I believe out of office messages should be about more than communicating the boring fact that you're out of the office.  They should be a window into creative writing to showcase the world of your feeble mind, create a conversation (admittedly one-sided) or provoke inspired thinking.  Here are some of my favorite offerings from the past 10 years:

Bears

I am, in general, feeling like salt poured into an open wound.  Or a Bears fan who just saw the Pack dismantle his team in an NFC championship game.  Or a little kid after getting a tetanus shot...in essence, not great.  I'll be out today.

Simple

I'll be out today, but still working and available by cell. In the fine tradition of having some semblance of an out of office, muted hyperbole: I'll be sitting still...perfectly still...in the hopes that enlightenment will reach my subconcious.  There is little hope.

Snow swirling

The snow slowly swirls around the graceful pines that rise like towers out of the snow…the tall spires remind you instantly of the power of nature, and its unyielding beauty.  It is calm.  The white belts below alternate between the consistency of groomed corduroy and soft flannel as shimmering flakes gently drift down, creating an ethereal, dream-like feel to the scene. Most of the faceless shapes move in graceful arcs.  Some in short, stunted motions as they stutter across the mountainside.  A train of small children pop over the bumps in a seemingly unending arc of innocent determination.  Snapping out of the serenity, I realize there are only five more poles to pass before “Ski Tips Up”…which run to take?  Which run to take?

If you couldn’t guess, I’m off skiing and will be out on Monday and Tuesday.  I will be back on Wednesday.

Natural Capital

I will be back on Friday and responding to email on a limited basis.

I will be out of office this week for the Global New Energy Summit (GNES) at the Broadmoor and Rocky Mountain Green in Denver; two great events.  In a sharp departure from my usually enlivening out of office (OOO) anecdotes, I ask for a moment of attention and consideration: If you haven’t figured out that our 3.8-billion-year store of imbued global “natural capital” will exhaust itself by the end of the next century, join the club—it isn’t widely acknowledged or discussed.  Did you know that over 60% of the energy produced today is “rejected” by transmission, distribution or energy inefficiency?  https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/.  We have a lot of opportunity as we come along as a nation and we need find ways to actively solve this. This is not a “right” thing, or a “left” thing, but a “forward” thing.

This is the truth of our current energy system and we can do better.  These two conferences are about challenging ALL types of fuel to perform better in our economy and the built environment—in different ways—and to connect the leaders of these industries with solutions while we find our own.  I am proud to be a part of that conversation and proud that Colorado Springs is hosting the GNES event.  We owe that conversation to ourselves, our kids and our grandkids.  Rocky Mountain Green is a conference about how building “green” is really about building smart.

In the meanwhile, try riding a bus (free on Earth Day), riding a bike, winning a residential LED streetlight (details announced on April 21st), recycling a can in the downtown (announced on April 22nd), or reporting a pothole (385-ROAD) to make a difference to our community (and win an LED streetlight in the process).  As always, thank you for all you do for Colorado Springs and our global community.

The End

The end is near.  The third storm in as many days pounds the ocean—relentless partners teaming up to erode the beaches.  Washing away the island one grain at a time.  The tourists have long since fled the beaches for the protections of card-locked hotel rooms and rum-fueled, impromptu conversations about events of the month. Today’s topics have long since lost their novelty and people search their minds to conjure up interesting stories about their hometowns, their loved ones and foreign affairs.  New found pairings thrown together by a shared stretch of white sand and bad timing.  The luckiest foursomes have travelled and lived in common places—some have not and turn to increasingly desperate conversations about weather and sports. 

As the rain stops, the scent of wet sand permeates the nostrils of the open air bar and entices the patrons in proximity back to the shore.  Pulled by a desire to escape strained conversation and get a good spot on the newly washed beach, the sun entices more out of their nearby enclaves.  Minutes later the kids emerge, the surf is beckons and games with Frisbees, balls and surf abound.  The sun returns with wincing effect as the remnants of the storm move to other beaches, far away.  The remains of the day have been saved for their original purpose and the vacation takes its desired shape once more.  The heat peaks—and fades.  The staff fold up chairs and umbrellas—the bar equivalent of turning on the lights at closing time.  Single-serving friends say their “good bye’s” and “hope to see you soon’s”.  The day patiently gives way to the sunset.  And the night. The end is near.

I will be at a cousin’s wedding on May 5th and 6th, returning on the 9th to handle some work business and then I will be on a long-planned and much-needed vacation to Hawaii from May 10-17.  Tom Monarco will be acting Public Works Team Leader in my absence, so please contact him if it is an emergency.

Riverwalk

Riverwalk...no, not Pueblo...San Antonio!

I will be out of office on Monday and Tuesday for a trip to San Antonio.  Texas is no Hawaii, but I will find a way to suffer through the culture of the riverwalk, the glory of the Alamo, and some exotic marine mammals at Sea World.  Schlitterbahn will just have to wait.

Fourth of July

So, the fourth of July is upon us and we often focus on the inherent patriotism of the holiday (as we should), but forget to turn our attention to those exploding marvels providing "ooh's" and "aah's" across the land: the firework.  Since this will take a minute, for immediate business needs, please skip to the bottom of this message for contacts.  For those with a little more time to consider things...

