I am just back from Sublette, Kansas (Haskell County, southwest Kansas) after being at the center of an intense 3-day trial over a water dispute. Shown with me are the others with the Div. of Water Resource who testified with me. It was intense, boring, encouraging, and frustrating at various times over the days.
The case is a pretty big deal with Kansas water law. The immediate issue in this small pocket of southwest Kansas (about two square miles) which is nearly out of water is a dispute over who gets to use the last of it: the irrigator who is “first in time”, as our law says, or whoever can pump it last. It is a big deal as over time, more and more areas are running out of water, so the winner here will determine what happens elsewhere.
I am glad to be home “de-compressing” (my term for the couple of days it takes me to unwind for intense work periods like this).
The current trial segment is the larger fight over a permanent injunction on the pumping. Whoever wins this case in Haskell County District Court will likely appeal to the Court of Appeals and likely to the Kansas Supreme Court eventually.
Below is a note I sent to my staff at the Kansas Division of Water Resources last week to announces three recent water agreements that were signed during late August and early September resolving long-standing disputes.
This last week, several of us had the pleasure of joining in a celebration of the State of Kansas and Kickapoo Tribe signing the Kickapoo water right settlement agreement. This comes close on the heels of our long-term agreements with Colorado and Nebraska on the Republican River Compact matters. Below is a bit more about each matter and links to more information on these and two other high-profile matters we are working through.
Thanks to all that staff that have been helping us work through these complex and time-consuming issues and to all of you who hold down the fort on our other important work as these things consume some of us.
Republican River Compact (RRC) agreements
Most of you are aware that the RRC has been taking a lot of time for several of us over the years (decades really). The late 1990’s through 2002 was one intense
period including our first trip to the U.S. Supreme Court on the RRC, which ended with a settlement of the matter in the Final Settlement Stipulation. Several years of relative quiet on the RRC followed. Then Nebraska violated the Settlement and we had to go back to the U.S. Supreme Court again (2010-2015). Concurrent with this court case, we had a number of additional disputes on Colorado’s and Nebraska’s compliance plans that we attempted to resolve unsuccessfully via non-binding arbitration.
In June 2014, with the Court case and arbitrations winding down, the States decided to try a new approach, entered into monthly discussions in an effort to reach agreements that would both provide appropriate credit in the Compact accounting for Colorado’s and Nebraska’s compliance activities while providing Kansas users the water they are entitled to in a way that maximizes its usefulness and minimizes waste.
After more than two years of negotiations among the States and numerous short-term agreements, at the August 24, 2016 RRCA annual meeting, the Administration approved two resolutions establishing long-term agreements among the states related to Colorado’s and Nebraska’s compliance activities in the Republican River basin. These long-term agreements align Colorado’s and Nebraska’s compliance activities with Kansas water user’s needs in both the South Fork Republican River of Northwest Kansas in the main stem Republican River of Northcentral Kansas.
The Kickapoo Tribe of northeast Kansas has a federal water right linked to the establishment of the reservation in 1832. Like the other Tribes in Kansas, as well as most in the U.S., this water right was not quantified. Over the last decade, the Tribe has been seeking to secure a more dependable supply for its current and future uses. Ultimately, disputes arose which led the Tribe to sue the state and federal government, with the issues of quantifying and protecting their right being among the issues in litigation.
Late last week the State of Kansas and Kickapoo Tribe signed the Kickapoo water right settlement agreement aimed to resolve these concerns. The settlement agreement quantifies the Kickapoo’s reserve water right and enumerates the state’s obligations to protect it. This is the first quantification of a Tribal Reserve water right in Kansas. Both the State and Tribe believe it to be a fair resolution of the matter.
The settlement is innovative in a number of respects, particularly:
the method of quantification is not based on the use of the normal standard used in the West of “practicable irrigable acreage” but on a municipal build out concept using methods consistent with the Kansas law for Kansas water users, and
the settlement includes a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the State and Tribe which will be reviewed annually to make transparent the specifics of our administration and to keep it current as the Tribe develops storage.
While it is not practiced as regularly as it should be, the Bible challenges us to do good in our community as a way to live worthy of the good news (the gospel).
Our church, City Church Lawrence (CCL) ,has been exploring ways we can grow in this area. Late last year, we signed up to be a Family Promise support church with Christmas week being our first experience in this role.
Family Promise (FP) is a ministry which works to help homeless families break out of homelessness. Here in Lawrence, they typically have 3-5 families working through a 5-6-week initial transition process at any one time. During the day, FP helps the families learn skills and find jobs so they can transition to functioning independently in our community. FP has a network of host churches which provide those going through the program with a weeks’ worth of lodging and meals at their church. The support church’s role is to assist the host church with providing evening meals. CCL is assisting Vintage Church.
