Heard around the West

  • Jack, Great Dane who lives with "pet guardian"

    Mona Hallowell photo
  Could a man juggle 20 drinks sliding around a tray while walking in spike heels and looking sexy? Some cocktail waitresses in Reno, Nev., do that for eight hours at a time. They also say they're sick and tired of it - the blisters, bunions and hammer toes caused by wearing high heels on the job. So they've started a campaign to tell the gambling industry that mandatory heel height is discriminatory and puts women's health in jeopardy, reports Associated Press. About 40 women kicked off their pumps - and their crusade - recently, at a demonstration in downtown Reno. They tossed their high heels into a pile and turned on a smoke machine to symbolize a fire. Kricket Martinez, a casino waitress who coordinates the campaign, told demonstrators: "We want some respect, we want some dignity and we want them - the casino bosses - to kiss our feet!" The Kiss My Foot campaign, as the cocktail waitresses have dubbed it, plans to take its protest on the road - next stop, Las Vegas. Supporters include the Alliance for Workers' Rights and Nevada Empowered Women's Project.

You know you're suffering a New West attack when the pizza arrives in a $40,000 car. In Cody, Wyo., recently, photographer Dewey Vanderhoff was looking out his window when he saw the familiar Domino's Pizza flag. Carrying the flag - a new giant sport utility vehicle. The driver was still a high school kid, he adds, but he wonders: Was she working her way through prep school? The usual pizza delivery vehicle, he says, looks like a reject from the high-school shop class.

Someone said that you know you're an adult when you can hold two conflicting ideas in your mind and believe both without feeling like a hypocrite. That describes the Ford Motor Co., to a Model T. Ford admitted to shareholders in Atlanta, Ga., recently that its sport utility vehicles are dangerous to small cars, chug gas and are environmentally unfriendly. At the same time, shareholders were told that SUVs brought in record profits of $7.2 billion last year, with some models carrying profit margins of nearly $15,000. The car maker said it was trying to become more "transparent" about the environmental problems it faces. "But William Clay Ford Jr., Ford chairman, and Jac Nasser, the company's president and CEO, said the company would continue to build and market SUVs to meet customer demand," AP reports.

"Pet owner" is becoming an obsolete term in Boulder, Colo. Like San Francisco and Marin County, Calif., Boulder is moving toward changing all references of pet owner to "pet guardian," reports The Denver Post. Animal-rights advocates say the language shift will encourage residents to see their dogs and cats as family members, instead of chairs or appliances. "It's all part of an effort to elevate the status of animals from property to individuals," says Jan McHugh, head of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. Boulder's city council decides next month whether the term pet owner bites the dust.

Prize-bearing cockroaches are still prowling 14 cities in America, including Portland, Ore., where a contest sponsor talked about the angst of gluing a bar code to a roach's belly. The bar code ensures the lucky finder a new Volkswagen bug or $1 million. Robert McMaster of Halt Pest Control in Beaverton, Ore., says the 25 or so roaches selected for scurrying in his city had to be cooled down to slow them down, then held still while a special glue was applied to their abdomens. The glue held the bar codes fast. "It's really hard to do," McMaster complained to Willamette Week. "I never want to do that again." Does he ever feel sorry about exterminating hundreds of thousands of the animals that frequent damp, dark places? "They're invasive, nasty creatures," he says. "Their sheer numbers are an aesthetic concern! You can be easily overwhelmed. No, I hate cockroaches!'

America's military never disappoints. There must be nothing it has not thought of - including using the moon as a stage set for showing off. A 72-year-old physicist recently spilled the beans in a letter to the journal Nature about our wanting to bomb the moon. Leonard Reiffel said that in 1958, he led a team of 10 people, including the late astronomer Carl Sagan, in planning the feat. The bomb would be similar in power to the one that devastated Hiroshima, and Reiffel said the nuclear flash would show the Soviet Union that we had enough atomic chutzpah to respond to an attack. The Russians had launched their satellite Sputnik in 1957, and the United States' best effort in 1958 mustered only a puny satellite weighing 10.5 pounds. The Air Force effort, centered in Albuquerque, N.M., didn't waste too much time on the moonglow scheme, Reiffel said. It was abandoned within a year.

Julia Butterfly Hill came down from her tree, but up in Eureka, Calif., Nate Madsen is still living in an ancient redwood 170 feet off the ground. He calls the tree Mariah, and he says he won't leave her until Maxxam's Pacific Lumber grants the tree and its grove clemency, reports Eco-News. Madsen has descended to the ground a few days every month but skipped his graduation from Humboldt State University last month to guard his perch. Madsen used to work as a brewer, where - ironically - he was represented by the International Woodworkers Union. While tree-sitting, he kept up with college courses by using a laptop computer.

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 bumper sticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or [email protected]

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