity of books, which were donated to school libraries.
Lately we have been looking for a foundation, service organization or someone who would consider buying 1,000 books under a similar program so we could send Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders to our men and women serving overseas in the military. This book would be a wonderful love letter to them from their home state. It is easy to imagine some Cowboy State native sitting in the sand a long ways from home leafing through this book
Another idea is for school clubs to sell the books to raise money for their trips. One student sold 75 books to raise money for his educational Washington, D. C. trip.
We are now compiling a list of outlets to sell the book to tourists this summer. Not just bookstores but any high traffic tourist facility should be interested.
Originally, my plan was to write about the seven wonders but then realized there were folks around the state more expert on these locations.
Thus Shelli Johnson wrote about Yellowstone Park, Clay James wrote about the Tetons, Pat Schmidt wrote about Thermopolis Hot Springs, Randy Wagner wrote about South Pass, Jim Smail wrote about the Red Desert, Gene Bryan wrote about Devil’s Tower and U. S. Sen. Mike Enzi (an avid fisherman) wrote about the amazing North Platte River System.
We are working with service clubs and local chambers of commerce’s in setting up additional presentations and book signings around the state. Please contact me if you would like to get involved. We are also keynoting at a couple of statewide meetings.
Adventure? Although much of the time producing this book was spent holed up in my basement office, I must confess that bringing it to life has been the most interesting adventure of my life.
Monday, April 22, 2013
1317 - It is now time to enjoy Wyoming`s wonderful state parks
Some of my earliest childhood memories of my dad loading up all of us kids and heading off to a state park for a day of play and relaxation.
That was 65 years ago. Growing up in a family of 11 kids, the admission-free state parks in Iowa (they still are free) was an inexpensive way to enjoy nature. President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps built many of the state parks in the 1930s.
This spring, we joined our middle daughter Shelli Johnson, her husband Jerry and three boys and spent spring break visiting state parks.
That means there have been four generations of all of us running up and down hills, throwing rocks into beautiful streams, admiring amazing geologic wonders and enjoying roasted marshmallows cooked on under the stars.
It is easy to agree that our national parks are true international icons. But our Wyoming state parks have their special flavor, too.
I am a huge fan of our state parks and also want to congratulate everyone involved in them as the Wyoming program celebrated its 75th anniversary last year.
Although I realize that our parks are visited by out of state folks and that is probably the impetus for charging admission fees to some of them, in reality I wish visitors did not have to pay admission fees.
Having spent the last 43 years in Lander, the state facilities in our area are perhaps the most unusual in Wyoming.
Sinks Canyon offers the most unusual disappearing act in Wyoming where the Popo Agie River disappears into the side of the canyon and mysteriously reappears a third of a mile down the canyon, coming out of the wall on the other side.
The state park is also the main entrance to the vast three-million acre Shoshone National Forest.
If you continue on the Loop Road through the Sinks and 30 miles through the forest, you come out at South Pass. Let me tell you about that area.
When I first took over as publisher of the Lander Journal in 1970, my lead reporter was the historian Minnie Woodring. She and her husband John sold their Sterling, Colo., newspaper and bought the South Pass City ghost town.
In the mid-1960s, it was acquired by the state and is one of the best-preserved historical ghost town sites in the region.
Because of her initial encouragement, my family spent countless hours exploring and enjoying this amazing historic site. The recent efforts by the legislature to expand it and preserve the nearby Carissa gold mine offer amazing experiences to visitors.
South Pass was the site of a gold mining adventure back in the 1870s but the mother lode never was found.
It was also home to Esther Morris, a justice of peace, who was the first woman in America to be elected to public office.
South Pass is one of the country’s most important locales as it provided a way for early Americans to stretch the country from east coast to west coast. Some 400,000 people traveled over South Pass to settle Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Utah.
From there, you head all the way across Fremont County to experience our third state facility, Boysen Lake State Park. It provides irrigation and recreation for folks in central Wyoming.
