April 2021 . Issue 10.4
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For those who live here and for those who wish they did.
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Contents April Valley Voice
Howl'n Howelsen Hill
More Affordable Health Care
Federal Income Tax Fun Facts
By Matt Scharf
By Angela Cosby/ Parks and Rec Director By Dylan Roberts/ State Representative By Scott L. Ford
April Foolery Page 7 By Karen Vail
Hayden Community Center Rollout
April Foolery/ Continued/ Answers
Tidbits From Our Past
The People Next Door
We're All Bozos On This Bus
By Brodie Farquhar By Karen Vail
Publisher/Art Director: Matt Scharf email@example.com Sales:
Eric Kemper firstname.lastname@example.org
By Ellen & Paul Bonnifield By Fran Conlonl
By Stuart Handloff
Spring Changes Page 13 By Wolf Bennett
Valley Voice is published monthly and distributed on the last Wednesday of each month. Please address letters, questions, comments or concerns to: Valley Voice, LLC, P.O. Box 770743 or come by and see us at 1125 Lincoln Ave, Unit 2C, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477. Or contact Matt Scharf: 970-846-3801.
Worth the Search
Takes Heart From the French
The Virtual Classroom
Website www.valleyvoicecolorado.com. Subscription rate is $40 per year (12 issues). All content © 2021 Valley Voice, L.L.C. No portion of the contents of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission from the Valley Voice.
Twilight Page 15
By Angie Gamble By Ted Crook
By Fran Conlin By Joan Remy
The Mess Page 16 By Aimee Kimmey
April Fool Page 17
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By Sean Derning
Your Monthly Message By Chelsea Yepello
Comics Page 19
If you are interested in advertising your business in the Valley Voice, please contact Matt Scharf at email@example.com or 970-846-3801 (We are the most affordable in town!)
People that feel a need to carry a gun in a grocery store and kill innocent people… The never- ending construction project on the corner that always ends up blocking two streets… Expert medical opinions from people who can’t balance a checkbook… The high cost of lumber… The cost of health insurance for the self-employed… The fear of low water levels statewide… Trying to figure out your invisible stimulus money as income… Tax season…
Raves... Having community residents cheer and applaud those who received the COVID vaccine when departing from the clinic… Steamboat high school boys’ basketball going deep in the state tournament playoffs… The return of red winged blackbirds to the Yampa Valley... Institutions that aren’t for sale… After a long year – it’s Tournament Time! Planning the summer motorcycle trips with friends… People watching on the core trail, aka, the Little Autobahn…
Say What?... “Lemme get this straight; a youth baseball tournament organization wants to sue our town so that they can have their event here? If they’re going to be that childish, shouldn’t the case be heard in juvenile court?” “I believe the town takes its name from the Ute word for Elderly Caucasian” “Me! It’s what’s for dinner!” “You are too nice and young to be an OG.”
We go to press April 26th for the May 2021 Edition! Send in your submissions by April 16th!
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Food trucks are an essential part of people's days. They are important to the fabric of feeding people, like hotel chefs cooking breakfasts or for weddings. — Roy Choi
April Valley Voice By Matt Scharf About the cover: The cover concept for the April edition is to simply show the importance of livestock in Routt County. The beloved bovine on the cover can sear the guilt while you sit and eat your tasty burger or realize they are a precious resource here. I love animals to a fault, but I respectfully say, “Please pass the salt.”
City of Steamboat Springs
Howl'n Howelsen Hill By Angela Cosby / Parks and Recreation Director
Let’s take a closer look at some of the bigger projects underway over the coming months:
Thank you all around: I cannot express enough gratitude and thanks to all our Advertisers and Contributors that come together every month to make the Valley Voice happen. It wouldn't exist without you. I tip my hat and bow my head in appreciation. Like spring, I see the Valley Voice growing in the coming months as we watch this pandemic pack its bags and get the hell out of here.
• New Triple Chairlift: A new era begins in 2021/2022 when a new $3 million Skytrac triple chairlift is installed through a partnership with The VF Foundation, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and the City of Steamboat Springs. The new chairlift base will move closer to the historic lodge providing convenient access a more defined base area. The 33-year-old workhorse of a lift will be removed this spring and construction on the new triple will run continuously through winter. Areas around the base area and along the new lift line will see closures and impacts.
Attention graphic designers: Being a graphic designer for over forty years, I highly recommend watching Helvetica a documentary film by Gary Hustwit. It's available to watch through Kanopy in the Bud Werner Library's website. It's about the history and use of typography (mainly Helvetica) and how it affects our lives through visual communication. For some people it will be like watching paint dry. Personally I was riveted to it by the power of design, and the effects of typography on all of us. Enjoy! Other tidbits: It looks like Old Man Winter could have used some help dumping more snow on us this season. Locals are use to a lot more snow. A lot more! Do you remember the 2007-08 season? Holy cow! That was a deep year. 489 inches total! President’s Day dumped 27 inches – biggest powder day for me. I think Buddy's statue up top was completely covered that year. The only thing visible was the snorkel somebody added! Get ready for an incredibly busy spring and summer this year. Some people want all events gone and gates closed to give us some peace around here. I believe the visitors will show up regardless. Who wouldn't want to escape the city life to just walk the core trail? We are very lucky to live here.
• Winter Tubing: With the new lift as well as other infrastructure changes, winter tubing returns to the historic ski hill for the upcoming season. A small surface lift will take tubers to the top of the 400-foot-long tubing lanes on lower Mile Run. The new tubing season is anticipated to run from late December to mid- to late-March.
First, THANK YOU for a wonderful winter and ensuring that historic Howelsen Park was able to operate all season long. It goes without saying that the efforts employed by staff and everyone who visited the ski area, rodeo arena, and ice complex made the difference!
• Rodeo Ground Paving Project: In the works for several years, RCD Construction, Inc. will set approximately 2,100 tons of asphalt paving, 830 square yards of concrete sidewalk, 2,000 linear feet of curb & gutter, 2,723 linear feet of storm pipe, stormwater quality facility, signage, and miscellaneous drainage work before the end of October. Currently, the lot is comprised of dirt and a small amount of payment. The new coverage will reduce air particulates, direct storm water to designated channels and provide needed off-site downtown parking.
When we look back, I hope we see the ways we came together as a community to battle this pandemic instead of focusing on what we might have missed out on. From innovative outdoor ideas to new ways of doing business and providing recreation, our city park crown jewel shined brightly.
• Howelsen Ice Complex Expansion: The expansion will consist of a 4,200-square-foot addition to the lobby area with new women’s locker room, bathrooms, and an office on the first floor. Above that, a new ice viewing area, youth programing space, food preparation kitchen, bathrooms, and office space round out the expansion.
When you think it was just a year ago that the ski hill closed and the facilities across Howelsen Park were shut down… Wow, have we come a long way in the past year! Take for example, the Howelsen Huts A-Frames, the community sledding hill, outdoor ice rinks and extended dedicated grooming of the cross-county trails. An out-of-sight park feature even received national recognition with the designation of the Sulphur Cave & Spring as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.
Howelsen Park embodies the heart and soul of our community. The skiing and ranching history and town culture it has inspired are legendary across the globe. Generations of residents have learned to ski, jump, skate, and rodeo here, and lessons learned have taken nearly 100 of our friends and neighbors to the Winter Games. These improvements will ensure the heartbeat of this special place beats long and loud.
However, much more is in store for the park as we look to the future. Starting this summer, numerous improvement projects will get underway to make for an enhanced experience. During the projects, there will surely be some inconveniences in getting around and accessing your favorite activities. Please keep in mind, we are working to make your favorite park better!
