Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ed Quillen Died This Week

Ed Quillen died this past Sunday.  Long-time readers of the Denver Post will recognize Quillen as a regular columnist whom I always regarded as the local curmudgeon.  There were some recurring themes in Ed's columns that I always regarded fondly.

At the top of the list was his impatience with people who built houses in one of the Stupid Zones.  Colorado has several different types of Stupid Zone: "...flood plains, unstable soil, wildlife corridors, flash-point forests, avalanche runs, etc."  When you build a house in one of the heavily-wooded areas in Colorado's foothills or mountains, one where 100 years of fire suppression policy has allowed enormous fuel loads to build up on the ground, where you are one lightning strike in a dry year away from a catastrophic forest fire, and then demand that public officials provide you with fire protection, well, that's pretty standard for the Stupid Zone.

Another of my favorites concerned "exporting" Colorado natural resources to other states.  Historically, Colorado consumers enjoyed some of the lowest prices for natural gas in the country.  Over the last 20 years, it is possible to determine when new pipelines capable of carrying gas out of the state to other markets were opened or expanded: local prices took a significant step up.  Ed liked to point out that if lawmakers (and he accused members of both political parties) really cared about consumers to the degree they said they did, they would oppose such pipelines.  IIRC, in at least one case he suggested that the governor could best serve Colorado consumers by blowing up a couple of the newer, larger ones.

I will sorely miss his conversations with his favorite inside source, Ananias Ziegler, media relations director for the Committee That Really Runs America.  Ananias was fond of calling Ed to see how the latest piece of misdirection by the political classes would play with the common man.  I've always wondered if politicians and their handlers ever read Ed's columns, and if so, if they asked themselves, "Does what we're saying really sound that stupid?"

Occasionally Ed wrote about computers.  He started writing on PCs in 1984, he assembled some of his own machines, he held strong opinions about the overall (in his opinion) poor quality of Microsoft products, and was a Linux fan.  He had a possibly unique form of off-premises back-up storage: "old coffee cans filled with backups on optical disks."  Since Ed was able to, as circumstances required, access years-old files from his backups, it's hard to argue with the method.

Did I say "curmudgeon" in the opening paragraph?  Sadly, Ed was only 61 when he died.  Which is close enough to my own age to put me in the curmudgeon category.  I guess I need to complain about things more often when I'm writing here.

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