You experience Boysen enroute to visit another of Wyoming’s most unusual parks – Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, just north of there through the spectacular Wind River Canyon.
This is the largest mineral hot spring in the world. People in my part of the state go there often, especially from October to May, to get out of the cold and to escape the summer tourists.
Four other parks that I am hoping to spend some quality time at this year are:
• Buffalo Bill State Park in Cody features a huge dam, which when it was built in 1910 was the biggest in the world.
• After driving by Curt Gowdy State Park a couple of hundred times, it is time to go visit that gorgeous place.
• Keyhole State Park in northeast Wyoming is a part of the state that I am anxious to visit. The Devils Tower National Monument area just east of Keyhole and deserves some serious exploration this summer.
• Legend Rock (part of Hot Springs State Park) northwest of Thermopolis features petroglyphs that are nearly 11,000 years old. Amazing.
There are other wonderful sights to see and experience all across Wyoming. What are you going to see this year?
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
1316 - Living in the heart of America`s "gun culture"
Some 63 percent of the 579,000 residents in Wyoming own guns. This is the highest percentage of any state in the USA.
Perhaps it makes some sense to describe what living in the heart of America’s “gun culture” can be like during this time of national debate about guns and whether or not there is a need for national registry of gun owners.
Having spent time in places like Great Britain where even the occasional hunting shotgun is a rarity, our gun culture can begin to seem a little odd, I suppose, to people who do not live here.
The differences between states can be huge, even neighboring states. Perhaps it is because of the Columbine school shooting and the Aurora theatre shooting that Colorado has banned large gun magazines, for example.
But here in Wyoming, our business council is aggressively pursuing Colorado gun makers to pack up and move north to our more friendly environs.
There were reportedly 420 million guns in America for the 310 million of us living here just a few years ago. That was before President Obama’s election. I remember talking to the owners of a Lander gun shop, The Good Place, and they said Obama’s election was the best “economic stimulus” plan possible for their business. Gun sellers across the USA reported huge increases in the sales of guns. This trend continues today.
I have been taking note of some the things that can happen when you live in gun country compared to living in other parts of the country and the world. For example:
• My coffee group, the Fox News All-Stars down at the local Best Western, one morning saw an example of the pride of gun ownership. We were passing around an assault rifle. It was bought because Barack Obama had just been elected and its owner feared it would no longer be available for purchase. Some months later, another of the group was showing off a Russian-made shotgun with a 20-shell magazine for rapid firing. Watch out birds?
• When running for governor in 2002 I was constantly asked by people about my National Rifle Association (NRA) membership. These were strong, silent types of men, often with a seeming chip on the shoulder probably assuming I was going to give them the wrong answer. When I answered that, yes, I was an NRA member and that my wife says we own too many guns, it seemed to be the perfect retort.
• A few winters ago, a Riverton woman was shot in the leg while shoveling her front walk. Seems her pistol fell out of her shoulder holster as she was bent over. The gun hit the ground and discharged. The .357 Magnum hollow point bullet went through the inside of her ankle and exited below the knee. The 24-year old was treated at the Riverton hospital.
• Last summer, a 6-4, 250-pound brute was robbing a Casper beauty salon. An older gal pulled her pistol from her purse and convinced the would-be robber to flee.
• During a televised debate between Secretary of State Max Maxfield and challenger Mark Harris in 2002, Harris was armed. He is always armed, he told me later.
• A 17-year old Cheyenne girl was cited after she dropped her purse in a Starbucks and a pistol in the purse fired. She reportedly said: “I think my purse went off.” The bullet missed John Basile, 43, by about 10 inches. Two police officers in the coffee shop at the time heard the shot and pulled their guns and scanned the shop. They found her double barrel .38 Derringer in her purse on the floor. The top barrel had fired. The girl’s father had given the teen the gun for protection while she was traveling. She told police she was on her way to Laramie to visit friends and that was why she was packing heat. The girl paid a $750 bond for violating a law about juveniles possessing firearms. Part of her punishment was the requirement to attend a gun safety class.
