Heard around the West
Marilyn's personal ads come mainly from guys like Robert, who seeks a "submissive, long-haired, Caucasian, Christian woman to bait my fishin" hooks." A precise-type seeker parts himself out: David, a "Teutonic Celt," who's "80 percent Jeffersonian, 15 percent National Socialist and 5 percent Anarchist." One of the few woman advertisers says she's a "survival-minded, well-informed woman who wants to be prepared and will stand by your side when the chips are down." No marriages so far, though the 53-year-old editor told Denver's weekly Westword, "I have some people with very serious sparks."
Hiking through the woods may be good for you, aerobically speaking, and bird watching is probably safe. But spotting a deer when you're looking to shoot one could be hazardous to your health. A recent Michigan hospital study found that when a hunter just sees a deer - without even taking a shot - the heart rate shoots up, and in a typical season in that state, about 12 hunters die of heart attacks. During the study, one hunter's heart soared from 78 to 168 beats a minute as he glimpsed a 10-point buck, reports the Associated Press.
A few hunters die in almost every Western state during hunting season, but state game officers say it's less from eyeballing a deer than from exertion - dragging dead animals out of the woods - or gun accidents.
While it may be dangerous for hunters to keep their eyes peeled during deer season, searching for mushrooms in the backcountry of Oregon can be downright suicidal. Tense times occur in the fall when some 1,200 people descend on the Deschutes National Forest to look for prized mushrooms such as matsutake. These fungi fetch as much as $100 a pound.
Besides raking in money, the 1,200 hunters squabble: There was one murder this year as well as assaults, extortion, heavy drinking and prostitution. In fact, it's so hazardous that Gerald Riste, who runs the commercial mushroom camp, which is 90 percent Asian and perhaps 10 percent white supremacist, won't enter it at night, reports the Oregonian. The ambience is not copacetic.
"Everybody's got guns, lots of guns. AK-47s, Uzis. Nine millimeter's pretty popular," says Riste. The good news is that in the last three years administration of the mushroom camp has gotten much, much better, says the Forest Service.
It's not easy, creating a planet that keeps itself running. Recall the Biospherians in Arizona, who entered their new earth in uniforms as sharp as those worn by Star Trekers. They emerged two years later weak, thin and gasping for breath. What was supposed to mimic our planet (even though it may have looked only like glass-enclosed buildings peered at by curious tourists in the desert) ended in 18 months when oxygen had to be piped in to support the eight settlers. A recent analysis in the journal Science found the Biosphere's concrete walls were the culprit: They interrupted the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange cycle. As the level of breathable oxygen dropped and nitrous oxide rose, 19 of the Biosphere's 25 small-animal species went extinct and all the insects that pollinate plants also died. What flourished were morning glory vines, which the Biospherians spent hours weeding by hand, as well as ants, cockroaches and katydids. Biosphere 2 has now become a less ambitious environmental lab run by New York's Columbia University.
Picture this: A huge grizzly sow is barreling down a hill toward you, and you have seconds to act. Remember the old advice about rolling into a ball? Forget it, says Canadian bear researcher Steve Herrero; it's time to update what we do in the forest.
"I am going to stand there until the bear hits me," he told the journal Yellowstone Science, "and then the moment it hits me, I'm going to play dead." Herrero, the author of the grisly 1985 classic book, Bear Attacks, says it's worth trying to stand firm since many bears will stop only a few feet away, huffing and chuffing but actually bluffing. Still, it might then be time to move to the second step, appropriate after a bear moves from bluff to blows. Instead of rolling into a fetal ball to play dead, Herrero now says we need to counteract the bear's desire to "flip people over" to get at our faces and other soft parts. He proposes lying face down which will give us leverage to dig in with our toes while keeping fingers interlaced on the back of the head: "A colleague and I have played bear and person being attacked," he says. "Personally, I would certainly do it; I've rehearsed enough that I'm comfortable with it."
* 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 email@example.com