Allow me to spin a yarn full of fact and fiction, parable, presumption and prevarication...first, as many of us know, the Chinese are believed to have invented these exploding illuminaries...my favorite story is that fireworks were discovered or invented by accident by a Chinese cook working in a field kitchen who happened to mix charcoal, sulphur and saltpeter (all commonly found in the kitchen in those days). The mixture burned and when compressed in an enclosure (a bamboo tube), the mixture exploded.  Understandably, the experience didn't go well for the cook or the Kung Pao Chicken, and most of the people seated for dinner that evening ended up waiting...and waiting...and waiting...

Fast forward to the first use of a similar concoction being used for the first intentional fireworks for entertainment (the history between its invention and this use is mired with bloody lessons involving rockets, explosions and loss of limb).  As most things that are practical in purpose and then turned into lavish and excessive displays of opulence, the Italians got a hold of the explosive combination in the 18th century and turned them into the fireworks we love today--then they turned their attention to the Maserati, but that's another story.  In fact, many major fireworks companies today descend from these Italian families that pioneered its use.

The Germans and English stepped it up next with Queen Elizabeth I taking a particular shine to fireworks, actually creating an official "Fire Master of England".  In fact, they were so prevalant, that Shakespeare mentions fireworks in several of his works.

Fast forward to modern day and fireworks were mass manufactured in communist factories in China and exported around the world.  A few accidents (and the fall of communism) later, and the world markets take over to spread their manufacture.  The continued exploration of different chemical combinations has produced the large variety of colorful, rocket-bound explosions that manages to embody the pride of our entire nation's independence celebration, inspiring us all and ultimately fusing this collective pride into fifteen minutes of fantastic fireworks.  All from one careless Chinese cook in 2000 BC.

I will be out from July 2-July 11 and back on July 12.

Gold in them hills

I will be out of office from September 27-30 for the Rocky Mountain Clean Air Conference.  To get immediate assistance, please skip to the bottom of the page.  For a moment of reprieve, read on.

Despite its well-earned reputation as a ski-town destination, there is a slightly more to my conference trip at Breckenridge than clean air:  Avarice.  On July 23, 1887, "Tom's Baby", a 135 ounce gold nugget was found at Farcomb Hill near Breckenridge.  Since that time, there have been no other major discoveries of gold near Breck, but I'm not convinced that miners have explored every nook and cranny of the mountain community.  In preparation for my exploration of the surrounding Breckenridge mountains, I have purchased a guide, a pick, beef jerky, a mule and rented "Big Brutus", a sixteen story, 11 million pound dragline excavator.  In the spirit of the clean air conference, I will use biodiesel to fuel Big Brutus, and with its jaunty performance, I estimate it will only take 650,000 gallons of (bio)diesel to find the next record gold ore nugget.  As I comb the mountains, I will eat the beef jerky and, only if necessary, the mule. The guide is so I have something to start fires and make paper airplanes out of.  Because of the use of biodiesel, instead of just straight diesel, I estimate savings of about 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere--and what could be more in the spirit of a clean air conference than that?

And, in the end, I have already figured out the record gold nuggets name: I will name it "Big Brutus's Biodiesel Powered Nugget Baby"...and then melt it down to make custom grillz for my teeth. For real.

Oregano and cows

I will be out of office from October 25-27 and back on Oct 28th.  If you have specific needs, please contact the division heads (information at the bottom).  If you want to hear more about my adventure, read on...

So, I'm reading Discover magazine, and I read an article about the fact that a diet heavy in oregano can be used to reduce the methane production (a very potent greenhouse gas) from raising cattle by 40%-and important discovery for us tree-hugging barbecue lovers.  Turn the page, and there is an article about how plants can "speak" to each using microbial densities around their roots, indicating to other plants what effective growth strategies should be.  It wasn't very hard to put these two articles together and discover a disturbing trend...

If the oregano plants are speaking to the other oregano plants, how long before they start spreading the word that they are about to become glorified cow food?  And if they start spreading the word, how long before the oregano plants decide to get the heck out of here and go "underground"?  And if so, it won't be long until there is an oregano shortage...

So I'm going to spend the next week travelling the US to buy as many oregano plants as possible, before they are able to spread the word, creating the national and global shortage.  Once the shortage begins, I'll control the world's oregano supply.  Which means I'll control all Italian food.  Which is just a short hop away from global domination.

If you want to gain my favor before my foray into global domination, I can be pursuaded with liberal amounts of brisket.  Low-methane brisket that is...

Man-sized rodents

I am out of the office until November 14th.  Why?  Great question!  If you need immediate help, please see the below or contact Curt Decapite who is in charge during my absence.  If you want to know more about my travels, read on...

So, as it turns out, I will be at the happiest place on earth.  No, I don't mean a laughing gas convention or Denmark--I mean a magical place called "Disney World"!

Yes, as I recently found out, there is a glee-inducing, oversized man-rodent who resides in central Florida.  You would think he would live in Kissimmee, which sounds more fun, but apparently he has his own CASTLE in Orlando (he's clearly been stealing more than cheese!).

As I understand it, he lives there with a plutonic female rat friend (differentiated by a bow and eyelashes); a disproportionately-sized, but insanely obedient dog; another tall, clothing-wearing, anthropomorphic dog; a buccal-speaking, hot-tempered duck; and a mild-mannered, well-spoken lady duck friend.