• A few years ago, my brother-in-law Dan Kinneman of Dubois was featured in Varmint Magazine for killing a prairie dog from a mile away. If we joked about it at the time, the punch line might have been the following: first prairie dog asks second prairie dog, have you seen Joe? Second one says he disappeared. “One moment he was here. Then poof, he was a gone.”
Saturday, April 06, 2013
1315 - Today, it`s all good news . . .
It always seems Wyoming is an island of good news surrounded by worldwide bad news spewed forth by the major networks and national media.
All we hear about nationally is bad news. It is like the USA is in an economic funk, which is exacerbated by the gridlock in Congress.
Europe, too, is apparently in even worse shape. Gloom and doom.
Maybe it is time we stepped back and looked around the world we live in today and the world we will be experiencing in 2020.
The world has never been safer from a major war than it is today. Outside of some nut cases in North Korea and Iran, the world is stable.
In Wyoming, we have a lot of be thankful for.
We are home to unimaginable amounts of energy. Natural gas, oil and uranium will continue to be fuels of choice for some time into the future.
That coal to diesel fuel plant in Carbon County still looks far-fetched, but with world economic growth occurring so fast, its time may come.
Our coal is the current bad boy among energy fuels, yet it provides about half of all the electricity generated in America. That is a lot of energy. There will be a tremendous thirst for Wyoming coal for at least two more decades and even beyond that if pollution considerations can be dealt with.
Once lawsuits are dealt with, vast amounts of Wyoming coal will be shipped by train to the west coast and on to China, India and Vietnam. Global warming is real and maybe coal-fired power plants are a big cause, but world economics will drive this until 2050.
Even wind, after dealing with cutbacks in tax breaks, has good news in the form of a revolutionary energy system being pioneered in Guernsey, Wyoming.
This system uses hydraulics involving nitrogen to provide a non-stop system of wind energy that removes one of the biggest problems bedeviling such systems.
How do you store wind energy? And how to you keep the turbines turning when the wind is not blowing?
The Guernsey system solves those problems, the developers say. Stay tuned on this one. As the country’s most windy state, Wyoming could benefit immensely from this project.
In 2013, Wyoming is showing lots of economic promise. It is now April and we are gearing up for what could the biggest tourist season in our history. This industry, which is our second largest in dollars, but is by far our largest when it comes to numbers of employees, continues to be an international favorite location.
But the best news of all is our economic diversification. The now decades-long investment in the Wyoming Business Council is paying off.
We are the home to supercomputers, vast transportation distribution centers, complex computerized service centers and even education hubs.
As I travel from one end of Wyoming to the other, the cities and towns look amazingly vibrant and prosperous.
For the best economic news in the world, we need to look east.
In Asia today, the middle class consists of an amazing number of 500 million people. But what is really fantastic is this number will grow to 1.75 billion in just seven years. This is according to Kishore Mahbubani of Singapore, one of the world’s leading economic thinkers.
America has been the greatest capitalist power for the past 70 years and this Asian growth offers the opportunity to capture much of our lost luster. Those 1.75 billion folks are a lot of customers. And as has been repeatedly proved, everybody around the world loves American products.
Mahbubani was spelling all this out on CNN to one of my favorite writers Fareed Zakaria.
Now, Zakaria is not a favorite of some folks in the USA because he had the temerity to write a book called The Post-American World. It is outstanding. As he calls it, the book describes “not the fall of the west, but the rise of the rest.” He correctly predicts unparalleled global economic growth, fueled by the new middle class.
He also correctly points out that middle class societies also tend to be democratic, which is also good for peace.
But back to the Mahbubani interview. Among the most important things he pointed out were the amazing decline of disease across the world and the elimination of mass poverty. And it has been happening at such a fast pace.
