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Know the West

Voting down science education, world’s toughest boss, and bending over backwards for healthcare.


What if you went to your family doctor complaining about that nasty rundown blah sort of feeling and were advised to experience the joys of nature rather than those of pharmaceuticals? In a nutshell: Take two aspen and call me in the morning. Daphne Miller says it's not a joke: Nature in general is actually a smart prescription. As Miller, a physician and associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, writes in NationalParks magazine: "Hundreds of studies have documented the effect of green space on health outcomes." Miller is so convinced of the benefits of fresh air that she'd like her fellow docs to add "woodland therapy" to their office regimen. Along with checking temperature, pulse and blood pressure, she says, doctors should also check how often we've taken a walk in the woods, "skipped a stone, smelled a flower, chased a butterfly, or watched a sunset." Getting people off their couches and out onto trails will not only stave off chronic illnesses, she says, but also save millions in health-care costs. There's just one obstacle, however, especially for doctors who don't want to be hypocrites: "About 50 percent of U.S. doctors and nurses are overweight, and 40 percent never exercise." Oh, well, it's not the first time we've been told: "Do what I say, not what I do."

We're guessing that the owner or manager at Kanab's Rocking V Café hit a wall in the perennial search for hardworking, reliable cooks and servers. Determined to weed out the deadbeats and the faint of heart, the café advertised in the March 21 Southern Utah News – definitely in the most explicit way imaginable: New hires must be willing "to work for relentlessly tough bosses with high expectations and a low tolerance for stupidity … ABSOLUTELY NO: losers, whiners, punks, pimps, amateurs, momma's boys, daddy's girls, soft, feeble minded, weak, unfocused, unmotivated, no-showing, late arriving, excuse making, dunces… (did we already mention whiners?) primping, texting, mouth-breathers, glue sniffers … parent-calling-in-sick-for-you … quitters-after-4-days-without-notice … butt crack showing, dense, dim-witted, tea partiers, deranged, droolers, republicans … democrats … drama queens and kings, inane, insane, imbeciles." Whew. Don't let that discourage you, though; the ad ends with the kicker: "Please apply at the café…"

State legislatures do the darnedest things, and sometimes it's hard to decide what's the most fascinating. In Wyoming, for example, the

Legislature voted its disapproval of recommended new science standards that accept global climate change as real. Not because the standards were inaccurate, but because they "would be bad for Wyoming's energy-based economy," reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide. Legislators also criticized the teaching of evolution, a position the paper summed up in its headline: "Darwin's theory voted out." In Idaho, meanwhile, a popular House bill allowed guns on college campuses, though a few residents doubted that this was a fine idea. Greg Hampikian, a biology professor at Boise State University, asked bluntly: "When may I shoot a student?" For years, he explained, he has had encounters with disgruntled students, but "I always assumed that when they reached into their backpacks they were going for a pencil. Since I carry a pen to lecture, I did not feel outgunned, and because there are no working sharpeners in the lecture hall, the most they could get off is a single point. But now that we'll all be packing heat, I would like legal instruction on the rules of classroom engagement." And in Arizona, writer Deanne Stillman, in Truthdig.com, couldn't resist sending an open letter urging the state Legislature to resist any criticism about "going too far." She suggests mandatory English-only texting "while driving," and "mandatory text, drive and open-carry (so) we can continue phasing out schools while protecting ourselves with fully loaded Glocks." That's not all: She urges legislators to turn parks into open-pit mines, set an open season on shooting giant saguaros, and finally, settle the knotty problem of when human conception begins by defining it as "the time of the first babysitting job."

Crawford, Colo., population about 300, can boast that it employs a town clerk who voluntarily asked for her salary to be cut from $15 an hour to $12 an hour. "This may be the weirdest thing you've ever heard," said the clerk, Jackie Savage. But she explained that if she earns too much, her husband loses his subsidized insurance under President Obama's Affordable Care Act, reports the North Fork Merchant Herald. And in nearby Paonia, population 1,500, a woman leaving one of the town's 20 churches asked a neighbor if he'd noticed "all the violets downtown." Taken aback, he replied, "Violence? Here? What's happening to the world today?

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected].