An open letter to John Vazquez

Re: John Vazquez: To the taxpayers of Clearview Library District

Dear Mr. Vazquez,

I was disheartened in reading your opinion piece in the Greeley Tribune regarding Clearview Library District 6C, not because you oppose the measure – of course, every private citizen is entitled their stance – but because you base your assertions on premises that are not accurate.

You stated that this ballot initiative appears again unmodified but perhaps didn’t realize that the request is an 8% reduction from the previous year, reducing the mill request by 0.515 or 17%.  Years ago, in a cost-cutting measure, my company cut employee pay by 5% and I can personally attest to hard decisions that even a single digit reduction prompts on a budget. Like you, I support school districts, which is why I understand why Greeley District 6 tried 3 times before their Mill Levy increased. The need persists, despite ignoring warning signs.

The new location is more central to residents of Severance and West Greeley (who are also part of the Windsor RE-4 school district), on a roadway more convenient for all residents. I was also surprised that as the former mayor, you are not aware of the Windsor Lake Trail that already has an exit to the proposed library site. This trail unlocks safe access for residents north of Main Street while adding connections for those south of Main Street through stop lights and crosswalks. My 5-year-old just rode to the new proposed site from the current library last weekend, which can be viewed at http://bit.ly/CLDCycling

The proposed temporary Mill Levy in 6C (6.131) is still 1.5 mills lower than the Fire District mill and bond, still lower than what residents pay for Aims Community College. These services, each with their own missions are all equally important, preserving and enhancing the quality of life in our town. The increased amount will drop 75% after the building is paid off, to a point that’s three mills below the current Fire District.

Your assertion that 5% of community library use is simply not true. 69% of Windsor residents have a library card, and in 2017, the library logged over 247,000 visits into the building using a door-counter sensor. I’d invite you and all residents to view a timelapse of a video I took of the library entrance just last Wednesday: http://bit.ly/CLDTimeLapse

As for what services will be offered that aren’t offered now? Visit the Clearview Library website and see that the dedicated maker space, dedicated children and teen sections that isolate noise from the rest of the library, a computer lab, and meeting rooms for groups of all sizes are all part of the new location that aren’t available at the 3rd Street location.

I know this is a big decision for all of our residents, and respect that we all may not arrive at the same conclusion, but as a former public official, I’m sure you can appreciate the need for accurate information when basing important decisions.

Your neighbor,

Jeromey Balderrama

Balderrama Beach Bums 2018

We just wrapped up a most memorable week in beautiful Surf City, North Carolina, with the Balderrama Beach Bums (BBB 2018).

We had been on the search for a perfect spot to spend a week at the beach that started with Hawaii, but after looking at costs and travel times, we decided to stay within the mainland. The search started with Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, then kept moving up towards the north and finding the best value – and I think we found it on Topsail Island and Surf City.

We stayed at a beautiful house that was right on the beach, which was the main reason for choosing Surf City. With traveling with 4 kids 6 & under, I was worried about packing everything up for a day at the beach, then having one of the kids get sick of it after 30 minutes and want to go back.  For a reasonable price, we couldn’t beat this level of access and the flexibility to work around nap times and taking breaks from being in the sun.

The beach itself was beautiful, with soft, fine sand and ocean water that felt like a warm bath. I was a bit fearful about the level of humidity we’d get in North Carolina in July, but it was definitely at a bearable level for us Colorado wimps. One of the best aspects of this beach was the fact that that it was not crowded. Most of the people there were occupants in the house, and while there were public access points, it still seemed very low-key, giving the illusion of seclusion.

Surf City itself is a very charming town that was very welcoming to guests, embracing the interest and growth. Every business and local we encountered seemed genuinely glad to have the people there, unlike some other destination towns that seem resentful of the tourists.  What also made Surf City ideal was that there were not many temptations away from the beach.  We had little outings that we went to each afternoon to get out of the sun, but the beach remained the main focus and felt timeless as if we were living in a Corona commercial.

While there seemed to be a lot of dining options, we found our favorites pretty quickly and went back a few times. Some places that we loved:

Surf Dog Bits and Brews – they were so friendly and accommodating. The food and beer were a great casual options, and they were really awesome with our kids.

Salty Turtle Beer Company – a new craft brewery that opened up and was a relaxing way to beat the heat. I was a big fan of La Surfeza (a cool play on words with Cerveza – Spanish for “beer”).

Topsail Steamer – a cool concept that’s basically a “take & bake” for steaming seafood. They give you everything – including the bucket – to steam everything and have a cajun boil at home.

However a ProTip: don’t drink the broth. It made Wednesday night a really bad one for me and also took me out of commission on Thursday.

Overall this turned out to be a really relaxing trip, with absolutely no regrets.  If you are looking for a beach vacation, we couldn’t recommend Surf City enough.

Drumming to support St. Jude’s

I’m honored to be taking part in the Drumming Up Hope Foundation’s 3rd annual Drum-A-Thon to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospitals.  On Friday, May 25 at 6 pm, I’ll be doing my part to carry on the 81 hours of continuous group drumming over 4 days, and am looking for generous souls to sponsor me in this cause.  100% of your donation will go towards St. Jude’s Children Hospital.  Any amount, no matter how small, will go a long way towards supporting this great cause.

