The “Voice” page is home to op-eds, commentary, letters to the editor and guest opinions, along with being a repository for an occasional edition of VoiceOver, a humor and satire column.
Click on the headlines to read some of the commentaries we’ve published and scroll down for more …
Opinion: Where will Summit County end up?
Editor’s note: The Colorado Supreme Court heard arguments on Colorado’s reapportionment last week.
I love getting into discussions with people who believe they understand democracy and our United States Constitution. These people love to tell me that something […]
By Timothy Wirth
Wilderness designations offer long-lasting benefits
President Obama recently proclaimed September National Wilderness Month. His action could not be more appropriate and timely for Colorado. While our state contains many magnificent wilderness areas, a significant backlog of proposed wilderness designations sit in Congress, and action is now needed to diversify our wilderness system, […]
Opinion: Let’s show more respect to the land that gives so much It’s unbelievable to me that people can treat a place like this with so little respect.
Many mornings in the past couple of years I’ve headed down to my favorite spot along the shore of Dillon Reservoir […]
By Gary Lindstrom
Current protests are the latest expression of American civil liberties
It was widely reported in the national media this week that more than 73 percent of Americans support the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations as well as the Occupy movement throughout the United States. Yet at the same time there are some conservatives […]
Local gadfly called out for using ‘libelous language, lies and distortion’ on climate science
The national discourse over climate science and global warming took a local twist recently, as a local resident was called out for his commentary published in the Vail Daily trying to convince readers that global […]
OPINION — Citing budget concerns, a House committee will squander money on investigating NOAA
After spending months trying to discredit climate scientists and cast doubt on their research, House Republicans will try a new tactic by directly attacking the government agency responsible not only for research, but for compiling climate […]
Opinion — The debate over a flawed paper serves global warming skeptics well since it creates the illusion of an overall climate science debate
The latest flap over climate science — and specifically about human-caused global warming — shows once again how ideological and political this issue has become, […]
Agency justifies support for expansion by saying lynx habitat is already degraded, but why make things worse?
With the Breckenridge Town Council set to take another crack at the Peak 6 expansion tonight, I pulled out my notes from the last meeting to review what White River National Forest […]
“You got to know when to hold ‘em …“
In the latest round of poker over a proposed ski area expansion at Breckenridge, the resort this week backed away from its clumsy bluff to withdraw from a multiparty agreement aimed at addressing some of the potential social issues associated with ski resort […]
Colorado’s rivers don’t need artificial improvements or enhancements
After traveling 14,000 miles and inspecting 89 rivers in the Rocky Mountains, you’d think that Christo would come to the realization that our spectacular streams don’t need much in the way of artistic improvement. Yet the Bulgarian-born artist continues to pursue […]
By Kathryn Blauvelt
Ranting about chili dogs and sunroofs since 2009!
Blue River water commissioner Scott Hummer heads for the Front Range
USFS chief says agency is already preparing guidance, even though the measure hasn’t been passed by Congress yet
Proposed measure could weaken counties’ 1041 review powers in Colorado
Republican measure would limit EPA’s ability to protect air quality and curb greenhouse gases
Community advocates want more focus on distributed solar power generation
Editor’s note: Saguache County resident Chuck Tidd delivered this comment at the March 6, 2011 BLM public meeting to gathering public input on the Solar PEIS proposal.
The new Republican House leadership showed once again how they will turn almost every environmental issue into an ideological battleground.
*This op-ed piece originally appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“Instead of counting skier days, let’s figure out a way to measure skier happiness.”
Surreal politics trumped reason and science in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, as Congressional Republicans tried to put up a major roadblock on the country’s path toward a sane and sustainable energy future.
Revamped minerals agency stumbles in its effort to address impacts of Arctic ocean drilling
By Scott Fitzwilliams, White River National Forest supervisor
By Bob Berwyn, Summit Voice editor
By Bob Berwyn, Summit Voice editor
By Randy Hampton, Colorado Division of Wildife
By White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams
By Bob Berwyn, Summit Voice Editor
By Bob Berwyn, Summit Voice Editor
By Bob Berwyn, Summit Voice Editor
VoiceOver: The world’s only compostable column
Good evening and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only column that was thinking about going to Moab for spring break but decided not to after finding a nice thick layer of red desert dust in the local snowpack after our most recent storm.
Why bother going to Moab if Moab is willing to come here? Heck, that way, we can have the best of both worlds — red desert dirt and nice spring snow.
But really, this dust thing is pretty amazing. First thing in the morning, our trusty Subaru looked all pretty, covered with new snow to where you couldn’t see the winter’s worth of grime. But then when it all melted, there it was, a bright orange layer at the bottom of the snow …
And the thing is, it’s getting worse. The folks who track this stuff are pretty much convinced that the stuff can be traced to increased human activity in the Southwest, and it’s probably going to get worse if there are more droughts.
Scores of VoiceOver Readers: “Enough already with the global warming scare stories. We’re already all bummed out about this ski season, barely had a powder day all winter long. What do you want us to do?”
VoiceOver: We recommend an attitude adjustment involving renewable alternative energy sources, less consumption, more reflection and a general sense of humility and respect.
SOVOR: “That’s a lot to ask. We can barely remember what day of the week it is, and you’re asking us to get all Zen. Not sure we can handle that.”
VO: Well, give it a try. But we’ll move on. We’ve been watching those Wal-mart commercials lately, you know the ones where they talk about rolling back prices. We reckon they’ve been rolling back prices for so long now that stuff should start being free pretty soon, and maybe they’ll even start paying us to take all that over-stocked, shoddily manufactured product off their hands. That seems fair to us — what do you think?
SOVOR: “Zzzzzzzzzz ….”
VO: OK, so that topic didn’t exactly light your fire. We understand. The economics of Wal-Mart is not exactly Earth-shattering, but we will say this. A few weeks ago we bought a pack of those Sun Chips, the ones made with the new compostable bags, cheddar-cheese flavor, we recall. We got curious about those, because according to the Sun Chips web site, this is the most revolutionary packaging ever. After we ate the chips (yummy), we put the bag in shallow hole out in the backyard, and we’ll report on the progress of our composting efforts down the road. What we do know is that this packaging is unquestionably made of the loudest material known to man. You can’t even touch the bag without setting off a firestorm of noise, and when you start getting down to the bottom where you have to reach your hand inside — look out, or better yet, have a set of earplugs handy. But we reckon it’s worth it to keep our landfill from filling with non-compostable packaging.
And our dog enjoyed the chips as well. We’ve actually been wondering about our dog a lot lately. We like to tease him sometimes by blowing in his ear or on his nose (please don’t call the SPCA on us), which gets him all riled up in full canine mode. Seriously, a gentle puff of breath to the face and he turns into a snarling beast, but then we’re driving down the highway at 60 miles an hour and he sticks his head out the window and calmly surveys the passing scenery, with only his nose giving a slight twitch every now and then.
And now that spring break is over, we need to get this off our chests: People, hats with antlers and cow horns are just wrong. We’re not sure why, when people go on vacation, think they can get away with wearing stuff they’d never dream of wearing at home in a million years. It’s just wrong!