Electric bicycle? Or electric motorcycle? Either way, this is the coolest one spotted in town! Kevin gave me the full rundown on this amazing machine. - M.S.
For those who live here and for those who wish they did.
To all who bid on a chair from the Barrows Lift, your unwavering enthusiasm and support is greatly appreciated. We were overwhelmed with the response and shocked to raise an estimated $85,000 for the Howelsen Endowment Fund. Donations to this fund maintain, operate, and improve the Howelsen Hill Ski Area today and for generations to come. While the summer will offer some logistical challenges with the array of improvement projects taking place, the result will be so worth it – both immediately and for decades to come. Thank you for your understanding and patience while we make this crown jewel sparkle even brighter for our community!
State Representative/ Eagle and Routt Counties
A Path to More Affordable Health Care By Dylan Roberts
In March, we marked one year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Colorado. In Routt County alone, so far, over 2,000 people contracted the virus and 19 individuals have died from it. As we take time to grieve lives lost and sacrifices made, it is also important that we reflect on the inequities that this pandemic threw into light. For everyone in Routt County who had sick family members, were hospitalized themselves, struggled with new or worsening mental illness, or paused vital preventative care, the slow-rolling crisis of prohibitively expensive healthcare has become personal. We have reached an inflection point. Colorado has some of the highest health insurance costs in the nation and many parts of our state, including Routt County, has no choice on the individual market. Eightynine percent of uninsured Coloradans say price is the reason they lack insurance and 1 in 6 Colorado counties only have one plan on the individual market. According to the 2019 Colorado Health Access Survey, mountain regions have the highest uninsured rates in the state. In 2019, Routt County had an uninsured rate of 11.2%—2.0 points worse than the national average. With the onset of the pandemic and the subsequent job loss, those numbers have gotten worse. That is unacceptable. As a legislator, my constituents depend on me to find solutions even if it looks impossible. It’s my job to come to the table with bold ideas, and that is why my colleagues and I introduced a bill at the State Capitol to lower health insurance costs and increase access to care—the Colorado Option. Last year, as the pandemic swept through the country, we decided not to pursue a bill creating a new public option for health care. This year, we are asking the healthcare industry to meet us halfway. This new bill gives the free market the next two and half years to lower costs on the individual market, aiming for a 20% reduction in monthly premiums by the end of 2024. If the industry can meet the reduction goal, then we will all benefit from lower cost insurance plans available in every county. But if they cannot or will not meet that goal, the state will then offer the Colorado Option: an insurance plan for the individual and small-group market available in every county at an affordable price for those who choose to buy it.
This two-phased approach takes the industry at their word; allowing them time to recover from COVID and to work collaboratively to save Coloradans money on their healthcare. But it also guarantees that if they cannot or will not accomplish these goals on their own, the state will ensure a new, affordable health insurance option becomes available without further delay.
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In both cases, Coloradans win—all those who need care will be able to access it and those who like their current coverage can stay on it. Increased affordability, covered essential health benefits, and affordable deductibles will be available to everyone. The bill also addresses disparities that are tied to race, income, disability, or location. Further, the plan will bolster small hospitals who are doing vital work for little-to-no profit. And importantly, this will all be done without raising taxes. Those who are happy with their current insurance do not need to buy this new plan. But they will still reap the benefits—studies show that a public option will lower premiums across our state by 9-18% for everyone; competition is a good thing. It's no surprise that national special interest groups have dumped dark money into fighting this bill. Your screens are already being bombarded by a multi-million-dollar ad campaign that spreads misinformation. Don't fall for it. This negative campaign is bankrolled by big out-of-state corporations that are protecting the status quo: a system that reaps massive profits for executives but has left too many of our neighbors without adequate or affordable health care. So many people have come to the virtual table to debate and discuss this proposal and we are grateful for their voices. We are confident that making Coloradans healthier and saving them money is something we can all get behind. In Colorado we do not shy away from tackling our biggest challenges and we know that there’s no problem we cannot solve when we do it together. Let’s get to work.
Representative Dylan Roberts represents Routt County and Eagle County in the Colorado General Assembly
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April is the beginning of Mud Season in Routt County. April is also Tax Filing Season. Without question, the IRS keeps exceptionally good track of us. All sorts of information is captured from our federal tax returns. This cornucopia of data is subsequently used by a host of federal agencies ranging from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Census Bureau. The IRS makes this information on an aggregate basis available to the public. This month I will take a deep dive into the IRS Master File and see what it reveals about Routt County federal income tax filers.
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As a note of explanation, there are some returns that report little to no taxable income. These low-income returns are often associated with seniors who likely are fully or mostly dependent upon Social Security for their income. In 2020 if an individual filer's income from all sources including Social Security was $25,000 or less, Social Security benefits are exempt from taxes. The income limit for joint filers is $32,000.
15.9% Net Capital Gains 47.5% Wages/ Salary 2018 Tax Returns Filed by Week 47.5% Wages/ Salary
1-Feb 8-Feb 15-Feb 22-Feb 1-Mar 8-Mar 15-Mar 22-Mar 29-Mar 5-Apr 12-Apr 19-Apr 10% 8% 7% 7% 6% 5% 5% 5% 6% 7% 10% 11%
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of growth is occurring with returns that are reporting an AGI of $100K or more. Most of that growth is associated with returns that report an AGI more than $200K which has more than doubled over the past eight years.
The year of 2020 was a vastly different year. The pandemic fouled a lot of things up and the IRS Master File is When it comes to filing taxes collectively, we can best no exception. For example, the tax filing deadline for 2019of Taxable Routt County Sources Income inour 2008 be described as a bunch of procrastinators. Slightly over taxes was extended from April 15th to July 15th. The tax Routt County Sources of Taxable Income in 2008 Unemployment 20% of us wait until the last two weeks before taxes are data from 2019 tax is not yet summarized. Therefore, due before filing. In addition, abut 12% request an extenI will be using 2018 tax Unemployment data for this deep dive. State Tax Refunds sion to the deadline and file on the very last possible date State Refunds of October 15th. Using the IRS Master File, the Tax table below is a look back 2.2% Social Security over the past eight years of income tax filings. What this 2.2% Social 2.9% Interest Taking a very deep dive into the data also identifies the data shows is that over the pastSecurity eight years the number sources of our income. of returns increased by Interest 10.5%, the aggregate adjusted 2.9% 3.9% Self Employment gross income (AGI) increased by 66% and the average AGI 3.9% Classifying wages/salary, self-employment, and S-Corp per return increased by Self about 50%. ThisAnnuities data is tangible Employment 7.4% IRAs, Pensions, distributions as labor source income of the $1.4 Billion in evidence that supports the statement that Routt County is IRAs, Annuities 7.4% total AGI in 2018, about 61% of it came from our workrapidly growing more affluent. 9.5% S-CorpPensions, Distributions ing efforts. The sources of this labor income come from a 9.5% S-Corp Distributions Dividends diverse spectrum of industries. This perhaps will be the This next table highlights how the personal income 10.2% topic of next month’s column. landscape in Routt County is changing. The fastest rate 10.2% Dividends 15.9% Net Capital Gains
Routt County Federal Income Tax Fun Facts
Number of Returns Number Returns Adjustedof Gross Income ($000 omitted)
Adjusted Gross Income Average ($000 omitted)AGI per Return Average AGI per Return
2011 2011 12,222
Routt County Routt 2012 2013 County 2014
2015 2015 12,940
2016 2016 13,170
2017 2017 13,410
2018 2018 13,510
12,222 $990,715 12,300 $898,073 12,630 $1,027,562 12,840 $1,100,121 12,940 $1,170,202 13,170 $1,262,248 13,410 $1,410,431 13,510 $848,410 $848,410 $990,715 $898,073 $1,027,562 $1,100,121 $1,170,202 $1,262,248 $1,410,431 $69,417 $80,546 $71,106 $80,028 $85,017 $88,854 $94,127 $104,399 $69,417 $80,546 $71,106 $80,028 $85,017 $88,854 $94,127 $104,399
Routt County - Distribution of Tax Returns by Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Routt County - Distribution of Tax Returns by Adjusted Gross 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Income 2017 (AGI) 2018
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3162 Elk River Road, P.O. Box 772498 Steamboat Springs, CO 80487
Under $1 Under $1 $10,000 $1 under $1 underunder $10,000 $10,000 $25,000 $10,000 under $25,000 under $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $50,000 under under $50,000 $75,000 $50,000 under $75,000 $75,000 under $100,000 $75,000 under $100,000 $100,000 under $200,000 $100,000 under $200,000 $200,000 or more $200,000 or more
TOTAL TOTAL For those who live here and for those who wish they did.