As I understand it, there are also talking chipmunks, princes (apparently none of them are very good hunters) and princesses walking all over the place in formal wear, and tons of children screaming gratefully at the sight of unending child-oriented opulence.

It seems this former swamp also has microcosms of the entire world embedded in its center, allowing me to become a "man of the world" in one day and without ever leaving Florida.  I'm sure this will come in handy as I will soon be able to brag openly about my new found worldliness and look down my unforgiving nose at others who are "less polished" with mocking disdain.

With all that said, it is hard to understand how this could NOT be the happiest place on earth.  Seems so obvious.  Regardless, for the next 9 days I will be immersed in the Magic of a Kingdom far removed from our cold reality. But don't worry, while I've forgotten everything else about Colorado Springs, I am, of course, still thinking of YOU. You're special.

Ummm...

I am doing interviews for the Streets Division Senior Analyst position on Thurs and Friday...by 'doing', I mean being someone who is on the panel and interviews people who have applied...well, by 'applied', I actually mean they've been selected and screened for further consideration...meaning worthy of an interview...by the panel...the one that I'm sitting on.  By this terrible sentence structuring-thingy I just did, you should notice how unqualified I am to actually DO that kind of job, so it should be obvious to you what side of the "hiring" equation I'm on--so why am I even explaining it to you?  Its a no-brainer. Seriously.

Thank you!

Nick Kittle

Dark fiber

I will be out of office on Tuesday for much of the day to discuss "dark fiber" in Denver-and the shared opportunities for economic growth surrounding this...I'm hopeful dark fiber is a reference to infrastructure availability for broadband, not some new evil fruit or cereal that saps your strength by removing real fiber from your diet.  If it is truly "evil fiber", I will fight to protect our community from its reaches and its foul anti-nourishment agenda.  If its really just an economic partnership and development opportunity, I will listen intently and partner with agencies to support the robust growth of our local and state economies.  So...you're on notice fiber!

I'm out today--sure, it seems like I'm in because I may respond to an occasional email or try and save you $.47 off gas (Chief Petroleum stations on Friday from 10-2 only), but I'm OUT.  Seriously.  And when you see me walking down the street and I look casual and I'm not walking with "purpose", that's totally wrong--I have a purpose--to be OUT. Heck, I might even have a beer at lunch--you might think "what the heck is he doing" or "I should report him to HR".  Two things: I can do that...because I'm OUT...but so is Ann Crossey, so I'm not sure she'd care if you DID report me.  If you haven't caught the theme of my response, its that I'll get back to you on Monday...because I'm OUT.

Thank you!

Nick Kittle

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas yo.  I'm out.  I'll be back on Tuesday.  Yes, its this time to regale you with a tale of lore.  A legend as old as time: Keith Richards.  Just kidding--let's talk about the Holly King--the precursor to modern-day Santa Claus.

From the Celtic tradition, we get a pair of ancient pagan images who fight for supremacy at Yule. The Holly King and the Oak King are constructs of the Druids to whom these two trees were highly sacred. The Oak King kills the Holly King at Yule. The Oak King then reigns until Midsummer when the two battle again, this time with the Holly King as the victor. The Holly King, who has evolved into the present day Santa Claus, wears red, dons a sprig of holly in his hat, and drives a team of eight deer--an animal sacred to the Celtic Gods. Holly and mistletoe are traditional to the season through commemoration of the battle. The holly was hung in honor of the Holly King; the mistletoe (which grows high in the branches of oak trees) in honor of the Oak King.

The awesome part is Rudolph destroyed the symmetry and there is a lot less dying and rebirth in the modern day Santa story of course.  And if you didn't know, the Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer song was written by an ad exec named Robert May to sell toys.

Thank you!

Nick Kittle

My dream

I'm out on Friday and Monday.  In the spirit of celebrating the contribution of Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a Dream" speech, I would like to share a dream of my own...if you need immediate assistance, see below, if you have some time, please read on...

This dream does not compare to MLK’s, but heck, I’m no MLK…I don't dream often, but when I do, it weird and I did have a particularly bizarre one recently that I decided to analyze for this message.  In it, I am running away from a rather large and menacing river otter who is chasing me across a field that is ablaze on all sides.  The otter never catches me, but pursues me relentlessly from a distance.  What on earth could this mean?  Deep seeded fear of Kitchy, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s runaway whelp?

I sat down to explore the meaning.  As it turns out, dreams about pursuit are about an anxiety in the waking world—a fear about something.  Often times the distance of the pursuer indicates the fear horizon—so in this case, it means I’m worried about something that is out there that continues to make me nervous.

The dream site says that otters represents light-heartedness, adeptness, playfulness, joy.  Well, I wasn’t expecting it to indicate laziness or anger, so not shocking.

Fire represents a getting rid of the old before bringing in the new.

So, let’s put this together—apparently, I’m anxious that as I grow older in the next few years, I will get rid of my playful, joyful, fun-loving personality to be reborn as an unfunny, bitter, woeful hater.  I mean, who doesn’t fear that?  The answer: THIS GUY.  So what have I learned?  That despite the best attempts of the online world to unravel the inner workings of my mind, I probably just ate spicy food before bed or am really afraid of Kitchy.

Have a dream, keep it real.

Thank you!

Nick Kittle

Moving day

I'm moving offices today--again, so I will be slow to respond to emails.  You know, I keep trying to dissuade them from moving me to a new office by painting them a light shade of pink (or Mulberry Cream as Jay would put it) as soon as I get there, but yet, here I am in the 5th office in 2 yrs.  It would seem I need a better strategy to stay in one place, so I'm open to ideas.  Seriously...if you have one, send it my way.

On a positive note, I will be moving to the 6th floor (where the sunrise view is better), but I will miss the inspiring view of the alley from my second floor office where I could actively monitor the recycling effort for the entire City Admin Bldg by simply looking out my window.  <insert wistful sigh here>

Thank you!

Nick Kittle

Parallel universes

So, I’m going to be unavailable and while I’m known for working during vacations and the like, in this case it’ll actually COST me money to work and I’m not that crazy, so I’m going radio silent for the most part (outside of a few people who will get “thumb-in-the-eye” pictures of me having a good time).

With that said, there are two parallel universes that this vacation could take:  In the one universe, we will disembark from the plane in Fort Lauderdale and literally walk right up to the cruise liner at the ideal boarding time…timing will be exact if all things are on time.  We will cruise the high seas engaging in lively conversation, playing shuffleboard and sipping Mai-Tais. We’ll zip line in St. Martin, snorkel in St. Thomas and lounge in the Bahamas.

In the other universe, we are delayed by 2.5 hours and we quite literally “miss the boat”.  While I believe in my heart we will walk right up and timing will favor the favored, life does seem to like to turn my life into a story for amusement’s sake…so it may be that we’re abandoned in Fort Lauderdale with no cruise, no hotel and no easy way home.  It’s this less likely, alternate reality that I’m going to explore……

Stepping off the plane with only 5 minutes to board the cruise, I’m stunned by the fact that one shoe-throwing grandmother in coach could put up such a fight being escorted off the plane. Seriously, that delay took over 2 hours!  If only that flight attendant had just given her an extra cookie! Of course, she probably shouldn’t have had that fourth Jack and Coke!  Well, regardless, here we are.

Entering the taxi for the 10 minute drive to the dock, our driver seems in no hurry, but offers us pleasant chit-chat…maybe they’ll delay the boat….but as we drive up, no luck.  You can see its shadow looming large as it pulls away…maybe we can swim for it…panic takes over…yeah, that’s makes sense!  Diving into the warm waters, I swim only about 30 feet before spotting a pair of eyes barely above the surface—an alligator—yeah, I’m getting out like NOW!

Dripping on the shore and looking quite mad, here we are.  Its done.  I stupidly dove in the water with my phone in my pocket, and the taxis have left since the boats all pulled out.  Looks like we’re walking. A cloud of interested mosquitoes swarm me and find a free meal—more than I can say for myself.  By 20 minutes later, I’m dry(er) and the mosquitoes have drained me of a few pints. The first hotel we come to has available rooms, so I pull out my walle….WHAT?  Where is it?  ARRGHH!!  It must have slipped out my back pocket when I jumped in!  No wallet, no ID, no money, no phone!  Ugh.  Apparently money is a requisite for a room and as we go from hotel to hotel. Darkness sets in and as we drag heavy luggage from place to place; exhausted and bedraggled, we sneak in the back door of a hotel and find refuge in a stairwell.  Not a great place to spend the night, but we’ll figure it out tomorrow.

With no numbers to call (they were in the phone) and no ID for me, airport is out.  Time to get creative. Sure, use the internet you say…well, it would seem intuitive, but the adventure of the moment and a long night in the stairwell has sapped our brain power and it never even dawns on us.  Taxis are out. Begging isn’t working. Walking will take us too long….but with the luggage at our disposal we begin to sell our possessions to a local pawn shop for some scratch- all our possessions are worth $300 to the pawn shop owner who smells our desperation.  We rent a car…luckily Heather has her ID, so they give us a “sporty” Kia Sephia with manual windows and seat belts! Over the course of dozens of caffeine-fueled driving hours that blend seamlessly into each other, we are out of gas money.  Shouldn’t have stopped at that Arbys!

Only 200 miles away, one more tank of gas and we’re home…with no choice, we “fuel and flee” at a Shell station in New Mexico.  Unfortunately, only 5 miles up the road, my lead foot catches up to us as we are pulled over by a trooper who has just received a report about our light-fingered contempt for fuel.

After hearing our story, the trooper shows mercy.  Our first bit of luck! He gives us $20 from his own wallet(!) and we fly (within the speed limit) on our way...Raton…Pueblo…Fountain…and as we pull into home, broke and exhausted, we are grateful to be done with a vacation that we never had.  Welcome home lovable losers…welcome home. Time for a shower.

I'm out. You're in.  I'm going to take a pass at getting back to you immediately...but thanks for the invitation. If you need me, I'm only a phone call away--but what's the number...what's the number? If you don't know, I'm not going to spoil the surprise, but if its urgent, give Katie Canfield a call and she can track me down on my cell phone.  But, alas, if you want to wait, all good things will come to you I hear.  Including a return email...

Thank you!

Nick Kittle

Our energy future

I'm attending the Global New Energy Summit at the Broadmoor. The City is helping sponsor and support the event.  The Summit lasts from April 9-11th, so I will be responding to emails intermittently.  If you need help, skip below.

The portfolio of energy options available today has limits.  Exploring new methods of energy delivery as part of a portfolio of options for our country is important.  Clean, renewable energy will be critical to our future, as will exploring new bridge techniques to power our planet as we transition.  This conference explores how emerging technologies become viable, how energy becomes safer, and how transmission, storage and reliability coalesce into a more reliable energy portfolio for our country and the world.  The top minds in all energy fields coming together to trade ideas, find investment and innovate for our future.

And they're doing it here in Colorado Springs.  Now that's cool.

Thank you!

Nick Kittle

Bluebirds

I'm in NYC. Some might say its to be at the first ever Government Innovators Conference.  Michael Blumberg is flying about 30 of us out to discuss the role of innovation in government.  I will be back on Wednesday and available by cell.

But that's just a cover for my real reason to visit: tracking the migratory and mating patterns of the lovely red, white, and blue Eastern bluebird. Sialia sialis (Eastern Bluebird) was designated the State bird of New York in 1970. The bluebird's song is a rich warbling whistle broken into short phrases or a dry chatter (kind of like overhearing a debate about Team Edward vs Team Jacob carried on by a gaggle of pre-teen girls).

It was facing a declining population when it was named the state bird in the 1970's, but has resurged due to a popular urban nest box campaign.  As you might expect from watching the insightful droll of Sex And The City, the male of the species contributes very little to the nest, except to bring in a few highly-valued trinkets and do a well-choreographed "Nest Demonstration Display" to attract the female. Once he wins her affections, he takes to staying out late, eating pizza (well, small fruits really), and generally letting himself go, relying on the woman to take care of him and the eggs.

The birds seem more comfortable in the City during their juvenile state, and as they mature, they move to the burroughs and eventually out to Jersey where they raise several broods of kids per year.  In the end, the bold colors of the plumage give way to baldness, and the mated pair end up  muttering things to each other like "how come the kids don't call? how come the kids don't call?"

Thank you!

Nick Kittle

Agriburbia

I'm out of office Friday morning learning about the Agriburbia model of urban gardening in Denver.  This model is modified share cropping where everyone wins and our goal is to bring something like it down here. I also plan to steal a whole bunch of lettuce to make a really good salad because my garden hasn't come in yet...but we'll see how it goes. Up with urban gardens!

Thank you!

Nick Kittle

Storms in my brain

I'm out until Tuesday-so read on if you have time, or skip below if you have time, but don't care to read my ridiculous musings. And if you don't have time, why are you still reading this? Skip below for names and contacts.

Last night my brain had many storms. They collided in unexpected ways, producing a scary and startling degree of brilliance which has been subsequently transferred to an electronic medium that is inadequate for containing the greatness of the ideas.  Nevertheless, this storm has left my gray matter clouds expended and squeezed and so I find myself in need of a respite.  This respite may include activities such as applying liberal amounts of hickory/mesquite/cherry smoke to overlarge and tightly carved porcine greatness-yielding succulent and tender porky satisfaction.  Another restorative example is physically propelling plasticized and aerodynamic flying objects over gracefully rolling meadows and landing within inches of their chain-lined "basket home".  Otherwise, its just sun tanning and sweet tea folks.

Thank you!

Nick Kittle

Pirates

Wind is blowing out of the south and the seas are high.  The only thing worse than the salty spray drying everything it touches, is the incessant crowing of the sea birds.  The ship a short distance ahead is some sort of freighter, and although the type of cargo isn’t immediately identifiable, the markings indicate it is from Liberia.  Last time, it took nearly 100 days, but they paid over £700,000.  While this one doesn’t seem outwardly to be nearly as lucrative, you can’t really tell until you get on the boat and see what you’re dealing with.  Last time, it took no effort to overtake the ship and hijack it.  Let’s hope it goes as smoothly this time.

As the sun climbs towards noon, the distance closes rapidly and it’s all but inevitable everyone will be on board within the next hour…

You know, “pirate” is such a horrible word.  It brings forward images of swashbuckling rascals and half-drunk prurient sailors absconding with the “booty.” Nothing could be further from the truth.  This is calculating business.  Nothing glamorous.  Certainly more explosive and then more patient than the polite swordfights that decide the fates of those Johnny Depp movies. 

So far, its been lucky work—all the crews have made the right choices, the businesses are eager to pay up (mostly) and everyone in the crew got paid handsomely last two times.  But after only 6 months, its back to work again.  Its hard not to think the money will last longer, but it never does…

“Boat MV Pavirgia-STOP IMMEDIATELY. We will shoot” echoes through the loud speakers and begins the scramble on deck…upside of that bullhorn is it really shuts up those blasted birds.

Well, time to gear up, pump up the crew and mount the freighters deck. Daylight’s a wasting.

Forgive me for not knowing the proper terms for this, but this is my version of an obviously fictional short story told from the point of view of a modern-day pirate prior to boarding a vessel and the narrative inside his head. No real purpose but to amuse, so please don’t read too much into this.

I will be intermittently available, as will most of my team, for the forseeable future as we help with fire fighting and recovery efforts. I will respond to emails as time permits. My thoughts:

I can smell it burning. I can see the glow over the horizon, and I can smell it burning. The embers are flying, the people are tired, and I can smell it burning. So close, so many times, it is so close- so close, and I can smell it burning. Aching to help, dying to know, excited to do, and ready to roll, and I can still smell it burning. It's my home. My home is burning. I love you Colorado Springs.

Nick Kittle

Gift

I'll catch you tomorrow because yesterday is history & tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present. I'm going to open mine today. See you on Wednesday.

Nick Kittle

Manager of Innovation & Sustainability

Tony Bennett's heart

So apparently some guy named Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco. Yep, you read that right--his HEART. I can't imagine how depressed he must be to lose such an important body part. From what I heard on the radio, he looked for it in Rome, Paris and Manhattan, but couldn't find it, so he's heading back to San Francisco to search for it on the cable cars. Didn't hear the end of the story, but he sounded so sad that I thought I'd book a flight out there and help him look for it. I'm thinking I'll start at the Embarcadero, go by Pier 39, ride the BART over to El Cerrito and Berkeley to see if its there and if I can't find it, head back into the City--check Market Street, Haight-Ashbury and then the Exploratorium. What am I missing--oh yes, ALCATRAZ! I certainly hope he didn't leave it there because that swim must have been hard to do without his heart. If all that fails, I'll check the tidal pools along the coast line near Sea Ranch and Gualala before dropping by Big Sur. But honestly, if I don't find it in any of those places, I'm probably going to have to come home because I don't have all that much vacation time. By the way, did anyone catch his number? Might need that if I'm going to return it to him. Was it 867-5309? I thought I remembered hearing that on the radio too...

Nick Kittle

Manager of Innovation & Sustainability

Lottery offer

I'm so excited you emailed me! So excited in fact, that it will take me some time to calm down and compose a reply. I'll be in touch as soon as I can*, but I'm erstwhile indisposed with personal business. Thank you for your inquiry.

*Offer not valid in all 50 states. Must be 18 to enter. Odds of winning are 1 in 1, but seriously, it may take some time for a response. I'll be back on Thursday.

Nick Kittle

Better Block

I am out of the office today on Pikes Peak Ave helping to build a Better Block.  No, it is not building a cube with more sides.  It is transforming an urban space into an area that is not solely designed for the automobile.  It is designed for us.  People, bikes, cars and yes, people.  Did I say people?  If we interact more, does it create a closer community?  Does it slow the world down enough so that we can TRULY enjoy it and its not a blur of Walkmans and Betamax VCRs, of Nintendo 64s and beepers, floppy drives and laser discs?  If you need me and know my cell, give me a jingle if its important, or walk over to Pikes Peak between Tejon and Nevada and we can chat.  I hope you are well and I'll return this email as soon as I have a chance.

Nick Kittle

Wedding

I'm not in the office today and will be back on October 4.  I will respond to emails on an irregular basis pending personal activities.  If you need help on the fly, please skip to the bottom.  If you have time for some education, please read on:

So, I'm out for my sister's wedding back in Indy.  Knowing my sister, it will undoubtedly have an opulent edge over other such affairs and that got me thinking about how we take for granted the origin of weddings...

Did you know it didn't used be tradition to have witnesses or even have a third party (like a priest) marry you?  It used to be that you would marry each other by joining hands.  The term Tie the Knot came from the Renaissance Ceremony called "Handfasting". 'Handfast' and its variations are defined in the Oxford English dictionary as "to make a contract of marriage between (parties) by joining of hands." This handfasting would be done by tying rope around the hands in a knot, completing the phrase.

Bouquets even used to be different.  They used to be made of herbs, not flowers.  This was because they felt the herbs had the ability to cast off evil spirits.  The types of herbs also had symbolism.  If a bride carried sage (the herb of wisdom) she became wise; if she carried dill (the herb of lust) she became lusty. Flower girls carried sheaves of wheat, a symbol of growth, fertility, and renewal.  Then, it evolved into flowers...BOOORING...

Even tying shoes to the back of the bumper on the getaway car is steeped in tradition!  A bride's shoes were once a sign of "possession." They used to be taken from her when she was led to the wedding place, and given to the groom by her father, effecting the transfer of his authority to her husband and as a sign that the husband now had possession of her (and she couldn't run away). So as times progressed and modern wisdom prevailed, we began tying shoes to the bumpers.

Well, more than you wanted to know, but still more interesting than a poke in the eye.

Nick Kittle

Disney

I'm out of the office until October 29th. Where am I? Well read on...

People, I'm at the happiest place on earth. Yes, that's right, I said it: the happiest place on earth. Now likely your mind flashed to many different places, but I'm talking about Disney. That's right, Disney. I was going to do this elaborate comparison between Colorado Springs and Disney, and why Colorado Springs is better (we have less gigantic mice, etc) but being true to myself and the insanity of this last week, I flat ran out of time--so I'll say this: If what you are sending me ISN'T in the spirit of being in the happiest place on earth (mentally, physically, emotionally, etc), reconsider sending it. No seriously, take a moment to consider: Did what I just send Nick make him happier or not? If the answer is not, feel free to locate the recall button and give it some exercise. If you sent me something that's going to make me happier, then ask yourself why haven't you sent it earlier? Seriously, I could have used a little uplifting. So yes, let's be sure the first question you ask yourself today (or any day) is "did I just make Nick happier?"--and if the answer is yes, give yourself a pat on the back and treat yourself to some FroYo--and I thank you for getting your priorities straight.

If its urgent, I'll respond via my cell if you have it. If not, expect a reply as time permits.

Nick Kittle

Harvard musings

I'm out of the office until November 12th, but will be responding to emails intermittently. Where am I? Well read on...

Yes, indeed, we've been invited to come to Harvard to tell a good tale about our City and participate in groundbreaking open government initiatives with a small hand-selected group of nation-leading innovators. Finally the mothership is beaming me up. Yes, I will be able to wax philosophic about the pre-industrialized rise of the South, randomly quote Chaucer in response to a joke, and use words like erudite without feeling the hot shame of being some intellectual elitist. I will bathe in the rich history of our country and visit the amazing Harvard campus...come to think of it....yes....why didn't Harvard accept my application so many years ago? I mean, I filled out all the boxes--my GPA was good--I volunteered, had letters of recommendation and played a few sports. I made that ridiculous video dressed up like a melted ice cream cone to convince the review board that I was so cool I was hot. I mean, where did I go wrong? Perhaps I didn't try hard enough. Perhaps I should skip this meeting of minds and dig into the truth of this outrageous slight! Yes, that's the ticket. I'll show them that I'm worthy, yes worthy of their attention! I'll track the review board down from 15 years ago and make them answer questions about my application. And then, yes THEN, they will ask me to come join them. And I will bleed crimson like--well, everyone I guess.

No Harvard elitists were harmed in the making of this email. Besides, I have all the confidence that they could skewer me with a more-than-witty retort if I did offend.

Thank you for what you do for our city and our community!

Nick Kittle

Administrative Services and Innovation

Turkey day wisdom

I'm out of the office until November 26th, but will be responding to emails intermittently. Where am I? Well read on...

Recently, my 5 year old daughter had a thanksgiving event at her school. Each of the kids took turns answering a question about the holiday that the teacher would ask. When it came time for her, the teacher asked "Why did the Pilgrims leave Holland?", my daughter's answer was "because they didn't want their kids to be Dutch." After my shock and amusement at the answer subsided, I did some reading and found out that's true! Its interesting to think about this great holiday in the context that we wouldn't be celebrating what we're grateful for if the Dutch way of life was more palatable to the parents of the first-generation pilgrims. The more you know...

As for me, I'm grateful for much this year...and right now that includes being out of the office! I'll be gone through Monday, so please enjoy your holiday and I'll return your question, comment, elicitation or exultation upon my return.

Thank you for what you do for our city and our community!

Nick Kittle

Administrative Services and Innovation

Wintry poem

I'm out of the office until Tuesday December 18, and will be mostly unreachable. Where am I? Well read on...

A few flakes-and a few flakes more;

A dusting of powder,

On a hill's shapely shore.

A mountain's crest,

covered with zest,

from a drop that is frozen,

and falling to rest.

As more and more flakes find their home;

A Snow Siren calls, and taunts winter's foam...

and finds my ears many miles away,

and calls to me softly: "come out and play!"

Metal steed I do ride, into the distant white hills;

Alone I will ski, seeking only small thrills.

The solitude of a mountain's respite, with a chill in my bones

My body's slight sweat, wind whipping, winter's tones...

A twinkling like glitter and a slight breeze will share,

Swirling crystals...filling a luminous air.

Yes! Keystone is calling-and loudly she cries;

For hours I'll ski and lament bitter goodbyes.

Thank you for what you do for our city and our community!

Nick Kittle

Administrative Services and Innovation

Christmas facts

I'm out of the office until Wednesday December 26, and will be mostly unreachable. Where am I?

Well, its Christmas of course--and while usually I would engage you in some engaging witticism or a swarthy story, I am opting to poach brilliance from my sister Brittany, who collects Christmas facts like hoarders collect empty pizza boxes.  So here are a few selected Christmas fun facts from her that will make you go "Hmmm"...

In Greece, a beggar is typically given the first piece of bread from the Christmas loaf.

"I'll be home for Christmas" can be heard during the closing credits of Lethal Weapon (1987).

Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph's red nose was probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system

Mistletoe (Viscum album) is from the Anglo-Saxon word "misteltan" which means "little dung twig" because the plant spreads through bird droppings.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth I gave notable visitors gingerbread cookies baked in their likeness. Thus inventing the gingerbread man!

 In "A Christmas Story" the pole on which Flick gets his tongue stuck had a device in it that sucked air to make it look stuck!

During the 1983 holiday season, 3 million Cabbage Patch Kids were sold, becoming the most successful new doll to ever hit the toy market

And now that you are a little bit dumber for having replaced worthwhile information with these kinds of useless, but altogether charming facts, I hope you enjoy your holidays and spend them celebrating with loved ones.

Thank you for what you do for our city and our community!