And finally, if you think we’re just writing stories and updating Summit Voice 24-7, we have proof to show you we do take a break every now and then, most recently to help ski instructor and mountain guide extraordinaire Peter Krainz celebrate his 40th birthday. Some of you may know Peter from his various gigs around the county, up at the Alpenglow Stube or at the Breck Oktoberfest, and wherever else accordion-driven polka tunes are needed. The boys were in full party mode in Summit Cove the other night, and we were especially impressed by a vat of goulash big enough to swim in. We’re a little late in getting this posted, but happy birthday, Peter!
We’re outta here, like dust in the wind.
VoiceOver: Home of Plutonium gum
Good morning and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only column that just can’t get over how the world of chewing gum has changed in our lifetime. Used to be that there was Wrigley’s gum: Yellow (with a slightly fruity flavor), minty green and white, which, as far as we were concerned, was the bland flavor for old people. Plus, there was Bazooka bubblegum if blowing bubbles was your thing.
Oh yeah — and Chiclets, which we never really got, because they were so small you needed to chew about 16 of ’em to get a good wad going. Turns out Chiclets were at the center of some early candy cartel skullduggery, as outlined on this fascinating web page.
These days, there are so many brands and flavors that gum pretty much needs its own aisle in the grocery/convenience/drugstore. We can’t even begin to keep track any more and we really get overwhelmed when it’s time to make a choice. Should we go with the Black Jack licorice-flavor? And the flavors keep changing, seemingly from week to week. We know it sounds fogey-ish, but we yearn for a simpler time, when three main flavors was more than enough.
We’re pretty sure this profusion of variety in the world of gum has some deep cultural significance, although we couldn’t begin to tell you what that might be. We’ll wait until some grad student publishes a thesis on it.
Heck, 5 Gum, a newish Wrigley’s brand, even has its own Facebook page.
Scores of VoiceOver Readers: “Get out! A chewing gum with a Facebook page? How many fans does it have? Can we win prizes, like a lifetime supply of gum?”
VoiceOver: Uh, we don’t know. Out of principle, we refuse to visit a chewing gum fan page, but you’re welcome to click on over there yourself and check it out. Let us know if it’s worthwhile. Here’s the link: 5 Gum. Looks like they’re offering a “personalized sensory experience.”
We also can’t get over the packaging of gum these days. We kind of thought people were getting hip to the idea that over-packaging stuff is not really that good for the environment. Who wants to see foil gum wrappers everywhere? But apparently that message hasn’t quite reached the purveyors fine chewing products yet, because the little boxes and what-not that gum comes in are getting fancier by the day.
Remember the Wrigley’s packages? clean, straightforward, minimal waste … Now, the boxes are high-tech contraptions designed for … we don’t actually know what they’re thinking. the gum in one recent packet we saw looked like little plutonium fuel rods for a mini-nuclear reactor.
So we apparently walked out of our house today with our favorite beanie turned inside-out. We did notice getting a funny look from an older gent whilst walking our dog along Dillon Reservoir, and then later, a nice older lady in a gas station gave us kind of a funny look and offered to buy us a cup of coffee.
We didn’t figure out until a bit later when we looked in the rear-view mirror and noticed that there were strands of yarn sort of tailing away from the hat. It was definitely sort of a ragamuffin look, which is probably what inspired that random act of kindness.
What can we say? We were definitely feeling a bit flustered and sleep-deprived this morning, and not exactly focused on our millinery couture. But we say an inside-out beanie is not nearly as disturbing as the animal-shaped hats we’ve been seeing on the streets of Breck recently.
We’re not sure exactly what inspires people to wear hats shaped like moose, squirrels, beavers and/or reindeer, but there’s something about being in the mountains (maybe the thin air) that causes people to loose their inhibitions. We’re pretty sure these people would not be wearing these hats back in their hometowns and we can’t figure out they think it’s OK to wear ’em when they visit Summit County.
We’re not trying to be hyper-critical here, we’re just saying, some people can pull it off, and some can’t. Take a look at yourself in the mirror before you leave your condo and ask yourself: Would Oscar de la Renta approve?
We’re outta here, with our beanie right-side-out!
VoiceOver: Bring back tug-of war!
Good morning and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only column that’s having Olympics withdrawals after turning on the TV and (gasp!) not finding any curling, hockey, biathlon … What are we gonna do the next four years?
Oh well, this too shall pass, and before long things will be back to normal, the gold medals will be in the trophy cases, Apolo will shave off his soul patch, Lindsey will get her guest appearance on Law and Order and we’ll have to start thinking about those little mundane, routine things that keep us going. Hmmm, maybe we’ll start by painting our toenails and trimming our ear and nose hair. That’s always a good way to kick things up to the next level.
But before we tuck this year’s Olympic memories away for good, we’d just like to say that we think the IOC should bring back the winter pentathlon for the next games in Sochi.
Scores of VoiceOver Readers: “Winter pentathlon? What the heck is that? And, by the way, we don’t think Apolo will ever shave off his soul patch. That’s his trademark. He wouldn’t be Apolo without it.”
VoiceOver: You’ve never heard of winter pentathlon? Let us tell you, this sounds like it could potentially be the most exciting Winter Olympic sports event yet, combining XC skiing, shooting, downhill skiing, fencing and horse riding.
SOVOR: “Get out! Horse riding and fencing? In the winter games”
VO: Yep. The event was contest only once, in the 1948 games in St. Moritz, but we can just picture it in modern times, with a James Bond soundtrack, skin-tight Lycra … only problem we can think of would be finding athletes who can do all of these things. Fencing isn’t exactly the sport du jour.
We’d also like to advocate for sled dog racing, which was a demonstration sport at the ’32 games in Lake Placid and the ’52 games in Oslo, but never made it to full-fledged status. We figure dogs deserve medals, too, and it would add a new, non-human element to the Winter Olympics. Maybe they could hold the sled dog races on the skier cross course, just for some added excitement.
And we can’t for the life of us understand why they dropped speed skiing from the Olympic calendar like a hot potato after putting it on the program in 1992 as a demonstration sport during the Albertville games. This is the essence of skiing, just a long, straight run, in a tuck, fastest speed wins the gold. No judging, no gates to straddle, just pure speed!
As for the summer games, coming up in just two years in London, we’re going to try and bring back tug-of-war.
SOVOR: “What do mean, bring it back? The Olympics are for REAL sports; running, jumping, swimming, gymnastics.”
VO: Aha! But tug-of-war was an Olympic staple, contested in six of the first seven modern Olympiads, and we think it would help bring a whole new set of backyard athletes into the Olympic movement. Here’s a sport you can do in a pair of cut-offs and an old Journey t-shirt.
You could have Olympic qualifying held at company picnics and school field days. It’s just such a cool populist event. We hear the final at the ’04 games in St. Louis was a thrilling affair, with the Milwaukee Athletic Club narrowly defeating the Southwest Turnverein of St. Louis for the gold.
And four years later in London, the City of London police department out-dueled its Liverpudlian counterpart in the finals.
Definitely more exciting than softball, but we also would like to see a return of Basque Pelota, which from what we can tell, is a Euro version of lacrosse. This was only played once, at the 1900 Paris games, and was won, naturally, by a Basque team.
This same Olympics, by the way, included live pigeon shooting and a swimming obstacle course.
Aaaah, the Olympics. We can hardly wait ’til London, 2012. We’re outta here, rounding up a tug-of-war team!
VoiceOver: The quadrennial Olympic rant
Good evening and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only column that’s still completely enthralled with the Olympics, even though we think Bob Costas is smarmy that that NBC’s TV coverage totally sucks.
We don’t have a problem with NBC per se. They’ve done a great job of delivering timely online content and it seems like they have enough cameras spread around the greater Vancouver area that a fella (or gal) couldn’t sneeze without being recorded. Our problem, like every Olympics, is the time-delay and packaging of events to be broadcast during primetime. And as we think about it, it’s not even so much the delay; it’s the fact that they like to PRETEND that it’s live and PRETEND that they don’t know that pretty much everybody in the world knows the results of the world several hours before they’re shown.
Or like when the local news comes on, and the sports dudes tell you (wink, wink) to turn off the volume of the TV if you don’t want to hear the results. Give us a break. Especially in the age of social media, it’s almost impossible to NOT know … Take this morning, for example (That would be Sunday). We knew about Bode’s gold medal before we even finished baking our blueberry muffins, but we didn’t see the race until right about the time we started writing this column, which would be about 6:45 p.m.
It’s the total manipulation of reality that we object to, and we just want everybody to understand what/s going on. See, it’s all about advertising. It’s convenient for the TV folks to be able schedule the exact times that ads will run, right down to the demographics of knowing that the ice dancing finals will be be broadcast at 7:10 p.m. so that women can be targeted with ads specific to their interests. Meanwhile, while they’re showing the mens Super-combined, we get ads for erectile dysfunction drugs …
Yesterday, during the women’s Super-G, they even showed some of the racers out of sequence. We know this because we were watching the bib numbers, and we reckon they did it because a producer sitting somewhere decided that they need to show a crash to add some drama to the event. At the same time, they skipped over an entire series of racers, bibs #2 through #8, all top-seeded skiers, who, all of a sudden, thanks to an NVC decision, didn’t exist, all so they can squeeze in yet another interview with Shaun White — incredible, in our minds, and even more incredible that people just sit sit numbly and accept it all as normal.
The other reason, of course, is to keep as many people watching for as long as possible, to maximize ratings. Can’t really blame ’em, that’s what brings in the bucks. Like Sunday night, where they showed the DH portion of the men’s Super-Combined, then switched over to the ice dancing for a while before finally returning to the concluding slalom race. It’d be one thing if it really was live, and they used the gap between the DH and the slalom to show some other event.
But that’s not the case. Reality — and the viewers — are being manipulated for the sake of ratings and ad revenues.
But it’s the Olympics, for crying out loud! We’re talking about lofty philosophic ideals, youthful exuberance and the purity of sports. How can we let NBC take all that away just to sell a few more GE lightbulbs, or whatever? We are so NOT okay with any of this, and while many of you will shrug your shoulders and say, “So what? That’s the way it is. Just deal with it,” we are not willing to do that.
Scores of VoiceOver Readers: “So what? That’s the way it is. Just deal with it. And if not, what the heck are you gonna do about it? And by the way, we actually prefer NASCAR in any case.”
VoiceOver: We’re not sure. At the very least, we’re going to rant and rave and vent, just because it makes us feel a little better. For another thing, we’re going to devote more time to watching under-rated Olympic events like curling, because apparently nobody cares enough about these contests to post the results on Twitter before they’re shown on TV (more on this later).
NBC has been doing this for years and they don’t get it. Maybe it’s never been adequately explained, so we’re going to try, in a few words: The whole drama of a ski race lies in the way the event is structured, with top seeds racing in a certain order. The drama doesn’t come from the breathless reporting of the latest update of Lindsey Vonn’s bruised shin.
SOVOR: “But we LIKE seeing Lindsey Vonn on TV. She’s from nearby, just over the hill in Vail, and that makes us feel like we’re part of the Olympics, at least vicariously.”
VO: We understand. But we’d respectfully like to suggest that the Olympic Spirit extends far beyond the NBC narrative surrounding a handful of American competitors. The Olympics are such a cool world event and there are so many great stories …
Anyhow, back to curling. We just think it’s cool, and we remember hanging out with grizzled old Austrian mountain villagers as they practiced this sport on frozen lakes whilst puffing on cherry-wood pipes and taking little slugs of schnapps from their pewter hip flasks. We think this is such a great event because it’s something you can do while holding a can of Pepsi, or some other beverage of your choice, in your free hand. We’re pretty sure it’s not technically a sport if you can do that, but what the heck, it’s all good.
This curling thing has us all fired up to go out and spray water on our driveway so we can have our own curling arena, except we’re not sure the neighbors would appreciate it. Hey, maybe Frisco ought to put one over at the Peninsula as they work on those winter amenities. Wouldn’t it be cool to have an Olympic curling champ from Frisco at the 2018 games.
VoiceOver: Home of mystery fritters
Good morning and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only column that is NOT at the Vancouver Olympics. Nope, we’re right here in the cozy confines of Summit Voice headquarters, watching all the action on our big screen (well, let’s call it a medium screen) TV and loving every minute of it. Right now, it’s figure skating, and we’re noticing that the skaters have toned it down a couple of notches as far as the costumes go. We think that’s a good thing — sort of fits in with the times, what with everybody sort of ratcheting back on their lifestyles a little bit. We never were too big on the sequins and boas and glitter anyway.
SCORES OF VOICEOVER READERS: “Well join the crowd! We’re not at the Olympics, and neither are jillions of other people. So what?”
VOICEOVER: We’re just saying … Anyway, we’ve always wondered how the skaters manage to not get dizzy and stay on their skates fate twirling around like dervishes. Heck, we get a dizzy head rush when we stand up after tying our shoelaces, or when we turn around when somebody call our name. These people spin like tornadoes and maintain perfect balance and go leaping around the ice like there’s no tomorrow.
SOVOR: “They’re trained athletes. they spend hours every day, for months, years on end, practicing those moves. And those head rushes you’re having are definitely a bit worrisome. We recommend getting your blood pressure checked. You might need to boost those omega vitamins or something.”
VO: Omega vitamins? Never heard of ’em, but we don’t think we’re lacking in vitamins. We eat every color of Gummi Bear, so we’re pretty sure we’ve got all the major food groups covered.
SOVOR: “Uhh, we were just making up that bit about omega vitamins. But we’re pretty sure that there aren’t too many vitamins in Gummi Bears.”
VO: Really? We thought they were color-coded for health reasons, like the yellow ones are like eating melons, squash and lemons, the red ones are like raspberries, and so on. Maybe we should go back and read the fine print on the bag.
SOVOR: “Probably a good idea. But you could be in for a rude awakening.”
VO: So like we said, the costumes are toned down, and that’s cool. It’s the new austerity, and we can relate to that. Lately, we’ve been combing the sofa cushions and checking under the car seat for quarters, dimes and nickels. It’s amazing how fast that can all add up. Just the other day, we were able to scrape together enough coinage from under the car seats to buy an order of waffle fries whist taking a break from enjoying the fresh snow up at one of the local ski areas.
We split the basket two ways and ate every last scrap. And when we got down to the bottom, we found some darker, super-crunchy bits that were, um, a little different than the rest of the the fries.
“I think they’re onions, Dad. It’s probably a little bit of leftover onion ring that got mixed in together with the fries,” said our 11-year-old.
Not wanting to spoil the moment, we didn’t say anything in response, but we were dubious. We’re thinking it was some remnant bit of congealed grease fried multiple times. We say this because we watched the fry cook shake the fry strainer into our basket to complete the order, but we were too polite to say anything.
But back to the Olympics. We caught a bit of the biathlon, too, and that seems pretty cool, what with the combination of cross-country skiing and target practice. We’re not sure where the shooting part came from. It doesn’t really seem to fit with the rest of the sports, which are are generally related to all the fun things people do in winter. And we think they could liven up this event by making it more of an interactive shooting gallery, with little pop-up prairie-dog targets, or bad guys with five o’clock shadows and black Stetsons — that would be cool!
And as for the speed skaters, we say the ice is way too smooth — boring! How about a steeple chase ice skating event, where it’s more like a backyard pond, with ripples and even a few thin spots that you’d have to avoid to keep from falling through to the water?
Let us know what your favorite Olympic event is. We’re outta here, trying to cook up some mystery fritters of our own!
VoiceOver: Celebrating Bob Marley’s birthday with blackberry muffins
Good morning and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only weekly column that had reggae on the brain all day yesterday, seeing as how it was Bob Marley’s birthday. That’s right, the godfather of reggae would have been 65, and we’re sure he still would be singing “Three Little Birds” if he was around. We’re not all that big into Rastafarianism or anything, but we do appreciate that a musician can make people smile, sing and dance. convey a serious message and effect social change, all at the same time.
We’re all about bringing people other than lawyers into positions of leadership and power. As far as we can tell, from the way things work — or don’t work — in Washington, D.C., there are waaaaay too many lawyers gumming up the works. Nothing against lawyers per se, by the way. We don’t tell lawyer jokes and we understand that they’re a necessary component of our civil society. It’s just that we reckon too many of ’em end up in Congress.
We think a variety of people would be good, and we love the idea of rock musicians, artists and poets getting into politics, just to bring some fresh perspective to the table. Like Peter Garrett, the former lead singer for Midnight Oil, who, we’re pretty sure, became head of the Australian environment ministry at some point. We understand that Garrett also has a law degree, but for us, he’s always been a rocker, ever since we saw Midnight Oil play a Greenpeace fundraiser at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, way back in the day.
Then there’s Vaclav Havel, a poet, playwright and moral pillar if there ever was one. He helped guide the Czech Republic out from behind the Iron Curtain, in case you don’t remember.
So without further ado, here’s our pick for a rock and roll cabinet: Dave Matthews for president, Tom Petty for VP, Bob Dylan for Secretary of State, Neil Young for Secretary of Defense. We think Bruce Springsteen needs to be in there as well, along with BB King and Aretha Franklin.
Scores of VoiceOver Readers: “Wow, you’re getting all political on us right out of the starting blocks. What’s up, gotta bee in your bonnet or something? Plus, you’ve only got one woman listed in there, that’s kind of sexist. Even Bush did better than that in his cabinet.”
VoiceOver: OK, so help us out by sending us your ideas of who should be in the Rock and Roll cabinet, and why. And yes, we’re just tired of the political thing. These “professional” politicians obviously don’t have a clue. Why not give somebody else a chance?
But we need to move on to gripe about more serious things, like the folks who produce flour packaging. Just last week we were baking some blueberry muffins and when we opened our bag of all-purpose flour, a little cloud of the white stuff went poofing all over the place, coating our Mr. Coffee and even our computer, which was on the kitchen counter because we were using it as a cookbook for the muffin recipe.
We say the flour people are way behind the times when it comes to packaging. Everybody else has figured out the resealable, zip-lock thing — the salami people, the cheese people, the drink people. But the flour people still use that quaint paper bag, with the corners folded in to where it’s almost impossible to open and access without getting a face-full when you open it. We’re never sure if we should tear it or cut it with a knife, or use scissors. Is there a “right” way to open a bag of Pillsbury flour? Maybe we just don’t know the right technique.
Is there a good, logical reason for any of this? Maybe there’s an old 1792 law that requires flour to be stored in a paper bag with glued-down corners? We’re not sure, but we would certainly like to see an upgrade soon. We’re thinking a cardboard canister with a foil seal and then a plastic snap-on top, like those big packets of raisins or oatmeal, maybe even with a spout for pouring. That would work, don’t you think?
SOVOR: “You bake? Now that’s quaint. The sad reality is that most people are buying totally prepared foods. We can’t think of anyone else we know in our lives that still bakes muffins from scratch. You’re fighting a lost cause here. These are some big corporate entities you’re talking about. You’re taking on “The Man” of the food world by raising this issue, we’re warning you. Our suggestion: Just deal with it. It’s not that big a deal in the bigger scheme of things.”
VO: You know, you’re right. What the heck, we’re gonna drop the whole thing and go bake us up a batch of muffins right now, seeing as how it’s Sunday morning, blackberry this time!
VoiceOver: Home of future yak herders of America
Good morning and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only semi-regular column that just can’t wait to book it over to the Asian Oven in Silverthorne sometime soon to try out some of their yak meat. We’re not sure exactly why we’re so excited, but the mere thought of yak meat has us drooling all over our Bob Marley T-shirt. And not only do they have yak meat, but it’s locally raised, if we are to believe the blurb we heard on Krystal 93 the other day.
Scores of VoiceOver Readers: ” Yak meat? Get out. You gotta be kidding us. We’re pretty adventurous and all. We’ve been know to try shark fin soup (we know, we know, it’s not ecologically correct to eat sharks, they’re supposed to eat us) and we’ve even munched chocolate-covered ants — but yak meat?”
VoiceOver: That’s what we said. We nearly drove off the road when we heard it. We are all about yak meat. We’d ride our unicycle 10 miles backward in the snow, with a flat tire, to chow down on that. And we don’t even know how to ride a unicycle, but we’d learn.
And the idea of it being locally raised is really cool. We’re thinking that, if this global warming thing is for real, raising yaks could be one potential way for folks up here in the high country to make a living. We could go all Mongolian, living in yurts, herding yaks on the dusty high altitude steppes of the Gore Range, cooking over yak dung fires and learning to play Mongolian flute music. We’d make yak wool yarn and knit colorful sweaters, we’d harvest yak horns and grind them into an aphrodisiac powder …
SOVOR: “Wait a minute, you’re getting ahead of yourselves. Do yaks even have horns? And if you’re talking global warming, who in the world is going to need yak wool sweaters? You really haven’t thought this thing through, have you?”