472 2,444 2,444 1,759
420 1,650 1,650 2,420
400 1,730 1,730 2,470
320 1,620 1,620 2,550
330 1,540 1,540 2,410
320 1,590 1,590 2,350
300 1,510 1,510 2,230
340 1,460 1,460 2,090
1,759 2,943 2,943 1,674
2,420 2,990 2,990 1,640
2,470 3,030 3,030 1,650
2,550 3,130 3,130 1,640
2,410 3,200 3,200 1,640
2,350 3,220 3,220 1,680
2,230 3,300 3,300 1,780
2,090 3,270 3,270 1,850
1,674 1,069 1,069 1,311 1,311 550 550
1,640 1,090 1,090 1,420 1,420 670 670
1,650 1,140 1,140 1,510 1,510 700 700
1,640 1,170 1,170 1,630 1,630 780 780
1,640 1,200 1,200 1,760 1,760 860 860
1,680 1,160 1,160 1,890 1,890 960 960
1,780 1,240 1,240 1,960 1,960 1,090 1,090
1,850 1,160 1,160 2,140 2,140 1,200 1,200
April Foolery By Karen Vail Test Your Knowledge!
Don’t you love April when Mother Nature throws just as many pranks at us as we play on ourselves? Let’s take her, and you, up on the challenge and get into some April foolery. Below are statements that are either true or full of horse pucky. Before you look at the answers see if you can choose which ones are factual statements. No peeking!!
1 The largest living organism, biomass-wise, is an aspen. 2 White snowsnakes are very camouflaged in the snowpack. 3 Raccoons wash their food before eating it. 4 Loggerhead Shrikes impale their prey on spines and barbed wire. 5 Skunk cabbage grows in our county.
6 Climate change is fake news. 7 Coyote and badger often hunt together.
Photo by Karen Vail
Answers on Page 9
Now Who’s on First?
No, It’s What’s on 11th? ...It’s Steamboat Whiskey!
VISIT US 1103 Lincoln Ave in DOWNTOWN STEAMBOAT www.SteamboatWhiskeyCo.com 970-846-3534
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Hayden Community Center Rollout By Brodie Farquhar
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HAYDEN – As flowers spring up and unfurl in the spring, so too with the Hayden Community Center, which has all sorts of nifty plans and programs for the greater Hayden community. Since voters approved acquiring part of the old high school complex in November, and approved a 1-cent sales tax increase for repairs, renovations and operations, the site is gradually opening sections of the building and new programs. The recreation area and programs are the first out of the gate. Hours of operation for the recreation center are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Benefits of membership within the recreation division include full access to the weight and cardio rooms, full access to all fitnesss class offerings, and a 10 percent discount on room rentals and activities registration, such as soccer and wrestling. The weight room is open now, with more cardio equipment to be installed in May. Also coming are personal training classes said Matt Mendisco, town manager.
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For safety reasons, adult supervision is required at all times for children ages 12-13 using fitness, weight and cardio rooms; ages 11 and below are not permitted in the weight and cardio rooms or active fitness areas outside of scheduled activities where children of appropriate ages are allowed. Children ages 14 – 17 are allowed to use fitness areas without adult supervision once they pass a physical skills test administered by Town of Hayden Fitness Director displaying proper knowledge and use of weight and cardio equipment.
Fitness classes include Group Fitness, Mind Body, and Indoor Cycling (HC Membership required). Please bring your water bottle and fitness mat for all group classes. Be sure to register online or call 970-276-0500 to reserve your spot in our group fitness classes. Memberships are available on monthly, four-month and 12-month schedules, for adults, seniors, couples, youth, families and even drop-in prices. See the breakdown details at www.haydencolorado.com/haydencenter. For further information or registration for classes, call 970276-0500 or email Josh Jones or Jamie Boeri. Friends of Yampa Valley Arts will be partnering with the Hayden Community Center, to use a large stage and 350seat auditorium. The group was known as Friends of the Chief, but rebranded when they lost access to the Chief Theater in Steamboat, now undergoing renovations. Now, the group is expanding to Hayden and even Craig, and partnering with Perry-Mansfield. Mendisco said the center will also feature creative (painting) and dance arts, as renovations and asbestos remediation continues. Other rooms and programs that will emerge include an innovations workshop/work space, kitchen and space for non-profit groups to meet. Totally Kids, an after-school and summer program, will be a big focus for the center, with renovations and investments in new ventilation systems over the next year or so.
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April Foolery - Continued
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Answers from Page 7 1 The largest living organism,
There you go! Because of their wimpy feet they cannot tear the flesh off, so they impale their prey on a thorn or stick or barbed wire, etc. to rip the flesh away. Okay, then! Or they could leave it there to store for later, creating rather grisly scenes of dead body larders. A male might cache food in a larder by a nesting site for a nesting female, or they could have winter larders for when food is scarce. Check out the US Fish and Wildlife Service website for a PG-13 rated post with photos; “Loggerhead Shrikes: Tales from the Larder” Oct 25, 2018.
biomass-wise, is an aspen.
Yeppers! His name is Pando (“he” because aspen are either male or female) and he is found in Fishlake National Forest in south-central Utah. Pando, Latin for “I spread,” is a fitting description for this vast clonal species, in Pando’s case over 108 acres of one tree comprised of over 47,000 stems. He is estimated to weigh 6,600 tons making him the heaviest known organism. There is a lot of debate about how old Pando could be. Some say 80,000 to a million years old, others say more like 14,000. Regardless, Pando is extremely old, if not one of Earth’s most ancient living things. (Wikipedia and “Pando, One of the World’s Largest Organisms, Is Dying” Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, October 18, 2018)
5 Skunk cabbage grows in our county. NOT!! What everyone calls “skunk cabbage” is, in fact, false hellebore, also called corn husk lily, California false hellebore, etc. (Veratrum californicum var. californicum). Its imposter namesake, skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), a member of the arum family, is found in wetlands of northeastern North America and looks NOTHING like our tall, leafy false hellebore, a member of the lily family. So where might that name, skunk cabbage, have originated? Well, this is conjecture, but the very young plants do look like an elongated head of cabbage, and the plants do have a pungent, musky odor. Somebody said it, and it stuck. Could be, and now it is time to let it go and call it by its correct name!
2 White snowsnakes are very camouflaged in the snowpack.
Hah! They are pretty sneaky, aren’t they?!