My wife Cathy and I and another family provided the meal for Christmas Eve. Cathy and I brought over our traditional Christmas Eve supper: chili and cinnamon rolls, as well as some fruit and vegetables. Our other family brought spaghetti and more.
Family Promise has 4 families in the program’s “rotation” at the moment. As it was Christmas Eve, we recognized that some of the group may have had other plans for the evening. Sure enough, this proved to be more true than we expected.
We ate and talked with one mom and her Dad, who was visiting from Hutchinson. Her husband and kids were seeing other family for the evening. She has 4 children, mostly teen agers. We did not see them as they were spending time with their father. Another mom came through briefly and a third mom and her children we saw only as we were preparing to leave at 8:00 with our meal and host duties done.
Despite this light duty with respect to providing meals to those in the program, we enjoyed not only time with our fellow CCL host family but the evening also provided two additional interactions.
First we got to spend some time with the pastor of Vintage Church Deacon Godsey and his wife and son who enjoyed the meal we brought between the conclusion of the church’s Christmas Evening service and another engagement of the evening that followed. Part of doing good in the City is partnering with others who are seeking to do the same.
Second we got to spend some time with a mom, Leila, who went through FP’s program two years ago when she was at a time of need in seeking to provide for herself and 4 children while between jobs. She is now on her feet, attending Vintage Church and a part of the church’s ministry with FP. Through our discussion we were able to learn a lot about the benefits of the program from one who has been through it. This included learning to not expect too much interaction during these meal times as those going through the program are often tired and needing to put their kids down for the night. While Leila has gone through several jobs, she currently driving a concrete truck for nearly double the wages of her previous jobs and seems to have a good support network at Vintage Church.
We left most of the unconsumed food at the church for later in the week.
It was a good first experience and we look forward to next time. Due to the number of churches FP has in the program, Vintage Church and CCL will host another new set of families approx. four times a year.
New Grandsons! Our big news from 2015 is we have two new grandsons, bringing us to three grandsons, each with their own unique temperament. It is a thrill to have them all live in the area. Ain is a very busy boy, now approaching 2 ½ years, constantly commenting on life, asking questions, and exploring. Ebron Asher Pool was born in March and is now 9 months old, a charming boy who is very relational. Wyatt Aubra Hash, born in June, is now 6 months old, both enjoying life and also evidencing a serious and determined side as he seeks to get around their home.
All of our girls and their husbands are doing well. Matt finally found his forte in IT support and is loving it. Betsy is home with the boys, but also finds time to blog regularly, is training to be a doula, and is very involved in our church. Josh continues to grow as a personal trainer at Genesis Health Clubs, which is starting to build a much larger facility. Amy’s piano business is keeping her busy, along with other odd jobs. Brandon finds delight in making his son light up and continues to work hard to provide for his family. Megan is adjusting to her life as a new mom and is working part-time.
Extended family – It was a delight to have a very full house at Thanksgiving, with almost all of Cathy’s side of the family. There were 10 of us staying at our house plus up to 9 of our girls, spouses and children that joined at times. We drank lots of coffee, ate lots of food and enjoyed catching up with one another. Five of us ran in Lawrence’s Thanksgiving run.
David’s celebrated his 60th birthday in June with an open house.
David’s annual meeting of the Association of Western State Engineers took us to Arizona. Our stay included time in Flagstaff where we explored some of Cathy’s roots that were early settlers of the city. We were able to find the beautiful original homestead well off the path north of town. We also visited Lowell Observatory.
David’s job as chief engineer of Kansas’ Division of Water Resources continues to involve a 90-minute commute to Manhattan (Kansas) most days. The year saw significant progress in settling interstate water disputes with neighboring states, implementing legislation from a busy legislative session on water issues, and a major “impairment” report related to a national wildlife refuge in Kansas.
Cathy continues to teach science classes to Lawrence homeschoolers as well as nearby Gardner.
Our Church– Our church has been in transition the last couple of years, becoming a network of smaller churches meeting in principally in homes. This year, we sold our building and changed our name to City Church Lawrence. We seek to focus on the emphasis of the Scriptures related to how we should conduct our life including doing good works in the community.
This and that – We hired a yard service to take out 50 red cedars and David re-planted a large section of the back yard that was basically bare soil. Late in the year David hit a deer totaling his car without harm to himself. Not much progress on our health web site (maybe next year).