VO: Wow, talk about a buzzkill! Here we are, all amped up about this new agribusiness that could help the local economy and you just shoot us down. Well, we’re not going to let that happen. We’re going to find out where that local yak farm is and pay a visit and we’ll let you know what it’s all about when we find out. Maybe we could even wrangle a few of those stimulus dollars to start our new yak ranch. Remember the llama craze? We know some people who made bank on that one, and we’re gonna get ahead of the curve this time.
SOVOR: “Sure, whatever. And what’s the deal with being a semi-regular column, anyway?”
VO: It seems we’ve kind of settled into a once a week or so routine for this, which is really all we have time for, what with all the important stuff going on. Plus, we keep jotting down these really hilarious ideas for VoiceOver and then when the time comes, we can’t find ’em. We had to go through all our pants pockets just to come up with this lame yak theme.
SOVOR: “Once a week of this nonsense is plenty for us; honestly, it’s about all we can handle.”
VO: That’s good, because that’s all you’re gonna get. But we had to do one today, seeing as how it’s our two-month anniversary.
SOVOR: “Really? You got married? And you didn’t even tell us?”
VO: Uh, no, we didn’t. We’re referring to the two month anniversary of the Voice, or the Summit County Citizens Voice, as it’s more formally known. And it’s not like we’re singing Happy Birthday to ourselves or anything. We know it’s not a huge milestone, but hey — it’s better than getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick.
SOVOR: “Barely. So did you do anything special?”
VO: Yep. First we went skiing, did a few laps up at Loveland Pass with a cousin visiting from the Air Force Academy and some of his amigos. Apparently they’re all on the water polo team, which you’d think is more of a Navy thing. It was all going well, too, until we discovered that not one of these strapping lads — future jet pilots and officers in good standing — was able to drive a stick shift. Geez, you’d think people training to fly fighter jets could shift through four on the floor, but noooo … So that made the whole car shuttle thing somewhat problematic. Worked out in the end, though, as we managed to squeeze five adults and one pre-teen into a Honda Element.
But we’re not going to be too harsh on them, seeing as how this is the same crew that last year helped us set up our biggest Christmas tree ever, an 18-footer that was the first tree we’ve ever had that was big enough to hold every single one of our ornaments. And the snow was good, so it ended up being a good time for all.
Then, we bought ourselves a new toothbrush to mark the occasion. Ever noticed how toothbrushes change completely each time you go in to buy one? The colors are new and improved, there’s a different pattern of bristles that’s meant to reach in the crevices of your choppers in new and improved ways, and the one we just got has a knobby backside, which feels pretty cool when you rub it on the inside of your gums.
SOVOR: “Whoah, we weren’t planning on a lesson in oral hygiene when we started reading this, but we agree, there’s nothing like a new toothbrush to celebrate a two month anniversary.”
VO: Darn right. And we gotta go, because we want to try it out again right now!
VoiceOver: Using Web 2.o to choose potato chip flavors
Good morning and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only column wondering why CNN is using a weatherman to cover the Haiti earthquake. Excuse us, but since when does tectonic earth movement have anything to do with weather?
We know it’s tough times for journalism and everything, what with cutbacks and downsizing and reporters having to cover multiple beats — huh, yeah, we REALLY know about that last one — but you’d think that they could find a geologist somewhere who would be happy to come in and give the low-down on earth science, as opposed to atmospheric science.
For all the horror, devastation and misery earthquakes can cause, it’s an awesome sign of how the Earth is alive. It would be instructive to have someone who actually specializes in the geology of the Caribbean come on and explain things, and THEN the weather guy could come on and say something like, “At least it’s not going to rain and it’s warm enough that people will be able to survive without shelter.”
The Weather Channel, on the other hand, brought in a geologist from the U.S. Geological Survey, who clearly knew his stuff and gave a reasoned explanation of plate tectonics in the Caribbean, addressing concerns about other faults that could affect the region. That’s more like it.
Scores of VoiceOver Readers: “Dudes, didn’t you just get in trouble for question something like this? What was that whole deal again, where you questioned the Weather Channel about how they reported snowstorms in Colorado?”
VoiceOver: Exactly! But we fear no one, and we’ll always call it like we see it. And lest anyone think we’re making light of this natural disaster, we want to tell you that it’s time to dig deep and give a little. This is one of the poorest countries in the world, and they are going to need all the help they can get. So if you’re feeling the least bit spendy, whip out your checkbook right now and send some money to the Red Cross or somebody like that. We were going to use this space to ask for money to fund Summit Voice, so we can keep it going a few more days, but you gotta have priorities, right?
SOVOR: “Right! Got it, we’re writing a check right now. Do you have that address for us?”
VO: Yup. go to http://www.redcross.org/ and you can donate online, and there are many other places you can help.
Look out, what we have next is a shameless self-promotion alert. Skip over the next few graphs if you want to avoid it like a bad pothole. We are looking forward to next Tuesday, when we’re going to spend a little time in the KCMV studio with Scotty Bondo talking about Summit Voice. We can hardly wait. We haven’t been in a studio since the mid-70s when we DJ’d a program for the high school radio club called Rock Shop – aahhhh, those were the days. The smell and feel of vinyl, the …
SOVOR: “We hate to interrupt your reverie, but do they even call it a studio anymore? And, baby, there ain’t no more vinyl. It’s all digital now.”
VO: We’re not sure, but we’ll let you know when we get there. Like we were saying, we’re looking forward to it, because our stint with the high school radio club ended abruptly when we played an unauthorized anti-war anthem.
And there is still vinyl floating around out there. Just a few weeks ago, we bought a stack of old records, including Jethro Tull’s Aqualung, at Affordable Music in Silverthorne and played them really loud on one of those knock-off old-time record players. Our offspring, as it were, is going retro on us, and really digs the sound of that diamond-tip needle in the groove.
But back to our radio gig. Sometime on Tuesday, Jan. 19 between 8 and 10 a.m. we’re going to visit with KCMV DJ Scotty Bondo. We’ll let you know when we get there with a live update from the studio, and we may do a live Twitter feed while we’re there. So if you wanna hear all about us, tune in to 106.3 next Tuesday morning.
Along with Twitter, we’ve recently discovered another cool modern communication medium called Skype. We’d heard about this before and couldn’t believe that you could actually make free phone calls, with a video connection, over the internet. But we tried it out recently and it worked pretty flawlessly as we chatted away with our significant other who was spending some time in the jungles of Central America.
SOVOR: “Get out! Free phone? Video? Nothing is free.”
VO: True, you have to have internet service, and video camera hooked up to your computer, but beyond that, it’s free. At the other end, our significant other was even able to say hello to Comet the dog and tell him to “go fetch.” Pretty cool and we’re hoping to get everyone in Summit County hooked up on this deal for very selfish purposes: We’d like to able to conduct our business from anywhere in the world, and if all our contacts and sources were on Skype, we could interview them face to face (there’s even a chat function, so you can capture part of the conversation in writing) while sitting in a smoky bistro on the Left Bank of the Seine.
So get thee over to Skype.com and sign up. Now.
We know that modern communication technology has been abused. Just the other day, we saw it again in the grocery store, as someone browed the produce aisle, picked up a yellow bell pepper, than a red one, then put them both down and used a cell phone to call and get some input on their selection – pathetic.