3 Raccoons wash their food before eating it. Well, raccoons will dip food in water if it is handy, but they are not actually “washing” it. And raccoons definitely are not all about cleanliness! Yes, their name is Procyon lotor, literally “washing bear,” but the truth is scientists really aren’t quite sure why raccoons dip their food in water. Here is one theory: raccoons have very dexterous paws and they also have what are called slowly adapting nerves in their forepaws. Researchers found that wetting the skin increases the nerve responsiveness, giving them a more tactile experience and more information about what they are to eat. Because their eyesight is poor, this surely aides in their dining pleasure! (“Why Do Raccoons Wash Their Food?” Cristen Conger. Howstuffworks.com, Sept 17, 2018)
4 Loggerhead Shrikes impale their prey on spines and barbed wire.
Uh, yeah, gross, huh?! Years ago, during an International Migratory Bird Day count, we spotted a loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) on a barbed wire fence with a freshly killed rodent that it was impaling on the barbed wire. I could not believe my eyes! Even more gruesome might be how they kill their prey. They sit on an elevated perch scanning the ground then pounce on their prey. But they have these wimpy songbird feet and legs that cannot lift struggling prey, so they have to kill quickly. The “butcherbird” imparts a sharp bite using their hooked beak featuring a pair of pointy projections called “tomial teeth.” They pinch the prey’s neck to induce paralysis, then vigorously shake it to break its neck.
Climate change is fake news. If you believe this and are still reading my column, we need to talk…
7 Coyote and badger often hunt together. Makes for a great story doesn’t it? But it is absolutely true! Native Americans have passed down stories of the unlikely pairing, and early explorers and naturalists have documented the cooperative hunting. A 1992 study in Wyoming documented that coyotes and badgers are great hunting partners. Badgers are incredible diggers, finding their prey in underground tunnels where they often trap their prey by plugging up their burrows. Coyotes are the chase-and-pounce hunter, which only works if your prey is above ground! Coyotes hunting alongside badgers are more adept at snagging above ground prey, and they cover more ground with badgers than alone, increasing their hunting grounds. Badgers spend more time below ground when hunting with a coyote partner, suggesting they did not have to work as hard to find prey. Check out the US Fish and Wildlife photos in the article “Spotted! A Coyote and Badger Hunting Together” November 2,2016.
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Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever. — Charles Lamb
Tidbits From Our Past By Ellen and Paul Bonnifield
Many crossroad and main street stores failed and farm communities died. Company coal mining towns in the Oak Creek district soon discovered miners’ families were ordering COD and bypassing the company stores, thus breaking the mine operators’ total monopoly over their employees. The mining companies dared not openly challenge the Postal Service’s right to deliver the mail. Local newspapers across the nation during the post World War I decade (1920s) were filled with articles and comments berating chain stores and their impact on small town businesses. Despite the opposition, chain stores continued to grow. In June 1929, J. C. Penney replaced the Golden Rule Store in Steamboat Springs. Soon larger chains were replacing the smaller chains and so it has continued until this day.
An American candlestick telephone being used by Genevieve Clark Thomson, circa 1915 With all the computers, cell phones, and modern whim whams that wind up a sundown, it might be fun to look back – not so long ago – only a century more or less. In January 1913 the Postal Service began delivering parcel post and Vernal, Utah, welcomed it in its own way. Conventional freight rates were prohibitively high for delivery of bricks for a new bank building. So, arrangements were made with a brick company at Gary, Indiana. Each brick was individually wrapped, addressed, and mailed parcel post to Vernal. Newspapers across the nation picked up the story and it “went ballistic” for its day. The modern method of “ordering on line” with its lower prices, local tax evasion, larger selection of items to choose from, and replacement of local retail outlets and shopping malls is a cousin of parcel post with its COD (collect on delivery). It opened the way for large mail order houses – Montgomery Ward, Sears & Roebuck, and others. Through the mail, large catalogs featured pictures and prices of everything from clothing to saddles, farm wagons, and modern household gadgets. Most folks did not know such things existed. Everyone looked through the “wish books” and ordered COD. Mail order changed isolated rural communities and regions. The Yampa Leader commented, “We little fellows are only allowed to exist by the sufferance of the big fellows after all.”
Today newspapers struggle to survive, even in large cities. The Denver Post is a prime example; however, the trend is not new. In 1920, Craig had two thriving newspapers, as did Steamboat Springs. Hayden and Oak Creek had one newspaper each. The Yampa Leader merged with the Times. Twenty years later the Steamboat Pilot was the only weekly in Routt County and, during the 1950s, its survival depended on publishing legal notices. Although there were earlier moves to make way for the automobile, in 1915, the federal government began a system of national highways and internal improvements. With improved roads and more automobiles (as they were then called) more people were on the road giving birth to modern tourism and road signs. FM Light & Sons got in the game and put numerous signs reaching out into Grand, Jackson, and Moffat counties. The competition between Steamboat and Yampa/Oak Creek over the major route into Routt County – Gore Pass or Rabbit Ears – was keen. But, Sam Perry and his large stake in Steamboat had more influence over the state government and Rabbit Ears Pass became the principal entryway into the Valley. Steamboat became a prosperous tourist town and Yampa and Oak Creek faded. Following the completion of I-70, Eagle County tourism boomed while Routt and Moffat counties struggled. Steamboat survived because John Fetcher found a way to bring big time skiing to Routt County. Not everyone gave up easily. Located near the mouth of Rock Creek Canyon was the community of Hydrate with a post office. During the brief period of railroad construction and saw milling on Gore Pass hundreds of men and families received their mail at Hydrate.
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A few homesteaders took up land on the divide to the west that separates Rock Creek from Egeria Park. One of the homesteaders was an Irishman named Tom Kelley (thus Kelley Divide) who wrote limericks. Realizing the survival of the post office depended upon patronage, after the construction camps closed and most of the saw mills were gone, each Thanksgiving and Christmas Kelley wrote a limerick, wrapped a potato, and mailed them together to anyone with a known address. Many unsuspecting people received one of Kelley’s gifts. The system worked until 1939 when the train no longer stopped to exchange empty mail sacks. Although it did not have Kelley’s talent to help, the post office at Copper Spur remained open, serving only a few residents, long after the copper mines and mills closed. Telephones in private homes at McCoy, Bond, State Bridge, and that area did not exist until the late 1960s when federal funds financed building a phone line from Eagle over Wolcott Divide. Before completing the line, anyone wanting to use a telephone had to go to the railroad beanery at Bond to use the pay phone. This phone was somehow connected with the railroad communication system. Beginning in the 1890s, efforts were made to bring telephone service to the Yampa Valley, but came to naught. Following the announcement that David Moffat intended to construct a railroad directly west from Denver to Salt Lake City, the Western Slope Telephone & Telegraph Company ran an iron wire telegraph line from Wolcott to Steamboat. In 1904, the Elk River Mutual Telephone Company built a system from Steamboat to Hahns Peak. (It may have been the first actual telephone system in the county.) In 1906, the Colorado Telephone Company gained control of the disorganized system of mutual phone companies that sprang into existence. The company rebuilt and reorganized Routt and Grand counties’ telephone systems and placed a copper wire line over Rabbit Ears Pass. The Elk Mountain Mutual Telephone Company connected most of Routt County in a series of mutual lines. (Mutual lines were usually built and maintained by the users.) Telephone offices and operators were in Yampa, Oak Creek, Steamboat, and Hayden. Many mutual lines survived until the 1980s when AT&T replaced the lines with underground cable. Mastering mutual systems were as challenging as remembering pass words. Man could fly and fight battles in the air over France! Following World War I, air-o-planes carried the mail and passengers across country and flying circuses highlighted county fairs. Gates Flying Circus was the featured event at the Routt County Fair in 1922. However, due to a badly split propeller, Lt. Pangborn was unable to complete all his stunts. (I cannot imagine flying at all with a badly split propeller.) The next year he returned to awe the crowd by flying upside down, firing daylight fireworks, and executing sharp turns and steep climbs. A parachuter jumped from 2,000 feet. In 1923, a Mr. O’Bannon from Rawlins proposed a north-south airline from Rawlins, Wyoming, to Craig and Steamboat, dependent upon receiving an airmail contract.
