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Bright bears

NEVADA

Bob Halstead, executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects was sad to see Energy Secretary Steven Chu leaving after four years on the job. Grabbing a garland of verbal images to describe Halstead's reaction, the Las Vegas Review-Journal said Chu was "a breath of fresh air for Nevada after a string of Energy secretaries tried to cram the Yucca Mountain Project down the Silver State's throat when no other state was pegged for shouldering burial of 77,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants and the military."

NEW MEXICO

The Sierra Soil and Water Conservation District says gophers threaten irrigation systems, and it's offering a bounty of $3 for tails from animals trapped within district boundaries near the White Sands Missile Range. The Sierra County Sentinel includes a helpful drawing "because there is some confusion as to what a gopher looks like." No size is indicated, however, and the artist's rendering of a gopher concerns us because it looks less like a gopher than a dinosaur -- though, admittedly, one with a cuter tail.

COLORADO

It took a decade, but Aspen's bear-proof garbage containers have finally been breached by a clever bruin, reports the Aspen Daily News. "We finally got a bear that was bright -- brighter than we are," said Jeff Woods, director of the city parks department. And once the bear opened the container in front of City Hall, every trashcan in town became obsolete.

NEVADA

Lance Gilman, who owns 65 percent of sprawling Storey County near Reno -- as well as the county's first licensed brothel -- recently won election to the board of county commissioners. Does anybody have a problem with that? Certainly not Carrie Northan, a bartender at Virginia City's poetically named Bucket of Blood Saloon. "You can't hold it against a person that they're involved in a profession that's been in existence since before Jesus walked around in his sandals," she told The New York Times. Gilman said he knocked on some 1,500 doors, and just two people even mentioned his brothel, "and only to compliment him." The prostitution business goes back to the mid-19th century, said University of Nevada sociologist Barbara Brents, when mining booms flooded the region with single men. These days, just 10 or so of Nevada's lightly populated counties contain licensed brothels.

From our friends

HCN in the outhouses of the West

From my Alaska trip: I flew into a small town that is not reachable by road, then hopped on a motorboat and drove across lakes and rivers for 2.5 hours to reach the scientists' camp way out in the boondocks -- out there they have a few rough cabins and a generator that makes electricity only in the evening and two outhouses -- and lo and behold, for reading material in the outhouses they have issues of the Economist magazines and HCN -- amazing to discover HCN readers way out there!

Ray Ring, HCN Senior Editor

Sweet-talk from a loyal reader:

"I have been a loyal reader ever since the famous/infamous roadkill issue, years back. I just wanted to note that I regard HCN as the finest magazine I have ever read in my life and it keeps being so."

Tim Kingston, California