Nick Kittle

Administrative Services and Innovation

Hot air balloon disaster

I'm out of the office through Wednesday January 16th. If you want to know more about what I'll be doing, please read on:

As a long-standing hot air balloon enthusiast, its time to ride the skies! In a giant balloon shaped like a tomato, I will ride high above the landscape, throwing frisbees into the wild, screaming audience of adoring fans. They will yell: "Throw me a disc, hot air balloon guy!" and I will shout back "Say my name if you want a frisbee!" and they'll say "How am I supposed to know your name?" and I'll say "Good question!" and throw them a frisbee. And on and on I'll go, climbing higher and higher throughout the night...and in and out of days, and into a week, to land of the bizarre--Manitou. There I will observe from on high as fruitcakes are flung with reckless abandon through the thin mountain air, going ever farther and ever higher until-*POP*!-the balloon is struck! Luckily it is only a small hole, but as panic wells up within me as I begin, I begin raining down frisbees into the unsuspecting audience to lighten the load. Not understanding the intent, they begin firing fruitcake after fruitcake at me, emptying what seems like a never-ending arsenal of preservative-laden cakes. As I'm repeatedly struck with the hard and uneaten baked goods, I plummet to the earth. In those brief moments before impact, I embrace and reflect upon the brighter moments in my young life when with a violent bounce, I land in a large pile of empty plastic bottles on their way to be recycled in the back of a truck! And who says sustainability doesn't save lives? Yes, I am in the back of an open bed truck on top of a pile of empty plastic 2 liters cruising down the Highway 24. What a stroke of luck! As we pass cars confused by the sight of empty bottles strewn across the roadway and the overlarge but limp tomato balloon, I decide to jump out at the next light and begin the hike home. While I am out of frisbees and lucky to be alive, my adventure continues. Unfortunately, I'm not going to get into the experience with the band of genetically-modified wolverines, the door-to-door fundraising drive with the local girl scout troupe, or my experiences riding a small pony named "Bill" that I liberated from an unregistered parking lot carnival, it will take me a few days to make the 6 mile trip--shower, shave and return to work. I will see you then and if you see me in the balloon, the name is Nick.

Thank you for what you do for our city and our community!

Nick Kittle

Administrative Services and Innovation

Siren's song

I am out of the office and return on Tuesday February 26th. For immediate help, skip below.  For a more amusing diversion, read on.

While the snow is dumping down here, it means that fresh snow is left behind like vibrant contrails streaking the stony spine of the Rockies.  With this call--this siren's call--I can't say no.  I will be traversing untold icy paths to present myself at the base of such great ski behoths as A-Basin, Breckenridge and Keystone.  I will offer myself up, and they will judge me.  They will throw the groomed trails and the tree trails at me.  The blues and the blacks hope to transfer to my skin like some macabre graft--but I won't let them.  NO!  Flake by flake and trail by trail I will methodically manhandle these majestic mountains, leaving carved trails through untouched snow.  At the end of epic battle, I will unstrap the skis, face the mountains, and bow.  Respect.

So it probably won't be totally like that, but I feel like its in the ball park.

Thank you for what you do for our city and our community!

Nick Kittle

Administrative Services and Innovation

Zac Brown

I will be out of the office this afternoon and return next week—I will ask you to skip below if you need immediate assistance, but as always please read on if you want to know more….

Yes, I know its spreading like wildfire and you have a burning question for me—and to answer your question: yes, I will be at the Zac Brown Band show at Red Rocks this afternoon.  To answer your very pointed follow-up questions: Yes, I packed a poncho in case it rains.  Yes, my favorite song is “Toes”.  No, I will not be the guy wearing the band’s t-shirt to the concert.  Yes, I will be the guy who sings along to the songs I know.  Yes, I’m bringing a lighter in case it gets all emotional up in there.  No, I won’t eat a burrito before I go in—too much in the stomach—probably just some beef jerky.

All good questions and I’m glad I could answer them!

Thank you for what you do for our city and our community!

Nick Kittle

Administrative Services and Innovation

June 7, 2013-Last Day working for Colorado Springs

For those that would like to keep in touch after I leave the city, my email is kittlent@msn.com and I would very much like to continue relationships that may have mutual benefit going forward.  With that said, I'm also on LinkedIn, Foursquare, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (@kittlent), so let's stay in touch.  Beyond that...This may not be the best I've had to give, but it is the last I have to give.

The sun rises and blazes bright with dawning orange. An aging and resolute man looks across a field and sees the endless sea of wheat before him, wondering what lies beyond. He has tended this stand for as long as he can remember, and as he reflects, the grain on the end of the stalks turn from red to orange to yellow as the sun rises higher.  The wind causes them to dance gently and shimmer hypnotically, and the gentle susurration erases the thoughts of a world beyond, insisting that all the answers are right here in this--this grain before him. It feeds his family. It gives him purpose.  He does not need more.  While the insistent edges of nearby communities come closer with bustle and people, he has solitude in the grain.  The earth.  The soil.  He toils hard with the land, a cycle repeating itself year over year in a capricious challenge of weather and wheat--some years have been better than others.  But still he's had purpose.  And still he's stood strong.

And he wonders no more about what lies beyond because he knows this is HIS poem.  His prose.  His purpose.  And it matters to him.  It matters.

Be sure you live a life of purpose and one that matters.  I will too.

Thank you for what you do for our city and our community!

Nick Kittle

Administrative Services and Innovation