The People Next Door By Fran Conlon The people next door have the perfect place, All things are ordered in proper form, My lawn, however, has spots of barren space, Still, the sun's rays touch and warm. His autumn leaves are bagged and neat, A dust devil scatters mine about. I bag them up in retreat, There is no contest: don't mention “rout.” His winter snow is plowed into a sculpture, Mine's like drifting icy mounds, I try to move them without a rupture, Beauty is still white in geometric rounds. Spring brings a flurry of growing plants, Buds burst forth with tropic rhythm, His green thumb surpasses my weedy rants. Yes, season's change is divinely given. Community life is sometimes disheveled, A whimsical spirit can make it leveled. (His garden skills are a royal scene, I'm thankful that my weeds are green.)
Wing Walkers on air-o-planes in the 1920s Neither Craig nor Steamboat had an airport, but nearby pastures were adequate until one was built. O’Bannon also operated a successful motor line hauling freight and passengers. In July 1919, the Steamboat Commercial Club seriously discussed a landing field. Apparently two planes recently were in the area looking for place to land. Boyd Morris placed a sign on the roof of the Steamboat Mercantile Company with ten feet tall letters accompanied by an arrow pointing out the landing field. Within a week two planes landed at Steamboat but no landing strip had been built. Not to be out done, Yampa’s July 4, 1931 celebration featured the new style of military aircraft, stunt flying, military formations, and multiple parachute jumps. For a fee everyone could take a ride in the plane. The airport was atop Big Mesa just west of town. Following World War II a flying school operated out of Yampa, but the landing strip was dangerous even for experienced pilots. Today the Yampa airfield is simply a sagebrush patch serviced by an old unused road. Lawrence (Doc) Marshall, a rancher south of Yampa, could not grasp wireless communications – radio. It wasn’t connected to anything. Yet, Doc knew radio was real. Radios quickly became an exciting and necessary part of daily life. The Craig Empire proudly informed its readers that the new armory (1922) would be equipped with wireless
equipment making it possible to both receive and send messages. Craig would no longer be without communications as it was two years earlier during blizzards. The earliest radios required assembling. You did not just go buy a radio. Malcolm Campbell and Albert Leckenby cobbled together a radio using many discarded items. M. D. Schaefermeyer and family assembled a system that brought in stations ranging from California to New York, even from Calgary, Canada. The Yampa Leader told its readers that people could hear the New York Symphony. The owner of the Colonial Theater in Yampa on certain nights offered radio broadcasts, especially sports events. The Amusement Theater in Oak Creek installed an amplifier allowing everyone on the street to listen to the radio. Early radios were difficult to operate. Different stations crowded other stations in and out. Weather affected reception. Often more static than voice reached listeners. Radio continued to grow in popularity. An estimated eighty-five percent of Americans listened to President Roosevelt’s first Fireside Chat in March 1933. The new Ford V8s and Chevies had vacuum windshield wipers that might or might not work and if the car had a defroster it was only a fan blowing air. A window opened or closed for air conditioning. But all new cars required a working radio. Yesterday, today, exciting times of change and uncertainty.
Karen Vail's dog "Peppa" aka "Scruffy Butt" The best trail dog - ever.
Up until the 1920s, everyone thought the universe was essentially static and unchanging in time. — Stephen Hawking
We're All Bozos On This Bus By Stuart Handloff
“Let me play the fool: With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come, And let my liver rather heat with wine Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.” (Gratiano, Merchant of Venice, Act 1, Scene 1) Shakespeare was not only a gifted playwright and poet, he was a shrewd businessman. His language and poetry are unequaled by any other English writer; but the hoi polloi filling the standing areas and the cheap seats wanted comedy and a bit with a dog. So….[drum roll]...enter the clowns and fools that populate virtually every one of his most popular plays, from the comedies to the tragedies. Will Kemp was one of the original partners in Shakespeare’s acting company and many parts were written specifically for Kemp’s broad comic talents. His bawdy jigs and sexual double entendres kept the audiences - including the full range from peasant to aristocrat - in an uproar. Two of Kemp’s most famous roles - Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing - are classic comic interpretations of the Italian commedia dell'arte clowns from whom Shakespeare drew his inspiration.
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Bottom is a “low” character or “zanni,” a simple weaver in the city of Athens where the Midsummer takes place. He has just enough intelligence to get into trouble. Bottom fancies himself a gifted performer and when he and his fellow bumpkins begin rehearsing a play to be performed for the Duke’s wedding, he’s so confident in his abilities that he wants to play all the roles. He over-acts to great comic effect but Kemp really hits his stride when Bottom is magically transformed into an ass and falls in love with Titania, the beautiful faerie queen. She, too, has been put under a magic spell and the love scenes between the two take full advantage of the romantic possibilities between an actor wearing a donkey’s head, braying and scratching, and the lovely actress (well, in Shakespeare’s time, when no women were allowed to perform, Titania would have been a lovely actor as well) dressed as the most exotic royalty of the forest kingdom. As Dogberry in Much Ado (shameless promotion alert: this will be one of the Piknik Theatre productions to be performed outdoors in the Botanic Park this summer), Kemp takes on the “capitano” role as a pretentious but cowardly constable of the night watch. He invents every excuse to avoid doing his job protecting the public while butchering the english language with malapropisms. By accident, his security detail of comic buffoons manage to uncover a diabolical plot that had destroyed the marriage of Claudio and Hero. Dogberry is so shocked that the evil doers call him an “ass” that he wants everybody to know that he has been “writ down as an ass” during the interrogation. Of course, it only added to the humor that in Midsummer - produced prior to Much Ado - the actor Kemp had, in fact, been playing an ass. Robert Armin succeeded Will Kemp as the designated comedian in Shakespeare’s acting troupe. While Kemp had been the classic clown, Armin became the witty fool, having fun at the expense of the royal characters and acting as the comic foil, poking holes in the pompous behavior of others. Fools were nothing new to the Elizabethans. They were licensed, in fact, and hired by the nobility to both entertain and engage in the proverbial battle of wits with the royal household members. A good Fool could juggle objects and the ire of his betters to the entertainment of all. Whereas the clownish Kemp characters were bawds and buffoons, well-paired with his broad physical comedic style, Armin’s Fool used clever word play to convey concepts that often had far deeper meanings. Two of the most renowned Fools’ roles are Feste, in Twelfth Night and the Fool, in King Lear. Feste teases his mistress the Countess Olivia for continuing to mourn her brother’s untimely death: FESTE: Good madonna, why mournest thou? OLIVIA: Good fool, for my brother's death. FESTE: I think his soul is in hell, madonna. OLIVIA: I know his soul is in heaven, fool. FESTE: The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother's soul being in heaven. Take away the fool, gentlemen. The self-righteous and puritanical Malvolio is an even bigger target for Feste’s sharp wit. Malvolio bears the weight