But we can relate. We were in the potato chip aisle, where flavors are proliferating like moguls in Horseshoe Bowl, and when we saw a bag of pesto-flavored chips, our first thought was to call our sweetheart and ask if that would be cool. But instead, we made an executive decision and went with the low-salt organic Boulder chips.
We gotta run and charge our appliances!
Scotty Bondo: My cats want to eat me
We’re psyched to add Scotty Bondo to the Summit Voice blogroll. Not only can he be philosophical about his cats’ apparent desire to eat him, but he can ride a unicycle and juggle at the same time. Following is an excerpt from his latest blog post, but be sure to click on the “read more” link to check out the full story, then scroll down for a wonderful photographic tour of Japan and much more.
We’ll follow Scotty’s blog adventures and post links when we see something we like, but suggest that you subscribe to his blog so that you don’t miss anything.
Ever catch your cat just staring at you? They are just waiting…and watching . Cats tolorate your annoying habit of still living because you can work a can opener and they cannot. So they wait. Every day they will crawl up on your lap or on your chest and get their face right up in yours. We think it’s cute, or a sign of affection, but no…they are seeing if you are still breathing. They take a little sample of your breath and caculate how much longer you may have. Do you think your cats are licking on you with their little raspy tongues because they like you, or need salt, or are just “grooming” you like their mothers did? NO…they are tasting you and wondering what wine will go with you best. My cats will wail and cry if you shut them out of a room if even for a few minutes, they are afraid I am going to die in there and they will not be able to get in. Every time I lie down on the bed or couch they are both on top of me in an instant, holding me down, waiting…watching.
VoiceOver: Where Wile E. Coyote meets the TSA
Good morning and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only column that views the latest informercials so that you don’t have to.
Seems like it was just yesterday that we told you about the SureClip, a newfangled toenail clipper that pretty much does it all. If we could only train it to go out start our car for us on those chilly mornings … by the way, we see, from tracking our blog stats, that some of you actually clicked on the GetSureClip.com link to check it out (yes, we can do that. We LOVE WordPress).
Dozens of VoiceOver Readers: “Really? You can see that? Isn’t that like an invasion of privacy or something? We thought we were safe from this kind of oversight unless we decide to travel by air, thereby putting ourselves at the mercy of the TSA.”
VoiceOver: Don’t worry, we can’t tell who you are. Our stat-tracker merely tells us how many people clicked on those nifty links in our stories.
DOVOR: “Links? What are you talking about?”
VO: Umm, you know, where we highlight text in red, and when you scroll over it, it’s underlined, and then you can click on it and it takes you to another web site.
DOVOR: “Oh, so THAT’s what those are for. That’s pretty cool, and we had no clue. We thought it was just frilly.”
VO: Naah, we don’t do frilly, just silly. Links are one of the coolest things about publishing on the web via blogs. It’s kinda what the internet is supposed to be all about — a great collective consciousness, electronically joined together. You should try it. Don’t hold back, click away!
DOVOR: “OK, but you’re getting a little heavy when you’re supposed to be making us laugh.”
VO: Well it’s hard to be funny when you’ve got people like the Underwear Bomber running around out there. What’s up with that, anyway? Why would anyone, no matter how committed to a cause, pack explosives down their Jockey shorts?
You know how everyone is wondering why the security people missed this? We think it’s because nobody took him seriously. His dad, who apparently warned people, probably got laughed out of the room. We imagine the conversation went something like this:
Terrorist’s Father: “Uhh, my son said he’s planning to try and blow up a plane by stuffing high explosives down his skivvies, then lighting it up when the plane is over a U.S. city.”
Security Agents: “Sure, we’ve heard that one before – the underpants bomb scheme, yep, we better REALLY look out for this guy. (wink, wink).
DOVOR: “Wow, you’ve introduced a third voice into this dialogue. How daring. Do you think your readers will be able to follow?”
VO: Actually a third AND a fourth voice. And yes, we give our readers a lot of credit for being able to read us like a movie script, or like reading that Shakespeare play back in high school. He had way more characters in his script, and high schoolers were expected to be able to follow that.
DOVOR: “OK, but we’re not too sure terror is an appropriate subject for humor. It’s like all those pundits are saying on CNN: This is serious business.”
VO: C’mon, a bomb in underpants? This is classic. It’s like something Wile E. Coyote would try to get rid of the Road Runner. If this isn’t funny, we don’t know what it. Plus, we love to fly, and if we keep a sense of humor about us, it’ll help us get on a plane without wondering if the guy next to us has hand grenades in his hand luggage. And since you brought up the politics, we’re just going to say this: Why in the world would anyone think the president is somehow personally responsible for keeping underpants bombers off planes? Is he supposed to go out there and do security inspections himself?
We all know the REAL reason this guy slipped through the net is because the security people are spending waaaaay to much time scrutinizing people who don’t pose any threat at all. We all know that 99.9999 percent of passengers are totally harmless — all you have to do is look around in the security line. Without any special training whatsoever, you could pick out who NOT to screen. But some misplaced sense of equity and fairness means the grandma with her tykes in tow also has to take off her shoes and empty out the bottles of baby formula.
Whew, sorry for the rant, we were going to tell you about late-night informercials, but we digressed. Sorry about that, we’ll catch up later. For now, we gotta run. And if the whole underpants-bomb thing isn’t weird enough for you, check out msnbc.com’s “Weird Science” page by clicking on this link (remember, from the top paragraph), where you can read about a 2.700-year-old marijuana stash recently found, still green, buried in a tomb along with an ancient shaman.
Breakfast in Vlore: The croissant legend lives on
Coffee, espresso and cappuccinos are done well all around the Mediterranean and the Balkans, sit was no surprise to get this delicious combo in a spiffy coffee shop in the middle of the slightly seedy harbor district in Vlore.
Not seedy as in dangerous – in fact all of Albania felt as safe as could be – but seedy in the sense of scamming taxi drivers and vendors selling tickets for phantom boats at inflated prices. Our slight brush with this came as we carried our backpacks toward customs. A guy in an official-looking bright orange vest steered toward the maze and then gestured to us that we should put our packs down on a bench while the border guards examined our passports. He seemed to be suggesting that he would guard them for us while we dealt with the formalities, kind of like those guys on some tropical beaches who offer to watch your stuff while you swim, with the implication that they’ll steal it if you don’t hire them. Our man in Albania wanted a couple of Euro for his troubles.
Vlore is seedy in a good way, as all harbor towns should be, and it’sdefinitely a crossroads for Southeastern Europe. Our Italian-style cappuccino and croissant represented that intermingling of cultures. As a certified coffee freak, I love a country where most cafes offer both Italian-style espresso-based drinks and thick-brewed Turkish coffee.
Legend has it the famed pastry was invented by a baker in Budapest to commemorate a victory over Ottoman invaders — thus the crescent shape. Food historians say they can conclusively disprove this story based on painstaking research of historic recipes, but it’s a fun tale nonetheless.