Book (and Audible) recommendations
David – The Martian (good movie; a bit of language); The Emperor of All Maladies; The Sheep-Pig
Cathy – Boys in the Boat; Ender’s Shadow; Far From the Madding Crowd;
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.
Yesterday, July 4, 2015, the last of the Navajo “code talkers” died. I listened his memoir, titled Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WW II, couple of years ago. Here is my review of this worthwhile book, speaking of his sacrifice and contributions.
Chester Nez shares his story of growing up near a Navajo reservation of New Mexico. He pursued an education to better himself but the education provided was designed to suppress his native language and culture. Fortunately, it did not succeed. The very complex and unwritten Navajo language proved the basis for an efficient and unbreakable code that saved 1000’s of American lives and sped the end of World War II.
While the story of the Navajo “code talkers” is history, this book is not a history book, providing little of the larger picture of WW II or even Navajo life. Instead it is one’s man’s view of these realities that he and others faced on the reservation and the battlefield. While I appreciate hearing his story in his words, restricting the story to his experience reduces the depth of the story.
Chester shares unapologetically of his Navajo upbringing, with its focus on balance and harmony with nature, and its impact on his attitudes and actions. He shares also of the mistreatment he faced which also prepared him for the sacrifices he faced in the war. Yet he does not dwell on these scenes much.
While I found the pace of the book slow at times, it is a story worth reading. While the book differs from others, it was for me another story of the “greatest generation,” of those that lived through the very great challenges of 1930’s and 40’s, doing what they had to do. Despite the prosperity and ease of the day, I am prone be ungrateful and complain when I have less of these things than others or when work or life expects more of me than I would like. I find stories like this help me get over myself and move on with life.
My wife and I wish you all a Merry Christmas. Below and attached is this year’s Christmas letter to family and friends. Click this link to see a pdf: Christmas letter 2014. The first page is a set of images shown below; page two is text highlighting the year’s news: two more grandchildren coming in 2015, our work lives, our books recommendations and more. Enjoy.
The year’s big news: two more grandchildren coming in 2015! Our first grandchild, Ain, is approaching 18 months, a busy boy. Lord willing and the ultrasound is right this time, he will have a little brother in March. Recently we learned that Megan and Brandon are expecting their first child in June.
Our work lives
David’s job – David’s challenging work as chief engineer of Kansas’ Division of Water Resources continued to be intense but rewarding. The office made the transition to Manhattan this summer. So David is making the 90 minute commute about 3x/week (he telecommutes day a week or so). David has found he can be fairly productive on the van the agency is providing. So far the Division has retained key experienced staff and been able to recruit some good, young staff as well.
The interstate battles continue. David was able to attend oral arguments before the US Supreme Court this fall in Kansas case against Nebraska. With the conclusion of the last of 5 arbitration trials, Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado have finally started working on negotiating some disputed issues, developing three agreements for 2014-2015 as they work toward longer term solutions.
Cathy continues to teach science classes to Lawrence homeschoolers as well nearby Gardner. The three classes she is teaching keeps her busy. After developing PowerPoints for her Advanced Biology and Biology over the last 2 years, this year she is doing physical science (with Amy’s help).
Our daughters and their husbands – Everyone is well. Betsy is gradually cutting back on her work outside the home with her growing family. Amy’s piano business is becoming well established and she is doing some part-time work as a “virtual assistant”, and she has a growing number of people following her blog. Megan works part time for a local radio station, KOFO Country, writing and reading the news.
Vacations – We got away quite a few times this year, mostly to our timeshare in the Branson area including a time in June with the girls and their spouses. We also enjoyed our annual 4th of July trip to Gene and Sara’s cabin on Long Lake in Wisconsin. Finally, we also did a Texas trip with David’s work that included San Antonio and Houston/Galveston.
We continue to make health a priority by regular exercise and eating well. David’s morning exercise routine has had to change due to his commuting. Fortunately, the office in Manhattan has a shower and he has been running more regularly and was able to take a minute off of his best 5k of last year. We have started a web site on how we stay healthy (org) with favorite recipes, exercise suggestions, and more.
Book (listening) recommendations:
David – The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (D. Brown); Tale of Two Cities (Dickens); Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and …the Space Age (M Brzezinski).
Cathy – Elephant Whisper (L. Anthony); I am Malala (Yousafzai); and Invention of Wings (S. Kidd).
For years we have made health a priority and enjoyed its benefits. Many have asked us how we have done this.
While we have bits and pieces of this near on this web site and on Cathy and my joint site, David’s, we have just created a new web site, HealthSimply.org for this specific purpose. As of this writing (December 2014), we have a good outline and a list of books we have found helpful on our journey, exercise options that we have used and recommend, lots of great recipes and more.