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of a practical joke whereby he is tricked into believing that Olivia is in love with him. His affected behaviour in demonstrating his passion has such marks of madness that he is imprisoned in the dark until he regains his wits. Feste arrives to torment the hapless Malvolio: FESTE: Master Malvolio? MALVOLIO: Ay, good fool. FESTE: Alas, sir, how fell you besides your five wits? MALVOLIO: Fool, there was never a man so notoriously abused: I am as well in my wits, fool, as thou art. FESTE: But as well? then you are mad indeed, if you be no better in your wits than a fool. In the final scene, when the joke is revealed and the forlorn and disheveled Mavolio is at last released, Feste adds one more barb by mocking Malvolio’s pretentious claim to Olivia’s affections: “Why, 'some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrown upon them,' and thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges.” In the opening scene of King Lear, the king offers to divide his kingdom amongst his three daughters based on who can present the best case for his generosity. By inviting false flattery, Lear becomes his own worst enemy and ultimately pays the price for his foolhardiness, which his Fool - played by Armin - continually throws in his face: LEAR: Dost thou call me fool, boy? FOOL: All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with. LEAR: An you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipped. FOOL: I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are: they'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou'lt have me whipped for lying; and sometimes I am whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any kind o' thing than a fool: and yet I would not be thee, nuncle; thou hast pared thy wit o' both sides, and left nothing i' the middle. The Fool plays upon the conscience of the king, and represents the Elizabethan sensibility of common sense and reason that only a foolish and weak ruler gives up the throne voluntarily. Eventually, Lear recognizes his mistake and spends the remainder of the play seeking to find redemption. It is the character of the Fool who paradoxically plays the wise man, speaking truth and provoking Lear to action. But whereas, Twelfth Night, Much Ado, and Midsummer are comedies where all’s well that ends well, King Lear is a tragedy and the dying Lear is left holding his lifeless daughter - the one who was too loving to play into his silly game in Act 1. Two very different actors, playing their comic roles in two very different ways, while still managing to win the favor and applause of the audience. Whichever you chose to play this past April Fool’s Day, I hope you enjoyed the bus ride with your fellow bozos. [acknowledgement to Shakespeare After All, written by Marjorie Garber]
Spring Changes By Wolf Bennett
Many chemical compounds exist that alter our perceptions in a wide variety of ways, sometimes dangerously, sometimes helpfully but always shifting our “reality.” Racism, sexism, phobias of all sorts and magical thinking contribute heavily to the problems faced by cultures and people. Maybe I should add skills and awareness of others and listen to the cognitive dissonance. Give up those who would gladly mislead me. Many believe they have psychic skills, healing powers, “feelings” that “connect” with other realms or “intuitive” abilities give some special view into a mysterious void. Confirmation bias has come to roost (if reiki works then why are they not curing COVID or cancer or the common cold, and why don’t psychics win lotteries?). Because they have no such abilities and it is quite easily proven. Once actually tested, even slightly, all their claims fall apart. Ask a few key questions and they flounder every time. Double blind studies really do weed out the false. The gullible will still believe the magic show.
I think I’ll give up something for the celebration of the Equinox. Change in seasons, daylight and clocks are often uncomfortable, that’s normal. It’s a proven good practice to switch things around to keep your mind more flexible and aware. What you practice, you become. Practice does not make perfect… it makes comfortable. So if you practice poor thinking skills, bad logic or magical thinking you will end up believing all sorts of nonsense, your difficulties will increase and the impossible will absurdly become “possible.” Did you know that if you pronounce “gullible” backwards it rhymes with orange?
Are we all April Fools? Of course we are. Poor training, lack of real questions, refusal to give up believing impossible events, lack of knowledge, poor thinking skills, anecdotal “evidence,” our mind’s creation of “reality” and
stories, memories completely in error all contribute to our foolishness and all are perfectly normal even if unhelpful. Our minds are very weird and we must practice “how” to think and not “what” to think. We must practice difficult things, but that is one of the most real things you can do. Minds can be trained to see through the charismatic stories and magic tricks. Some of those charlatans are pretty convincing but once you start seeing the flaws, understanding pseudo science, recognizing false rhetoric, you will see ever more mysteries dispelled. We’ve all been fooled at some point and probably will be again, but it doesn’t have to stay that way and the tricks will not catch you so easily next time. So what to give up? Things with no proof, no support, no evidence would be the things easiest to give up. I find no evidence for Santa Claus, ghosts, demons or energy fields wielding evil eyes anywhere. A bit of skepticism will take you a very long way towards reality and probably save quite a bit of money and time. You will also have more time to experience the beauty of the real world. The planet, nature and the universe is far more fascinating than any mystical adventure, though more effort is required. I might or might not give up petting Schrodinger’s cat.
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Maybe I’ll give up petting my cat. He ignores me most of the time anyway so that should be easy. I’ll continue to feed him of course, but petting would be strictly off limits. His desire for lap time seems to be non-negotiable. My dog, well, petting, throwing the ball, belly rubs are not up for discussion. Dinner is non-negotiable. My dog understands what is important. I’m not so certain about the cat. Maybe my choices should consider their choices. Magical thinking would be a fun one to give up. I have little idea how magicians do their tricks. I do know that they cannot break the laws of physics, the second law of thermodynamics, gravity or other physical realities. I can accept that my senses have been fooled and it appears that reality has been bent and twisted. Minds can be changed, fooled and misled. Optical illusions exist but less recognized are the mental shifts from things your brain cannot make sense of. You can actually experience your mind shifting back and forth as the cube image fools your brain. Stare and the image will shift about every 5 seconds as your brain says, “wait, that’s not right”. Just think how many other false ideas and images have found their way into your mind. Conspiracy ideas, mental stories, social media, video games, apocalyptic thinking, mythologies, religions, ‘isms of all sorts and superstitions of many colors easily fool and sucker us into believing all manner of magical things.
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It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. — Mark Twain
Worth the Search By Angie Gamble
An Old Coal Miner
Takes Heart From the French By Ted Crook upgrade that machine to modern capabilities would require changing less than an ounce of the total weight of the machine, discarding parts made mostly of sand and clay (or silicon and ceramic, to give the more technical terms).
People drink the water and forget the source until one day, one day, the source stops Then the search will begin to the tops Will we be excited for the search or will we grumble and stay home For there is treasure untold on the road not just for some Grumbled glitter dissolves, but true love will last and will be a joy when found So it is worth the search, it is worth the search
I love the French: Monet, Laplace, Voltaire, Montaigne, metric measures, the Tres Grande Vitesse, and now the repair-ability index. If we could extend the life of electronic devices by even a couple years, it would go a long way toward solving climate change (it would be like taking millions of cars off the roads). The key to that is repair-ability. If the laptop I used in the mid nineties to program industrial computers could be dug out of the sand of the African beach and cleaned up, it would most likely still work. There is no reason a properly designed computer couldn’t function for a thousand years with minor repairs. The case, keyboard, mouse pad, screen, and sound card of the computer in 1995 are all largely unchanged today. To
This can’t happen only because manufacturers refuse to adhere to standards, often torpedoing standards when they are built. The original USB connector, for example, is a wonderful thing--solid, expandable, easy to use, and reliable. Manufacturers, trying to emulate the evil Steve Job’s “thin styling,” created over half a dozen poor substitutes for the original standard. Did your Iphone quit because the lightning connector broke? It wouldn’t be the first time that happened (and don’t try to repair it without a microscope and reflow soldering system). I did manage to change the battery in my Iphone without killing it completely, though one of the buttons stopped working. My son was not so lucky. Turns out, I didn’t need the button anyway. Mandating repair-abililty of electronics is simple. Anyone should be able to fix the television or the toaster. I hope France can get this thing done and thus spark the next French Revolution. Another point: After cleaning connectors and replacing the battery, that old laptop could be loaded with Linux. It would then do everything any other computer would do--except render videos. I would still prefer my 8 core I7 processor for that. It runs Linux just fine.
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Yes, that can be gleaned from the Adam and Eve accounts: “In the big inning,” “Eve stole first; Adam stole second,” “Cain struck out Abel.” The virtual classroom is an isolated setting. Group laughter or snickers aren't socially shared. But smiles occur. Communication is much like “channeling” with dis-incarnate spirits: “Are you there, Charles?” “Turn your vision feed, and can I see you, please.”
