Heard around the West

  • Nude lady

  Spring is here. We know, not because our boots sport two-inch mud platforms after a step outdoors or because sunny mornings tend to mutate into dramatic whiteouts, but because news from around the West seems to zero in on the human body: in the classroom, in the buff and in the rough. The student story focuses on Shari Lo of Thermal, Calif., whose science fair project tested - without benefit of humans - six condom brands for strength and endurance. She won big until disqualified from a regional contest by school superintendent Colleen Gaynes, who said the experiment focused on condom reliability and therefore encouraged safe sex. "Our philosophy is abstinence, not safe sex," she explained. Lo told AP she plans to appeal the decision: "I'm disappointed that my project was judged scientifically and scored well but didn't score well with some people's opinions."

Nature lovers Horst and Gigi Kraus wear no clothes most of the time in rural New River, Ariz., and neighboring coyotes, deer, quail and rabbits never seem to mind. Forty thousand new neighbors might, and that has the couple, who live with some 50 other nudists, concerned. "We're not exhibitionist, you know," said Horst, wearing only a proud smile. He told the Arizona Republic that "naturist" residents, who first arrived in 1959, never encouraged "looky Lous' - curiosity seekers trying vainly to look like birdwatchers with binoculars. Horst said that the nudists of Shangri La II depend on well water and would fight any attempt by Del Webb Corp., the developers of 16,000 housing units, to deplete the groundwater.

From mountain-bike mecca Moab, Utah, comes a warning from Craig Bigler, who is concerned about herds of teenagers returning to stampede on the slickrock this spring. Last year, says Bigler, who directs a federal-county land partnership, several hundred young people were arrested or cited for everything from tearing down juniper trees to using illegal drugs. Afterward, the parents of teens under 18 were called and told to pick up their progeny. Bigler says this year his group will join with police to educate revelers on "proper desert etiquette." But parents can also do something to avoid unpleasant tangles with police: "The best idea is to encourage (kids) to avoid this crazy scene altogether."

Gentle reader Eric Harmon says the Journal-Advocate in Sterling, Colo., advertised a gelding quarter horse that was "Genital broke." Must have been painful, he guesses.

Maybe, for what ails him, that horse could visit a psychic. At the first Pet Psychic Fair held recently in Scottsdale, Ariz., 70 pet owners lined up to seek advice about everything from a rambunctious potbellied pig to always-moulting exotic birds. When one man produced his dead cat's whiskers and ashes, reports the Arizona Republic, psychic Betty Hayes assured him the cat would soon be reincarnated and "find its way back to him as a kitten."

With over 1,000 Yellowstone bison slaughtered by Montana officials once they left the safety of Yellowstone National Park, some advocates of the animals have taken to guerrilla action. In Gardiner, Mont., Delyla Wilson dumped five pounds of rotting bison innards on a school cafeteria table where Montana Gov. Marc Racicot was meeting with Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Conrad Burns. The politicians were spattered with blood, and Wilson was charged with misdemeanor assault, reports the Bison Advocacy Project. Meanwhile, though most of them don't know it, consumers from Los Angeles to New Jersey could be eating Yellowstone Park bison killed this year. Some 483 of the park animals were slaughtered and cleared for commercial sale, reports AP, with most going for snack products like jerky or ground for burgers. According to the Montanian of Libby, Mont., at least one buffalo slaughtered was a bison calf, and it wore an ear tag indicating it had already been captured and tested negative for brucellosis, the disease Montana officials fear bison could spread to domestic cattle.

Cattle have it too much their way, protests New Mexico's Pat Wolff, a critic of federal efforts to help ranchers kill predators such as black bears and mountain lions. Digging into the files of the Animal Damage Control agency, Wolff says two prominent men - ABC newsman Sam Donaldson and New Mexico Republican Rep. Joe Skeen - enjoyed substantial help from the government on their hobby ranches. Federal documents show ADC agents visited Donaldson's spread 412 times and Skeen's place 99 times over a five-year period. Wolff says that cost the public $100,000 to benefit two men with more means than most.

Many of us mean to exercise more and unclog our arteries but often we succumb to a good book and chocolate cake. From reader Fred Elbel come workout hints for those whose bodies suffer from sedentary habits:

Occupation Calories

Beating around the bush 75

Jumping to conclusions 100

Climbing the walls 150

Throwing your weight around 50-300

(depending on height)

Digging in your heels 100

Pushing your luck 250

Making mountains out of molehills 500

Wading through paperwork 300

Jumping on the bandwagon 200

Passing the buck 25

* Betsy Marston

Heard around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or editor@hcn.org