Over time, we plan to add detailed book reviews, a listing of health habits, short videos to make health practical.
During January 2014 a Facebook friend said she just got a new android phone and wanted recommendations for apps. So here is a list of many of the apps I use regularly on my phone. I will update it from time to time. Like ios, some many options.
A desire to learn more about nutrition 4 years ago took me to Topeka’s good library not far from work. While there, I discovered their significant collection of books on CD and which transformed my daily commute from Lawrence to Topeka. After a couple of years, I began to have a more difficulty time finding books of interest and desired to listen to books on my two walks a day with our dogs. The answer: Audible.
While there are a number of way to get free book recordings, esp. of classic literature, Audible deliveries a great variety of classics and current best-sellers via purchase/subscription, conveniently and simply. Many of these recordings are excellent performances. For example I thoroughly enjoyed listening to an excellent rendition of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, a book I likely would not have been able to get through by reading.
The most common way to use Audible is as a subscription service. The basic subscription if $15 per month. With it you get one credit per month, which is in essence, one book per month. But this also allows you to buy any other book for a minimum of 30% off and to have access to other sales and specials (see more below)
Audible’s app is available for your smart phone, tablet, and computers. You can switch between devices and it keeps track of where you are.
As Audible allows you to have up to three phones or tablets connected to an account (as well a few PCs), you can share an account with other family members. I share my account with my wife and mom; I also pay for an account that my three daughters share.
Getting the most of your money
You can save 20% by paying annually rather than monthly ($150/year rather than $180 if you pay $15/month).
Sign up for their “daily special” email where once a day they deeply discount a particular book for 24 hours, typically at a price of $3 or $4.
I take time to read the reviews to see what others think of the book, both its content and the performance of it, to help me insure I am getting books I will enjoy. Many of the classics are inexpensive and there are often multiple options.
If you buy a book that you end up not enjoying, return it. Audible allows you to return books you are not satisfied with for any reason for up to a year. .
Keep a wish list. Audible will let you know if any of these are on sale.
Getting the most of your time.
I listen on my commutes and my walks with the dogs.
I also listen when I mow the yard and vacuum the house. How? I use ear buds and the ear protection I wear when I mow the yard.
We equipped both of our cars with a mount to hold our phone (approx. $20) and an FM tuner/phone charger to allow you to listen to the book through the cars speakers (another $20).
We also spend $30 on a small Bluetooth speaker that allows her to conveniently listen to books which in the kitchen.
Listen to a variety of genres. See some examples of our listening below
Don’t let listening dominate your thought life. We all need some in our lives where we are “processing”. If you fill every moment of every day with work, talking, TV, etc., etc., this important processing does not happen.
Our listening, starting with David:
Sci-Fi: Dune, Foundation, Ender’s Game and others by Asimov , Heinlein, Clarke, and more.
Classics: Hobbit, Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, Mark Twain’s Prince and the Pauper and Huckleberry Finn (read by Elisha Wood), Sherlock Holmes. I am reading Don Quixote now (40 hours)
Health: several titles.
Christian: CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy, and more; Lawhead.
History/Biographies: John Adams, Bonhoeffer
Self-help: Now Habit and more.
Cathy loves Jane Austin and has listening to some of her book club choices when time was short.
Please send me helpful articles on the subject. No politically-motivated articles, flaming articles, etc. I want to understand how it will work so I can advise others who ask and determine what I can do to encourage its reform. I think we need healthcare reform. But it is apparent that the ACA has major problems. However, ut we need to work toward solutions, not excuses or political stonewalling.
Here are a couple articles that I have come across the help me understand ACA:
The article discusses the tax implications of ObamaCare. Hopefully most of you understand marginal tax rates. As you make more money, you pay a higher % of tax on the additional income you make. The first $17,400 of taxable income is taxed at 10%, the next $53,000 is taxed at 15%, and so forth. Your marginal tax rate is the rate you pay for the last dollars of additional income you make. The higher your marginal tax rate, the more likely you are to look for tax breaks.
Under ACA, insurance coverage is subsidized for many Americans on a sliding scale via the premium assistance tax credit. As you make more money, the tax credit goes down. The effect is to increase the marginal tax rate. See the article for more clarify and examples.
You have heard a lot about the problems with the health.gov web site. In this article and the link below, there is information on how 3 young people built a functioning web site to allow individuals to find out their options under the ACA, how much it would cost, etc. Here is a link to the site they built: http://www.thehealthsherpa.com/. The web site is nice, the premiums are not (but that is the cost of the American system).