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A person might expect ectoplasm—a viscous substance—to emerge from the spirit of Abraham or Aristotle, but it doesn't. But the miraculous stories are still informative, and good for discussion.
And later historically (and humorously) there is baby Moses, and the banking transaction by Pharaoh’s daughter, going down to the Nile River “bank” and drawing out a little “prophet.”
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Smiles, only. A sense of wonder is still present that we humans made it this far. Perseverance Rover is a remarkable explorerdevice now on Mars. An astounding feat of navigation and technology. We humans are a curious species. Aristotle commented, “Man (humans) by nature desire to know.” One of Aristotle's students spreads many of Greek ideas far and wide. Thanks, Alexander the Great.
The virtual class, intro to philosophy, has a text that presents briefly the meeting of Greek philosophy and early Christianity. It's an interesting encounter, sometimes omitted since awkward questions can arise. But we are children of Abraham and children of Aristotle. We inherit both the traditional ideas and faith of Abraham and his descendants, and the reason and science of Aristotle and his successors. Abraham and Aristotle seem a long ways off. The stories of transcendence and touching the cosmic connection (humans created in the “Image of God”) meet the Greek reason and the “logos”--a given pattern with a goal and purpose. Such ideas may have a platonic tone of being universal. They do have the earthly touch of humor, struggles and smiles. With the virtual classroom, it's hard to measure any laughter. Smiles do happen. That's nice.
And, many early Christian ideas are spread by St. Paul and followers, spreading out to different parts of the world. The conversion of Constantine (the Great) is mentioned. Nothing like a Roman Emperor to give your view a boost! The eyes of students begin to glaze over. It is not an apparition. The virtual class is about over, too. I do mention the story (humorously) of the little boy going to the library. He has to write a report on penguins. He is given three large books about the birds. He leaves. But he returns early in the afternoon. “Did you learn all about penguins?” asks the librarian. The little boy replies, “It's more than I care to know about penguins.”
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Twilight By Joan Remy
Someone said it’s good to cry It washes your soul The soft glowing light Sunrays scattering I love eyes that sparkle The Cat in the Hat and Dumbo Shouldn't be censored In this “Clown World” It’s about dancing with friends Skipping through puddles Flying with Peter Pan Letting the child shine Laughing endlessly Within the Magical beauty of life
I wonder what book signings will be like when most of the books we read are electronic. Will authors sign something else? — Susan Orlean
Tales from the Front Desk
The Mess By Aimee Kimmey
Having just celebrated his 18th birthday, Caleb knew they could get a room. But his younger brother Kevin wasn't as confident, "What if we get caught?" "Trust me!" Caleb answered, marching boldly inside. The clerk looked up from her magazine, "Uh, Hi..." "We'd like a room; your best!" Caleb slapped down his Greenlight Debit card. Sure, it had a ridiculously low limit, but they weren't actually going to charge anything. The clerk eyed him suspiciously, Caleb grinned. As long as she didn't notice Kevin squirming behind him, this would totally work. "Okay, well, I'll need a driver's license..." She said slowly. Smiling like the Cheshire Cat, Caleb produced his shiny new driver's license. She was totally buying it! When she passed them the room keys, the boys could barely contain themselves. She told them they were in room 320 and they scurried off. On the third floor, they exploded out of the elevator, pushing and racing each other down the hall. Rounding the corner to 320, they practically ran down Rosie the house keeper. "Whoa! Easy there." She said jumping out of their path.
The story you are about to read is true... more or less. Friday. Room 320. 2:48 pm. Spring time in the mountains is messy; while the rest of the country hides eggs on freshly mowed lawns, we hunker under wet sleet or slog through muddy puddles. Once the ski area closes, the place becomes a ghost town with nothing but eroding piles of filthy snow. It's no wonder people go away for spring break. But what do you do when your family stays home? By Wednesday, the boys were bored out of their skulls. By Thursday the seeds of a plan were beginning to form. By Friday afternoon they were headed to the hotel, Jr. credit card in hand.
The boys mumbled chagrinned apologies and hurried off to their room. Rosie watched curiously as they fumbled with the key card, then burst into the deluxe suite. It was enormous! The boys gaped as the door shut behind them; there was a huge seating area with a wide screen TV, giant bathroom, mini fridge, and a king sized bed. "But what if Mom and Dad--" Kevin worried. "Mom and Dad will never know. We're not going to be here long enough for them to charge us. Now c'mon, let's have some fun!" The boys tore through the room like a cyclone; not vandalizing the place mind you, but rifling through every nook and cranny. They flipped on the TV and raced through the channels, they turned the shower on and off, on and off.
They sniffed all the tiny shampoos and lotions by the sink, and inspected the fridge. And then the bed... Who could resist? The king sized monster had so much space they could both jump at the same time. And the ceiling was actually high enough they didn't slam into the popcorn covering. They wrestled, squealing and cackling with delight until they ran out of breath. Finally, sprawling on the couch, feet on the coffee table, reality settled back in. "How long before they charge us?" Kevin asked. Caleb sighed, "I don't know, we should probably go." Leaving the mess behind, the boys returned to the front desk, wearing their most grown up faces. Leaning on the counter, Rosie the house keeper arched eyebrow at them, but they played it cool. "Yeah, uh, we can't stay after all." Caleb said, "We'll need a refund." "I'm sorry to hear that. Was there something wrong with the room?" The clerk asked. "Oh, uh, yeah! It was... uh, all messed up." Caleb stammered, "It's terrible, we'll need a refund right away." He held his card out. The clerk frowned, "Oh, I'm sorry, we actually charge double for late cancelation." Caleb's eyes popped and his mouth fell open. Rosie and the clerk watched him grasp for words that weren't coming. The silence hung heavy for a long moment, then Caleb bolted for the door! Kevin stared at the two women like a deer in traffic. Finally the kid's feet got the memo and he tried to follow his brother. Except in his haste, his feet tangled and he sailed through the air, landing sprawled on his face. His extra baggy pants offering the ladies a full view of his boxers. Horrified, he scrambled for his feet trying to hike up his pants at the same time. Buster Keaton himself couldn't have looked more hilarious. He took several contorted steps toward the exit only to smash into it, pushing desperately before realizing it opened in. Finally he got it open and fled into the parking lot. As the door swung shut, Rosie looked at the clerk and the two women burst into laughter! They howled with mirth until tears streamed freely. Rosie wiped the tears from her cheeks, "You didn't even charge their card, did you?" "No, but I did put it in for the authorization; it was one of those kid cards too, parents probably already know."
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"Ahhh" Rosie grinned, "I remember being young..." She pushed herself off the counter "Better go see this mess in 320..." "Oh! I'm sorry!" The clerk shook her head. Rosie waved her off, "Naw, totally worth it, that was the funniest thing I've seen in ages!"
Jesters on Holiday
April Fool By Sean Derning
Everyone at one point in their career grows tired of their job and dreams of truly pursuing their passion. A few months ago I was reading my emails and received a message from LinkedIn that caught my attention. The Vatican was looking for a court jester to entertain the Pope and the cardinals. Full time gig with benefits. Why not throw spaghetti on the wall and see if it sticks? So I filled out an application and submitted it. Last month, a fancy letter and envelope arrived, requesting an audition for the job. I was to report in Rome in three weeks to entertain the staff. My head started spinning and a million thoughts raced through my mind. What jokes to tell? How to dress? Go with straight stand up or oddball humor, like smashing watermelons and such? I thought about it over the weekend and came to this conclusion. This was a conservative group, so don’t go over the line with material. Stay with one liners, they always kill. Dress? Let’s go retro, like 500 years ago. A harlequin print stretch jumpsuit with a fools cap. I got on the phone and called Sherman (Shecky) Wu, the best rim shot drummer in town. He was in. Perfect. A week to sharpen up punchlines and work with Shecky on our timing. Sir LaffsA-Lot was ready to slay the comedy dragon. After a grueling flight, we arrived in Rome and were amazed at the age of the town. So ancient. And then we came to the Vatican with its jaw-dropping interiors; magnificent frescoes, murals and paintings. Dozens of marble statues and columns, gilded ceilings and spiral staircases. An absolute masterpiece of architectural genius.