The dark, chocolate-filled croissants in Vlore didn’t have much of that classic crescent shape that symbolizes the near-eastern Orient (think Turkish flag), but they were so good that we bought a couple of extras to go for the long ferry ride, munching them on deck as we watched the forested mountains of Albania’s western shoreline fade into the hazy ocean mists.
VoiceOver: Saving the world, one toenail clipping at a time
Good morning and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only column that’s looking forward to really being able to ramp up its collection of toenail clippings, thanks to the amazing technology of the new SureClip, a device that will surely be hailed as one of 2009’s greatest technological advances.
Dozens of VoiceOver Readers: “Ewww, toenail clippings? That’s totally gross. Why did you have to go and start the day with something like that?”
VoiceOver: Hey, this is a serious environmental topic. Not too many people realize that toenail clippings are a major source of methane gas as they decompose in landfills around the world. Think about global population. It’s about to reach 7 billion any day now, and then you have to multiply that by 10 toes and 10 fingers to get an idea of what we’re talking about.
DOVOR: “Hmmm. Well, we’re not too good at math, and the calculator on our computer doesn’t go up into the hundreds of billions, but we see where you’re coming from. That comes out to something like 140 billion toes and fingers, and from what we’ve heard, your fingernails and toenails even continue to grow for a little bit after you die.”
VO: That’s right. That’s some serious clippage, folks. This is a problem that has been totally off the radar screen, but we here at VoiceOver are going to make it our mission in 2010 to reduce the amount of clippings going into landfills and make sure this organic material is either recycled or used as biomass.
Forget dead lodgepole pines. Why, just the other night, we did some calculations on a coaster while sitting over at the Moosejaw, and figured out that, if we can convert all of Summit County’s clippings to biomass, we could reduce our area’s greenhouse gas emissions by several tons.
DOVOR: “OK, we gotta admit, you got something there. That seems a worthy goal, We didn’t think of it in those terms. But what about people who chew and digest their toenail clippings? Did you figure that into the equation?”
VO: Now you’re being gross. But yes, we did, and we realize there’s a significant number of people who enjoy self-cannibalizing bits and pieces of themselves. But all in all, we think we can make a difference.
That’s where the SureClip comes in. We saw this advertised on TV just the other night, and we think it’ll help.
VO: For one thing, you know how when you clip nails with an old-school clipper, the clippings tend to go “Sproing!” across the room? Well, the SureClip has a compartment to trap the clippings. That’s the key. Plus, it’s got a wide, cushioned handle for easier operating, a stainless steel blade for more accurate cutting, a built-in magnifying glass so that you don’t accidentally cut your cuticles, and … get this, a little built-in flashlight, so that you can even clip in the dark, say if you get bored while sitting through a really bad movie.
DOVOR: “(Or trying to read through a really bad, silly column). So what’s next, hairballs?”
VO: We heard that. No need to be snide. Anyhow, we’re just sorry we didn’t know this device existed before Christmas, because we could have beefed up our gift offerings significantly. Plus, it comes with an exclusive four-in-one miracle nail buffer, a miracle foot cream and its very own storage pouch. You need to check it out at http://www.getsureclip.com.
DOVOR: “We didn’t realize you were going to do product endorsements. We thought VoiceOver was going to be a commercial-free zone, and we’re not sure that we are totally on board with your new direction. Are you, like, getting kickbacks from these SureClip people? Have they offered you a free clipper in exchange for your testimonial?”
VO: Naaah, we just felt it was our civic duty to address this serious issue of clipping overload, and honestly, we’re part of the minimalist school when it comes to gadgets, but this one looks pretty cool.
We gotta run. Time to invent a way to convert clippings into biomass.
Home of snazzy bumper stickers and shiny new quarters
Good afternoon and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only column that is holding in its hands a brand new quarter with the logo of the Mariana’s Islands on it.
We’re looking at this thing, saying, “Whoah, the Mariana’s Islands! How cool is that? We sort of vaguely knew that the U.S. had some possessions way out there in the Pacific, but have they already run of of state to put on the quarters?”
Dozens of VoiceOver Readers: “Don’t know, we are not really that into coins, except for using them in vending machines to buy Twinkies. But we will check in with the American Numismatic Society and find out if there’s any special sequence or logic to the way the quarters are released.”
VoiceOver: Cool! We’re thinking there are probably some numismatists out there in Summit County, and we’re hoping we’ll here from one of them. But we have to tell you, these were about the shiniest quarters we’ve ever seen. We’re thinking it was because we got them as change in a coffee shop/bakery down in the vicinity of the Capitol, where we were having coffee.
Thing is, this coffee shop is just around the corner from the mint, and we got to wondering if maybe a few rolls of these new quarters fell off the back of the truck, because every single one of them was totally new. We almost felt bad putting them in the parking meter outside. We felt more like we should be putting them in a nice black velvet thingy and saving them for our grandkids.
In the meantime,we went and checked out the Marianas Islands online, and now we can tell you, they are located waaaaay out there, in the vicinity of the Philippines and just west of the Marianas Trench, the deepest known part of the ocean.
DOVOR: “Really? How deep?”
VO: Super-deep. You could put Mt. Everest down in there and have some room left over for some of Summit County’s smaller peaks. At it’s deepest, the trench drops down 11,034 meters, or 36,200 feet. Let’s put it this way: You wouldn’t want to drop a quarter in there!
DOVOR: “And what about the Marianas? We’ve been feeling chilly the last few days and we’d love to at least think about someplace warm and sunny, even though it doesn’t look there’s any extended vacay time in our near future.”
VO: Right. Twas Ferdinand Magellan who first laid European eyes on these islands in 1521 during a Spanish circumnavigation of the world. During Spanish domination of the Pacific, galleons used the islands as a stop between Acapulco and the Philippines.
The U.S. took them over as a result of the Spanish-American War in 1898. A year later, Spain sold the rest of the islands in the vicinity to Germany for about $4.1 million, not a bad deal for a bunch of groovy tropical islands. And yes, they are hot, tropical.
DOVOR: “Sweet. We’re getting our seersucker suit dry-cleaned as we speak, dusting off our trusty Panama hat and clicking over to CheapTickets.com as we speak. Do we need a passport?
VO: Good question. Not sure, but we always recommend carrying a passport. Much easier to make a quick getaway that way.
We gotta run. Need to build a deep-sea submersible. But the first three people to answer our trivia question of the day will be first in line for a snazzy new Summit County Voice bumper sticker, just as soon as they’re printed.
The question is, how many states have already been commemorated in the U.S. Mint’s popular series?
Have a stellar weekend.
Random notes: You don’t know what you got til it’s gone
By Bob Berwyn
More than a few people were lovin’ it in Iceland on Halloween, as thousands lined up to enjoy one last Big Mac before McDonald’s closed its three franchises on the Atlantic island on Oct. 31.
Reuters reported that the fast-food joints had been packed ever since the company previously announced it would shut down its restaurants. The owner of the three franchises told the news agency that sales “went turbo.”
Reportedly, the outlets were selling up to 10,000 burgers per day the last few weeks they were open.
McDonald’s pulled out of the country partly because of Iceland’s economic collapse. The weakness of the country’s currency was one contributing factor, as was the high cost of importing food, the company said when it announced its withdrawal.