Folks, it is all good news today. Let’s enjoy it for it what it really is.
Monday, April 01, 2013
1314 - Lester Hunt was genuine American and Wyoming hero
The name Lester Hunt is not that prominent in Wyoming these days.
Oh, it can be found on a building at the Wyoming Life Resource Center in Lander. Our local airport is named Hunt Field, although most folks think it was named after the world-renowned One Shot Antelope Hunt.
But Lester Hunt was a great citizen of our state. At times, he was even heroic.
Thanks to Cheyenne’s Rodger McDaniel, Hunt’s story and his legacy will now be shared with a new generation of Wyoming folks. McDaniel has written a fantastic new book called Dying for Joe McCarthy’s Sins,the Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt. The book tells Hunt’s amazing story.
On Sunday, April 7, at 1 p.m. at the Hunt family’s old St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Cheyenne, McDaniel has organized a mock trial to help tell Hunt’s story and introduce his book.
Famous Wyoming people portraying characters include former Gov. Dave Freudenthal as prosecuting attorney. The judge is retired Supreme Court Justice Michael Golden. State Public Defender Diane Lozano is defense counsel. A jury of local residents will issue a verdict.
Oddly, Rodger asked me to portray the famous muckraking newspaper columnist Drew Pearson who was a friend of Hunt’s and is a witness. The script is entertaining, and the event is a must-see for political types and anyone else who has an interest in learning first hand some critical Wyoming history.
McDaniel has promised all of us much latitude when it comes to ad-libbing. I can hardly wait to get cross-examined by Gov. Dave.
We are also going to do some kind of book recognition event in Lander, and some of our local folks are hoping this whole trial thing could be reproduced. Maybe we should see how the first one comes off?
Back to the book.
This is the definitive history of Hunt, who was a Lander dentist. He gained early fame as a baseball player. Born in Illinois, he was recruited by two Wyoming towns that fielded professional baseball teams. The Lander manager won and Hunt found himself a new hometown.
Later, he served in the legislature and was elected to two terms as Secretary of State. He was the creator of the ubiquitous Wyoming bucking horse logo that first appeared on the license plates he was charged with designing.
Hunt was elected governor twice and headed up our state during World War II. Then he was elected to the U. S. Senate.
The Senate was frustrating. As a governor, he was used to getting things done. All the back room deals in Washington, D. C., strained his patience.
He called himself “a political middle of the roader with liberal leanings.” He was always proud to call himself a New Deal Democrat and he did not object to being called an “Eisenhower Democrat,” which revealed his basic Wyoming conservatism.
McDaniel writes: “Even as a freshman from a small, rural state, Hunt was more fully involved in issues of national interest than one might expect. In the few years he served, Lester Hunt was in the eye of several of the most difficult storms of the day. He was a major contributor to the early 1950s debates over civil rights, health care reform, organized crime, foreign policy, Communism and what to do about Joe McCarthy.
Then it ended.
He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Senate office on June 9, 1954. He had literally been hounded to death by the efforts of the famous commie-hunter Sen. McCarthy and his pals.
With the nation dealing with gay rights issues today, McDaniel’s book comes out at an ideal time.
A key component of that pressure on Hunt was McCarthy’s efforts to expose Hunt’s son who was gay. McCarthy and his team believed that gay people could not be in the military or work in important government service, because communists could blackmail them so easily.
Hunt was the second U. S. Senator who killed himself while enduring the stress of McCarthy’s, blackmail, attacks and accusations. The other was Sen. Robert La Follette Jr.
The Senate had 48 Democrats and 47 Republicans at the time of Hunt’s death. It was believed if Hunt could be driven from office, the Wyoming governor, a Republican, would appoint a Republican successor. The book is a very good read and offers a terrific history of our state during the post World War II years. It is to McDaniel’s credit and Wyoming’s that it has been written and published and is now available.