Nothing. Crickets chirping. Time to ramp it up.
It’s called The Burning Bush. (ba-doom-ching)
“I heard the Holy Ghost just flew in from heaven. And boy are his arms tired!” (ba-doom-ching)
OML, what if we started to get heckled by the cardinals? Is that a sin? I was hoping it was.
“I was kicked out of the Vatican choir because the director said I couldn’t carry a tune if it had handles.” (ba-doom-ching)
“Lemme introduce my drummer, Shecky Wu. Shecky’s mad because the little drummer boy became world-famous after only five beats. Pah rum pah pum pum? Who’s his agent?” (ba-doom-ching)
“I told him I can’t sing in B major. He said maybe you should try B gone.” (ba-doom-ching) Something was burning. Our act was going down like the Hindenburg. “When we came to the Vatican, one of the guards asked to see some ID. Told him I was here for the court jester interview. The guard said, ‘You ever been on radio?’ I said, ‘No, why?’ He said, ‘Because you’ve got a great face for it.’” (ba-doom-ching) “I was washing the feet of the poor. Woman came up. I asked ‘Are you from Iowa?’ ‘Yes, how did you know?’ ‘By the corns on your feet.’” (ba-doom-ching) “During communion, the pastor said, ‘Body of Christ.’ I said ‘Father, I’m vegan.’” (ba-doom-ching) The tension and anxiety we were feeling was real. Several cardinals shifted nervously in their chairs. If my childhood stutter came back, we’d be dead. We pressed on. “I did some carpentry work with missions in Africa building churches and was just terrible at it. I kept hitting my thumb with a hammer and used the Lord’s name in vain. The director told me to go build the confessional. And stay there.” (ba-doom-ching) “Moses just opened a marijuana dispensary in Colorado.
“After a show in Pittsburgh, the Devil came up and said, ‘I’m here for your soul.’ So I gave him my shoes.” (ba-doomching) Tugging at my collar like Rodney Dangerfield, I figured Shecky and I should cut and run. Saved the best for last. “I was in church last week with my son. They passed around the collection plate. My kid said, ‘What’s that?’ ‘It’s how we pay homage.’ He asked, ‘Homage should we pay?’ I said, ‘About ten bucks,” (ba-doom-ching) “Hey, you folks have been great. The faces on Mt. Rushmore had more expression when we played there. Don’t forget to give your waitstaff absolution and if you’re ever in Steamboat, Colorado, stop by The Chief Theater where we open for the We’re Not Clowns juggling troupe.” After changing, Shecky and I gathered our gear and walked out of the Vatican without seeing a single soul. “Tough crowd,” said Shecky. “Do you think if we were lepers we would have had a better reception?” “And have your hand fall off in the middle of the act? Nah, you were spot on tonight. But I do know we just received a genuine baptism by fire in the Vatican. Care for some blood of Christ? I’ll buy.”
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Shecky set up his drum kit in the court where we were to perform. The acoustics were amazing, so no microphone was necessary. I stuffed my porty figure into the costume and looked like ten pounds of potatoes in a five pound bag. When signaled, I walked out onto the court to start my gig. A few dozen cardinals were seated, all sitting stone faced. But where was the guy in white? No sweat. Word of mouth would get us in the door. So we started our act. “Hey, good evening! I just came from the Friday Lenten fish fry at St. Alphonso’s and asked the server if the fish tasted good. ‘Tremendous,’ she said. ‘What kind of fish?’ I asked. ‘Haddock,’ she replied. ‘You’ve got a tremendous haddock? I said. ‘Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.’ (ba-doom-ching). “Finished with the meal and my waiter commented, ‘Hey pal, tipping is not a city in China.’” (ba-doom-ching)
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An unemployed court jester is nobody's fool. — Kevin Hart
Your Monthly Message By Chelsea Yepello Aries
March 21 - April 19
You diligently jot down all your important plans in the little boxes of your monthly calendar. You add all your appointments, birthdays and important reminders throughout the year, so you don’t miss a date. Yet, none of that really matters because you refuse to flip the calendar to next month because January has a cute puppy in a teacup as its picture.
April 20 - May 20
Sometimes you wish you could just open their brain, lay their thoughts onto the table and organize their mind for them. You want to read their secrets and see the theories they have never been able to express with words. Really understand them and how they work. Darn it though, because when you tried this, it just ended up being a big gooey mess and now they can't do math.
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May 20 - June 20
You thought it would end by nuclear war, maybe an asteroid or possibly zombies, but no. It’s all over when tape worms evolve into a super species and create tunnels under the ground that are so intricate, they collapse the planet. All of this could have been avoided, but the stupid vegans refused to take the tape worm medicine… ya know, for moral reasons.
June 21 - July 22
Hey there fellas! Do you want to make more friends? Here's a fun and easy way to widen your social circle! Find a girl, preferably one that is slightly out of your league and ask her out on a romantic date. She will politely reply that she's flattered, but she just wants to be friends! Voila! Now you have a brand-new friend!
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July 23 - August 23
After yet another blackout, you find yourself desperately searching for your socks as you flee the scene of the crime. This is confusing for many reasons; how did this crime happen? Did you commit the crime? Why did you have to take your socks off? Where can you buy more socks if you can’t find them?
August 23 - September 22
You will swell with pride when Time Magazine nominates you as the seven- billionnine-hundred-millionth most interesting person on Earth.
September 23 - October 23
It takes a lot of careful planning to prepare and cook tofu in a way where avid meat eaters can’t tell the difference between the two. There is also value in replacing meat with the masked bean curd in a loved one’s food, but it’s unfortunate that they were deathly allergic to soy.
October 24 - November 21
You will be offered a proposition from the local goths to become their superior leader when you accidently blow up a near-by goat farm, thus sacrificing more goats than anyone, ever.
November 22 - December 21
Despite the reasoning behind it, throwing a can of mustard gas in your lover’s bedroom while they sleep is simply not appropriate, regardless of your defense that you are trying to put the saying “All is fair in love in war” into context.
December 22 - January 19
You will spend your life savings on a device called the “Radius Zone Gogmagog Repellent” from that one dude that lives under the bridge by the outlet stores. As you hand him all of your cash, he clarifies that the contraption only looks like an old flashlight with popsicle sticks crudely taped to it, but to the Gogmagog, it’s an impermeable forcefield. After you get it home, part of you feels like maybe you were tricked, but then again, you also haven’t seen a Gogmagog in your house, so it must be working.
January 20 - February 18
You were told that it's therapeutic to write a letter to yourself, put it in an envelope, address it to your future self and mail it. One day you will open the letter from your past self and become inspired by the hopeful thoughts from your former identity. This would have been a beautiful and motivating exercise, but you forgot to put a stamp on the letter before you mailed it and turns out, you are a terrible pen pal to yourself.
February 19 - March 20
You will get into a fist fight with a stranger on the bus after your light chit-chat becomes strained, then quickly violent, because of your conflicting opinions about cereal actually being breakfast soup.
The last thing I remember was, "I don't need pads on this little hill!"
By Matt Scharf
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