Iceland now joins a select list of countries with no Golden Arches, including Jamaica, Albania, Madagascar and the Maldives. The entire list reads like a traveler’s dream of exotic and remote places.
According to the company’s corporate web site, you can get Quarter Pounders in 119 countries, but a Wikipedia list shows 97 countries. The difference may be due to the fact that McDonald’s counts some countries that don’t rank as independent political entities by most standards.
It’s not easy to verify the accuracy of the lists. But I did, while doing the research, develop an appetite for a Big Mac, as well a hankering to visit the rest of the countries on the list. Four down (The Holy See, Jamaica, Belize, Albania) and about 95 to go!
VoiceOver: Home of stalagmites and hairy crimson fruit
Good afternoon and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only column with an ice stalagmite growing in its backyard.
Dozens of VoiceOver Readers: “Get out! An ice stalagmite? First of all, are you sure you know the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite?”
VO: Yep, we’re sure. We looked it up, and not just on Wikipedia, but in our trusty, ancient, leather-bound Merriam Webster’s dictionary. Had to blow the dust off the cover, but it was fun browsing through the pages. Not too many interesting words in the vicinity of stalagmite and stalactite, but we did learn about staghorn sumac, a plant with “velvety pubescent branches” and “hairy crimson fruit.”
DOVOR: “Hmmm, sounds interesting. Is the fruit edible?”
VO: Oh, gee, now you’ve stumped us. It didn’t say in the dictionary and we don’t have time to do more research right now, but we’ll put it on our to-do list for the next few days. But as a general rule, we tend to stay away from hairy crimson fruit.
DOVOR: “OK, but don’t forget. Inquiring minds want to know. And by the way, based on the picture, we think what you’ve got there is an upside-down icicle rather than a stalagmite. I you want to get technical about it, a stalagmite needs to have some sort of calcite component to it. At least that’s what we vaguely remember from our geology lessons way back in the day.”
VO: Well, you can call it whatever you want, we’re going with stalagmite. It’s pretty impressive, really. It’s been growing a few inches every day, with little drips of water coming down out of a dryer vent. We’re hoping it gets big enough to where we can practice some of our ice-climbing moves pretty soon.
And all this talk of ice made us remember how nice it feels to warm our hands under an air dryer when we’re skiing. We recently made some turns up A-Basin and stopped in at the Black Mountain Lodge for a short break.
We were super-impressed by the dryers. We took off our mittens and put our hands under the nozzle and just about had our shoulders dislocated. Those things are powerful. It was like standing behind the jet engine of a 747.
We also recently discovered a cool hand dryer at the Dillon Smashburger. The nice folks at the burger emporium invited some social media-savvy folks over to sample a new regional menu they’re unveiling in January. We got to meet the chain’s founder and owner, who was really friendly and even took the kids into the kitchen to show them how the burgers get “smashed,” which is what makes them extra-special crispy when they come out of the kitchen.
The chief culinary officer was also there, personally delivering those tasty new menu items, including a killer Colorado Burger with green chiles, an all-beef angus hot dog and batter-fried green-chile rings.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the chili-cheese fries, smothered with pork-based green chili, and, of course, cheese. These were pretty much the best chili-cheese fries we’ve ever tasted, and we know our chili-cheese fries.
Anyway, a few of the kids on-hand for the event came racing out of the bathroom at one point during dinner, all excited, to tell us they found “the coolest dryers ever.”
Sure enough, when we went to check it out, we found a newfangled machine that blows air from two sides, so you can just pass your hands through and get both the palms and the back of your hands dried at the same time. What’ll they think of next?
Which brings us to the age-old debate of paper towels versus blow dryers. We know everybody has their preference in this area, but as an independent news source, we have a problem coming down firmly on the side of hot air. Paper towels are super-wasteful. Just think how often you go into a bathroom and find the wastebasket completely overflowing with paper towels.
Plus, the darn contraptions never seem to work properly. The roll either jams up, or starts to spew out miles of unwanted paper … All this leads to unnecessary aggro behavior, manifested by the fact that people get frustrated and literally pull the paper-towel dispensers off the wall.
Better to be soothed by the whooshing white noise of a well-functioning blow dryer, we say.
But what do you think? Paper or air? Leave your comments below, or jot them down on a paper towel and stick ‘em in the U.S. Mail, along with letter to Santa. We’ll make sure it gets to the right people.
VoiceOver: Some days are better than others …
Good morning and welcome to VoiceOver, Summit County’s only column that suddenly realized it’s going to have to buy its own notebooks and pens.
We’d forgotten how expensive these handy little items can be, so it’s quite a shock after our previous gig where, whenever we needed to, we could just stroll into back room, open up that lovely institutional filing cabinet and find neatly stacked notebooks in all different configurations, little bins of paper clips and boxes of pens, both red and black.
Actually, we still have a few half-used notebooks from that era in our lives and we’re not really sure what to do with them. Save them as mementos? Maybe if we win that there Pulitzer Prize one of those days, the notebooks can go to the journalist hall of fame, if there is such a thing.
All we know is, even in the age of Twitter, a pad of paper and a pen (or pencil) are still crucial to the trade. Even if we’re not writing down things that other people say, we’re using them to jot notes to ourselves, little reminders about what we need to do, what we’ve done and what other people are doing. Come to think of it, it’s like old-school Twitter.
We just love taking notes. We remember one time when we were attending the Telluride Mushroom Festival and listening to Paul Stamets talk about mycoremediation. We were utterly fascinated by his explanation of how mushrooms can help restore forests and clean up oil spills and we scribbled frantically in that dark auditorium, only to find, when the house lights came back on, that we couldn’t read a single word. It just looked like chicken tracks.
Maybe we should return our semi-used notebooks. We feel a bit guilty that we still have them and we’re wondering if even the notes written therein belong to someone else. After all, we were getting paid for taking those notes. Then again, as a journalist, you’re only as good as your last story, and those notes are pretty much worthless once the story has run. Unless there’s some real dirt in there. We’re thinking Goethe probably had a bunch of old dog-eared notebooks he used when wrote Faust, if you know what we mean.
So, we could rip out all the used pages out and pass them along to a cub reporter, along with a few words of wisdom, if we had any, but at the current moment, we’re dumbfounded about the state of journalism — but not at a loss for words, as you can see.
What we do know is that we’re loving this online gig. Back when we wrote a similar column for a somewhat daily newspaper that shall remain unnamed, there were all sorts of constraints.
Some days, we’d blurt out 1,000 words, feeling all jiggy about ourselves and our writing, only to find out, to our chagrin, that there was only room for about 250 words.
Other days, we’d struggle mightily to write a couple of measly paragraphs, then learn that there was a gaping, half-page hole to fill, all kinda like that cool U2 song off Zooropa, Some Days. If you don’t remember this tune, we suggest clicking here to listen to it on YouTube. It’s just a great ditty for life.
And finally, we just found a new blog that we think is really cool, called Reality Sandwich. Some of you web hipsters are probably all over this one already, but we dig it and wanted to pass it along.
We’re still here, Summit County and just wanted to let you know we’re not going anywhere!