Donate $10 – Request A Drum-along Song

While drummers are taking various approaches to their hours, I am dedicating my time to playing along with requests made by donors. For every $10 you donate, you can request any song and I’ll add it to my drum-along mix and will send you a video later on if you’d like.  Do you have a favorite song that has an awesome drum part? Perhaps you have a song that you’d like me to give my take and provide a drum remix? Maybe you’ve always wanted to hear a heavy drum remix to one of your favorite Disney songs? You could even just mess with me and throw me a curveball in the form of a classical song – I’ll play anything you’d like!

I only ask two things of your request:

  1. That it clocks in at less than 5 minutes or so (no In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida unless you’re willing to donate $40)
  2. That there’s a clean version of the song since the event is family-friendly.

Use the button below to donate and write your song request in the “Special Instructions” or email it to me at romeyinfc [at] Gmail [dot] com.  If you’d prefer not to use PayPal, please email me and we can set up alternate arrangements.

[Removed the button since this is now over – thank you to all those that helped!]

Also, I’d love for you to come out and join me at the Drumathon at Thunder Mountain Amphitheatre in Loveland. Admission is free and I’ll be there Friday, May 25 from 6pm-7pm, but the drumming start 10 am Thursday, May 24 and carries forth through Sunday, May 27 at 7 pm. Bring your own ear plugs!

Thank you so much for your support! I’m super pumped for this awesome event!

Photographing Undercover Bear

I need to confess something. I really hadn’t used my DSLR since Christmas before taking these pictures.   This has been in large part of being busy, but also in part that my iPhone has been pretty good lately capturing snapshots of my family, combined with the fact that many activities have been out in the winter weather and didn’t want to risk the elements damaging my equipment – not the best solution, I know.  My band also spent most of the winter hunkered down and recording, not playing many shows and thus not many opportunities to shoot bands.

Undercover Bear asked us to play their CD release show in late March, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to play with the Whisk(e)y’s lighting. Undercover Bear did an awesome job in creating some really memorable moments in their shows, with their choice of instruments, solos, changing off singers and even a wardrobe/accessory change.  They had a packed room and awesome crowd, which made for a fun shoot.

Why Google Chat won’t fix messaging

Exclusive: Chat is Google’s next big fix for Android’s messaging mess

The fact that they’re looking to fix Android’s messaging mess and not everyone’s messaging mess is why this will probably fail yet again.

Real-time messaging (be it SMS or real-time chat) is an absolute cluster, not for lack of innovation, for an inability to reconcile the needs of the users over each company’s own goals, resulting in some very draconian restrictions.

I’ve been using GChat/Hangouts for well over a decade, in daily conversations with my wife and family.  We have a basic set of needs:

  1. Enabled for real-time chat
  2. Ability to receive and respond to notifications across both desktop and mobile phone
  3. Group chat capability
  4. Ability to share pictures and other media
  5. Have a large user base and a lower barrier to entry for new users

Hangouts has been solid but also is neglected by Google.  Now their latest focus is to shift Hangouts for Enterprise use and deprecate it for consumers.  Supposedly they were steering everyone to using Allo, and I remember being very excited its pending release – and then it came and underwhelmed.  What made Allo fail out the gate was the fact that it was tied to your phone number and only one device, so you couldn’t use it from a tablet, let alone a desktop.  Over a year later Google came up with this jenky workaround to have your phone forward chat notifications to a desktop, but worked unreliably and required you to have the app open on your phone.  Given they hampered a key feature of Hangouts, it all but wrote it’s failed destiny and is why it hasn’t been adopted.

I don’t see much difference with Chat. From the article, it seems to be driven by whether carriers will pick up the protocol. That’s well and good to get Android the same features that iMessage enjoys on iPhones, but does little for anyone else on the desktop or using an iOS device. By limiting their goals, Google will once again doom themselves to failure.

I’ve looked a lot of other messaging tools, but each one has its own set of problems. iMessage is designed to promote the sale of Apple devices, which is why you won’t ever see a Windows or Android client (removing #2 and #5). Signal, Telegram, and WhatsApp are all great apps with a lot of functionality but don’t have a big userbase and it’s hard to compel people to switch (with the caveat that WhatsApp is big for my international friends).  Facebook Messanger comes closest in terms of offering all the features, but feels really slimy and intrusive to use – and yes, I know that Google reaps the same benefits from inputting my personal information, but you’ve seen a lot more callous coming from Facebook lately.  Skype has been pivoting more into the messaging space, but they’ve had a bad spam problem and I’m not convinced people’s Skype contacts reflects all of their everyday chat contacts. The only time I go to Skype is to make a video call.

If Hangouts vanished overnight, I think I’d reluctantly migrate most of my activity to FB Messager.  It’s frustrating that Google is one few companies that has the clout and wherewithol to tackle this problem, but they’re hampered by their own blinders.  Until then we’re just confined to the ticking clock of neglected consumer Hangouts.