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Summit Up

Summit County, CO Colorado

Good morning, and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column that has a real problem with the whole altitude/elevation confusion.

We admit we’re guilty of it ourselves ” check out the little signature at the top of this page:”Where altitude is more than just a state of mind.”

While that technically might be correct, we think that there’s plenty of evidence indicating that the proper word there would be “elevation.”

Ask any pilot to tell you the difference: Altitude is the height above ground, while elevation is the amount of relief of the ground above sea level, and people are always messing it up, which bothers us to no end.

“What’s the altitude of Quandary Peak?” you’ll hear people say, when they should be asking about the elevation.

No less a luminary than Benjamin Franklin seemed to have been confused when he said: “Drink not to elevation.”

(We think ol’ Ben may have been drinking thusly before flying a kite in a freakin’ electric storm, but we take it to mean that one shouldn’t imbibe to the point at which one’s feet no longer are on the ground ” gaining altitude. That’s good advice.)

Now Franklin was pretty smart ” he invented the Franklin stove, bifocals and the flexible urinary catheter, for goodness sake! ” so he may get a pass, since he lived before aeroplanes were even invented and the word “altitude” hardly was common.

Anyway, we know that millions of Summit Up readers find amusement in this sort of quaint error on our pages, but we think it’s high time we bring it to an end.

In days of old, we used to change the phrase almost daily, allowing us to use taglines like: “Dishwasher top-rack safe” and “I’m just here for the gefilte fish.”We’re not sure if millions of Summit Up readers will tolerate such nonsense or not … but then again, you already do! We’re open to suggestions, that’s for sure.


Responding on our column last week commemorating the 50th anniversary of The Day the Music Died, reader Sam Sherstad of Frisco writes: You hit on one of my favorite trivia questions when you asked who gave up his seat on that fateful plane ride (Waylon Jennings). Your article mentioned two more great musicians that bring up some other trivia questions:

1. John Lennon was best man in which American monk-turned-actor’s wedding?

2. What is Bob Dylan’s real name?”

We’ve got the answers below.


Also, reader John C. Buckles of Vought Aircraft writes: “I was at the crash site shortly after it happened. I used to have some pictures, but they are long gone. As I remember, it was very cold that morning.”

Yes, it was. In fact, one reason that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper chose to fly that day out of Clear Lake, Iowa, was because the heater on their tour bus wasn’t working, and drummer Carl Bunch already had succumbed to frostbitten feet.


On another subject, we’ve got a Smarty Pants alert!! Smarty Pants alert!! Dillon resident Katherine Orlin, a Northeastern University student majoring in nursing, was named to the dean’s list for the fall semester of 2008. Northeastern, for those of you who may not know, is located in Boston ” and here we thought that Boston isn’t a college town! (Extra points if you get the reference.)


Speaking of smarty pants, were you sharp enough to get the answers to Sam’s questions?

They are Peter Boyle and Robert Zimmerman.

And just to keep you honed on your music trivia, answer us this: Sir Michael Philip Jaggar earned a scholarship to what esteemed institute of higher education before going on to fame as the front man of a certain celebrated rock ‘n’ roll band? If you know it, e-mail the answer to us at

It’s Wednesday, and we can’t get no satisfaction. No, no, no!

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